Photograph of Dr Helen Cleugh who leads the Climate and Atmosphere research group from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.

Dr Helen Cleugh, Deputy Director of CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere.

Dr Helen Cleugh: Deputy Director, leading climate and atmospheric research

Dr Helen Cleugh is Deputy Director of CSIRO Oceans and Atmospheric, delivering world-class research on significant national and international challenges in observing, understanding, and predicting our atmospheric, climate, and marine systems and their interactions with human activities.

  • 17 July 2006 | Updated 14 July 2014

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

A scientist with CSIRO since 1994, Dr Helen Cleugh is based at the Black Mountain site in Canberra. She is currently Deputy Director of CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere.

Dr Cleugh has been a senior leader in CSIRO since 2007: as Deputy Director in the CSIRO – Bureau of Meteorology’s joint Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) from 2007 to 2008, and 2011 to 2013; as leader of CSIRO’s Climate and Atmosphere Theme from 2009 to 2013; and as Deputy Chief Research from 2011-2014.

Research conducted in CMAR's Climate and Atmosphere Theme aims to ‘provide the earth system science that creates new knowledge of Australia’s climate, supports adaptation responses to increasing climate changes and variability, and informs mitigation strategies’.

Dr Cleugh's research team maintains long-term measurements of carbon exchanges and water use in a variety of Australian ecosystems.

Dr Cleugh is also part of a dynamic and highly productive research team that maintains long-term measurements of carbon exchanges and water use in a variety of Australian ecosystems, including forests, vineyards, savannas and city suburbs.

These measurements are needed to observe, understand and model the dynamics of carbon, water and energy cycles in Australian ecosystems; and explore the effects of climate variability and change – especially the vulnerability of land-based carbon sinks.

'Our research has yielded one of the very few long-term records of evaporation and net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide in a native eucalypt forest. It demonstrated not only the strength of this carbon sink, but also its large variability and vulnerability with recent droughts not only reducing rainfall, but increasing air temperatures.'

CMAR's boundary layer research wind tunnel, housed in the basement of the Pye Lab, is used extensively by researchers to measure airflow and turbulence in hilly terrain, plant canopies and in urban environments.

Dr Cleugh says the research has far-reaching implications, from better land and water management to improved urban design.

Other research achievements include:

  • Leading the OzFlux Facility in Australia’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Research network (see TERN OzFlux [external link]);
  • Science leadership of the Australian National Windbreaks Program under the Joint Venture Agroforestry Program, which produced several journal publications, reports and books, including Trees for Shelter: a guide to using windbreaks on Australian farms [external link]
  • Principal Investigator on OASIS (Observations at Several Interacting Scales), an international, multi-year research program funded by CSIRO and the ARC, which produced a Special Edition of Boundary Layer Meteorology.

Much of this research has been funded by CSIRO, the Department of Industry and the Department of Environment, especially through the Australian Climate Change Science Program that has been running since 1989 and is administered by the Department of Environment, and its predecessors.

Academic qualifications

Dr Cleugh was awarded a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours from the University of Otago, New Zealand in 1981.

She was awarded her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada in 1990.


In 2007, Dr Cleugh completed the Leading the Research Enterprise CSIRO Leadership Program. 

In 2002, Dr Cleugh was an Erskine Fellow at the Geography Department in the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Read more about Understanding the connections between land and atmosphere.