Dr Jatin Kala
Bsc (Hons) (Murdoch University), PhD (Murdoch University)

Lecturer and ARC DECRA felllow

About me

I am a climate scientist and my research focus is on how the land and the atmosphere interact with each other. I use state of the art land surface models coupled to atmospheric models to answer various scientific questions on this topic.

Teaching area

Units Coordinated:

  1. ENV242 – Atmospheric Science
  2. ENV684 – Earth Systems Science

Guest Lectures:

  1. ENV245 – Global and Regional Sustainability: “Climate Change, Cities and Energy”
  2. ENV102 – Introduction to Environmental Science: “On understanding Climate Change”
  3. ENV558 – Environmental Monitoring: “Air Quality Monitoring”

Research areas

Land surface modelling

Regional climate modeling

Boundary-Layer meteorology

Terrestrial water and Carbon cycles

Air pollution meteorology

Current projects

Regional climate modeling for the southwest of Western Australia

Global climate models typically have a horizontal resolution of approximately 100-200 km. This too coarse for informing decision-making at the farm scale, i.e., a resolution of 1-10 km. This project is making use of a state-of-the art regional climate model to dynamically downscale outputs from global climate models to provide usable current and future climate information for the southwest of Western Australia.

What are the impacts of land-cover change on weather and climate in the southwest of Western Australia?

The southwest of Western Australia is a region of extensive land-cover change with an estimated 13 million hectares of native vegetation cleared for Agricultural land-use since European settlement. The on-going project investigates the impacts of such an extensive change in land-use on the atmosphere using both models and observations.

How does vegetation respond to increasing levels of atmospheric CO2?

Vegetation uses CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and loose water-vapor to the atmosphere during this process. As the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, plants act to reduce their stomatal opening to minimize the amount of water-vapor lost per unit of Carbon gained. This has a net warming effect and it is therefore critical that this “optimal” stomatal behavior is accurately represented within climate models. This project is making use of the best available data to develop and test a more accurate stomatal conductance model used within the climate model used within Australian for weather forecasting and climate predictions.

Awards and grants


2016 Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. “Mapping frost at the farm scale for the Western Australian Wheatbelt” ($20,383)

2016 Murdoch University School of Veterinary and Life Sciences Infrastructure Grant. “Murdoch University Meteorological Station Upgrade” ($8,213)

2016 Murdoch University School of Veterinary and Life Sciences Early Career Researcher Grant. “Bias Correction of Regional Climate Model Simulations for SWWA” ($8,000)


Murdoch University Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research 2017 for Early Career Development and Achievement

Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) commencing in 2017 (DE170100102), “Can land surface radiation management reduce the intensity of heat waves?”. Role: Principal Investigator. Administering institution: Murdoch University ($304,080)

Events and speaking engagements

  1. Public talk for Science Week 2015 on: “Patterns in Weather and Climate”, 16th of August 2015, at the Canning River Eco Education Centre
  2. Invited talk on “Agricultural Meteorology at Murdoch University” for the Chinese Academy of Science visit at Murdoch university on 26th November 2015.
  3. Interview by Today Tonight on the causes of the decline in rainfall in southwest Western Australia. The program aired on Channel 7 on Monday the 29th of February 2016
  4. Interview with Bill Bunbury (Bill Bunbury Productions) on climate change in the southwest of Western Australia on the 16th of September 2016.
  5. ABC Country radio interview on the 27th of September 2016 on my 2016 Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry award – Mapping frost at the farm scale for the Western Australian Wheatbelt
  6. Breakfast radio interview with Ian Blackley, Southern Cross Austereo, on the 16th of November 2016. The topic discussed was why 2016 is likely to be the warmest year on record since the observational record started.

  7. PAWSEY Murdoch University Roadshow. Invited talk on: “Past and Future Temperature Extremes and Vegetation in Western Australia”, 15th February 2017
  8. Perth High Performance Computing (HPC) advisory council meeting. Talk on “Regional climate modeling for southwest Western Australia”, 31st July to 1st August 2017.
  9. Interview by Today Tonight from Channel 7 on rainfall trends for southwest WA. The program aired on the 9th of August 2017.
  10. 2017 WA Geography Conference. Invited key-note speech on “Global Environmental Change”, 19th August 2017. This conference was attended by more than 90 secondary school teachers.
  11. Invited lecture on “Global Environmental Change”, 21st August 2017, Ballajura Community College, Year 12 students.
  12. Murdoch University Agriculture symposium, 1st September 2017. Invited talk on “Regional climate modelling”
  13. WA Chapter of CSIRO Alumni: Mid-year Mini Symposium on: “Trends of Rainfall and Water Resources in the Southwest of WA”, 14th September 2017. Invited talk on “Land use and regional meteorology “.

Professional and community service

Topical editor for the international peer-reviewed journal Geoscientific Model Development, 2015 and on-going.

