climate change wa

Climate change and global warming in Australian newspapers


Read below how Greenland and the glaciers were all melting in the 1940s, sea levels were rising, temperatures had climbed for a hundred years, the mercury was up 2C over the past four decades, species had migrated hundreds of kilometres, Kilimanjaro ice was disappearing, etc.

Keep reading down the page and you'll discover that hundreds, sometimes thousands of people died in heat waves, horses dropped dead in the streets and the public was warned to avoid dogs driven mad by the heat.

Yet our grandparents cared so little for us they didn’t introduce a CO2 tax.



Expert Believes Our Weather Is Changing

By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 April 1954

The results of climatic studies by an Australian physicist, Mr. E. L. Deacon of the Section of Meteorological Physics, C.S.I.R.O., Melbourne, support the view, widely held overseas, that world weather conditions are changing.

Australian summers, Mr. Deacon says, are becoming wetter and somewhat cooler, and the winters drier than they were around about the turn of the century.

These conclusions are based on an investigation of temperature, rainfall, and air pressure trends in Australia during two 30-year periods, from 1881 to 1910 and from 1911 to 1940.

Mr. Deacon admits that these conclusions will need to be confirmed by a longer series of observations, but he points out that the apparent changes here are of a similar basic character to those detected in the northern hemisphere, and he suggests that they are due to identical causes.

The immediate cause he considers to be an increase in what physical circles term "meridional interchange" - that is, an increase in the movement of great masses of air in a northerly and southerly direction, from the poles to the equator, and vice versa.

Such movement of the air is brought about by the difference in temperature between the equatorial and polar regions, which creates differential air pressures.

At the equator the heated air rises, while, at the poles, the cold air sinks to the ground. There is, therefore, less air and so less pressure in the upper atmosphere at the poles than at the equator.

The upper air, which is warm, then gravitates towards the poles and a corresponding draught of colder air moves along the earth's surface from the poles towards the equator.

This massive interchange of air, apart from the amount of heat put out by the sun, is a major factor conditioning the climate of various parts of the world.

The thesis advanced by a majority of climatologists overseas - though not necessarily accepted by all - is that meridional interchange has been increasing over the last half-century or so.

In seeking to explain this, scientific opinion tends to the belief that the output of heat from the sun is a variable, and that it is increasing to a measurable extent. An American astro-physicist, Dr. L. B. Aldrich, of the Smithsonian Institute, claims to have measured an increase of one quarter of one per cent, in the sun's radiation over the last 20 years.

Mr. Deacon points out, in referring to climatic changes observed in the northern hemisphere, that "glaciological studies ... have demonstrated a notable retreat and thinning of glaciers in many areas, trends which have in most cases accelerated since about the beginning of the century."

The climatological evidence points to an increased transport of heat into high latitudes by the general circulation of the atmosphere during this period, with an appreciable increase particularly in the mean winter temperatures over large areas, mainly in high latitudes.

"A similar study for the southern hemisphere," he adds, "is handicapped by lack of data for high latitudes and by the shorter period of instrumental observations."

Mr. Deacon began his work by searching for climatic trends in Australia which might have resulted from a change in the general circulation of the globe. His guiding idea was that such change would probably most strongly affect the summer climate and that, more particularly, it would be reflected in the mean daily maximum temperatures of inland towns.


Lower Mean Figures

He studied the mean daily maximum temperatures, in summertime, of 14 inland towns which had sufficiently complete temperature records extending back to 1881. His report says:

"All these localities show lower mean summer maximum temperatures in the period 1911-1940, and the average fall of 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit is comparable in magnitude to the simultaneous changes in winter temperature in north-west Europe. The good consistency of the changes suggests the cause to be mainly climatic rather than changing observational technique or exposure."

Summer maximum temperature falls experienced by the towns included in the survey ranged from 0.5 degrees at Goulburn to 2.3 degrees at Alice Springs and 4.7 degrees at Cooma.

Mr. Deacon has analysed the rainfall records of the Adelaide region in some detail, to illustrate his proposition that the summer rainfall increases in the second period were not merely due to one or two exceptionally wet summers, but were part of a long term climatic trend.

Thus, in the period 1881-1910, the Adelaide region experienced 17 summers with less than two inches of rain, but only nine summers with that meagre rainfall between 1911 and 1940. Conversely, there were only six summers in which the region registered more than three inches of rain in 1881-1910, but 11 summers with more than three inches in 1911-1940.

In general, the summer rainfall increases over the whole area were greatest in February, moderately large in December, and negligible in January.

"Winter precipitation (June, July, August)," Mr. Deacon adds, "has changed less markedly than that of the summer between the two 30-year periods but ... the second period was drier over much of the area, particularly in the interior of South Australia."


