Assoc Prof Nerilie Abram

Associate Professor
Research School of Earth Sciences

Career summary

My research goals are to build the knowledge of how the Earth’s climate has behaved in the past, and how its climate systems are now changing with anthropogenic greenhouse warming. My research involves using tropical coral reef and cave samples and polar ice cores to reconstruct past climates across a range of environments and time periods. My work utilises a wide array of chemical, isotopic and physical signals in these proxy records. I particularly enjoy being able to explain the direct human relevance of my research through scientific outreach and education.

My scientific work has taken me to Antarctica, Indonesia and Greenland. Outside of work I am also a mother of three children and I have a strong interest in helping to encourage women to excel in scientific careers.

Employment history

2011-present: Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University

QEII research fellow on the ARC-funded 2011-2016 discovery project "Climate and natural hazards in Australasia: a comprehensive impact analysis of prehistoric droughts, great earthquakes, and the Toba super-eruption" (DP110101161)

2004-2011: British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council (UK)

Post-doctoral researcher and work package manager in the ice core research team.

2000-2004: PhD, The Australian National University

PhD study at the Research School of Earth Sciences working on the project "Multi-proxy coral reconstruction of Holocene climate and reef growth in the eastern Indian Ocean". Awarded the Jaeger Scholarship and Robert Hill Memorial Prize.

1996-1999: BSc Advanced with honours and university medal, University of Sydney

Research interests

Tropical climate research (corals and speleothems)

Polar climate research (ice cores)

Please see my RSES profile page for more information:


