Belfield Climate Archive Expands with New Find

Algernon Henry Belfield (1838-1922)

Late last year a old register containing a further treasure trove of scientific climate data was unearthed.

The register, belonging to leading New England pastoralist, meteorologist and astronomer Algernon Henry Belfield (1838-1922), brings to a conclusion the climate records meticulously collected at his observatory and weather recording facilities at Eversleigh Station over a period of 45 years.

The work is a testament to Algernon Belfield’s dedication to the collection of scientific climate data, and his love for the elements, the final record was taken on the 2 July 1922, only weeks before he died on the Saturday 5th August 1922.

Richard, his grandson, relates that on the Wednesday prior to his death, he had collected his mail, which was a buggy trip to Dumaresq Railway Station with his fox terrier, coming home he complained to one of his boys that he was feeling a little weary and retired to his room at Eversleigh. He passed away early Saturday morning, buried on the Sunday, therefore not disrupting the working week. An efficient man to the end.

Eversleigh Homestead

The Register was digitised by William Oates at the University of New England, and uploaded into a single PDF file by the University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections. You can download the entire Register as a single PDF here:

Register of Meteorological Observations taken at Eversleigh 1908-1922 (63 MB PDF File)

To access the full climate archive click the following post relating to the original deposit of climate data records from 1877-1907:
http://uoncc.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/climate-archive-to-help-predict-extreme-weather-events/

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist

Algernon Henry Belfield Inaugural Lecture

“A Gentleman researcher in 19th century New England”

28th February 2012

On the 28th February 2012 the University of New England (UNE) Alumni presented a public lecture on meteorologist, astronomer and pastoralist Algernon Henry Belfield entitled “A Gentleman researcher in 19th century New England”.

Professor Howard Bridgman (centre) holds one of Algernon Belfield's Climate records with Mr William Oates (left) and Richard Belfield (right)

The public lecture featured presentations from Mr Bill Oates, UNE University Archivist, Mr Richard Belfield, grandson of Algernon, and donor of the Belfield Climate Archives, and Professor Howard Bridgman, from the School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle.

The lecture was held in the Main Seminar Room Drummond and Smith College.

Richard Belfield pictured viewing his grandfather Algernon Belfield's climate records

Climate archive to help predict extreme weather events

Algernon Belfield's 1882 Meteorological Observing Book for the year 1882

Click Here to View Images from the Belfield Ceremony 9th March 2011 on Flickr

Historic climate data never before used by researchers may provide the key to helping communities better prepare for extreme weather events, such as the recent Queensland floods.

The data, collected between 1877 and 1907, by a New England pastoralist, will be used by University of Newcastle researchers to map the future climate of the region.

“The Bureau of Meteorology did not start collecting detailed, official climate data in the New England area until 1961,” University meteorologist Martin Babakhan said.

Sample page from the 1882 Meteorological Observing Book

“This data could be applied to create an early warning system to help climatologists and meteorologists better predict the extreme weather events that we have seen across Australia in the last six to 12 months.

“The information is extremely detailed and will help fill significant gaps in knowledge, and when applied to computerised climate modelling, will help us better predict climate and weather events in that region.”

The research will help predict adverse and beneficial climate events for the agriculture industry, as well as for planning, development and business investment in rural and regional areas.

“Climate management is all about knowledge. With this information we can understand why and how our climate is changing and the likely impacts, which are vital to better understand the climate of tomorrow,” Mr Babakhan said.

Sample page from Belfield's 1877 Meteorological Observing Book

Sample page from Belfield's 1877 Meteorological Observation Book

The climate data, collected by astronomer and meteorologist Algernon Henry Belfield at his Eversleigh Station in the New England region, has been donated to the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections and it is also being archived by the University of New England Heritage Centre.

Mr Richad Belfield, grandson of Algernon Belfield, examining his grandfather's records

“Most families on the land have detailed historic data about weather and climate that can be used by scientists to answer important questions about our climate,” Mr Babakhan said.

“It is important that they come forward with this information to help fill the gaps in knowledge and answer these vital questions about our nation’s future.”

Researchers, climate change believers and sceptics will attend a launch of the Mapping our Climate collection at the University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections, Level 2 Auchmuty Library, Callaghan, at 10am on Wednesday 9 March.

Meteorological Observing Book(s) for the Years 1877 – 1907

Compiled by Algernon Henry Belfield (1838-1922)
Eversleigh Station New England District

Linked from this page are optimised PDFs for the 27 extant Observing Books compiled by Algernon Henry Belfield on his Eversleigh Station in the New England District.

The original books were deposited in the Heritage Centre of the University of New England by Algernon Belfield’s grandson Mr Richard Belfield.

The original booklets were digitised for Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle by William Oates, University Archivist at the Heritage Centre University of New England.

NB: Meteorological Observing Books for 1879, 1880 and 1881 are missing.
NB: Each PDF file is around 14-16MB in size. So you might wish to right mouse click on the link and select ‘save link as’ to download the file to your computer.

Highlights of the Ceremony

RARE CLIMATE DATA HELPING PREDICT WEATHER EVENTS
NBN TELEVISION – BROADCAST 9 MARCH 2011

One farmer's observations to help others - Newcastle Herald 10 March 2011 p.14

Mapping our Climate

Algernon Henry Belfield

On the 9th March 2011 a digital copy of important climate records dating from 1877 will be deposited with the University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections.

Algernon Henry Belfield (1838-1922) arrived in Australia in 1855, and was an astronomer, meteorologist and pastoralist responsible to recording 30 years of meticulous weather data at his Eversleigh Station in the New England district.

The original journals date from 1877-1907 and were originally offered to University academic Mr Martin Babakhan to be deposited here. But after consideration of their place of origin the University Archivist recommended the records be housed closer to home at the Heritage Centre University of New England (UNE) at Armidale.

UNE have kindly provided us with a digital copy of the records, and Richard Belfield (grandson of Algernon Henry Belfield) will be travelling from Armidale to Newcastle to present the University with a digital copy of his grandfather’s climate records in person.

Martin Babakhan believes that there are other local pastoral families who may have in their custody similar climate records, and may be able to provide us with similar collections for ongoing research, thus enabling our climate and environmental researchers to comprehensively map our local climate data from the historical records.

All those interested in climate research are welcome to come along.  Professor Tim Roberts, Director, Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, Professor Howard Bridgman Conjoint Professor Editor, Air Quality and Climate Change, School of Environmental and Life Sciences and Mr Martin Babakhan from the Faculty of Science and Information Technology will speak on the day on the importance of such records to ongoing and future research.

When: Wednesday 9th March 2011 at 10 am

Where: Cultural Collections Level 2 Auchmuty Library

All Welcome.

Please RSVP archives@newcastle.edu.au

For more information:

ABC New England Radio Interviews with Mr Richard Belfield

ABC New England Radio – Sample Images from the Weather Records (1877)