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The Australian Research Council Research Network for Earth System Science (ARCNESS) is a network of those individuals and groups within Australia that explore the climate system. We have a scale of interest ranging from the scale of a flux or soil moisture measurement to the global climate on timescales generally from seconds to one or two thousand years. We include some individuals from the Quaternary community to help us base our understanding on how the Earth System may change in the future based on an understanding of how it has changed in the more distant past. We have very strong international links.

The Earth System is not the same as the Climate System, at least in commonly used definitions. We are interested in the interaction between the oceans, atmosphere, biosphere and cryosphere and so we include ecologists interested in the carbon fluxes between the atmosphere and the ocean and terrestrial biosphere, we include atmospheric chemists, mathematicians, computer scientists and a large number of individuals with expertise in each of the oceans, atmosphere, biosphere and cryosphere.

A key focus of ARCNESS is to integrate Australian University expertise into developing strategies for building and maintaining an Earth System Model. These strategies have recently been merged into ACCESS – the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator. ACCESS is a joint initiative led by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology but with genuine engagement with the University sector. The engagement of ARCNESS with ACCESS provides a strategy for linking data collection with parameterization development, and the links of these parameterizations into the developing ACCESS model.

Climate models, like ACCESS, are built for a variety of reasons, but a key rationale is the projection of future climate. ARCNESS includes the physical (temperature, rainfall, runoff, soil moisture etc) and biological (flora, fauna, human-health) impacts communities.

The individual communities representing the physical and biophysical sciences and those communities representing impacts are well mature in Australia, already providing world-class science. ARCNESS aims to build a framework around these communities to engage them in Earth System Science and to directly remove impediments to their research. We want to build better links between these existing communities such that new and innovative research questions can be asked. We have very strong links to the Tasmanian Partnership for Advanced Computing (TPAC) who are working with the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC) on enabling technologies to facilitate these links nationally and internationally.  In 2005 APAC joined ARCNESS as a partner.