The hunt for Shackleton’s weather logbooks

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.