Perth’s deadly heatwave of 1896

A “wave of heat” that was described at the time as “abnormal” and “unbearable”, affected Perth, Western Australia, from 1-4 January, 1896.  During the “exceedingly long spell of hot weather”, there were at least seven reported “deaths from sunstroke”, as well as the passing of four infants in a nearby town.  Perth experienced severe water … Continue reading Perth’s deadly heatwave of 1896

The H.M.S Success being repaired after damage from running aground at Carnac Island, South of Perth, during a strong gale in 1829. Source: Wikipedia

Reconstructing past extremes using historical wind observations

In November and December of 1829, the Perth region was battered by "strong squalls" and a "very fresh wind and boisterous sea". The gale-force winds pushed the H.M.S Success aground, and was part of a succession of wind-related shipwrecks which contributed to “failure and famine” difficulties in the colony of Swan River, Western Australia.  How … Continue reading Reconstructing past extremes using historical wind observations

Why we don’t use computers to transcribe these historical weather records

We've had a few queries on our current Zooniverse project Forum page about why we aren't using machines or artificial intelligence (AI) to transcribe these weather journals. Sometimes, this type of data transcription is called Machine Learning (ML) or Optical Character Recognition/Reader (OCR). The reason we need actual people to transcribe these documents is that … Continue reading Why we don’t use computers to transcribe these historical weather records

Hail covers Aberdeen Street, Perth after a storm, 8 July 1905. slwa

June 1872: Severe storm and flooding in Perth

Our research has found that in June 1872, Perth experienced one of its most severe storms of the 19th century. Barometer observations made during this storm show that atmospheric pressure was at one of its lowest levels since 1830. The associated flooding from the storm was reported as one of the most severe floods since the … Continue reading June 1872: Severe storm and flooding in Perth

Etching of the 1867 flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, depicting the Eather family. Source: illustrated Sydney News.

Yes, Australia is a land of flooding rains. But climate change could be making it worse

By Joelle Gergis, Australian National University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article from March 24, 2021. Over the past three years, I’ve been working on the forthcoming report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I’m a climate scientist who contributed to the … Continue reading Yes, Australia is a land of flooding rains. But climate change could be making it worse

Swan River, Mill St Jetty, from Perth Esplanade circa 1900. Source: Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Australia’s longest weather record from climate change ‘hot spot’

Our team is now looking for volunteers to help create Australia’s longest daily weather record from a globally recognised climate change ‘hot spot’. The citizen science project will help scientists reconstruct Perth’s daily weather from 1830 to the present day. These historical records are critical for understanding Australia’s pre-industrial climate, and how climate change has … Continue reading Australia’s longest weather record from climate change ‘hot spot’

The laying of the old Perth observatory foundation stone by West Australian Premier John Forrest in September 1896 was quite the celebration. Source: Powerhouse Museum.

Climate reconstructed

In 1896, there was a great celebration for the unveiling of West Australia’s weather observatory’s foundation stone in Perth Park (now Kings Park and Botanic Garden). That year, Premier John Forrest said that the observatory: "… showed that in the time of our prosperity we were trying to elevate and improve the public mind and to do something for the encouragement of the arts and sciences… Western Australians might be proud they were doing something to enlighten their people and to join hands with the scientists all over the world.”

A painting by J Hitchen depicting heavy snowfall on the Adelaide Hills from North Terrace, Adelaide, 1841. Source: B-7070 State Library of South Australia.

Unearthing Australia’s climate history

Few people realise that snow was once a common occurrence for southern Australia’s climate. Historical records help document impacts of past weather extremes such as heatwaves, floods, droughts and even snow. Now scientists are using these fascinating resources to uncover more about Australia’s climate history and also shed light on modern severe weather events...

Depiction of the year 1827 at Swan River, Western Australia. Source: National Gallery of Australia.

What was Perth’s climate like from 1830 to 1875?

Very little is known about the past climate of Perth, Western Australia, during the 19th century. Our team recently pieced together the oldest daily weather observations from south-western Australia spanning 1830–1875. There’s a strong case for increasing 19th century climate data rescue efforts in the south-western region of Australia, due to the vulnerability of this … Continue reading What was Perth’s climate like from 1830 to 1875?