Lead author for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Chair of the Perth regional center of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) and member of the AMOS expert group on land surface processes, 2015 and on-going.

Expert witness as a climate scientist on behalf of Fletcher Law on the causes of the reduction in rainfall across southwest Western Australia in the Supreme Court of Western Australia in the case of Fobbing Hall Pty Ltd and Beauchamp Nominees Pty Ltd against the CEO of the Department of Environment and Regulation (CIV 2997 of 2015)

I am an expert reviewer for the Australian Research Council (ARC), and have reviewed several ARC DECRA and LP proposals.

I act as an expert reviewer for several of the mainstream international peer-reviewed journals in the climate and atmospheric sciences. Please refer to my Publons profile for more details.

Doctoral and masters supervisions

PhD students:

1. Dr. Julia Andrys, Murdoch University, “Regional climate projections for the south west of Western Australia to simulate changes in mean and extreme rainfall and temperature”. Thesis awarded on 25th January 2017 – Principal supervisor

2. Karuru Wamahiu, Murdoch University, (on-going) – Principal supervisor

3. David Griffiths, Murdoch University (on-going) – Principal supervisor

4. Hossen Imran, Victoria University (on-going) – Co-supervisor (external)

Masters students:

1. Hayley Rolfe, Murdoch University, “Fremantle Port Air Emissions Study: Air pollutant estimation and dispersion from shipping”. Thesis completed November 2016 – Principal supervisor

2. Denise Muir, Murdoch University (on-going) – Principal supervisor

3. Tandin Wangmo, Murdoch University (on-going) – Principal supervisor

Honours Students:

1. Rebecca Firth, Murdoch University, “An evaluation of regional climate model simulations of present and future climate in Western Australia’s wine regions.” Thesis completed July 2016 – Principal supervisor

2. Alyce Sala Tenna, Murdoch University, “An evaluation of the Weather Research and Forecasting model’s ability in simulating fire weather for the southwest of Western Australia.” Thesis completed September 2016 – Principal supervisor

3. Carol Godwin, Murdoch University, “An evaluation of the Weather Research and Forecasting model against high resolution atmospheric soundings.” Thesis completed February 2017 – Principal supervisor

4. Grace Formentin, Murdoch University, “A comparison of the AERMOD and CALPUFF dispersion models in the estimation of dispersion of ship emissions from Fremantle port, Western Australia.” Thesis completed July 2017  – Principal supervisor


Journal publications

25. Imran, H. M., Kala, J., Ng, A. W. M (2017) An evaluation of the performance of a WRF multi-physics ensemble for heatwave events over the city of Melbourne in southeast Australia. Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-017-3758-y, in press

24. Firth, R., J. Kala, T. Lyons, and J. Andrys (2017) An analysis of regional climate simulations for Western Australia’s wine regions – Model evaluation and future climate projections. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 56, 2113-2138, doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-16-0333.1

23. Andrys. J., J. Kala, T. J. Lyons (2017) Regional climate projections of mean and extreme climate for the southwest of Western Australia (1970–1999 compared to 2030–2059). Climate Dynamics, 48, 1723–1747, doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3169-5

22. Clarke, H., Pitman, A. J., Kala, J., Carouge, C., Haverd, V., and Evans, J. P. (2016) An investigation of future fuel load and fire weather in Australia. Climatic Change, 139, 591-605, doi:10.1007/s10584-016-1808-9

21. Ukkola, A. M., Pitman, A. J., Decker, M., De Kauwe, M. G., Abramowitz, G., Kala, J., and Wang, Y.-P. (2016) Modelling evapotranspiration during precipitation deficits: identifying critical processes in a land surface model, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 20, 2403-2419, doi:10.5194/hess-20-2403-2016

20. Herold, N., J. Kala, L. V. Alexander (2016) The influence of soil moisture deficits on Australian heatwaves. Environmental Research Letters, 11, 064003, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/6/064003

19. Kala, J., M. G. De Kauwe, A. J. Pitman, R. Lorenz, B. E. Medlyn, Y. P. Wang, and S. E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick (2016) Impact of the representation of stomatal conductance on model projections of heatwave intensity. Scientific Reports, 6, 23418, doi:10.1038/srep23418

18. Ma, S., A. J. Pitman, R. Lorenz, J. Kala, J. Srbinovsky (2016) Earlier green-up amplifies spring warming over Europe. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 2011-2018, doi:10.1002/2016GL068062

17. Andrys, J., T. J. Lyons and J. Kala (2016) Evaluation of a WRF Ensemble using GCM Boundary Conditions to Quantify Mean and Extreme Climate for the Southwest of Western Australia (1970-1999). International Journal of Climatology, 36, 4406-4424, doi:10.1002/joc.4641

