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4.3 Tertiary Education Courses

All faculties of agricultural science include elements of agricultural climatology, managing within a variable climate, and risk management within some of the subjects that they teach. In this survey we attempted to identify those areas where explicit attention was given to such topics.

4.3.1 Colleges of Technical and Further Education (TAFE)

Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture, Yanco, NSW 2703

Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture offers a Certificate in Agriculture and a Certificate in Rural Business Management. In Certificate III in Agriculture, agricultural climatology is a part of the module on Plant Systems. In the Certificate in Rural Business Management, agricultural climatology is one of the sections of the module on Crop Production.

Contact the Principal: Ph: (02) 6951 2699; Fax: (02) 6951 2600;

NSW Western Institute of TAFE

NSW Western Institute of TAFE offers an Associate Diploma in Rural Business Management. This diploma has one module on Agricultural Climatology which is used as a learning guide by the students. The contents of the module give introductory information on climate resource, map reading, how microclimate is modified to suit agriculture, and impact of extreme weather on agriculture.

Contact Keith McDonald, Western Institute of TAFE, Orange, Ph: (02) 6363 7662

C B Alexander Agricultural College (Tocal), Patterson, NSW

The College offers a Certificate in Landcare course. One of the units of this course is "Climate and your farm". It has 4 components, including:

1. World Weather - How it affects Australia

2. Using Climate Information in Farm Planning

3. Using Climate Information for Farm Management

4. Using Weather Forecasts on the farms

Contact Ph: 1800 025 520; Fax: (02) 4938 5549

Emerald Agricultural College. Emerald, Qld 4720

Emerald Agricultural College offers a one year Certificate IV Course in Agricultural Practices and a Diploma in Applied Science in Agricultural Practices. Climatology is a core subject in both these courses. The contents of the climatology course have been designed to provide students with a knowledge of climate formation.

Contact Ph: (07) 4982 8777; Fax: (07) 4982 8710

Longreach Pastoral College, Longreach, Qld 4730

Longreach Pastoral College offers a Certificate in Pastoral Production and a Diploma in Applied Science (Pastoral Production). Climatology is a core subject in both Certificate and Diploma courses. The contents of the climatology module are designed to assist the students in gaining knowledge of climatic patterns.

Burdekin Agricultural College, Clare, Qld 4807

Burdekin Agricultural College offers a Diploma of Applied Science. Climatology is a core subject in this Diploma course. The contents of the course provide information on climatic formation and patterns.

Contact Richard Wilson, Associate Director Student Services; Tel: (07) 4782 7188; Fax: (07) 4782 7291;

4.3.2 Universities 

The University of Western Australia (Dr Steven Schilizzi)

'Risky Business': learning about decision making in uncertain and risky situations.

'Risky Business' is a simulation game and professional training workshop developed by the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) and the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Western Australia. It is designed to enable professionals to gain a greater understanding of the principles and processes of decision making under risky and uncertain conditions from a client's point of view.

The workshop provides a fun and relaxed atmosphere for interactive and motivational learning about decision making and adoption of new innovations. Players are presented with background material, and play a simulation game, which provides hands-on learning about a business manager's decision-making processes under risky and uncertain conditions.

The idea of the game is to manage a small business over 10 years (or seasons) and try to make money. In this simulation, the business is a farming venture. However, the principles learned are transferable to any other type of business where potentially high risk decisions are made regularly. This simulation game not only actively involves the participants, but takes the learning a step further by providing them with an opportunity to be in charge of events and have full authority and responsibility for their business. It is the decisions made by players during the game that provides them with a better understanding of how clients make real decisions about their businesses.

During the game, players select and manage their business enterprises in a climate of uncertain yields and prices, and decide whether or not to adopt a new innovation. Players are provided with instant feedback about the results of their decisions at the end of each season, and have the opportunity to interact with other players. This helps make the game an effective learning tool. As the game progresses, players must also consider the mid- to long-term repercussions of the choices they make. The winner of the game is the player who, at the end of the period, has the greatest net worth.

There are now several working versions of the "Risky Business" workshop, including:

  • Horticulture - irrigated vegetable growing
  • Mixed enterprise dryland farm with the option to invest in an innovation
  • Mixed enterprise dryland farm facing salinity problems - addresses issues involved with decisions on tree planting
  • Mixed enterprise dryland farm with the option of participating in price risk management using instruments like contracts and futures

Past participants in workshops have come from institutions such as banks, trading companies, universities and government agencies such as RAFCOR, Agriculture, and Commerce and Trade. The players have included biological scientists, quality managers, policy economists, librarians, district leaders, bankers and systems analysts. The game is used successfully as a teaching tool in the undergraduate degree courses for Agriculture, Natural Resource Management and Horticulture. Participants agree that the workshops were fun, worthwhile and improved their knowledge about the difficulties of decision making under conditions of risk and uncertainty.


