Help piece together Australia’s longest daily weather record

What was Australia’s climate like before official weather records began in the early 1900s? How did the climate impact the lives of people living in the 1800s? 

The answers to these questions lie deep in historical records, such as old weather journals, early newspapers, photographs, and colonial paintings. And thanks to some very dedicated early-settlers, the most detailed records can be found in meticulously kept weather journals.

Yet there are many old weather records for climate scientists to still recover and analyse.

The team at Climate History Australia recently pieced together Australia’s longest daily temperature record starting in 1838. They found evidence that snow was once a regular feature of the southern Australian climate. But as Australia continues to warm from climate change, cold extremes are becoming less frequent and heatwaves more common in the Adelaide region of South Australia.

There’s currently one gap in the record for Adelaide from 1848–1856. Recently our team tracked down a series of old weather journals in the National Archives of Australia, which will fill the missing data.

Our next goal is to transcribe these new discoveries with the help of citizen scientists – including you! As a citizen scientist, you will help us recover and document 12 years’ worth of daily weather records.

Using the recently found observations taken at the Adelaide Surveyor General’s Office, we’re hoping you can help us complete the record from 1848 to 1856.

Once transcribed, it will become the longest continuous daily temperature record in Australia, and one of the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. 

To get involved, visit: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/caitlinhowlett/climate-history-australia 

Video production and editing by: Peter O’Rourke, Fenner School of Environment & Society. Written and spoken by Caitlin Howlett. Images sourced from National Archives of Australia, National Library of Australia, State Library of South Australia, State Library of Victoria and State Library of Queensland.