Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Wonderful World of CSIRO

By Alex Reisner

To lose one outstanding researcher, Dr Clark, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness, but to lose THREE?

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January 2006 -- Fred Prata is declared redundant to the requirements of CSIRO's Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research by then divisional chief Dr Greg Ayers. At the time The Age's Jo Chandler wrote: "he was told his project was finished... [and] like six others since being snapped up by institutions in the US, Europe and elsewhere in Australia — he had no shortage of offers. "The group in Norway offered me a position to do the research I want to do with the European Space Commission."

Dr Prata went on to say: "The area I work in — remote sensing, or Earth observation — everywhere in the world is seen as a very important component of climate monitoring. Measuring sea surface temperatures [see Trevor McDougall below], looking at the state of vegetation, looking at how clouds interact with the climate. I have 20 years of experience doing that. There are now maybe two or three other people in CSIRO who have that capability. It's not enough. If CSIRO management are not able to get budgets, get money, convince government of the importance of this work, then they have failed."

And what was the technology Dr Prata was working on? According to Jo Chandler "Dr Prata's baby has some pretty useful capabilities. By detecting volcanic ash in the atmosphere, it can stop planes falling out of the sky. By sniffing out other atmospheric nasties like sarin gas, it offers...

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