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Dr Helen Cleugh

Post Retirement Fellow

Contact details:

GPO BOX 1700


Dr Helen Cleugh is an atmospheric scientist with over 30 years’ experience combining research discovery, delivery and leadership. She completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia in Canada, then took up a role as Lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney in 1987 before moving to CSIRO in 1994.

Her research expertise lies in quantifying the interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere, and their effects on weather, climate and hydrology; and water-use and carbon uptake. This research has provided data, information and knowledge for decision and policy-makers in government; resource managers; urban planners; and the agriculture sector.

Dr Cleugh was the inaugural Director of CSIRO's Climate Science Centre, from 2017 to 2020. The Climate Science Centre brings together the core of CSIRO’s capability in modelling and observing the atmosphere, ocean and climate. The Centre collaborates closely with national and international research partners to deliver knowledge and information products and services to a broad community of research and end-users. She stepped down from this role in January 2020 before retiring from CSIRO in December 2020 where she remains a Post Retirement Fellow.

Dr Cleugh led the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub (a research consortium comprising CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and five universities) funded by the Australian government’s National Environmental Science Programme ( from its inception in 2015. She stepped aside from this role to become the Director of CSIRO’s Climate Science Centre in February 2017.

In addition to her recent role as Climate Science Centre Director, Dr Cleugh has held numerous leadership positions in CSIRO: she was Deputy Chief of CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research Division (2011 – 2014); and Deputy Director of the Oceans and Atmosphere Business Unit (2014 - 2015) and the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR, 2007 – 2009; 2011 – 2014). She was also Co-Chair of the Australian Climate Change Science Programme ( which delivered climate science, global and regional climate modelling capability, and the science underpinning regional climate projections for Australia. She also led the delivery of research infrastructure and data supporting ecosystem science via NCRIS TERN as leader of the OzFlux Facility; a national network of flux measurement stations (, funded by Australia’s National Collaborative Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS).

Current Roles

  • Research Director
    Climate Science Centre, Oceans & Atmosphere

Academic Qualifications

  • 1990

    Ph.D. (Atmospheric Science)
    University of British Columbia, Canada

  • 1981

    B.Sc. Hons. (First Class, Physical Geography)
    University of Otago, New Zealand

Professional Experiences

  • 2015-2017

    Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub Leader

  • 2014-2015

    Science and Deputy Director
    CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere

  • 2011-2014

    Deputy Chief
    CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

  • 1994-2018

    Research Scientist

  • 1987-1994

    University Lecturer
    Macquarie University

Achievements and Awards

  • 2018-2018

    CSIRO Chief Executive Team Award

  • 2002-2002

    Erskine Fellow
    Geography Department, University of Canterbury, NZ

  • 1982-1987

    Commonwealth (of Nations) Scholarship
    University of British Columbia

Other highlights

  • 2017-2020

    Leadership of CSIRO's Climate Science Centre

  • 2014-2017

    Leadership of the NESP Earth System and Climate Change Hub

  • 2011-2014

    Deputy Chief of CMAR: leadership of CSIRO's climate and atmospheric research

  • 1999-2014

    Leadership role in developing and delivering OzFlux and TERN

  • 1994-2001

    Leadership ofthe National Windbreaks Program