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...

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

Call for citizen scientists to help complete Australia’s longest daily weather record

Climate History Australia has launched a new citizen science project to fill a gap in the daily data available for the Adelaide region between 1848 and 1856...

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. ...

River Murray’s record low flow

The dramatic drop in water flowing through the River Murray between 1998 and 2008 was probably a once-in-1500-year event according to a new study by researchers at the University of Melbourne. The study reports that although streamflow has varied considerably in the last 200 years, there is a 98% chance that the streamflow deficit experienced … Continue reading River Murray’s record low flow

El Nino influenced Australian identity

Extreme weather events linked to El Nino Southern Oscillation played a hand in shaping the culture of modern Australia according to a new book chapter by climate historian Don Garden. The chapter examines the social, political and cultural significance of The Federation Drought, which has been linked to a series of strong El Nino events. … Continue reading El Nino influenced Australian identity