A snow event in the Lofty Ranges, 1905. Source: State Library of South Australia

We dug up Australian weather records back to 1838 and found snow is falling less often

We pieced together weather records back to 1838 to create Australia’s longest analysis of daily temperature extremes and their impacts on society. We found snow was once a regular feature of the southern Australian climate. But as Australia continues to warm under climate change, cold extremes are becoming less frequent and heatwaves more common. ...

Artwork by John Longstaff depicting a fire in the Gippsland region (1898). Image courtesy the State Library of Victoria.

Understanding why Australia’s extreme events are becoming more frequent and intense

The year 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record. These two factors combined to create the worst bushfire and drought conditions since the Bureau of Meteorology's daily weather observations began in 1910. After the record-shattering year that the country has just experienced, our team attended the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society annual meeting and international conference in Fremantle, WA, in February this year. ...

Some say we’ve seen bushfires worse than this before. But they’re ignoring a few key facts

Every time a weather extreme occurs, some people quickly jump in to say we’ve been through it all before: that worse events have happened in the past, or it’s just part of natural climate variability. The recent bushfire crisis is a case in point. ...

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. ...

Dawes Point 1817-1818. Credit: State Library of NSW

Black skies and raging seas: How the First Fleet got a first taste of Australia’s unforgiving climate

The women screamed as the huge waves crashed loudly on the wooden deck. Horrified, they watched the foaming torrent wash away their blankets. Many dropped to their knees, praying for the violent rocking to stop. The sea raged around them as the wind whipped up into a frenzy, damaging all but one of the heavily loaded ships. The severe storm was yet another taste of the ferocious weather that slammed the First Fleet as it made its way across the Southern Ocean in December 1787. ...

A severe flood swept the Hawkesbury River in June 1816. Credit State Library of NSW.

La Niña brings flooding rains to NSW in the early 1860s

A La Niña event spanning 1860–1864 brought repeated widespread flooding to settlements across NSW. This succession of natural disasters demoralised rural communities and devastated agricultural endeavors. The floods in 1863 and 1864 were the most severe with much of the New England and Hunter Valley regions inundated with floodwaters. Flooded street in Maitland, 1864. Image … Continue reading La Niña brings flooding rains to NSW in the early 1860s

The Black Thursday bushfires, February 6, 1851, as depicted by William Strutt in 1864. Credit State Library of Victoria.

1863: Bushfires ravage Gippsland

In February 1863, bushfires swept through the Gippsland region destroying farm lands and burgeoning townships. The fires were so fierce and extensive that observers dubbed it Black Monday comparing the severity of the event to the infamous Black Thursday fires 12 years earlier. 'The Backwater, near Sale, reserved for a town commonage, and which was … Continue reading 1863: Bushfires ravage Gippsland

Melbourne Yarra flood in 1860. Credit National Library of Australia.

1860: Summer storm floods Melbourne

Flooding in Elizabeth Street in 1862. Image courtesy of National Library of Australia In December 1860, at the peak of the Victorian gold mining boom, a severe storm hit Melbourne and unleashed a deluge that swamped the central business district. Arriving just two weeks before Christmas, the floodwaters swept through downtown Melbourne leaving a trail … Continue reading 1860: Summer storm floods Melbourne

Two hundred years of Australian climate history revealed

Public sermons to stop the rain, thermometers kept in pubs and forest giants in Tasmania have all helped to improve our understanding of south-eastern Australia’s climate history, according to a recent public talk at the State Library of Victoria. On 2 August, around 80 people attended the public talk that was the culmination of a … Continue reading Two hundred years of Australian climate history revealed