• Class Number 3354
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Joelle Gergis
    • Dr Joelle Gergis
    • Dr Joseph Guillaume
    • Dr Luigi Renzullo
    • Prof Geoffrey Cary
    • Ashley Barnes
    • Jye Turner
    • Matthew Gale
    • Rachel Taylor
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

Australia is a country defined by dramatic extremes – our highly variable climate influences virtually every aspect of our lives. So what makes Australia the ‘land of drought and flooding rains’? What are the factors that influenced major bushfires, floods and droughts that have shaped Australian society? How is climate change influencing Australian climate variability and extremes? In this course we provide a foundation for understanding Australian weather, climate and bushfire science. It is designed to lead students into advanced third year courses in climatology, climate change, bushfire science, water resource management and climate change policy. It is also provides a multidisciplinary understanding of climate and bushfire science for students pursuing ecology, environmental science, natural resource management, or sustainability studies.

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed differently.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Interpret, describe and explain the physical processes that drive weather, climate and bushfire in Australia
  2. Explain and analyse real-world data to characterise bushfire, flood and drought conditions
  3. Proficiency in analysing how weather, climate and bushfires vary in location, scale and complexity
  4. Reflect upon and explain how weather, climate and bushfire extremes are considered in decision making
  5. Apply multidisciplinary thinking to course topics to understand contemporary challenges
  6. Reflect upon, synthesise and explain learning outcomes 1-5 from a broad scale, to specific topics/events

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information


  1. Watch all recorded lectures via Echo360/Wattle
  2. Submit all assessable work via PDF on Wattle by the deadline
  3. Comply with ANU and Fenner School requirements regarding referencing, academic honesty and other standards for academic work
  4. Complete the required reading for each lecture
  5. Attend the practicals and complete each assessment
  6. Study for and complete course tests/exams

This level of participation will amount to approximately 11 hours of work per week in total

Your Feedback

Your thoughts and opinions matter. Here’s how you can provide feedback on the course:

  1. Send email to envs2004@anu.edu.au
  2. Contact your class representatives, who will pass on any feedback from members of the class. There will be a meeting of all class reps with the Fenner School Associate Director (Education) in Week 4 of semester.
  3. The Convener will be in continual informal discussions with course reps throughout the semester
  4. Complete the SELT surveys at the end of the course; we do value your feedback and respond to your suggestions.


Stuck? Confused? Falling behind? Don’t wait! Contact us ASAP. We are here to help.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Students should refer to the Wattle site for current delivery information for the course this semester. Lectures: 1.1 Course introduction & Overview (JG); 1.2 Atmospheric science I – Atmospheric structure and composition (LR); 1.3 Atmospheric science II – Atmospheric stability (LR); Practical: Course assessment finalisation discussion Required Reading: Please refer to course Wattle site for the weekly schedule of readings. Readings are selected specifically to support lectures Reading should be completed before each lecture Content from the readings will be assessed in the quizzes, practicals and exam. Practicals: You must attend the practicals to complete the practical assessment, review quizzes and exam.
2 Lectures: 2.1 General circulation – Drivers of Australia’s weather (LR); 2.2 Atmospheric dynamics – Local weather (LR); 2.3 Synoptic Weather Patterns (LR); Practical: Weather practical
3 Lectures: 3.1 Satellite sensing of rainfall & soil moisture (LR); 3.2 Surface energy balance (LR); 3.3 Continental scale water balance modelling (LR); Practical: Soil moisture time series analysis
4 Lectures: 4.1 Key Climate drivers I – seasonal cycle and climate modes (JG); 4.2 Key Climate drivers II – seasonal cycle and climate modes (JG); 4.3 Key Climate drivers III – seasonal cycle and climate modes (JG); Practical: Weather review quiz Assessment task: Weather review quiz (20%) Practicals and key theory (covering Weeks 1–3) Multiple choice & Short written answers Online wattle quiz
5 Lectures: 5.1 Floods I – mechanisms and key events (JG); 5.2 Floods II – mechanisms and key events (JG); 5.3 Floods III – mechanisms and key events (JG); Practical: Australian climate drivers
6 Lectures: 6.1 Droughts I – mechanisms and key events (JG); 6.2 Droughts II – mechanisms and key events (JG); 6.3 Droughts III – mechanisms and key events (JG); Practical: Floods & Droughts
7 Lectures: 7.1 Concept and importance of the fire regime (GC); 7.2 Describing fire behaviour (GC); 7.3 Factors affecting fire - Wind and fuel moisture content (GC); Practical: Climate review quiz Assessment task: Climate review quiz (20%) Practicals and key theory (covering Weeks 4–6) Multiple choice & Short written answers Online wattle quiz
8 Lectures: 8.1 Factors affecting fire - Atmospheric stability & drought (GC); 8.2 Factors affecting fire – Synoptic phenomena (GC); 8.3 Factors affecting fire – Climate fluctuations (GC); Practical: Bushfire weather forecasting
9 Lectures: 9.1 Factors affecting fire – Fuel dynamics (GC); 9.2 Fire Danger Rating (GC); 9.3 Predicting fire behaviour (GC); Practical: Bushfire behaviour prediction
10 Lectures: 10.1 Factors affecting fire – Terrain (GC); 10.2 Bushfire ignitions (GC); 10.3 Bushfire suppression (GC); Practical: Self directed study
11 Lectures: 11.1 Fire regime synthesis (GC); 11.2 Water abundance – managing variability (Joseph Guillaume); 11.3 Water scarcity – concepts and implications (Joseph Guillaume); Practical: Fire review quiz Assessment task: Fire review quiz (20%) Practicals and key theory (covering Weeks 7–10) Multiple choice & Short written answers Online wattle quiz
12 Lectures: 12.1 Water scarcity – water infrastructure planning (Joseph Guillaume); 12.2 Self-directed; 12.3 Self-directed; Practical: Course review Assessment task: Graduate student recorded oral presentation, 40%

