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CSIRO Australian National Outlook 2015
The Australian National Outlook Seeks to provide a better understanding of Australiaâs physical economy.PT2M54S 620 349
Fears that some of Australia's most important climate research institutions will be gutted under a Turnbull government have been realised with deep job cuts for scientists.
Fairfax Media has learnt that as many as 110 positions in the Oceans and Atmosphere division will go, with a similarly sharp reduction in the Land and Water division.
It's a catastrophic reduction in our capacity to assess present and future climate changeAndy Pitman, UNSW
Total job cuts would be about 350 staff over two years, the CSIRO confirmed in an email to staff, with the Data61 and Manufacturing divisions also hit.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a visit to CSIRO in December. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
"Climate will be all gone, basically, " one senior scientist said before the announcement.
In the email sent out to staff on Thursday morning, CSIRO's chief executive Larry Marshall indicated that, since climate change had been established, further work in the area would be a reduced priority.
Fears of job cuts in CSIRO's key climate research division have been realised. Photo: CSIRO
"CSIRO pioneered climate research, the same way we saved the cotton and wool industries for our nation, " Dr Marshall said. "But we cannot rest on our laurels as that is the path to mediocrity.
"Our climate models are among the best in the world and our measurements honed those models to prove global climate change, " he said.
"That question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with?"
Understanding how bushfires and other perils will change with global warming will be undermined by the cuts, scientists say. Photo: NASA
Australia, with its already variable climate, has seen average temperatures rise about 1 degree over the past century. Heatwaves are also increasing in intensity and frequency, as are the number of high fire danger days, according to research by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.
Scientists last year expressed bemusement when told that revenue needed to be sought in all parts of the organisation. One researcher wondered then how basic research such as tracking the changes of salinity levels between Indonesia and Fremantle - one gauge used to track circulation and other ocean shifts - might be used to generate income.
Dr Marshall indicated some people might be able to find new skills for priority areas.
"Our people are innovative and many can reinvent themselves to learn these new areas, " he said. "We will need new people with new skills to help us navigate this new future."