BAMOS Autumn 2022
David Karoly ' retires '
Linden Ashcroft , The University of Melbourne
David Karoly , at Brighton High School . Photograph supplied by Mary Voice .
You don ’ t see the word ‘ indefatigable ’ much these days . It ’ s an old term really , generally saved for 19th century polymaths or explorers .
But when describing Professor David Karoly , who recently retired from his position as a Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO , ‘ indefatigable ’ is the word that keeps coming to mind .
The term was certainly used at his retirement symposium in January , where almost 300 people tuned in to celebrate David ’ s far-reaching career . To have so many people dial in for three hours speaks to David ’ s impact and importance in the global climate science community .
Speakers from around the world covered aspects of David ’ s varied 45-year journey from nervous maths undergraduate to one of Australia ’ s most vocal and influential climate scientists . His former supervisor Sir Brian Hoskins opened proceedings on his symposium , sharing tales of David as a student . Collaborators from Australia , the UK and the US — including AMOS Fellow Mary Voice , Professor Susan Solomon from MIT , and Professor Myles Allen from Oxford — spoke of a passionate colleague and friend who has remained determined , dedicated and optimistic while wrangling some of the biggest questions of climate variability and change .
These traits were echoed by testimonies from former students , who spoke of David ’ s enthusiasm , passion , and ability to see the best in others . The famous David Karoly and Alan Jones encounter was relayed with relish by Peter Crozier , who cofounded the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists , and there was resounding agreement in the symposium chat box when former colleague Joëlle Gergis shared her story , telling the audience , ‘ David literally changed my life ’.
It ’ s a struggle to think of an aspect of weather and climate science that David hasn ’ t been involved with since his seminal PhD work on planetary waves in the early 1980s . From historical climate variability to future climate change , severe storm behaviour to ozone depletion , droughts to floods , heatwaves to ice caps , David has contributed to almost every aspect of our field .
In addition to David ’ s extensive scientific achievements , his role as a science communicator , political advisor , leader , mentor , supervisor , friend , and source of creative inspiration were also highlighted at the symposium , recognising his determination to get climate science into the public and political conversation .
David is a fellow of AMOS , the Australian Academy of Sciences and the American Meteorological Society . He has supported 46 students to the completion of their Masters and PhD , helped bring more than $ 82 millions dollars to Australian climate change research , and written over 240 publications . He is also part of the revered group of IPCC authors who shared the Nobel Peace prize with Al Gore in 2007 .
These statistics would make many people feel intimidated , terrified even , of interacting with such a big name .
But such is the irrepressible magic of David Karoly . He is just as present , and himself , whether he is giving testimony for a case , on Q & A , speaking at a sustainable film festival in Tatong ( population 287 ), or chatting to you at a tram stop .
Other words also pop up when thinking about David Karoly . Irrepressible . Unmutable . Unmistakable . They are good too . But David ’ s generosity with his time and knowledge and his truly indefatigable energy really have changed the shape of climate science in Australia , and the lives of many within our community .
Fortunately for Australian science , as Professor Karoly moves into the next stage of his career as an Honorary Professor at The University of Melbourne , it ’ s also hard to see him becoming fatigued any time soon . I wish him all the best of luck for what comes next , and am sure many of us within the AMOS community are heartened to know that he is not finished yet .