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First Fleet weather research in the news

Published on 30 September 2010 by in News

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Research into the treacherous weather conditions the First Fleet battled on the epic voyage to Australia has attracted a wealth of media attention this week.

SEARCH lead researcher Joelle Gergis spoke with a range of media about the First Fleet weather reconstruction she prepared with Rob Allan and Philip Brohan of the UK Met Office:

- Australian Geographic
- The Age and Sydney Morning Herald
- ABC News
- SBS News
- The Daily Telegraph

The reports come as a conference in New Zealand, coordinated by SEARCH research partner Andrew Lorrey, aims to promote the recovery of old weather data buried in logbooks and early weather records.

Further details of the conference and the First Fleet weather data recovery research is available in this Australian Science Media Centre online briefing.

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This citizen science project will see our volunteers scouring historical documents such as early settlers’ diaries, the colony’s first newspapers and Government Gazettes, for evidence of significant weather events.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