Palaeoclimate scientists to meet in Melbourne

Published on 31 March 2010 by in News


International palaeoclimate researchers will visit Melbourne from 31 May – 2 June for the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Aus2k workshop, to be hosted by the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences.

The workshop will target the need for extended estimates of regional-scale climate variables to reduce uncertainties about climate change and its potential impacts in the Australasian region.  For further information about the workshop, or to register, please visit the PAGES Aus2k website. .

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Science Meets Parliament 2010

Published on 23 March 2010 by in News


Science Meets Parliament 2010. Image: Lorna Sim / FASTS

SEARCH project researchers, Joelle Gergis and Ailie Gallant were recently in Canberra, attending Science Meets Parliament, with the support of  the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

Science Meets Parliament offers scientists from around Australia the opportunity to meet with MPs and discuss issues of importance. This year’s delegates also attended a series of professional development workshops focussing on science communication.

Joelle wrote a feature for The University of Melbourne’s Science Matters, describing how climate change emerged as a key issue during the workshops and meetings. brand mentions .

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Don Garden releases climate history book

Published on 11 February 2010 by in News


The SEARCH project team is excited to announce that our project’s Environmental Historian, Assoc. Prof. Don Garden has just released his book Droughts, Floods and Cyclones; El Ninos that shaped our colonial past.

The book is a comprehensive study of El Nino events in colonial Australia, examining how colonists came to understand their climate and its extremes, and develop precautionary measures.

Assoc. Prof. Garden is President of the Federation of Australian Historical Societies.

Droughts, Floods and Cyclones is available from leading book stores and from Australian Scholarly Publishing.

Details of the book launch will be available soon.

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Claire Fenby’s NLA research trip report

Published on 09 February 2010 by in News


The months of January and February have marked the first of a number of research trips to come during my PhD. I have spent four weeks in Canberra working with our project partner, the National Library of Australia. adobe creative cloud . The library treated me to the privileges enjoyed by the NLA’s 2010 summer scholars, providing me with an excellent opportunity to discuss ideas and resources with other historians.

Poster presented by Claire Fenby at the AMOS conference (click to enlarge

With the invaluable advice of the staff at the NLA, I uncovered a wealth of information and potential sources. My time was spent reading manuscripts (predominantly diaries and letters), newspapers, rare books, looking through the pictures collection and getting a feel for the breadth of the unique map collection.

The manuscripts collection contained, for example, first-hand accounts of the effect of flood on a farm near Wollongong, of the Black Thursday bushfires in Victoria and years of agricultural and pastoral returns.

Rare newspapers provided editorials criticising the continued poor state of roads following yet another destructive wet season and called for agricultural societies to promote research into crops that were resistant to the ravages of the Australian climate.

Material from the library’s collections will be very helpful for developing in-depth case studies of how past weather and climate conditions influenced society over the 1788–1860 period.

Along with my time spent at NLA, I also researched the Australian Agricultural Company records at the Noel Butlin Archive at ANU, presented a poster at the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society’s 17th Annual Conference and gave a seminar at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

– Claire Fenby, PhD Candidate

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Australia’s first European settlers had good reason to complain about the weather, according to a landmark Australian climate history project. Lead academics on the SEARCH project, Dr Joelle Gergis and Prof David Karoly recently conducted an analysis of the journals of Lieutenant William Dawes, outlining temperature conditions at Sydney Harbour in the early days of the settlement.

The SEARCH team discovered that the weather experienced during the first few years of the colony were cool and wet. The colony then bore the brunt of a severe drought that began in 1791.

The findings are profiled in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and ABC Radio.

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