Dr Steven Schilizzi, Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, W.A. 6907; Ph: (08) 9380 2105; Fax: (08) 9380 1098;

The Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA

The School of Earth Sciences at Flinders University offers courses in meteorology at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Undergraduate: The Discipline offers a combined undergraduate program in meteorology and oceanography. After passing first year science, candidates for the B.Sc degree follow a two year program which is equally divided between meteorology, oceanography and classical mathematical physics.

On the atmospheric side, the program involves both physical and dynamical meteorology, with emphasis on thermodynamics, radiative transfer, aviation meteorology, micrometeorology and physical climatology. Comprehensive laboratory sessions focus on numerical modelling of atmospheric phenomena using computer facilities.

Postgraduate: Programs leading to the B.Sc. Honours, M.Sc. and Ph.D in meteorology are offered. The latter two degree programs are by research. There is a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration through projects with agricultural and biological sciences.

FIAMS (the Flinders Institute for Atmospheric and Marine Science) is a multidisciplinary institute in the School of Earth Sciences. The research projects of the Institute involve graduate students of the School of Earth Sciences. Current research programs of the institute are:

  • airborne measurements of atmospheric and chemical parameters from micro-scale turbulence to macro-scale convection systems.
  • Pollution studies based on airborne measurement applications.
  • Climate variability studies based on the analysis of long time series.
  • Instrument development for airborne platforms.

Studies related to air-sea interaction.

  • Analysis of water mass distribution and ageing and their role in climate change.
  • Analysis of sea surface temperature for waters south of Australia based on satellite imagery.

Contact: D.D. Baldocchi; ;

The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus

Undergraduate students in their final year are using GrassGro (Moore et al. 1998) in association with pasture cuts in the field. This enables them to view their observations of current pasture growth in an historical context.

Use is also being made of APSFront, the user-friendly Windows front-end of APSIM from the Agricultural Production Systems Research Unit (APSRU) at Toowoomba. This allows staff and students to simulate the management and production of a wide range of crops, including wheat, sorghum, cotton, chickpea, mungbeans and peanuts. Further information on APSFront and APSIM may be obtained at and

During 1994 to 1998 Dr Bellotti supervised a GRDC project UA325 soil processes under grazed pastures: their impact on crop production. In this project GrassGro was linked to NWheat within the APSIM framework in order to simulate the effects of grazed pastures on subsequent growth and development of wheat.

Dr Bill Bellotti, Department of Agronomy & Farming Systems, Roseworthy. S.A. 5371. Ph: (08) 8303 7728; Fax: (08) 8303 7929;

The University of Melbourne, School of Earth Sciences, Parkville, Victoria. 3052

The School of Earth Sciences of the University of Melbourne offers programs in Atmospheric Sciences. At the undergraduate level, Atmospheric Sciences as a major discipline. Masters and Ph.D. degrees are awarded in Atmospheric Sciences. The fields of research at the postgraduate level include meteorology, climatology and oceanography.

The research projects currently being undertaken by the postgraduate students include

  • Sea ice and its effect upon weather and climate in high southern latitudes.
  • Severe gales in Southern Victoria.
  • A study of the mechanism of atmospheric carbon dioxide transport.
  • Air-sea interaction and low frequency climate variability.
  • Varieties of synoptic climatology across the Australian region and relationships with significant weather related phenomena.
  • Assessment of urban heat island bias in Australian climate record.
  • Climate variability caused by south polar air-ice interactions.
  • Vertical structure of gases over south east Australia.
  • South-east Australia mesoscale convective weather systems.

Contact Associate Professor Ian Simmonds; Ph: (03) 9344 7216; Fax: (03) 9344 7761; ;

Monash University, Melbourne,Vic 3806

The Monash University offers a program in Atmospheric Science related topics through either a postgraduate course in the Department of Mathematics or a postgraduate course in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science.

A Graduate course leading to a M.Sc in Meteorology is offered through the Centre for Dynamical Meteorology and Oceanography at Monash University and involves a research thesis comprising 67 per cent and course work worth 33 per cent. This degree course aims to provide a strong theoretical background in the fundamentals of meteorology and their practical applications.

