A climate reconstruction of Sydney Cove, New South Wales, using weather journal and documentary data, 1788–1791

Gergis, Joelle and Karoly, David J. and Allan, Robert J. (2009) A climate reconstruction of Sydney Cove, New South Wales, using weather journal and documentary data, 1788–1791. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal, 53 (2). pp. 83-98. ISSN 1836-716X

[img] Text (Published Version)
Gergis_Karoly_Allan_AMOJ_v58n2_PV.pdf

Download (463Kb)

Abstract

This study presents the first analysis of the weather conditions experienced at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, during the earliest period of the European settlement of Australia. A climate analysis is presented for January 1788 to December 1791 using daily temperature and barometric pressure observations recorded by William Dawes in Sydney Cove and a temperature record kept by William Bradley on board the HMS Sirius anchored in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) in the early months of the First Fleet's arrival in Australia. Remarkably, the records appear comparable with modern day measurements taken from Sydney Observatory Hill, displaying similar daily variability, a distinct seasonal cycle and considerable inter-annual variability. To assess the reliability of these early weather data, they were cross-verified with other data sources, including anecdotal observations recorded in First Fleet documentary records and independent palaeoclimate reconstructions. Some biases in the temperature record, likely associated with the location of the thermometer, have been identified. Although the 1788-1791 period experienced a marked La Niña to El Niño fluctuation according to palaeoclimatic data, the cool and warm intervals in Sydney over this period cannot be conclusively linked to El Niño- Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions. This study demonstrates that there are excellent opportunities to expand our description of pre-20th century climate variability in Australia while contributing culturally significant material to the emerging field of Australian environmental history.


Statistics for USQ ePrint 19255
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Dr Robert Allan is an Adjunct Professor in the Australian Centre for Sustainable Catchments, University of Southern Queensland. (E-mail:rob.allan@metoffice.gov.uk)
Depositing User: epEditor USQ
Faculty / Department / School: Current - USQ Other
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2011 06:54
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2014 02:15
Uncontrolled Keywords: annual variation; climate variation; documentary source; El Nino; El Nino-Southern Oscillation; La Nina; measurement method; observational method; paleoclimate; proxy climate record; Australasia; Australia; New South Wales; Sydney [New South Wales]
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040107 Meteorology
04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040105 Climatology (excl.Climate Change Processes)
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9602 Atmosphere and Weather > 960203 Weather
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/19255

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only