Trends Continue

Mr. Deacon considers that the lower maximum summer temperatures experienced during the second of the two 30-year periods may be explained as due to the same factor - increased meridional interchange of cold air from the Antarctic with warm air from tropical regions - which is seen as the cause of the higher summer rainfall readings.

That, he believes, is so because the presence of cold air would account for an increase in cloud amount during summertime and, hence, a drop in inland maximum temperatures.

Reviewing the results of his studies of the periods 1881-1910 and 1911-1940 with climatic events of the decade 1941 to 1950, Mr. Deacon concludes that these rainfall and temperature trends are continuing. In fact, he says, around Adelaide and in western Victoria the last decade had an average summer rainfall nearly half as great again as the period 1881-1910. Summer temperatures, in general, have continued to follow a declining trend.



The North Pole. Causes of Change of Climate

The Advertiser, 4 April 1923

Is the North Pole going to melt entirely? Are the Arctic regions warming up, with prospect of a great climatic change in that part of the world?

Science (says 'Popular Science') is asking these questions. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas around Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, with hitherto unheard-of high temperatures on that part of the earth's surface.

Observations to that effect have covered the last five years during which the warmth has been steadily increasing. In August of this year the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitzbergen and Bear Island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, professor of geology in the University of Christinia, the object in view to survey and chart areas productive of coal and other minerals. The expedition sailed as far north as 81 deg. 29 min. N. latitude in ice free water. Such a thing, hitherto, would have been deemed impossible.

The United States Consul at Bergen, Norway, Mr. Ifft, also reports the recent extraordinary warmth in the Arctic. He quotes incidentally the statements of Captain Martin Ingebrigtsen, a mariner who has sailed those seas for 51 years. The captain says that he first noted an unusual warmth in 1918; and since then temperatures have risen steadily higher. Today the eastern Arctic is "hardly recognisable as the same region of 1868 to 1917."

Many of the old landmarks are greatly altered, or no longer exist. Where formerly there were great masses of ice, these have melted away, leaving behind them accumulations of earth and stones such as geologists call 'moraines.' At many points where glaciers extended far into the sea half a dozen years ago they have now entirely disappeared.

The change in temperature has brought great changes in the plant and animal life of the Arctic. Formerly vast shoals of whitefish were found in the waters round Spitzbergen, but last summer the fishermen sought them in vain. Seals, which used to be plentiful in those seas, have almost entirely disappeared. It would seem as if the ocean must have become uncomfortably warm for some of its denizens which formerly frequented those latitudes, causing them to flock northward towards the Pole.

On the other hand, other kinds of fishes, hitherto unknown so far north, have made their appearance. Shoals of smelt have arrived, and immense schools of herring are reported by fishermen along the west coast of Spitzbergen.

Formerly the waters about Spitzbergen have held an even summer temperature in the neighborhood of 5 deg. above freezing point. This year it rose as high as 28 deg. Last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitzbergen. This is on the authority of Dr. Hoel.

This state of affairs is a cause of much surprise and even astonishment to scientists, who wonder whether the change is merely temporary or the beginning of a great alteration of climatic conditions in the Arctic, with consequent melting of the polar ice sheet.

An evidence of how great the change is that has come over the climate in the Arctic regions may be best understood by the struggles of the early explorers to discover the north-west passage, or the open body of water existing around North America, leading eventually to India. The passage was first undertaken by way of Spitzbergen, but the thick ice repeatedly beat back the ships of the explorers. From exploits to discover the north-west passage many of the trips for the conquest of the North Pole were eventually undertaken.

Parry, the great British explorer, was first to negotiate the open passage between Greenland and Bering Sea, reaching halfway across the top of North America before he was hedged in by the ice, and, with supplies becoming low, dared go no further.

He was first to discover the north magnetic pole, and to report the astonishing fact that the needle of his compass turned and pointed directly south. Unquestionably his conquests in the frozen Arctic led to the actual penetrating of the north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific by McClure, Collinson, and Amundsen later on.

From the difficulties besetting these great Arctic adventures some idea of the tremendous thickness of the ice may be had. Even at the very spot north of Spitzbergen where open water was seen this summer, such well-known explorers as Hudson and Phipps had great difficulties in penetrating on account of the thickness of the ice, and in spite of their equipment one of them could not go even as far over the ice at the spot where the open water showed a few months ago.

Not only are the seals and polar bears finding the climate unpleasantly warm for them, but it is said that the Eskimos in some localities are complaining and are finding their fur clothes too warm for them.

