About the team

Our Team

The team comprises a cross-disciplinary group of oceanographers, climatologists, and mathematicians with expertise in observing, measuring, and projecting the physical properties of the oceans and coasts. Team members are highly regarded internationally and have contributed to several key IPCC reports and produced numerous scientific journal papers and reports.

Kathleen L. McInnes

Kathleen McInnes joined CSIRO in 1990 and is a senior researcher and leader of the Climate Extremes and Projections group in the CSIRO Climate Science Centre of the Oceans and Atmosphere business unit. Her research focuses on understanding how climate change will affect severe weather events and coastal extreme sea levels through numerical modelling and climate model analysis. She has developed climate projections for impact and adaptation assessments to assist local government manage and adapt to climate change. Her contribution to this work was awarded Eureka awards in 2003 and 2009. She has published over 50 refereed publications and over 60 other reports and articles. She was a contributing author on the IPCC Second, Third and Fourth Assessment Reports and a lead author on the IPCC Special Report on Extremes and the IPCC Working Group 2 Fifth Assessment Report on Coastal Systems and Low-Lying Areas. She was part of the CSIRO team developing a wave energy atlas for Australian Renewable Energy Australia (ARENA) and is presently a lead author on the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere and is a member of the WCRP Grand Challenge for Sea Level. More detail at:

Ron K. Hoeke

Ron Hoeke is a Principal Research Scientist leading the Sea-Level, Waves and Coastal Extremes team within CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere Climate Science Centre. Ron joined CSIRO in October 2010. His research interests include the interaction of physics, geomorphology and ecology in the littoral zone, and how these factors will impact humans in a changing climate. Prior to joining CSIRO, Ron studied coastal barrier island change as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project and helped establish an inter-disciplinary NOAA/University of Hawaii coral reef monitoring program for Pacific Islands. He completed a PhD at James Cook University in 2010, focused on better understanding circulation, water quality and sedimentation of coral reefs, through a NOAA, US Geological Survey and Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) partnership.  His current research focuses on coastal hazards, marine renewable energy and forecasting littoral dynamics. More detail at:

Xuebin Zhang

Xuebin Zhang joined CSIRO as a Research Scientist in 2010. He contributed to the Pacific Climate Change Science Program (PCCSP) and follow-up Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning (PACCSAP) Program, by studying regional sea level change and projection for Island countries in the western tropical Pacific. Both PCCSP and PACCSAP programs were funded by the Australian Government’s International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. His research interests include ocean and climate change, sea-level rise, climate variability, ocean dynamics and numerical modelling, with particular interest in regional sea level change and variability, and associated underlying physical mechanisms. He led the CSIRO Ocean Downscaling Strategic Project to provide high-resolution (1/10 °) future climate change signals in the ocean simulated by CMIP5 climate models with a near-global eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model. Before joining CSIRO, he studied and worked at University of Washington, NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (Seattle, Washington) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (San Diego, California), mainly focusing on ENSO and tropical ocean dynamics by applying both in-situ data analysis and numerical modelling. More detail at:

Julian O’Grady

Julian O’Grady joined CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in mid 2006, and since then he has been supporting research into extreme sea levels. His work involves wave modelling, littoral transport modelling, and extreme value analysis to estimate the impact storms have had on coastlines in Australia and the Pacific, and how they will change into the future. Julian is also involved with the team’s wave renewable energy project, analysing Australia’s wave resource and understanding the physical impacts of farm arrays.

