Introducing Climate History Australia

Climate History Australia has been developed by researchers from The Australian National University to provide a central hub for historical climate research in our region. 

This initiative follows on from the South-eastern Australian Recent Climate History (SEARCH) project which was hosted by the University of Melbourne from 2009–2014.

Some of the highlights of the SEARCH project included running the OzDocs volunteer portal from 2010 to 2012, and the graduation of two PhD students; Claire Fenby in 2012 and Linden Ashcroft in 2014. Lead researcher Dr Joëlle Gergis was also awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship in 2013, and received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2015.

Probably the biggest highlight, however, was winning the 2014 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research for reconstructing 1000 years of Australian climate history. Here’s a short video with a snapshot of our achievement!

A snapshot of SEARCH; Winner of the 2014 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research

A book on Australia’s Climate

In 2018, Dr Gergis published her book, Sunburnt Country: The future and history of climate change in Australia. It pieces together Australia’s climate history for the first time, and uncovers a continent long vulnerable to climate extremes and variability. Here’s a video of Joëlle being interviewed on ABC News Breakfast:

It’s a great read for anyone who wants to understand the impact of a warming planet on Australian lifestyles and ecosystems, and the power we all have to shape future life on Earth. But don’t just take our word for it, check out these reviews:

“A marvelous investigation of Australia’s climate, and how we are affecting it.”
– Tim Flannery.

“There is no doubt at least part of the problem lies in our inability to connect the future we are making to our understanding of the world as it has always been. By unpicking the complexities of our past climate and showing us how they relate to our future Sunburnt Country does just that.” – Sydney Morning Herald.


Climate History Australia is now funded by the ANU Futures Scheme, so our cross-disciplinary research continues.

The project now includes two fresh recruits in the team to support further research into early weather data recovery through citizen science. This means that in 2020 you can look forward to seeing a refreshed website, engaging new social media accounts, regular e-newsletters, a volunteer platform for digitising historical weather data, and new research, analysis and peer-reviewed journal articles on Australia’s climate history.

Going forward, Climate History Australia will build on the success of the SEARCH project, and continue to gather and showcase research on Australian climate variability and change. Because in the wise words of Winston Churchill, “the further back we look, the further forward we can see.

To stay up-to-date with our latest research and project launches, sign up to our e-newsletter on the ‘Get Involved’ tab of our website.