BAMOS - Vol 35 No.1 Autumn 2022 Autumn 2022 - Page 16

BAMOS Autumn 2022

16 Obituary

Vale Rebecca Harris Nathan Bindoff and Kathryn Allen

Rebecca Harris , in the field , as part of the Australia Wine Future project she led .
Very sadly , Dr Rebecca Harris ( Bec ) passed away on Christmas Eve 2021 , after a battle with cancer . Having just met with her two weeks previously , her passing was a rude shock . Bec worked until a week before she passed away . Her contribution in the climate impacts and adaptation research and engagement is a shining light .
Bec was the extremely able Director of the Climate Futures Group at the University of Tasmania . She was a “ can do ” practical person that got on with the job . Bec was a joy to work with and an emerging scholar .
Prior to starting her PhD studies relatively late in life , Bec worked in invertebrate and botanical biodiversity assessment , island biogeography and disturbance ecology for organisations like the Australian Museum and Macquarie University . After completing her PhD looking at the wingless grasshopper as a test of the potential of climate change impacts on insects , she began work with Climate Futures team from early 2012 . The team had just completed the highly successful , award-winning Climate Futures for Tasmania project , but were grappling with next question : what did all these physical impacts , like rising temperature and altered rainfall really mean for the ecosystems ? Bec had never run a climate model , and data analysis ( programming ) was not her forte , but her background in climate change impacts was what Climate Futures was looking for . Bec impressed the interview committee , so we took a gamble and appointed her .
In the decade following her appointment at Climate Futures , Bec ’ s research on climate change impacts research included impacts on the skiing and wine industries , biosecurity threats to agriculture , and what climate change meant for Tasmanian fire management . Bec believed in stakeholder engagement and providing policy relevant advice on climate change impacts .
In 2016 Bec was awarded a prestigious Humboldt Fellowship and in 2019 she was selected to participate in the Working Group II report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC ). Every one of the 195 United Nations governments makes use of these reports . For many developing countries the reports are their only resource for decision making . Bec was a lead author in : Chapter 2 , Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and their services and the Cross Chapter paper on Deserts , semi-arid areas and desertification ; these were released on 28 February 2022 .
In the past decade , Bec authored 66 publications , won numerous research contracts and consultancy projects