Tributes have been pouring in for leading Footscray climate scientist Dr Penny Whetton following her death, aged 61.

Dr Whetton, the wife of Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice, died suddenly at the couple’s holiday home in north-west Tasmania, sitting in what Senator Rice said was her favourite spot.

An internationally renowned scientist, Dr Whetton was also a keen photographer, visual artist, nature lover, weather watcher, and ardent Western Bulldogs fan.

She died on September 11 at their Sisters Beach retreat while Senator Rice was in Canberra.

In a heartfelt post to Facebook, Senator Rice praised the memory of an “all round beautiful human” whose death was unexpected, unbelievable and “so so sad”.

The couple first met 38 years ago, when Dr Whetton was living as a man.

They have been married for 33 of those years and have two sons, John and Leon.

Dr Whetton was a key part of the CSIRO’s national climate projections work and the lead author of three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, including the Nobel Peace Prize-winning fourth assessment report.

Senator Rice said she was “deeply angry” that current politics was “hurtling us to avoidable climate crisis, and deeply worried about the damage being done and the future prospects for our precious natural world. She was so worried about the coming summer.”

Senator Rice wrote of her wife’s many other abilities, love of nature and role as a “phenomenal font of knowledge”.

“She was a fabulous parent to John and Leon – always supportive, giving, and delighted in sharing her and their passions – language, music, football, cricket, politics, painting, photography.

“She was a role model and an inspiration for so many trans and gender diverse people.”

An online memorial fund established in Dr Whetton’s honour to support revegetation and erosion control work at Sisters Beach has raised close to $10,000.

A memorial service will be held from 2pm Sunday, October 6 at Footscray Community Arts Centre.