Dr Sarah Perkins
University Of NSW
Climate Extremes

Despite their adverse impacts, definitions and measurements of heatwaves are ambiguous and inconsistent. Dr Perkins’ research has addressed this issue by developing a framework that incorporates three heatwave definitions, measuring intensity, frequency and duration that can be consistently measured across many types of climatological data. This framework has shown that annual trends in warm spells (which include both winter and summer events) show larger changes than summer events by themselves. This means that wintertime warm spells are ‘driving’ the annual trends, and are increasing at faster rates than the generally super-hot summertime heatwaves.

Sarah has undertaken workshops both within Australia and in the Pacific Islands, communicating her work with community groups with little understanding of climate science. During her recent role on the World Meteorological Organisations’ Expert Team on Climate Risk and Sector specific Climate Indices, she helped plan the workshop in January 2013 in Ecuador, and will help to run the workshop in June this year. This is a major non-academic workshop for meteorological services and impacts groups from developing countries across South America. Sarah has also participated in Science meets Parliament in (2011),authored an article for The Conversation regarding our recent hot summer as well as conducting mainstream print, TV and radio interviews.