Prof Nerilie Abram

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.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.
  • 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.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.
  • 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.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.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