History of the COSIMA consortium

The Consortium for Ocean-Sea Ice Modelling in Australia (COSIMA) is a relatively new community of Australian researchers focused on sharing model configurations, code, model output and analysis methods that underpin operational ocean-sea ice modelling. Scientific communities focused on this kind of strategic science are normally the domain of publicly-funded institutions (such as CSIRO and BoM) that have a special remit for operational products and strategic scientific developments.

But with COSIMA, Centre of Excellence funding and connections have allowed university researchers to engage with publicly funded partners to form a community that will continue to exist long after the Centre has closed and continue to accelerate work on Australian ocean and sea-ice models.

COSIMA has grown considerably since it started in 2012 as simply the Consortium of Ocean Modelling in Australia (COMA) with the aim to contribute to the development of higher resolution global ocean model configurations for the Australian ocean community. The group pioneered configurations of the global MOM5-SIS model at 0.25° resolution and formed a 0.25° resolution version of the ACCESS-CM climate model, although in those early days the new configurations were not adopted widely. 

In  2015, the Consortium increased its effort to engage partners across the sector, bringing in the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) and adding sea-ice modelling as a key element to its activities. With that addition, COSIMA as we know it today came into being.

Around the same time COSIMA successfully applied for ARC Linkage Project funding with financial support from AAD, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology as well as its university partners – Australian National University, University of New South Wales, and the University of Tasmania. The relatively small grant saw the annual workshops grow from 37 people in 2016 to over 50 in 2018 and an increase in model development.

The strategic scientific work that has flowed from COSIMA since that time has had, and will continue to have, a significant impact across Australia’s climate and oceanography research communities. Its current research effort is to configure a new version of ACCESS-OM2, Australia’s ocean-sea ice model. ACCESS-OM2 underpins the next version of the Bluelink ocean forecasting model, so these changes will have far reaching impacts. Importantly, the code in ACCESS-OM2 is harmonised with ACCESS-CM2 – Australia’s climate model – meaning that improvements in parameterisations and optimisations can be shared across the coupled model and ocean model communities.

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