The region about the North Pole is covered by an ice cap which, toward the east, extends over nearly the whole of Greenland to what is practically a single enormous glacier. To cross this great glacier has been the quest of many adventurous spirits. On account of the severity of the winds that sweep over the immense slowly moving cake of ice, it was never successfully accomplished until Nansen managed to go from the east coast of Greenland across the top of the ice barrier to the west coast at about the sixty-fourth parallel of latitude.

Nansen and his five companions reached a height of 8,922 feet at the top of the barrier, showing how thick the ice had become through ages of freezing. Later on Peary and Astrup crossed the island much further north, and had to climb a solid hill of ice about 8,000 feet high.

But there was not always an ice cap. In time long gone by the region about the North Pole had a warm climate, and all of Greenland was covered with a luxuriant tropical vegetation. This is positively known, because fossil remains of palms, breadfruit trees, and other plants properly belonging to warm latitudes have been dug up there in quantities.

It seems at least possible that the extraordinary warmth in the Arctic during the last few years marks a step in a return to this condition. Such a change as that suggested cannot be suddenly or even rapidly accomplished; but if there shall come a time when the North Polar ice cap is entirely melted, and Greenland incidentally freed of the ice sheet which covers it, other latitudes will also experience a wonderful climatic alteration, and climates all over the world may become steadily and gradually warmer.



Glaciers, Icebergs Melt As World Gets Warmer

Sydney Morning Herald, 29 September 1951

By GAVIN SOUTER

Air Mail From New York

DON'T scoff when you hear an oldtimer say: "Summers are hotter than they used to be." This remark could once have been classed with "Stairs are steeper than they used to be" and "Young people are wilder than when I was a boy." But today an impressive number of scientists, both old and young, are convinced that the oldtimers are right.

Summers are getting warmer and, despite the unusual temperatures this year along Australia's east coast, winters generally are not as cold as they used to be.

This climatic fluctuation which began a century ago and has become more noticeable in the last 20 years has been discussed since the nineteen-twenties almost exclusively in scientific circles.

Recently, however, it has become a subject of more than academic interest. The scientists hasten to assure the world that there is no immediate cause for alarm. The change is merely part of the endless cycle of heat and cold which started with the first ice age about one million years before the birth of Christ.

There is not yet reason to assume, say the scientists, that the mercury in the world's thermometers will now rise any higher than it would have risen during two or three other unusually warm periods since the beginning of our calendar. These were not years which scorched the globe as fatally as the ice ages had frozen it. But they were years of mild winters and hard summers. In some parts of Central Europe, Africa and the Americas they brought drought.

Since the turn of this century, meteorologists and their grander associates, the climatologists, have been laboriously gathering evidence of the latest change. The account of these labours from Alaskan glaciers to African lakes is as fascinating as any detective story.

New seasons come gently with falling leaves, the glint of hoar, frost and the song of birds. New climates come spectacularly. Their harbingers are shrinking glaciers, disappearing lakes and the crunching of a moving ice-pack.

Dr. Hans W. Ahlmann, director of the Swedish Geographic Institute, is an authority who has spent most of his life reading these signs. A recent report based on his work shows that the new climate is coming just as surely as winter or summer.

Sub-zero temperatures occur only half as frequently in northern cities as they did 75 years ago.

Greenland's ice is melting and the ruins of mediaeval farmhouses hidden by ice for centuries have already been exposed.

In Spitsbergen the mean annual temperature has risen by four degrees since 1912.

Ships ply the White Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia three or four weeks longer than they used to.

In Iceland and the higher latitudes of Norway farmers are growing barley in soil that was once frozen for seven months each year.

But the coming of the new climate is most noticeable above the world's snow lines. Glaciers present the most striking evidence. The American geographer, F. E. Matthes, has reported that "glaciers in nearly all parts of the world receded regularly during the last sixty years but especially rapidly during the 1930-40 decade."

All glaciers examined from Greenland through Scandinavia to Europe are shrinking. And the shrinkage is not limited to high latitudes. Some glaciers in the European Alps have vanished completely. In East Africa, the glaciers on three high volcanoes - Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya and Ruwenzori - have been diminishing since they were first observed in 1880. The vast Muir Glacier in Alaska's Glacier Bay has retreated a full 14 miles since 1902.

A young professor at the University of Wisconsin in the far north of the United States, Joseph Hickey, has been watching the birds of his State for the last ten years and he, too, is convinced that the climate is warming up.

Comparing his observations with existing records, he says that many species of American birds and mammals have moved as much as 100 miles northward over the last 40 years. The Titmouse, the Turkey Vulture, the Whip-poor-will, the Swallow and the Opossum have detected the change in the climate much more quickly than we have and have moved north to find their accustomed climatic environment.