Courses for majoring in Atmospheric Science and for postgraduate degree in Meteorology.

Undergraduate: Introduction to Atmospheric Sciences, Climate of the Earth Boundary Layer, Numerical Methods, Air Pollution Meteorology and Modelling, Dynamical Meteorology, The Australian Atmospheric Environment, Climate Change and Variability.

Postgraduate: Advanced Dynamically Meteorology, Waves in Fluids, Numerical Weather Analysis and Prediction, Cloud Physics and Convention, Radiative Transfer and Remote Sensing, Synoptic Meteorology Laboratory, Climate Variability.

Current research projects:

  • Greenhouse climate change detection.
  • Variability of the Southern Hemisphere circulation, particularly associated with the El Niņo-Southern Oscillation.
  • Wind field modelling.
  • Atmospheric dispersion modelling.
  • Extra-tropical cyclogenesis.
  • Tropical cyclone genesis.
  • Southern Ocean cloud experiment II
  • Structure and dynamics of sub-tropical cold fronts.

Contact: Professor David Karoly; Ph: (03) 9905 9669; Fax: (03) 9905 9689;

Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200

The School of Resource Management and Environmental Science within the Australian National University includes the Departments of Geography, Human Ecology and Forestry. The School offers training in climatology at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Undergraduate : Earth Systems, Processes in Physical Geography 2, Climatology.

Postgraduate: Post graduate degrees in Geography and postgraduate degrees in Resource and Environmental Studies are by research. The fields of research in which facilities are available are global climate modelling, digital elevation modelling, ecoclimatology and natural hazards.

Current and recent research projects:

  • Construction of a data base of geomorphic evidence for past climate change across northern Australia.
  • Investigation of geomorphic features sensitive to climate variation.
  • Multi-decadal climatic variability and change, with emphasis on both diagnostic analysis and Global Climate Model applications.
  • An Atlas of El Nino Southern Oscillation variability over the last 120 years.

Contact: R.J. Wasson; Ph: (02) 6249 2706; Fax: (02) 6249 3770;

The Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies (CRES) is a small, independent centre within the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) of the Australian National University. Its role is to undertake research and postgraduate training in resource and postgraduate training in resource and environmental issues of national and global significance. The principal challenge is to develop concepts, theories, frameworks, models and methods that transcend the bounds of traditional disciplinary approaches, but build on sound disciplinary foundations. Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research that seeks to balance production and conservation within a framework of sustainability has been a central focus for CRES since its establishment in 1973.

Relevant research has included the development of climate and topographic surfaces with linkages to hydrological models. There has been considerable work on drought and flood monitoring and policy, land salinisation, greenhouse issues and forestry ecology. There is now increasing emphasis on ecological economics, landscape processes and water resources research.


1. Ghassemi, F., Jakeman, A.J. and Nix, H.A. (1995). Salinisation of land and water resources: human causes, extent and case studies. University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney, 526 pp.

2. Hutchinson, M.F., Nix, H.A. and McMahon, J.P. (1992). Climate constraints on cropping systems. In Field Crop Ecosystems, edited by C.J. Pearson, Chapter 3, pp. 37-58, Elsevier Science, Amsterdam.

3. Jakeman, A.J., Beck, M.B. and McAleer, M.J. (editors) (1993). Modelling change in environmental systems, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, 584 pp.

4. Smith, D. I. (1998). Water in Australia: resources and management. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 384 pp.

Contact: Valda Semets, Executive Officer, Ph: (02) 6249 3176; Fax: (02) 6249 0757;

The University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052

Department of Geography and Department of Civil Engineering has limited programs in climatology.

Australian Climate and Vegetation is an undergraduate course offered in the Geography Department.

Postgraduate research facilities in drought and crop yield forecasting are available in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

Recent publication:

5. Opoku-Ankomah,Y., and Cordery, I., 1993. Temporal variation of relations between NSW Rainfall and Southern Oscillation. International Journal of Climatology 13, 51-64.


Associate Professor Ian Cordery, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052. Ph: (02) 9385 5024; Fax: (02) 9385 6139;;

Macquarie University, New South Wales 2109

Located in the School of Earth Sciences of the Macquarie University, the Physical Geography area offers undergraduate teaching, postgraduate teaching and postgraduate research in Atmospheric Science. In research, the Physical Geography area is also linked to Climatic Impacts Centre and Natural Hazards Research Centre of the Macquarie University. At the undergraduate level it offers a strong core program in Atmospheric Science as a major for B.Sc. in Science. At postgraduate, it offers a Postgraduate Diploma, Masters and Doctorate in Atmospheric Science.

