James Renwick (climate scientist)

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James Renwick
James Renwick 2019 (cropped).jpg
Renwick in 2019
NationalityNew Zealand
Alma materUniversity of Canterbury (BSc)
Victoria University of Wellington (MSc)
University of Washington (PhD)
Scientific career
FieldsClimate science
InstitutionsVictoria University

James Arthur Renwick CRSNZ is a New Zealand weather and climate researcher. He is professor of physical geography at Victoria University of Wellington, specialising in large-scale climate variations. He was awarded the 2018 New Zealand Prime Minister's Science Prize for Communication by Jacinda Ardern.[1]


Stéphane Popinet and James Renwick moving oceanographic gear in poor conditions on the sea ice of McMurdo Sound during the K131 2005 science event.

He started his career as a weather forecaster at the New Zealand Met Service (1978–1991). From there he moved to seasonal prediction and climate change studies at National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (1992–2002), and then to his present teaching and research role at Victoria University of Wellington. His interests include Southern Hemisphere climate variability (such as the El Niño/La Niña cycle and the mid-latitude westerly winds) and the impacts of climate variability and change on New Zealand.[2]

He also works in climate-sea ice interaction.[3]

Renwick was a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth[4] and Fifth[5] Assessment Reports, as well as a Co-ordinating Lead Author for the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report.[6]

He was President of the New Zealand Association of Scientists 2009–2011.[7]

Science communication[edit]

He is a well-known science communicator in New Zealand. The citation for his 2018 Prime Minister's Science Prize for Communication[8] stated that he "communicates with warmth, humour and positivity, while always being clear about the seriousness of the issue". He communicates climate science in the context of art through an initiative called Track Zero.[9][10]


  • Prime Minister's Science Communication Prize winner, 2018
  • Recipient, Edward Kidson Medal, Meteorological Society of N.Z., 2005
  • Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand[11]


  1. ^ "PM's top science prize goes to DNA crime scene software". The Beehive.
  2. ^ nzcpe (8 February 2020). "Climate Commission is cleared for takeoff: James Renwick talks ice, snow, and climate action". Planetary Ecology. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  3. ^ Clem, K. R., J. A. Renwick, and J. McGregor (2017), Large-Scale Forcing of the Amundsen Sea Low and Its Influence on Sea Ice and West Antarctic Temperature, Journal of Climate, 30(20), 8405–8424, doi: 10.1175/jcli-d-16-0891.1.
  4. ^ "AR4 Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis — IPCC".
  5. ^ "AR5 Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis — IPCC".
  6. ^ "IPCC Authors (beta)". apps.ipcc.ch. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  7. ^ Gregory, G., 2016. A better way: New Zealand Association of Scientists 1922–2016. New Zealand Science Review, 73(2), pp.42–54.
  8. ^ "2018 Prime Minister's Science Communication Prize Winner | The Prime Minister's Science Prizes".
  9. ^ "Track Zero – Arts inspiring climate action".
  10. ^ "Exploring climate change through creative arts a focus for Prime Minister's science award recipient". Stuff. 12 March 2019.
  11. ^ "View our Companions". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 28 November 2022.