Land of droughts and flooding rains …

Australia’s hottest day? Not 2010, but 1828 at a blistering 53.9 °C

Back before man-made climate change was frying Australia, when CO2 was around 300ppm, the continent savoured an ideal preindustrial climate, right? (This is the kind of climate we are spending $10bn per annum to get back too?)

We are told today’s climate has more records and more extremes than times gone by, but the few records we have from the early 1800’s are eye-popping.  Things were not just hotter, but so wildly hot it burst thermometers.  The earliest temperature records we have show that Australia was a land of shocking heatwaves and droughts, except for when it was bitterly cold or raging in flood.

In other words, nothing has changed, except possibly things might not be quite so hot now.

Silliggy (Lance Pidgeon) has been researching records from early explorers and from newspapers. What he has uncovered is fascinating. — Jo


Charles Sturt  (1930 postage stamp) Wikimedia

Lance Pidgeon writes:


These Australian headlines from the 1800′s above describe extremes the early colonists faced. At the time the European explorers who were instructed and equipped to map the country and record the climate were frustrated by the only constant …change.

The heat was extreme – often hotter than 127F!

Like the other explorers Sturt was asked to record everything and in detail:

You are likewise to note the nature of the climate, as to heat, cold, moisture, winds, rains, &c, and to keep a register of the temperature from Fahrenheit’s thermometer, as observed at two or three periods of each day.”

[From “Letter of Instructions” for his earlier expeditions from “His Excellency Lieutenant General Ralph Darling” Here]

Captain Charles Sturt as he inspects the equipment provided for the 1844-46 expedition into central Australia. Cartoon from Josh of Cartoons by Josh

The equipment provided was not always up to the task. On the equipment provided for one of his later expeditions he remarks:

“The thermometers sent from England, graduated to 127 degrees only, were too low for the temperature into which I went, and consequently useless at times, when the temperature in the shade exceeded that number of degrees” Charles Sturt. [From here].

He was able to acquire and take brewers thermometers. Which were used to measure the “in the sun” temperature and the ‘in the shade” temperatures that were too high for the precision ones. They were also used to estimate height above sea level from the boiling point of water.

Sturt offered his own analysis of some of the typical daily conditions from records in the colony at the time and his own observations.

The periodicity of the weather cycles did not escape his attention.

“The thermometer ranges during the summer months, that is, from September to March, from 36 degrees to 106 degrees of Fahrenheit, but the mean of the temperature during the above period is 70 degrees.”

In degrees C that range equates to a minimum of  2.2 , a max of 41.1 with a mean of 21.1.

This average seems close to the current average but the lower and upper temperatures were both more extreme than they are now!

Keep reading  →

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
This entry was posted in Climate, Environment, weather and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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