16. Kala, J., M. G. De Kauwe, A. J. Pitman, R. Lorenz, B. E. Medlyn, Y.-P Wang, Y.-S Lin, and G. Abramowitz (2015) Implementation of an optimal stomatal conductance scheme in the Australian Community Climate Earth Systems Simulator (ACCESS1.3b). Geoscientific Model Development., 8, 3877-3889, doi:10.5194/gmd-8-3877-2015

15. A L. Hirsch, A. J. Pitman, J. Kala, R. Lorenz, M. G. Donat. (2015) Modulation of land use change impacts on temperature extremes via land-atmosphere coupling over Australia. Earth Interactions., 19, 1-24, doi:10.1175/EI-D-15-0011.1

14. Kala, J., Evans, J. P., and Pitman, A. J. (2015) Influence of antecedent soil moisture conditions on the synoptic meteorology of the Black Saturday bushfire event in southeast Australia. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society., 141, 3118–3129, doi:10.1002/qj.2596

13. Kala, J., Andrys, J., Lyons, T. J., Foster, I. J., Evans, B. J. (2015) Sensitivity of WRF to driving data and physics options on a seasonal time-scale for the southwest of Western Australia. Climate Dynamics., 44, 633-659, doi:10.1007/s00382-014-2160-2

12. Andrys, J., Lyons, T. J., and Kala, J. (2015) Multi-decadal Evaluation of WRF Downscaling Capabilities Over Western Australia in Simulating Rain- fall and Temperature Extremes. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 54, 370-394, doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-14-0212.1

11. De Kauwe, M. G., Kala, J., Lin, Y.-S., Pitman, A. J., Medlyn, B. E., Duursma, R. A., Abramowitz, G., Wang Y.-P., and Miralles D. G. (2015) A test of an optimal stomatal conductance scheme within the CABLE Land Surface Model. Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 431-452, doi: 10.5194/gmd-8-431-2015

10. Kala, J., Evans, J. P., Pitman, A. J., Schaaf, C. B., Decker, M., Carouge, C., Mocko, D., and Sun, Q. (2014) Implementation of a soil albedo scheme in the CABLEv1.4b land surface model and evaluation against MODIS estimates over Australia. Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 431-452, doi:10.5194/gmd-7-2121-2014

9. Hirsch A. L., Pitman, A. J., and Kala, J. (2014) The role of land cover change in modulating the soil moisture-temperature land-atmosphere coupling strength over Australia. Geophysical Research Letters, 41, 5883-5890, doi:10.1002/2014GL061179

8. Lorenz, R., Pitman, A. J., Donat, M. G., Hirsch, A. L., Kala, J., Kowalczyk, E. A., Law, R. M., and Srbinovsky, J. (2014) Representation of climate extreme indices in the ACCESS1.3b coupled atmosphere-land surface model. Geoscientific Model Development., 7, 545-567, doi:10.5194/gmd-7-545-2014

7. Kala, J., Decker, M., Exbrayat, J.-F., Pitman, A. J., Carouge, C., Evans, J. P., and Abramowitz, G., and Mocko, D. (2014) Influence of Leaf Area Index Prescriptions on Simulations of Heat, Moisture, and Carbon Fluxes. Journal of Hydrometeorology., 15, 489-503, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-13-063.1

6. Hirsch, A. L., Kala J., Pitman, A. J., Carouge, C., Evans, J. P., Haverd, V., Mocko, M. (2014) Impact of Land Surface Initialization Approach on Sub- seasonal Forecast Skill: A Regional Analysis in the Southern Hemisphere. Journal of Hydrometeorology., 15, 300-319, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-13-05.1

5. Kala, J., Lyons, T. J, Nair, U. S., and Wu. Y. (2012) Large-eddy simulations of surface influences on planetary boundary-layer development in South-West Western Australia. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 138, 1465-1475, doi:10.1002/qj.1879

4. Nair, U.S., Y. Wu, J. Kala, T. J. Lyons, R.A. Pielke Sr., and J.M. Hacker. (2011) The role of land use change on the development and evolution of the West Coast trough, convective clouds, and precipitation in Southwest Australia. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 116, D07103, doi:10.1029/2010JD014950. 

3. Kala, J., Lyons, T. J and and Nair, U. S. (2011) Numerical simulations of the impacts of land-cover change on cold-fronts in Southwest Western Australia. Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 138, 121-138, doi:10.1007/s10546-010-9547- 3

2. Kala, J., Lyons, T. J., Abbs, D. J., and Nair, U. S. (2010) Numerical simulations of the impacts of land-cover change on a southern sea breeze in Southwest Western Australia. Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 135, 485- 503., doi:10.1007/s10546-010-9486-z

1. Kala, J., Lyons, T. J. Foster, I. J., and Nair, U. S. (2009) Validation of a simple steady-state forecast of minimum nocturnal temperatures. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 48, 624-633, doi:10.1175/2008JAMC1956.1