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Weather review quiz 20 % 18/03/2022 25/03/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Climate review quiz 20 % 22/04/2022 27/05/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Fire review quiz 20 % 20/05/2022 24/06/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Graduate student recorded oral presentation 40 % 03/06/2022 30/06/2022 1,2,3,4,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 18/03/2022
Return of Assessment: 25/03/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Weather review quiz

Practicals and key theory (covering Weeks 1–3)

Multiple choice & Short written answers

Online wattle quiz run during Week 4 practical

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 22/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 27/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Climate review quiz

Practicals and key theory (covering Weeks 4–6)

Multiple choice & Short written answers

Online wattle quiz run during Week 7 practical

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 20/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 24/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Fire review quiz

Practicals & key theory (covering Weeks 7–10)

Multiple choice & Short written answers

Online wattle quiz run during Week 11 practical

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 03/06/2022
Return of Assessment: 30/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Graduate student recorded oral presentation

Students are required to develop a recorded presentation with Powerpoint slides to be submitted in Week 12.

The aim of this assignment is to help students develop the professional skill of clearly distilling complex scientific information into a format suitable for scientific conferences, graduate research milestones, stakeholder meetings, and public talks.

Graduate students will select a topic from material covered in Weeks 1–12 and develop and deliver an 8 minute recorded oral presentation using Powerpoint. The talk must include:

  1. Brief justification for the selection of the topic to provide context for a broad audience
  2. Scientific explanation of the selected topic e.g. key mechanism(s) that drive flooding/drought/bushfire risk in Australia
  3. Discussion of the diverse impacts associated with the selected topic e.g. physical, economic, ecological and human
  4. Identification of the key scientific and management challenges associated with the topic e.g. current and future climate change

Student talks will be assessed based on:

  1. Quality and readability of slides
  2. Accuracy of scientific explanation of the topic
  3. Appropriate use of technical graphs and other imagery to explain key concepts
  4. Suitable speaking pace and clarity of delivery suitable for a professional scientific presentation

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home or online examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via Wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assignment tasks is not permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Joelle Gergis

Research Interests

Climate variability and extremes, climate change

Dr Joelle Gergis

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Joelle Gergis
+61 2 6125 2623

Research Interests

Dr Joelle Gergis

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Joseph Guillaume
+61 2 6125 9753

Research Interests

Dr Joseph Guillaume

By Appointment
Dr Luigi Renzullo
+61 2 6125 2647

Research Interests

Dr Luigi Renzullo

By Appointment
Prof Geoffrey Cary
+61 2 6125 0059

Research Interests

Prof Geoffrey Cary

By Appointment
Ashley Barnes

Research Interests

Ashley Barnes

By Appointment
Jye Turner

Research Interests

Jye Turner

By Appointment
Matthew Gale

Research Interests

Matthew Gale

By Appointment
Rachel Taylor

Research Interests

Rachel Taylor

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions