Dr Adele Morrison, a long-time NCI user and highly respected physical oceanographer and modeller from The Australian National University, has received the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year in the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. Dr Morrison is recognised for her research into ocean circulation and its impact on sea levels and climate change.

Using high-resolution modelling run on NCI’s Gadi supercomputer, as well as previous NCI supercomputers Raijin and Vayu, Dr Morrison explores ocean circulation around Antarctica in exquisite detail. Her research provides us with critical understanding of rising sea levels, helping policymakers safeguard Australia against future impacts of climate change.

A woman stands in a dark space with her hand on the door of a supercomputer cabinet. She and the complex cables in the supercomputer are brightly lit.
Dr Adele Morrison stands in front of the Gadi supercomputer. Image by Tracey Nearmy/ANU.

Dr Morrison says, “My work using high resolution modelling has helped us to unravel the complex dynamics of the upwelling circulation and how it will respond to climate change.”

“I hope my work can inspire the next generation of scientists to unravel new discoveries and technologies that limit the impacts of climate change and our transition to a zero-emissions world.”

An NCI user since 2009, Dr Morrison’s work relies heavily on the supercomputing and integrated data storage available at NCI. Typical simulations model the relationships between the Southern Ocean, Antarctic ice and the atmosphere, often requiring tens of thousands of processor cores for a single run. This is because of the complexity of accurately simulating the whole expanse of the waters around Antarctica while also providing enough resolution to capture the relatively small 1-kilometre eddies.

NCI Director Professor Sean Smith says, “Congratulations to Dr Morrison on this incredible award. We are so proud to be able to provide the supercomputing and data infrastructure that underpins her critical research.”

“The next big breakthroughs in climate science, battery technology, renewable energy and personalised medicine will rely on superpowered simulations just like those of Dr Morrison. By providing an integrated big data and supercomputing environment to thousands of Australian researchers every year, we are enabling discoveries that will improve our lives and help us respond to a changing world.”

In addition to her profound and novel scientific discoveries, Dr Morrison hopes she can be a role model for young women. She hopes to show that “it is possible to have a wonderful life both inside and outside of science.” NCI congratulates her on her stellar scientific record, this significant award, and her support for the next generation of Australian researchers.