Claire Trenham

Claire Trenham joined CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research in 2011 working with Dr Mark Hemer on wave climate modelling in the COWCLIP, PACCSAP and ACCSP projects. After a period working as a Research Data Services Specialist for the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) in Canberra between 2014-2017, Claire returned to CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere in 2017 working with the Sea level, Waves and Coastal Extremes team alongside the regional climate (CCAM) team. Claire is currently working on regional climate projections, coastal extremes modelling, littoral and wave modelling, data management and publishing, and other climate data work. More detail at:

Salman Saeed Khan

Dr Salman Saeed Khan joined CSIRO as a Research Scientist in February 2018. His current research focuses on using satellite SAR remote sensing to extract surface ocean wave spectrum and subsequently retrieving ocean wave parameters and the ingestion of these data into other research areas. Prior to joining CSIRO, he worked as an Earth Observations Applications and Services engineer for Starlab in Barcelona, Spain and as a postdoctoral researcher at Universities of Exeter and Surrey, UK where he worked on a variety of remote sensing techniques including SAR, UAV-LiDAR, and multispectral. His PhD was focused on developing new/more efficient statistical models for multivariate polarimetric SAR data. More detail at:

Vanessa Hernaman

Vanessa Hernaman joined CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere in 2017. Her research interests include using ocean observations and modelling to better understand variability and change in coastal and ocean processes (physical, biological, and chemical) and address questions around coastal risk assessment and management, ecosystem-based management for estuaries and reefs, and ocean renewable energy. Before joining CSIRO, Vanessa was a Senior Scientist at the UK Met Office, working in the Ocean Forecasting team responsible for the maintenance and development of the Operational Sea Surface Temperature and Ice Analysis system (OSTIA). She also contributed to the European Union Horizon 2020 project AtlantOS, aimed at achieving a sustainable, efficient, and fit-for-purpose Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (IAOOS). More detail at:

Blake Seers

Blake Seers joined CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere in 2019, working within the Sea level, Waves and Coastal Extremes team. Before joining CSIRO, Blake was a statistical consultant within the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland, after completing his PhD in Marine Science and Statistics. Blake works across the various projects within the team where he contributes to the scientific programming, statistical analyses and high-performance computing requirements for research and industry purposes.

Tracey Pitman head shot

Tracey Pitman

Tracey is a project manager, assisting with a portfolio of multi-agency projects. She oils the wheels, and assists with project delivery by
– facilitating communications to help projects keep on track, and
– helping develop creative solutions to any issues arising.

Tracey works in teams that provide ocean dynamics and wave resource information. This information helps ensure well-informed decision-making on operations, policy and development of Australian ocean-based activities (such as naval operations).

This is Tracey’s second stint at CSIRO after working in the algal culture collection early in her career. She has 10 years prior experience as a research scientist at state and local government level. In the past she held positions as a laboratory manager (water quality), a policy research assistant (marine, and mine water quality), and as a workshop facilitator. More detail at

photo of Kewei

Kewei Lyu

Kewei is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working with Xuebin Zhang and John Church. His current research contributes to the CSHOR sea level project (, with focuses on the Southern Ocean sea level change and the associated heat uptake and redistribution. Kewei received his PhD in Physical Oceanography in 2015 from Xiamen University, China. During his study, he spent two years in Hobart as a visiting student with our sea level team. His PhD work compares regional sea level changes due to external forcing and natural climate variability, particularly the large-scale decadal-to-multidecadal sea level variability in the Pacific. Before returning back to Hobart, he worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine, studying dynamics of atmospheric processes that drive the regional sea level changes. More detail at:


photo of Jingwei Zhang

Jingwei Zhang

Mr. Jingwei Zhang is a Ph.D. student at the University of Tasmania and a member of the Southern Ocean sea-level change project team. He received his Bachelor in physical oceanography at the University of Tasmania and the Ocean University of China. His current research is directed towards investigating the response of Southern Ocean circulation and sea level to the freshwater input from Antarctica.

Photo of Zeya Li

Zeya Li

Zeya is a PhD student in the Quantitative Marine Science (QMS) program under the supervision of Prof. Neil Holbrook from UTas and Dr. Xuebin Zhang from CSIRO. Zeya started her PhD in November 2018. Her PhD topic is about ENSO modulation mechanisms of Marine Heatwaves (MHWs) which are prolonged warming extremes occur in the ocean. During the PhD, she is going to study how ENSO modulates MHWs in different regions (e.g., off southeast Australia in the Tasman Sea) with different forcing mechanisms using MITgcm and its adjoint model. Zeya completed her undergraduate study as a student of 2+2 program between Ocean University of China (OUC) and UTas. She received her bachelor degree in Marine Science (Physical Oceanography) with first class honours in August 2018. Her honours thesis discusses remote forcing of Tasman Sea MHWs.

