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?

Dr Linden Ashcroft. Image credit: Science & Technology Australia (STA)

Linden Ashcroft wins a science outreach award

In exciting news, our very own Dr Linden Ashcroft has been awarded the AMOS Science Outreach Award at the 2021 AMOS conference. The accolade recognises AMOS outreach ambassadors who inspire other AMOS members to undertake science engagement activities. It also recognises those who engage with the public, politicians, schools, businesses and communities, to educate and … Continue reading Linden Ashcroft wins a science outreach award

Snow preventing coal and other trains from leaving Petersburg, South Australia, in July 1895.

What we’ve learnt about Australia’s climate history

This year our team completed a pilot citizen science project with over 1,000 volunteers, developed Australia’s longest daily weather record, analysed previously unknown weather extremes from the 19th century, and reached at least 1.6 million people through media coverage.  Here’s an outline of our achievements this year and a summary of what we’ve learnt so … Continue reading What we’ve learnt about Australia’s climate history

A low pressure system across Adelaide in July 1847.

Previously unknown weather extremes discovered in new Adelaide record

Our analysis of recently transcribed historical data has picked up extreme events such as a week-long heatwave, bushfires, a dust storm, and severe storms that caused hail and flooding in 19th century Adelaide. Citizen scientists transcribed newly discovered historical daily weather observations from 1843 to 1856 for the Adelaide region.  The data show that 1847 … Continue reading Previously unknown weather extremes discovered in new Adelaide record

Sturt's Overland Expedition leaving Adelaide, August 10th, 1844, by S.T. Gill. Source: Art Gallery of South Australia.

The longest daily weather record for Adelaide is now fully transcribed!

Our citizen science volunteers have helped to fill an eight-year data gap in Adelaide’s daily weather record, transcribing historical weather journals that cover the period 1843 to 1856. It took 1,103 volunteers 77 days to transcribe over 33,400 classifications on the citizen science platform, Zooniverse.  These newly transcribed observations will help link together historical and … Continue reading The longest daily weather record for Adelaide is now fully transcribed!

E. C. Frome, Australia, First view of the salt desert - called Lake Torrens, 1843, Lake Frome, South Australia. Source: Art Gallery of South Australia.

Historical climate data can improve our assessment of future climate risk

Australia is a land characterised by dramatic climate and weather extremes. Currently, our understanding of the nation’s climatic history is mostly confined to official records kept by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology that begin in 1900, despite the fact that observations are available from first European settlement of Australia in 1788. Colonial weather observations taken … Continue reading Historical climate data can improve our assessment of future climate risk

Inundations at Port Adelaide-1865-for-web

1848: Floods in Adelaide

Severe flooding affected Adelaide in August, October and November of 1848, when the Torrens River broke its banks, carrying all before it. Within four hours, the river had gone from its normal low-level as barely a stream, to the highest levels of the season – and just a few inches below the level that carried … Continue reading 1848: Floods in Adelaide

One month in: some preliminary results

Since our launch on 8 September 2020, more than 760 Zooniverse volunteers have digitised over 15,000 weather observations to help create Australia’s longest daily weather record. The project is now at the halfway point, with 50% transcribed and 50% still to go. ...