The SEARCH project has been featured in The State Library of Victoria’s News magazine for July – October.

Project PhD candidate Claire Fenby details some of the valuable historical documentary resources she has been making use of during her research at the State Library of Victoria.

A copy of her article is available for download here (PDF).

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SEARCH volunteers unearth vital climate data

Published on 23 September 2010 by in News


An end to the drought. Excerpt from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Thursday 13 June 1839 (Click to enlarge)

A team of volunteers at the State Library of New South Wales has been hard at work sourcing valuable information about climate conditions in the early years of the colony at Sydney.

The volunteers have been examining editions of Australia’s first newspaper, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, looking for information about weather conditions in the colony during 1838 and 1839, which have been identified as drought years.

The volunteers have unearthed many meteorological tables from each month of the target years, as well as stories about how the weather affected the colony.

This very useful material will allow the project team to reconstruct the weather conditions during the period.

The team has been conducting their research using the National Library of Australia’s Trove Australian Newspapers database. Trove is an important project to digitise Australia’s early newspapers from 1803 to the mid 1950s.

If you would like to be involved as a volunteer, please contact the SEARCH team on info@climatehistory.com.au.

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Scientists seek lost pieces of the climate puzzle

Published on 22 September 2010 by in News


International climate scientists, including members of the SEARCH team, will meet in New Zealand next week as part of an immense global effort to recover lost weather data from the past.

The Asian-Pacific Network (APN) for Global Change Research workshop in Auckland on September 27–29 will discuss the latest research using recovered weather information, often from handwritten sources such as historical weather station diaries, ship records and explorers’ logs.

The effort to uncover and digitise this rare weather information will be vital to understanding climate variability and change in the Australasian–Pacific region.

With increasing concern about climate change, variability, and extremes, there is an urgent need for reliable, high-quality instrumental observations of past weather conditions.

On a global level, the international Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth (ACRE) initiative has been instrumental in promoting the rescue of lost weather data and linking various international research projects that reconstruct past weather conditions.

Unfortunately, many valuable historical observations in the Australasian-Pacific region are hidden away in archives, limiting our understanding of how the current human-induced climate change fits into the context of regional variability.

The Auckland meeting aims to tackle this issue, allowing the region’s scientists to share the latest reconstructed data, creating longer and more detailed climate records.

These records will then help researchers to test the accuracy of current climate model projections, and to constrain future climate model scenarios.

The meeting is being coordinated by SEARCH research partner Dr Andrew Lorrey of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

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The hunt for Shackleton’s weather logbooks

Published on 21 July 2010 by in News

Observer George Ainsworth on Macquarie Island. Image" Bureau  of Meteorology

Observer George Ainsworth on Macquarie Island. Image: Bureau of Meteorology

An ongoing search for the logbooks of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton has unearthed some interesting information about the early years of weather observation on Macquarie Island.

SEARCH research partner, Neville Nicholls of Monash University, was searching the Bureau of Meteorology archive for the Shackleton logbooks when he discovered a series of correspondence and a photo of the Bureau’s first Macquarie Island observer, George Ainsworth, who was on the island from 1911 – 1913 as part of the Mawson Antarctic expedition.

The photograph, almost a century old, shows Ainsworth standing next to the early meteorological instruments at the Macquarie Island station.

Prof Nicholls said the Shackleton logbooks, originally held at the Bureau, were now missing. The logbooks cover Shackleton’s “Farthest South” expedition of 1907-9. Data from the books was transcribed and published in the 1920s, before they went missing.

Prof Nicholls said it was hoped that if the original books were found, they would offer further details of the weather conditions that forced Shackleton to abandon the expedition just short of the South Pole.

If anyone has any information about the location of the logbooks, please contact Early Weather Data stream leader David Karoly, or Neville Nicholls.

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We are pleased to welcome Swiss researcher Raphael Neukom to the University of Melbourne as part of a National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellowship. He will be working with us for six months between July–August 2010 and April–July 2011 developing Southern Hemisphere climate reconstructions.

Raphael is a palaeoclimatologist who received his PhD from the University of Bern for compiling all the annually-resolved proxy records for South America as part of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) regional 2K initiative and developing the first large-scale climate reconstructions for the continent.

His two most recent publications include a summer and winter temperature and precipitation reconstructions for southern South America as far back as A.D. 900.