Emilio Echevarria

Emilio started his Ph.D. at UTas in July 2017 in the Quantitative Marine Science program under the supervision of Dr. Mark Hemer and Prof. Neil Holbrook. Emilio’s PhD topic is about ocean wave-current interaction. He will study the influence that global surface currents have on the wind-wave field, that is, how currents can change the wave properties (height, direction, period, etc). This will be done by running WAVEWATCH III simulations forced with and without surface currents and studying the differences. He will also analyse the changes observed in the directional wave spectra to provide a better representation of the wave climate. This study will be performed in both global and regional/coastal scales. Emilio is from Argentina, and completed his Physical Oceanography studies in the University of Buenos Aires and Master thesis with the Coastal Dynamics Group of the Hydrographic Naval Service of Argentina.

Research Associates

Mark Hemer

Dr Mark Hemer was a Principal Research Scientist leading the Sea-Level, Waves and Coastal Extremes team within CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere Climate Science Centre until July 2020 when he moved to the Coasts group in Oceans & Atmosphere. His research interests focus on the interaction of waves with other oceanographic drivers in the nearshore and coastal zone. His research on the climatological variability and change of surface ocean waves is regarded internationally. His work has application for coastal hazards, the potential impacts of climate change and the implications for coastal risk management, and ocean renewable energy.  More detail at:

John Church

John Church is a CSIRO Fellow. He has published across a broad range of topics in oceanography. His area of expertise is the role of the ocean in climate, particularly anthropogenic climate change. He is an expert in estimating and understanding global and regional sea-level rise. He is the author of over 130 refereed publications, over 90 other reports and co-edited three books. He was co-convening lead author for the Chapter on Sea Level in the IPCC Third and Fifth Assessment Reports. He was awarded the 2006 Roger Revelle Medal by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, was a winner of a CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement in 2006, won the 2007 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research and presented the 2008 AMOS R.H. Clarke Lecture. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the American Meteorological Society. More detail at: John Church (UNSW).

Benoit Legressy

Benoit Legresy came to the sea level group at CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere in July 2014 as a sea level scientist. He is studying global and regional sea level evolution. He focuses on observations, mainly satellite altimetry and tide gauge records. He participates in satellite altimetry calibration/validation on the Australian sites. His previous research involved Glaciology and Oceanography, Geodesy and Remote Sensing.

Rebecca Gregory

Rebecca Gregory joined CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in 2010 working within the Major Greenhouse Gases team as the laboratory manager for the Global Atmospheric Sampling LABoratory (GASLAB).  She was the primary operator of the key laboratory instrumentation, organised CSIRO’s global flask network and CSIRO’s contribution to intercomparison activities with collaborative organisations.  Additionally, she was involved in the assessment of data quality and consistency for laboratory and field instrumentation. From early 2018, Rebecca has been working within the Sea Level, Waves and Coastal Extremes team on the Tide Gauge Digitisation Project and the sea level extremes eResearch project.

Didier Monselesan

Didier Monselesan joined CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, in 2008, where he is participating in the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research sea level studies and forecasting efforts. Didier started his Australian career at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) in the Upper Atmosphere Physics group as an expeditioner wintering at Casey Station in 1993 and 1995. He pursued his interests in upper atmospheric physics at the Ionospheric Prediction Services (IPS) Radio and Space services in Sydney. His focus gradually shifted down from the upper atmosphere to mesospheric and stratospheric studies when rejoining the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to work on the AAD LIDAR experiment at Davis Station from 2006 to 2008. On his return, he decided to take a plunge into the Ocean by joining the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research laboratories in Hobart.


Our Work

  An overview of our research is provided here.

