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. ...

Weather-analysis-for web

How do we analyse historical climate data?

Learn how our team of researchers will analyse a new set of early weather data from the Adelaide Survey Department, South Australia, in the 1800s. ...

Wendy Howe CHA Volunteer

Become a citizen scientist and help climate research

There’s an immense amount of value that citizen scientists can bring to the field of climate science.  Historical observations provide researchers with a baseline for evaluating recently observed extremes. However there are missing gaps in historical weather data, some of which are able to be filled by old weather journals that are yet to be … Continue reading Become a citizen scientist and help climate research

National Archives of Australia documents

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, … Continue reading Help piece together Australia’s longest daily weather record