  • Abram, N, Wright, N, Ellis, B et al. 2020, 'Coupling of Indo-Pacific climate variability over the last millennium', Nature, vol. 579, pp. 385–392.
  • Dey, R, Lewis, S & Abram, N 2019, 'Investigating observed northwest Australian rainfall trends in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 detection and attribution experiments', International Journal of Climatology, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 112-127.
  • Ellis, B, Grant, K, Mallela, J et al 2019, 'Is XRF core scanning a viable method for coral palaeoclimate temperature reconstructions?', Quaternary International, vol. 514, pp. 97-107.
  • Dey, R, Lewis, S, Arblaster, J et al 2019, 'A review of past and projected changes in Australia's rainfall', WIREs Climate Change, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. -.
  • Bracegirdle, T, Colleoni, F, Abram, N et al 2019, 'Back to the future: Using long-term observational and paleo-proxy reconstructions to improve model projections of antarctic climate', Geosciences, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 1-29.
  • Klein, F, Abram, N, Curran, M et al 2019, 'Assessing the robustness of Antarctic temperature reconstructions over the past 2 millennia using pseudoproxy and data assimilation experiments', Climate of the Past, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 661-684.
  • Datwyler, C, Abram, N, Grosjean, M et al 2019, 'El Niño-Southern Oscillation variability, teleconnection changes and responses to large volcanic eruptions since AD 1000', International Journal of Climatology, vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 2711-2724.
  • Turney, C, McGregor, H, Francus, P et al 2019, 'Introduction to the special issue "climate of the past 2000 years: Regional and trans-regional syntheses"', Climate of the Past, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 611-615.
  • Freund, M, Henley, B, Karoly, D et al 2019, 'Higher frequency of Central Pacific El Nino events in recent decades relative to past centuries', Nature Geoscience, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 450-455.
  • Krause, C, Gagan, M, Dunbar, G et al 2019, 'Spatio-temporal evolution of Australasian monsoon hydroclimate over the last 40,000 years', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 513, pp. 103-112.
  • Abram, N 2018, 'Warming linked to shifting winds', Nature, vol. 563, no. 7733, pp. 630-631.
  • Datwyler, C, Neukom, R, Abram, N et al 2018, 'Teleconnection stationarity, variability and trends of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) during the last millennium', Climate Dynamics, vol. 51, no. 5-6, pp. 2321-2339pp.
  • Wurtzel, J, Abram, N, Lewis, S et al 2018, 'Tropical Indo-Pacific hydroclimate response to North Atlantic forcing during the last deglaciation as recorded by a speleothem from Sumatra, Indonesia', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 492, pp. 264-278.
  • Kaufman, D, Abram, N, Evans, M et al 2018, 'Technical note: Open-paleo-data implementation pilot - The PAGES 2k special issue', Climate of the Past, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 593-600pp.
  • Fischer, H, Meissner, K, Mix, A et al. 2018, 'Palaeoclimate constraints on the impact of 2 °C anthropogenic warming and beyond', Nature Geoscience, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. 474-485pp.
  • Sigl, M, Abram, N, Gabrieli, J et al 2018, '19th century glacier retreat in the Alps preceded the emergence of industrial black carbon deposition on high-alpine glaciers', Cryosphere, vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 3311-3331pp.
  • Schüpbach, S, Fischer, H, Bigler, M et al 2018, 'Greenland records of aerosol source and atmospheric lifetime changes from the Eemian to the Holocene', Nature Communications, vol. 9, no. 1476, pp. 1-10pp.
  • Abram, N 2017, 'Palaeoclimate: Climate's playground', Nature Geoscience, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 7-8.
  • Dassie, E, DeLong, K, Williams, B et al 2017, 'Saving our marine archives', EOS Transactions, vol. 98, no. 9, pp. 32-36.
  • Stenni, B, Curran, M, Abram, N et al 2017, 'Antarctic climate variability on regional and continental scales over the last 2000 years', Climate of the Past, vol. 13, no. 11, pp. 1609-1634pp.
  • Hessl, A, Allen, K, Vance, T et al 2017, 'Reconstructions of the southern annular mode (SAM) during the last millennium', Progress in Physical Geography, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 834-849pp.
  • Emile-Geay, J, McKay, N, Kaufman, D et al 2017, 'Data Descriptor: A global multiproxy database for temperature reconstructions of the Common Era', Scientific Data, vol. 4, no. 170088, pp. 1-33.
  • Abram, N, McGregor, H, Tierney, J et al 2016, 'Early onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents', Nature, vol. 536, no. 7617, pp. 411-418pp.
  • Thomas, E & Abram, N 2016, 'Ice core reconstruction of sea ice change in the Amundsen-Ross Seas since 1702 AD', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 43, no. 10, pp. 5309-5317.
  • Vance, T, Roberts, J, Moy, A et al 2016, 'Optimal site selection for a high-resolution ice core record in East Antarctica', Climate of the Past, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 595-610.
  • Hobbs, W, Curran, M, Abram, N et al 2016, 'Century-scale perspectives on observed and simulated Southern Ocean sea ice trends from proxy reconstructions', Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, vol. 121, no. 10, pp. 7804-7818.
  • Jones, J, Gille, S, Goosse, H, Abram, N, et al 2016, 'Assessing recent trends in high-latitude Southern Hemisphere surface climate', Nature Climate Change, vol. 6, no. 10, pp. 917-926.
  • Abram, N, Dixon, B, Gamble Rosevear, M et al 2015, 'Optimized coral reconstructions of the Indian Ocean Dipole: An assessment of location and length considerations', Paleoceanography, vol. 30, no. 10, pp. 1391-1405.
  • King, P, Edwards, A & Abram, N 2015, 'Recognizing biases that affect women geoscientists in the workplace', Elements, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 88-89.
  • Zinke, J, McGregor, H, Abram, N et al 2015, 'Dealing with climate change through understanding past tropical ocean-atmosphere climate interactions and their impacts on marine ecosystems', Quaternary Australasia, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 25-31.