Sea Level and thermal expansion

Extending the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) time series back in time using tide-gauge data, and forward to the present using both tide-gauge and satellite-altimeter data

  • First successful attempt to estimate a GMSL time series as well as regional patterns of sea level change for the second half of the 20th century published in 2004 (Church et al. 2004)
  • Assessment of the difference between, and variability of, coastal and global sea level published in 2005 (White et al, 2005)
  • The techniques used in Church et al (2004) extended backwards in time to estimate GMSL back to 1870. A significant acceleration in sea level rise in the first half of the 20th century was also detected. Published in 2006 (Church and White, 2006)

Understanding the variability in the historical sea level record, including the effect of volcanic eruptions on sea level

  • The first assessment of the effect of major volcanic eruptions on sea level and ocean heat content published in 2005 (Church et al, 2005)

Estimating ocean thermal expansion and ocean heat content changes over the last 50 years using historical ocean temperature data

  • Ongoing work, with other groups, producing better estimates of ocean heat content, doing comparisons with model estimates, and also helping to tie down estimates of climate sensitivity is in progress.
  • Closing the sea level budget for the latter part of the 20th century.

Satellite data processing

Satellite altimeter data processing and calibration

  •  We have been working with satellite altimeter data since the late 1980s (GEOSAT)
  • We have been actively involved in development of processing techniques since early in the TOPEX/Poseidon mission.
  • We have run a satellite altimeter (TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1) calibration site at Burnie on the north coast of Tasmania since before the TOPEX/Poseidon launch in 1992. This site has been progressively upgraded with a permanent co-located GPS receiver, as well as calibration campaigns involving GPS buoy deployments and moored oceanographic equipment (pressure gauges, current meters and temperature/salinity meters).
  • We have been involved in the TOPEX/Poseidon Science Working Team (SWT) and its lineal descendants (for Jason-1 and Jason-2) since the late 1980s.

Ocean waves

Study of the variability and change in the global wind-wave climate

  • We lead work in the Coordinated Ocean Wave CLImate Project (COWCLIP) (Hemer et al, 2012)
  • Reanalysis, CMIP3 and CMIP5 data have been used as forcing data for the WaveWatchIII wave model
  • We are currently undertaking analysis of COWCLIP contributing data to improve statistical understanding of uncertainty in wave climate projections

Collection, analysis and dissemination of global and national scale wind-wave observations and model data

  • We partner with the Bureau of Meteorology to produce a wave hindcast of the global ocean, with high resolution grids around Australia and Pacific island nations, from 1979 to the present (Durrant et al, 2014).
  • Our wave modelling data contributes to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) project to characterise ocean renewable energy resources
  • We have created the Australian Wave Energy Atlas as part of AREMI-NationalMap
  • Wave model outputs are validated against wave buoy data and independent satellite altimetry.

Ocean energy

Characterisation of ocean renewable energy resources and potential environmental effects

  •  Australia is widely recognised as having an abundant wave energy resource which could contribute to the country’s future energy mix. The team has used their wave modelling data to provide details of the national wave energy resource (Hemer et al 2016).
  • To support the development of the wave energy industry in Australia we provide best practice guidance on the influence of arrays of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) on the hydrodynamic attributes of the surrounding ocean. These guidelines have been developed as part of the Australian Wave Energy Atlas Project (AWavEA) and address the limited evidence-base and methodology for assessing impacts of wave energy extraction on the marine and coastal environment.
  • The development of the guidelines combines information obtained from field observations together with numerical modelling.
  • We are also looking at tidal energy resources around Australia as part of the ARENA project.

Sea level impacts and extremes

Study of the effects of sea level rise and other climate factors on the frequency and magnitude of coastal extreme events (e.g., storm surge)

  • Coastal extreme events resulting from sea level rise as a driver of natural hazards in the coastal zone (McInnes et al, 2016).
  • Modelling synthetic tropical cyclones to study extreme events (Hoeke et al, 2015; McInnes et al, 2016).

Study of areas at risk of coastal inundation

  • Inundation of Pacific islands as a result of distance wind-wave swell (Hoeke et al, 2013).
  • Targeted studies of Pacific islands.
  • Coastal modelling for Australian local councils.