Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi
Started at UWA: 1988
Inspired by the ocean
Oceans cover 70 per cent of our world but we know so little about them – we need to improve this knowledge because changes in our oceans will dramatically influence how we live our lives on land. Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi
Beginning his academic career at UWA more than 30 years ago, Professor Pattiaratchi researches ocean mysteries to improve the future of our seas.
He studies climate change effects in WA’s coastal regions and how it links to ocean currents, wind and wave climate, sea level variability, coastal flooding and beach stability.
Much of his research looks at analysing data to forecast ocean weather and issue warnings for tsunamis, storm surges and coral bleaching.
As part of this research, Professor Pattiaratchi was a member of the international team behind the development of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System, which was built to alert nations within the Indian Ocean region about impending tsunamis.
Over his research career, Professor Pattiaratchi has received more than $25 million in funding for his studies on coastal physical oceanography and coastal sediment transport, with an emphasis on field experiments and numerical modelling.
In recent years, Professor Pattiaratchi has been studying ocean currents to determine where the plane wreckage of flight MH370 might be. His research includes modelling the locations debris has floated to, based on the ocean’s currents and making predictions on where it is thought the plane crashed.
Another area of Professor Pattiaratchi’s research is examining underwater ocean gliders from around Australia to see how the ocean is changing. The gliders are controlled by satellites, collecting real-time data on temperature, salinity, density, chlorophyll, oxygen and suspended sediment.
Professor Pattiaratchi has supervised more than 30 PhD students and more than 100 honours students, and has been published in more than 300 journals on topics relating to coastal oceanography. These publications include in excess of 100 in peer-reviewed international journals. He also teaches the units, Environmental Engineering Design Project 1 and Environmental Systems.
Excellence in postgraduate research supervision excellence award, 2003
Eminent Sri Lankan scientist award, 2001
University of Tasmania ex University of Queensland ex NCRIS
- Develop/Enhance the Marine Virtual Laboratory (MARVL) to Provide the Information Infrastructure in Support of the National Ocean Modelling System
University of Tasmania ex National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy
- Integrated Marine Observing System IMOS – Ocean Gliders, 2017-2019
WA Department of Transport
- Wrack Dispersal Modelling at Jurien Bay Road Harbour
WA Department of Sport and Recreation
- Feasibility for an Artificial Surfing Reef
University of Tasmania ex Australian Institute of Marine Science AIMS
- eReefs Glider Missions
BMT Oceanica Pty Ltd ex Chevron
- UWA Coastal modelling at Barrow Island
Western Australian Marine Science Institute
- Identifying the Potential Spread of Marine Pests Through Natural Processes
WA Energy Research Alliance WAERA ex Chevron
- Gorgon Project: Coastal Hydrodynamic and Sediment Modelling
Curtin University of Technology ex Fisheries Research & Development Corporation
- Investigating Critical Biological Issues for Commercial Greenlip Abalone Sea Ranching in Flinders Bay Western Australia
WA Department of Transport
- Request for Quotation: Port Geographe, Post Reconfiguration Coastal Modelling and Analysis
Expert panel reveals true fate of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370
The drift analysis of the wreckage by world-renowned oceanographer Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi helped pinpoint the current search by private firm, Ocean Infinity.Read more
Bumper salmon season expected for WA, thanks to cooler ocean currents
Oceanographers say the early salmon run is not surprising, with a change in weather systems bringing cooler ocean currents to the west coast in recent years. UWA Professor of Coastal Oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi said the usual summer pattern was for high pressure systems to linger in the Bight, bringing easterly winds and hot weather.Read more
Perth's Kwinana Freeway will be permanently flooded by 2100, oceanographer warns
A study by The University of Western Australia master’s students examined data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Fremantle tidal gauge records to predict what impact a rising sea level would have on the Swan River until 2150.Read more