  • Meissner, K., Abram, N., Armand, L., Chase, Z., De Deckker, P., Ellwood, M., Exon, N., Gagan, M., Goodwin, I., Howard, W., Lough, J., McCulloch, M., McGregor, H., Moy, A., O’Leary, M., Phipps, S., Skilbeck, G., Webster, J., Welsh, K., Zinke, J. 2015, 'Dealing with Climate Change: Palaeoclimate Research in Australia', Quaternary Australasia, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 19-24.
  • Tierney, J, Abram, N, Anchukaitis, K et al 2015, 'Tropical sea surface temperatures for the past four centuries reconstructed from coral archives', Paleoceanography, vol. 30, 226-252, doi:10.1002/2014PA002717
  • Wheatley, J, Blackwell, P, Abram, N et al 2014, 'Bayesian layer counting in ice-cores: Reconstructing the time scale', 1st Bayesian Young Statistician Meeting, BAYSM 2013, ed. E Lanzarone, F Ieva, Springer, Milan Italy, pp. 121-125.
  • Abram, N, Mulvaney, R, Vimeux, F et al 2014, 'Evolution of the Southern Annular Mode during the past millennium', Nature Climate Change, vol. 4, no. 7, pp. 564-569.
  • Murphy, E, Clarke, A, Abram, N et al 2014, 'Variability of sea-ice in the northern Weddell Sea during the 20th century', Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, vol. 119, no. 7, pp. 4549-4572.
  • Abram, N, Wolff, E & Curran, M 2013, 'A review of sea ice proxy information from polar ice cores', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 79, pp. 168-183.
  • Abram, N 2013, 'Antarctic ice ... going, going, gone?', in Leigh Dayton (ed.), The Curious Country, ANU ePress, Canberra, pp. 14-19.
  • Abram, N, Mulvaney, R, Wolff, E et al 2013, 'Acceleration of snow melt in an Antarctic Peninsula ice core during the twentieth century', Nature Geoscience, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 404-411.
  • Wheatley, J, Blackwell, P, Abram, N et al 2012, 'Automated ice-core layer-counting with strong univariate signals', Climate of the Past, vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 1869-1879.
  • Mulvaney, R, Abram, N, Hindmarsh, R et al 2012, 'Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice-shelf history', Nature, vol. 489, no. 7414, pp. 141-144.
  • Gagan, M & Abram, N 2011, 'Stable Isotopes and Trace Elements', in David Hopley (ed.), Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs: Structure, Form and Process, Springer, Dordrecht The Netherlands, pp. 1034-1043.
  • Abram, N, Mulvaney, R & Arrowsmith, C 2011, 'Environmental signals in a highly resolved ice core from James Ross Island, Antarctica', Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, vol. 116, no. D20116, pp. 1-15.
  • D'Arrigo, R, Abram, N, Ummenhofer, C, et al 2011, 'Reconstructed streamflow for Citarum River, Java, Indonesia: Linkages to tropical climate dynamics', Climate Dynamics, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 451-462.
  • Abram, N.J., Thomas, E.R., McConnell, J.R. et al 2010, 'Ice core evidence for a 20th century decline of sea ice in the Bellingshausen Sea, Antarctica' Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 115.
  • Rothlisberger, R., Crosta, X., Abram, N.J. et al 2010 'Potential and limitations of marine and ice core sea ice proxies: an example from the Indian Ocean sector' Quaternary Science Reviews, 29: 296-302.
  • Abram, N, McGregor, HV, Gagan, M et al 2009, 'Oscillations in the southern extent of the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool during the mid-Holocene', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 28, pp. 2794-2803.
  • Hodgson, D.A., Abram, N.J., Anderson, J. et al 2009 'Antarctic climate and environmental history in the pre-instrumental period 'In: Turner, J. Convey P., di Prisco G., Mayewski P.A., Hodgson D.A., Fahrbach E, Bindschadler R. and Gutt J. (eds) Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment. Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research, Cambridge
  • Ault, T.R., Cole, J.E., Evans, M.N., et al 2009 'Intensified decadal variability in tropical climate during the late 19th century' Geophysical Research Letters, 36: doi: 10.1029/2008GL036924.
  • Abram, N, Gagan, M, Cole, J et al 2008, 'Recent intensification of tropical climate variability in the Indian Ocean', Nature Geoscience, vol. 1, pp. 849-853.
  • Abram, N.J., Curran, M.A.J., Mulvaney, R. and Vance, T. 2008 'The preservation of methanesulphonic acid in frozen ice-core samples' Journal of Glaciology, 54: 680-684.
  • McGregor, HV & Abram, N 2008, 'Images of diagenetic textures in Porites corals from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia', Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. G3, vol. 9, no. 10, pp. Q10013.
  • Reda, T., Plugge, C.M., Abram, N.J. and Hirst, J. 2008 'Reversible interconversion of carbon dioxide and formate by an electroactive enzyme' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105: 10654-10658, doi: 10610.11073/pnas.0801290105.
  • Abram, N, Gagan, M, Liu, Z et al 2007, 'Seasonal Characteristics of the Indian Ocean Dipole during the Holocene epoch', Nature, vol. 445, no. 18, pp. 299-302.
  • Abram, N.J., Mulvaney, R., Wolff, E.W. and Mudelsee, M 2007 'Ice core records as sea ice proxies: An evaluation from the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica' Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 112: doi: 10.1029/2006JD008139.
  • Abram, N, Gagan, M, McCulloch, M et al 2004, 'Response to comment on Coral reef death during the 1997 Indian Ocean dipole linked to Indonesian wildfires', Science, vol. 303, pp. 1297b.
  • Abram, N, Gagan, M, McCulloch, M et al 2004, 'The sudden death of a coral reef - response', Science, vol. 303, pp. 1293-1294.
  • Grumet, N, Abram, N, Beck, J et al 2004, 'Coral radiocarbon records of Indian Ocean water mass mixing and wind-induced upwelling along the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia', Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 109, pp. C05003.
  • Abram, N, Gagan, M, McCulloch, M et al 2003, 'Coral reef death during the 1997 Indian Ocean Dipole linked to Indonesian wildfires', Science, vol. 301, no. 5635, pp. 952-955.
  • Abram, N.J., Webster, J.M., Davies, P.J. and Dullo, W.C. 2001 'Biological response of coral reefs to sea surface temperature variation: evidence from the raised Holocene reefs of Kikai-jima (Ryukyu Islands, Japan)' Coral Reefs, 20: 221-234.

Please contact me if you are interested in discussing student projects