Atmospheric Observations Research Group


AORG partner with to develop World first bushfire meteorological hazard detection and warning systems.

The AORG have partnered with to develop a World first bushfire meteorological hazard detection and warning system using the AORGs UQ-XPOL  -  a mobile dual polarised x-band doppler radar. Research collaborators include the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Furuno Electric Japan and JN Taylor & Co. Pty Ltd t/a FURUNO AUSTRALIA and, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.


The primary aim of the 3-year project is to develop a real-time hazard identification capability using AI to analyse radar data. Supported by new software interfaces this will enable nowcasting of ember transport and attack, extreme winds including vortices and potential hazards from bushfire triggered thunderstorms.

Atmospheric rivers may hasten Australia’s snow melt. 

Research just published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology (DOI: 10.1175/JHM-D-20-0293.1) by the AORG highlights the impacts of ARs on the marginal Australian snowpack. Professor McGowan said the future of Australian Alps hangs in the balance, and hinges on a variety of factors. “The Australian Alps snowpack is marginal already but is also facing reductions in snow depth and winter-time precipitation, as well as predicted reductions in snow cover to the extent of 60% by 2070,” he said. “Collectively, these factors may lead to more fleeting snow cover in the Australian Alps by 2050 or even sooner.” 

Kimberley Adventure

In July and August 2021/2022 members of the AORG successfully completed 5/2 weeks of fieldwork in northern Australia driving 14,500 km to collect sediment cores from sites in the Kimberley. The fieldwork is part of an Australian Research Council - Linkage project with Rock Art Australia to reconstruct the paleo-environment of the Kimberley for the past 60ka. Sites are shown on the map left.

Energy Balance research of coral reefs

Corals reefs face a wide range of threats from pollution, overfishing, mining, tourism and climate change. The AORG are recognised globally for leading research to understand the energy balance of coral reefs so that the correct attributions of controls on the thermal environments of coral reefs can be made. Their research has shown that local meteorology and hydrodynamics are the primary controls on reef water temperatures and not for example, background global warming. Following a decade of such research at UQ's Heron Island research station, the team are now partnering with researchers at Geological Survey Israel Dead Sea Observatory  and are using eddy covariance systems to quantify energy exchanges over the desert fringing coral reefs in the Gulf of Eilat.

AORG is a multidisciplinary group specializing in the research of atmospheric processes through observational techniques. Our research covers a wide range of phenomenon including severe convective storms, snow and water resources of southeast Australia, atmosphere-bushfire interactions, and anthropogenic impacts on weather and climate.

We are comprised of research staff and higher degree students led by Professor Hamish McGowan in the University of Queensland's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences where we teach several courses related to meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and global change.