He is spending time with Joelle Gergis and Ailie Gallant discussing reconstruction methodology and data management to help the SEARCH project develop its long-term climate reconstructions for south-eastern Australia and the broader Australasian region.

During his fellowship, Raphael will compile all the currently available high-resolution records from Australasia and South America regions to develop seminal Southern Hemisphere–wide climate reconstructions.

Reconstructions of past atmospheric circulation from this less-studied region of the globe will then be compared against climate model data to assess the regional climate variability in different parts of the Southern Hemisphere.

Raphael plans to have his results ready in time for incorporation into the next global climate change assessment report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due out in 2013.

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University of Melbourne Federation Fellow, Professor David Karoly, will hold a public talk in Bathurst to outline the SEARCH project’s landmark research into the climate history of south-eastern Australia.

Professor Karoly will also be calling for assistance to identify local sources that may be of use to the project, such as early instrumental weather records and documentary accounts.

Date: Thursday 29 July 2010
Time: 3:00PM – 4:30PM
Venue: Rahamim, St Joseph’s Mount, 34 Busby Street, Bathurst NSW

Download the invitation (PDF).

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Salvaging sunken treasure

Published on 17 June 2010 by in News


The State Library of New South Wales has published a feature on the SEARCH project in their quarterly SL Magazine.

In the article, lead researcher Joelle Gergis describes how the project is drawing on the wealth of information available in the State Library of New South Wales’ First Fleet journals collection.

Download a PDF copy of the article here. .

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Black Thursday. Image: State Library of Victoria

Black Thursday. Image: State Library of Victoria

The SEARCH project will draw on the expertise of volunteers to build a comprehensive online database of early Australian meteorological records and historical accounts of weather events.

Volunteers will work out of our partner libraries, The State Library of Victoria, The State Library of New South Wales and the National Library of Australia to help us populate the SEARCH Project’s OzDocs Database with this valuable information about South-East Australia’s climate past.

This citizen science project will see our volunteers scouring historical documents such as early settlers’ diaries, the colony’s first newspapers and Government Gazettes, for evidence of significant weather events.

This data will help us piece together details of our climate history, allowing the SEARCH team to view our current climate patterns in the context of natural historical variability.

The OzDocs project is currently in pilot stage. If you would like to contribute as a volunteer, please sign up for a user account, or contact the project team at info@climatehistory.com.au for further information.

The Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth (ACRE) project is undertaking a similar climate history citizen science project, spearheaded by SEARCH project partner researcher Dr Rob Allen from the UK Met Office.

A volunteer team in Adelaide is looking at the early South Australian weather records of Charles Todd, who kept meticulous weather data from Adelaide between the 1870s to the early 1900s.

The ACRE project was recently profiled on the ABC’s Stateline.

One of the most successful citizen science projects is Galaxy Zoo, an online astronomy project that enlists the general public to assist with the classification of millions of galaxies from telescopic images.

Lucas Laurson’s article in Science from June 25 2010 also profiles various research organisations undertaking citizen science projects.

The Journal of Arthur Bowes-Smyth, State Library of New South Wales

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International Palaeoclimate meeting in The Age

Published on 09 June 2010 by in News


Image courtesy of the Australian Institute of Marine Science

Over 70 palaeoclimate scientists from across Australia and around the world were in Melbourne last week for the Aus2K regional workshop.

The meeting was an opportunity for scientists to present the latest palaeoclimate reconstruction data for our region; information that will feed into the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due in 2014.

The event was hosted at the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences.

The workshop was co-organised by SEARCH project lead researcher, Dr Joelle Gergis, along with Past Global Changes (PAGES).

The Age featured a page three interview with Dr Gergis and fellow SEARCH Project researcher Prof David Karoly.

Further information about the Aus2K workshop is available from the PAGES website.

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The VoiceThe University of Melbourne’s Voice newspaper has featured The South-Eastern Australian Recent Climate History project on page 2 of its May edition.

Lead researcher, Dr Joelle Gergis, discussed the background to this landmark linkage project, while project historian, Professor Don Garden outlined how historical documentary records would be utilised. The feature is available on The Voice‘s website.

The Voice is inserted into The Age on the first Monday of every month. The Age‘s circulation is over 200,000 and as such, the feature represents great exposure for the project.

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