Climate History Australia

Climate History Australia

Climate History Australia is looking for volunteers to help create Australia’s longest daily weather record from Perth, Western Australia, a globally recognised climate change ‘hot spot’. Recently, the team recovered and analysed the oldest known daily weather observations from Perth, south-western Australia, that spans 1830–1875.

This Zooniverse project aims to bridge the gap between these newly digitised observations with the start of the Bureau of Meteorology's daily weather records in 1897. By transcribing these historical weather observations from 1880–1900, you’re helping scientists develop Australia's earliest daily weather record starting in 1830. This record is likely to be the longest, near-continuous daily records for the Southern Hemisphere.

Perth is a particularly important region for studying past climate as it’s located in the path of southern Australia’s storm track. Research shows that rainfall declines in the Perth region have been caused by a southward shift in storms in this region since the 1970s.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO noted in their recent State of the Climate 2020 report that this shift is due to climate change. Understanding Perth’s past climate variability will help to better quantify and prepare for future weather extremes in the region.

The aim of our current project is to reconstruct Perth’s daily weather back to 1830, creating Australia’s longest, near-continuous continuous daily weather records.

By understanding the temperature, pressure, wind and rain observations contained in these historical records, we can determine the kinds of weather systems that moved across southern Australia in the past and see how they might have changed. There is currently a gap in the Perth record between 1876 and the beginning of the Bureau of Meteorology’s daily records in 1897 

The observations you’ll be transcribing for Perth from 1880 to 1900, provide a big part of the missing link needed to connect these records. We need the help of citizen scientists to digitise the historical weather observations in these old journals before they're forgotten or lost to science. Combined with those previously transcribed by Zooniverse volunteers for Adelaide, these observations from Perth will provide scientists with an unparalleled perspective on southern Australia’s pre-industrial weather and climate.

These records will help us determine how much Australia’s climate has changed since industrialisation, helping us understand how our climate might change in the 21st century.