Undergraduate: Planet Earth, Global Environmental Crisis, Climatic Impacts, Atmospheric Environment, Global Climates, Biometeorology, Applied Meteorology.

Postgraduate: Advanced Meteorology, Applied Meteorology, Climate Modelling, Boundary Layer Processes, Hydrology, Natural Hazards.

Major areas of research thrust: natural hazards, climatic impacts on environment and society, air pollution, climate modelling, boundary layer studies, applied meteorology.

Current projects (Natural Hazards Research Centre)

  • Climatological analysis of NHRC hail data set for Sydney.
  • Evaluation of hail risk in cotton growing ares of New South Wales.
  • Data base on fatalities from tropical cyclones.
  • Rainfall and run off relationships.
  • Climate and hail losses in winter cereal crops in NSW.

Current projects (Climatic Impacts Centre)

  • Economic and social benefits of Bureau of Meteorology's services.
  • Climate impacts assessment methods.
  • Regional (NSW) flooding, agricultural and other impacts.
  • Land surface model development.
  • Planetary boundary layer research
  • The generation and maximum intensity of tropical cyclones.


Physical Geography: Ms Karyn Knowles; Ph: (02) 9850 8426 Fax: (02) 9850 8420; ;

Climatic Impacts Centre: Ph: (02) 9850 8398; Fax: (02) 9850 9671;

Natural Hazards Research Centre: Ph: (02) 9850 9683; Fax: (02) 9850 9394;

University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, Richmond, NSW 2753

The University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury Campus, has Masters and Ph.D. degree programs in Applied Science (Agricultural and Rural Development) with one major field of either Agricultural Education, Farming Systems, Extension and Rural Development or Marketing and Rural Commerce).

Agroclimatology is one of the subjects for a Masters degree in this program. The major field of research at the postgraduate level in the discipline of agroclimatology is the development and application of decision support systems so as to minimise agroclimatic risks in farming.

Research projects currently being undertaken by the Ph.D. Students include:

  • Decision support for climate risk management in dry land crop production
  • Decision support for improved climatic risk/opportunity management in dry land cropping systems.

Contact Dr. Samsul Huda; Ph: (02) 4570 1390; Fax: (02) 4570 1750; ;

The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW

The Department of Geography and Environmental Science of the University of New Castle offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in Physical Geography with climatology as a major field. The courses offered are:

Undergraduate: Introduction to Physical Geography, Biogeography and Climatology, Advanced Climatology.

Postgraduate: Natural Hazards.

The postgraduate research fields are synoptic climatology, air pollution, acid rains and fog, climate change, grapevine phenology, studies of vineyard evaporation and water balance.

Recent publications:

Bridgeman, H.A., Maddock, M.N., and Geering D,J. 1997. Cattle egret migration, satellite telemetry and weather in south-eastern Australia, Corella 21, 69-76.

Bridgeman, H.A., Maddock, M.N., and Geering D,J. 1998. Assessing the relationships between cattle egret migration and meteorology in south-west Pacific, a review. International Journal of Biometeorology (in press).

Contact: A/professor Howard A Bridgeman; Ph: (02) 4921 5093; Fax: (02) 4921 5877;;

University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351

The Department of Geography and Planning at the University of New England offers both Masters and Ph.D. programs in Geography with Climatology as a major field.

Undergraduate courses are offered covering the atmospheric system, biogeography, natural hazards, topics in climatology, applied climatology, and special topics in physical geography.

Postgraduate: Masters and Ph.D. in Geography with Climatology as major field. The fields of research at the postgraduate level include meteorology, climatology and natural hazards (Southern Hemisphere climatology, severe local storms, tropical rainfall).

Contact Associate Professor J.E. Hobbs; Ph: (02) 6773 2903

The Division of Agronomy and Soil Science (Pasture Agronomy Group) offers research facilities in agroclimatology. The field of research at the postgraduate level is on the persistence of grasses through drought.

Recently completed postgraduate research includes:

  • Adaptation of cocksfoot to drought conditions.
  • Persistence of perennial grasses through drought.

