David Wratt awarded QSO for services to science


NIWA Chief Scientist and climatologist, Dr David Wratt, has been awarded a Queen's Service Order (QSO) for services to science. Says David: "I see this award as very welcome recognition for the work of New Zealand climate scientists. Developing and applying knowledge about climate and climate change is very much a collaboration between scientists, disciplines and organizations".

Throughout his career, David has been a leading figure in New Zealand climate science. Growing up in Motueka on a farm, he soon realised that milking cows wasn't his first love, and being good at maths and science he went on to the University of Canterbury to study physics.

Following his degree, he stayed on to undertake a PhD in atmospheric science, followed by a post-doc at the University of Illinois (US). Keen to return to New Zealand, David took up a post at the Meteorological Service in Wellington. Despite having meant to train as a weather forecaster, it was the time of Think Big and David ended up doing a lot of fieldwork at proposed power stations and industrial sites, looking at emissions and emission modelling. He later became R&D manager and began working in climate change.

When the CRIs were established in 1992, many of the Met Service staff, including David, were moved across to NIWA, allowing David to 'get back into science'. Since then, he's worked on SALPEX (which aimed aimed to understand how the Southern Alps affected New Zealand's weather and climate and to improve computer modelling of rainfall and river flows in that region) and major studies which map present climate, climate variation, and soils within a region.

In addition to being NIWA's Chief Climate Scientist, David is a Companion of the Royal Society and a past chair of its NZ Climate Expert Panel. He is also a Bureau member of the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), which with Al Gore was jointly awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr Wratt is a Vice-Chair of the IPCC's Working Group I, which assesses the physical science of climate change

David was instrumental in the creation of the New Zealand Climate Change Centre (NZCCC) in 2008, and is its Director. The NZCCC is a joint initiative by New Zealand's Crown Research Institutes, and the University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington, and Massey University. It facilitates collaboration to develop and communicate science-based solutions to climate change-related issues.

Until recently David was also a trustee of the Hikurangi Foundation, whose goal is "to enable all New Zealanders to take and positively experience effective action on climate change and sustainability." 

David Wratt. Credit: Dave Allen, NIWA