Hi ASCers

Please feel free to join us online for this briefing today. Apologies for the short notice!





Australian Science Media Centre

MEDIA ALERT:  Weather secrets of the past help predict the future

ONLINE BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Today (Thu 2 April) at 11.30am AEDT online (10.30am in QLD)

How long and how severe were the droughts of the 19th century? What was the weather like on the day your grandfather was born? Until now our knowledge of past weather has been patchy with records poorly kept and often hardly kept at all during times of great upheaval like world wars.  This week climate scientists from around the world will meet in SE Queensland to discuss the results of the first stage of a massive international project to reconstruct 250 years of world weather.  


Supported by the Queensland Government ’s Centre for Climate Change Excellence, the international project, “climate reanalysis over the earth” (ACRE), is painstakingly extending and filling weather gaps by digitising records from old hand written archives such as ship log books from the days of ancient globe trotters like Charles Darwin and Captain Cook. Scientists hope to use this more detailed knowledge of past weather events to improve the reliability of current climate models and make stronger links between climate change and extreme weather such as droughts and cyclones.


Topics for discussion include:

  Why do we need to digitise old weather records?

  How will the data be used and who can access it?

  What can it tell us about Australia’s drought and other extreme weather events?


         Dr Rob Allan, Climate Monitoring and Attribution Group, Met Office Hadley Centre, UK.  Why do we need to collect old weather data? Collecting records from old ship logs – E.g. The Beagle and the Endeavour from the 18th and 19th Centuries. Comparing the current drought with the Federation drought. Is the current drought more extreme?


         Dr Philip Brohan, Met Office Hadley Centre, UK – Visualising past weather data – what are some of the exciting things we’ll be able to do working with organisations like Google?


         Dr Gil Compo, University of Colorado CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center and affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory, USA. What can the data tell us about extreme weather in the past and into the future?

Note: Rob Allan is an Australian scientist currently based in the UK. There are a number of other Australian scientists attending the workshop such as Joelle Gergis who is studying past south-eastern Australian weather patterns. Contact the AusSMC if you would like to talk to any of the presenters or other Australian participants.


DATE:  Today (Thursday 2 April 2009)

START TIME: 11.30am AEDT (10.30am in QLD, 11am in SA and 9.30am in WA)

DURATION: Approx 45 min

VENUE:  Online


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For further information, please contact the AusSMC on 08 8207 7415 or email info@aussmc.org.   

Date issued: 2 April 2009   

Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC)

PO Box 237


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