Contact Dr. Jim Scott; Ph: (02) 6773 2594; Fax: (02) 6773 3238;

Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480

Southern Cross University offers a Bachelor of Applied Science degree. One of the elective subjects for this degree is Hydrology and Climatology.

Contact: Ph: (02) 6620 3000; Fax: (02) 6622 1300;

The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld

The University of Queensland offers training in climatology in the Department of Geographical Sciences and Planning. The subjects offered are


Physical Geography - Applied Climatology, human impact and natural hazards.

Climatology - Physical and applied climatology.

Postgraduate: Climatology Project - Studies within specialised field of applied climatology.

Current postgraduate research.

  • Cell resolution for modelling rainfall run off in watersheds.
  • Spatial and Temporal Evolution of Drought in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
  • Effectiveness management of Tropical Cyclone Hazards.
  • Patterns of Sea Surface Temperatures and Australian Rainfall Anomalies in Years of Extreme Rainfall.
  • Remote Sensing of Precipitation Generation Mechanism along Wet Tropical Coast of North East Queensland.

Contact: Dr. Andris Auliciems; Ph: (07) 3336 5353; ;

Agricultural Systems Teaching in the University of Queensland

Teaching in Agricultural Systems commenced at the University of Queensland in the early 1980's. From the outset there was a strong emphasis on managing variability in dryland farming systems, namely prices and climate, and to this end, models were useful tools for teaching and understanding the interactions in complex systems. Commonly, systems are characterised by the level of productivity, reliability and sustainability. Students are encouraged to consider temporal trends in these characters. Undergraduate subjects range from those that focus on model development to applied subjects that use a specific model to teach management principles. RAINMAN is used extensively to teach students an appreciation of climate variability. Since BEEFUP analyses beef production in Queensland over a range of locations, seasons and price trends, it is used to illustrate spatial and temporal variations and the benefits of simulation experiments. These concepts are further developed by using PERFECT, a model which estimates productivity, reliability and sustainability of management options in dryland cropping systems. Other packages such as RANGEPACK, CAMDAIRY, STOCKUP, FEEDUP and Watershed, are commonly used to teach management principles within discipline based subjects.

Some students move from an introduction to model development into an honours project or a postgraduate project on model development. Experience has shown that a good introduction to model development is achieved through building relatively simple soil water balance and plant growth models on a spread sheet. Whilst a spreadsheet limits the size of the model to simulations of one year, with each line representing a daily time step, this limitation is offset by the ease of manipulating equations and the convenient visual presentation of output.

Contact: Dr Ken Rickert, School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland, Gatton College, Qld 4345; Ph: (07) 5460 1113; fax; (07) 5460 1324; ;

James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Qld

Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering

The Department has two research projects in the field of satellite meteorology:

Satellite Transmission Rain Attenuation Project. The aim of the project is to address the shortfall of satellite propagation data in tropical regions. Results gathered from this project will be used for the design of future satellite systems for many years to come.

JCUMetSat GMS Weather Pictures Receiving Project. The aim of this project is to receive, colour enhance and interpret and create archives of the cloud pictures from the GMS satellite which is operated by the Japan Meteorological agency. The coloured enhanced pictures are put on web site to be used by general public. The pictures at the web site are the latest cloud picture of the globe, cloud picture of Australia, pictures of special interest such as cyclones, typhoons and other interesting weather phenonema. The Australian cloud pictures are also shown as a movie. The internet address to access satellite pictures from JCU is

Contact: Prof. J.C. Kikkert; Ph: (07) 4781 4259; fax (07) 4725 1348;

Centre for Disaster Studies, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870

The Centre for Disaster Studies lies within James Cook University and is situated at Cairns. It is positioned for research of disaster cyclones (hurricanes, typhoons), tornadoes, floods, drought, bushfires, and landslides,

Opportunities exist for post graduate and professional course work study and research through this Centre with the wide range of disciplines listed at James Cook University.

Special training for Disaster Response personnel, incorporating the holistic theme of the Centre.

Current Research Projects

  • Community Vulnerability to Cyclone and Storm Surge.
  • Physical Natural Hazards - Palaeocatastrophic Wave Impacts and Long Term Palaeoflood records.
  • Impacts of Tropical Cyclones on the Great Barrier Reef including an Atlas of Cyclones affecting the reef from1969 to 1996.
  • Psychological Preparedness for Natural Disasters - Implications for Public Education and Warning messages.
  • Wind Tunnel Experimentation.

Contact: Ph: (07) 4042 1215; Fax: (07) 4042 1214; ;

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