Sunburnt Country: The history and future of climate change in Australia


Sunburnt Country highlights the impact of a warming planet on Australian lifestyles and ecosystems and the power we all have to shape future life on Earth.

Start Date

16th May 2018 6:30pm

End Date

16th May 2018 7:30pm


Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Sandy Bay campus

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presented by

Joëlle Gergis

Dr Joëlle Gergis

University of Melbourne

Join the Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society (Tas) as they welcome the award-winning climate scientist and writer Dr Joëlle Gergis from the University of Melbourne.

What was Australia’s climate like before official weather records began?

How do scientists use tree-rings, ice cores and tropical corals to retrace the past?

What do Indigenous seasonal calendars reveal? And what do settler diary entries about rainfall, droughts, bushfires and snowfalls tell us about natural climate cycles?

Dr Gergis's new book Sunburnt Country pieces together Australia’s climate history for the first time. It uncovers a continent long vulnerable to climate extremes and variability. It gives an unparalleled perspective on how human activities have altered patterns that have been with us for millions of years, and what climate change looks like in our own backyard.

Sunburnt Country highlights the impact of a warming planet on Australian lifestyles and ecosystems and the power we all have to shape future life on Earth.

About the author

Dr Gergis has held two Australian Research Council fellowships as an internationally recognised expert in Australian and Southern Hemisphere climate variability and change.

From 2009–2012 she led the Australian Research Council Linkage funded South-Eastern Australian Recent Climate History (SEARCH) project; a landmark initiative, spanning the sciences and the humanities to reconstruct the region’s climate variability from first European settlement in 1788. 

From 2009 Dr Gergis led the international Past Global Changes (PAGES) working group on Australasian climate variability of the past 2000 years (Aus2K), until the project’s completion in 2017. This involved coordinating the development of the region’s 1000 year temperature reconstruction for input into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report.

Alongside her research career, in 2012 Joëlle was awarded a Writers Victoria Grace Marion Wilson Fellowship for an Emerging Writer. In 2013 Dr Gergis was awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship, and her team won the 2014 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research – informally known as the ‘Oscars of Australian Science’.

In 2015 Joëlle was awarded the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne. In February 2018, she was selected to serve as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report – a global, state-of-the art review of climate change science.

Her book, Sunburnt Country: The future and history of climate change in Australia, is now available through Melbourne University Publishing:

Hosted by the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.