In 2020 and 2021, Climate History Australia ran two citizen science projects on Zooniverse. The aim was to transcribe observations from 19th century handwritten meteorological journals from Adelaide and Perth.
The projects recovered a total of 26 years’ worth of historical climate observations. We had more than 1,790 volunteers on Zooniverse, and collected a combined total of over 67,400 previously un-transcribed historical weather observations.
- Adelaide Survey Office
– Recovered the period 1843 to 1856
– Collected 8 years of missing data (plus overlap)
– Created over 33,400 classifications
– Project ran for 77 days; from 8 September to 24 November, 2020.
- Perth. Two sites: Survey Office & Botanical Gardens
– Recovered the period 1880-1900
– Collected 18 years of missing data (plus overlap)
– Created over 34,000 classifications
– Project ran for 72 days; from 20 April to 1 July, 2021.
These observations will help link together historical and modern weather observations to provide near-continuous weather records for Perth back to 1830, and Adelaide back to 1836.
This means our volunteers have helped to develop the oldest-known meteorological observations for Australia – which are also likely to be the longest, near-continuous daily records for all of the Southern Hemisphere!
The 19th century historical records our volunteers helped transcribe are critical for understanding Australia’s pre-industrial climate, and how climate change has impacted extreme weather events. Extreme weather events in the future are predicted to be even more frequent and intense than they were in the past.
Some of the previously unknown extreme weather we’ve uncovered in our Zooniverse citizen science projects so far, includes:
- A week-long heatwave in Adelaide, February 1847
- A severe lightning storm with a cold snap, floods and large hailstones in Adelaide, July 1847
- Severe and widespread flooding across Adelaide: August, October & November 1848
- A deadly heatwave in Perth, 1-4 January 1896
- A severe storm in Perth that stranded hundreds, July 1898
- Three incidences of ‘hoar frosts’ in Perth, July & August 1899
In 2020, our team published a research paper outlining some of the historical weather extremes in Adelaide, South Australia. We found that snow was once a regular feature of the southern Australian climate in the 1800s. However, the Zooniverse citizen science projects have helped to close some data gaps for Adelaide, and open up new daily datasets for Perth.
Our researchers can now analyse what will become Australia’s longest daily weather records across a large area of Southern Australia. Given the wet winter that Perth’s having we’re particularly interested in the storm analysis.
The full analysis and results for this newly transcribed data will take time, which we will publish in the scientific literature in due course and share on this website.
If you are still interested in volunteering, we occasionally have tasks we need help with. For more information visit the ‘Citizen Science’ tab of this website.
Tell us what you think!
If you participated in our latest citizen science project for Perth on Zooniverse, we’d love you to complete a short survey about your experience. Complete the survey here.