Uncovering Australia’s climate history since European settlement

Uncovering Australia’s climate history since European settlement
Free Seminar: 22 March 2017 @1PM
Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library)

Sample page from Belfield's 1877 Meteorological Observing Book

Sample page from Belfield’s 1877 Meteorological Observing Book



The DOI for the transcribed Eversleigh dataset is :http://dx.doi.org/10.25817/5b46a2a483841.

Belfield, Algernon (2018) Meteorological observations for Eversleigh Station, near Armidale, New South Wales, Australia 1877-1922 (transcribed). The University of Newcastle. Collection.dx.doi.org/10.25817/5b46a2a483841.

Dr Linden Ashcroft
Senior Researcher

Centre for Climate Change (C3), Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV)
Avinguda de Remolins, 13–15, 43500, Tortosa, Spain

Together with the Launch of the scientifically digitised Eversleigh Climate Data

22 March 2017 @ 1PM
Cultural Collections, Level 2 Auchmuty Library
FREE Admission

Dr Linden Ashcroft – Abstract (PDF)


The climate of Australia is notoriously variable: we truly live in a country of droughts and flooding rains. Historical records offer an insight into past climatic events, helping us determine what is natural variability, and what is human-induced climate change.

In this presentation I will focus on the rescue of instrumental weather observations for southeastern Australia from 1788 to 1860. These “old numbers” can support documentary accounts of past weather and climate, and help to calibrate natural indicators of past change, such as tree rings and ice cores.

I will introduce some of our most dedicated 19th century weather observers, including publicans, governors, painters and doctors. Records taken by these men are the earliest numerical information we have on the temperature and rainfall in Australia’s most highly populated region. A good example is Algernon Belfield, a landowner from Eversleigh, near Armidale, NSW (data record 1877 to 1922).

Using their data along with supporting documentary evidence, I will then look into some of the more interesting climate events that occurred during the first 72 years of colonial settlement in Australia.

 ashcroft-jan2016Dr Linden Ashcroft Bio
Linden is a climate researcher who completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences in early 2014. Her research focuses on the rescue and analysis of historical weather observations in Australia and Europe, to improve our understanding of past, present and future climate. She is also a qualified science communicator, and have shared her passion for “old weather” through channels including BBC World Radio, The Conversation and the Sydney Morning Herald. Linden is currently completing a post-doctoral position at the Centre for Climate Change Universitat Rovira i Virgili in southern Catalonia, Spain.

For publications and more information, visit lindenashcroft.com or get in touch on Twitter @lindenashcroft.


Conference Poster – The Eversleigh Historical Meteorological Data Set Part 1: Algernon Henry Belfield and his Measurements, 1877-1922. (Click image for larger size)

The Eversleigh Historical Meteorological Data Set Part 2: Data Transformation and Quality Assessment (Howard Bridgman et al) PDF Version


The Eversleigh Historical Meteorological Data Set Part 3: Climate variability in New England, 1882-1922. (Click image for a larger view)


The Trials and Tribulations of Data Digitisation by Linden Ashcroft (Click image for a larger view)



This FREE PUBLIC SEMINAR will also mark the LAUNCH of the scientifically digitised Eversleigh Data Set, recorded by Algernon Henry Belfield between 1877-1922, and meticulously transcribed by crowd sourced volunteers from around the world, between April and May 2016.

The volunteers answered the call from the Algernon Wants You poster that was published on the 11 March 2016, calling for help in transferring, what was arguably, the best and most complete set of weather measurements for the time period on the New England Plateau, into digital spreadsheets.

On the 14 April 2016 the Conversation Article was published http://theconversation.com/19th-century-weather-data-is-helping-climate-scientists-predict-the-future-57342  , and within 24 hours three volunteers had enlisted from three Australian states. That soon grew to twenty seven volunteers, including two internationals, who enlisted to transcribe the data sets.

By the 24 May 2016, all the Eversleigh data had now been input into excel spreadsheets, and we sincerely thank the twenty-seven volunteers who assisted.

The data was then placed in the hands of Dr Linden Ashcroft, whose experience and skills are very important as we change the units to metric, combine that data into a full set, and  begin analysis. The preliminary results of this analysis will be presented.



Containing the three .csv files for the Eversleigh Original Daily Data 1882-1922, Eversleigh Converted Daily Data 1882-1922, and the monthly means/totals calculated from the converted daily data. Only months with less than 15% missing data have had monthly means calculated.

Eversleigh Original Daily Data 1882-1922
Eversleigh Converted Daily Data 1882-1922
Eversleigh Converted Data Monthly Means


Conjoint Associate Professor Howard Bridgman
President Asian Aerosol Research Assembly
Fellow, Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
University of Newcastle


New Life for Weather Diaries (Armidale Express)

3 thoughts on “Uncovering Australia’s climate history since European settlement

  1. Pingback: Hunter Valley Climate Data Sets from 1843 to 1907 Online – Hunter Living Histories

  2. Pingback: 2017 Annual Report – Hunter Living Histories – Hunter Living Histories

  3. Pingback: The Definitive Algernon Henry Belfield Climate Archive – Hunter Living Histories

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