Even the fish in the ocean know about it, too. Ahlmann reports that Eskimos are catching and eating cod, a fish that they never saw before 1900. Julian Huxley has reported that herring and haddock have been moving north off Greenland at 24 miles per year for the last 30 years.

The seas themselves are changing. Sea levels rose when the glaciers of the last ice age began to melt. And now they are rising again.

One geographer reports a general rise throughout the world to the order of one millimetre during the last 30 years. Ahlmann, however, has measured a specific increase of one millimetre each year in the level of waters off Spitsbergen. That distance may be only .039 of one inch but geographers think it important.

Inland lakes have fared worse. With no melting glaciers to replenish them, many lakes are slowly disappearing.

Dr. E. Nilsson, of Stockholm University, visited Africa in 1947 and found that the water level in Lake Victoria had fallen seven feet in the last 10 years! In America, the Great Salt Lake in Utah has lost nearly 50 per cent of its volume since 1850. Its salt content has doubled during that time.

These cases of the Vanishing Lakes, the Shrinking Glaciers, and the Frightened Birds have now been solved and the sun stands accused. Dr. L. B. Aldrich, an astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Institute in the United States, published a report this year showing that the sun has poured enough extra heat onto the surface of the earth to affect our climate noticeably.

The Danish Royal Geographical Society issued a more conservative statement. In the Danes' opinion, "the question of the cause will remain open until sufficiently exact measurements of solar radiation for a longer time are available."

Other scientists, however, feel that Aldrich's data is sufficiently detailed to provide an explanation for the curious evidence of a changing climate which has been gathered.

Aldrich's explanation is that the radiation of the sun has increased by one quarter of one per cent over the last 20 years. And this theory is based on 16,000 measurements made in Chile during those years. Aldrich says that summer is getting warmer all the time. His data has been gathered in recent years by two young American university graduates.

These young men spend two years in Chile before they are relieved by another pair from the United States. At a weather station on Mount Montezuma, high above the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile, these observers have been measuring the unit of the sun's radiation - the solar constant. Blue enamel skies over this rugged, nitrate desert are clear the year round.

Some scientists may not yet be prepared to agree with Dr Aldrich when he says that the solar constant is rising. But all of them, even the cautious Danes, agree that something is changing our climate.

What effect is this having?

Russia already has good cause to be thankful for that increase of one quarter of one per cent. Navigation conditions along her northern coasts have improved considerably since the turn of the century. In 1910 most of the sea lanes were open for only three months. Now they are open eight months each year.

Equally important is the economic benefit derived from increased vegetation in northern latitudes. Barley cultivation in Iceland has already been extended, while the prospects for agriculture in northern Sweden and Finland have similarly improved. Timber is now growing beyond what was once the snow line in northern Scandinavia and Alaska.

Dr Ahlmann has pointed out another effect which the new climate may have. If the Antarctic ice regions and the major Greenland ice-cap should continue to melt at their present rates, he says, the surface of the ocean may rise to catastrophic proportions. "People living in lowlands along the shores would be inundated," he warns.

In a happier vein, this same scientist adds: "It is the first fluctuation in the endless series of past and future climatic variations in the history of the earth which we can measure, investigate and possibly explain."



The Earth Is Getting Warmer

Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September 1949

By DR EVERHUIS

Dr Everhuis, a Dutch scientist, here reviews evidence which suggests that instead of cooling-off, the earth is growing warmer. One result of this is to change the climates of several countries, with potential benefit to some and disaster to others.

SCIENTISTS are gathering more and more proofs that a climatological revolution is going on around our globe. Very slowly but surely the earth is getting warmer.

Until recently the scientific world has kept quiet about this, but now the phenomenon has even penetrated to the political field.

Talking of Greenland, the largest island in the world, the Prime Minister of Denmark stated:

"During the past generation changes have taken place which will have a decisive influence on the entire social life. The climate is changing, and with that the economic outlook. This change has already been observed in several parts of the world ..."

The changes in Greenland have been very noticeable. About six centuries ago, at the time of a change for the worse often referred to as the "small ice-period," man and beast had to withdraw from the advancing masses of ice. Even the Eskimos had to give in when at the beginning of the 19th century - the height of the cold period - Greenland became practically uninhabitable.

During the present century, however, this largest island of the world has become milder. Glaciers have retreated and the landscape has changed completely.

For the first time for centuries some agriculture is possible while more and more species of fish are being caught. Following the warmer streams the cod has made its appearance off Greenland's shores and has become part of the island diet.

During the past 27 years this fish has advanced about nine degrees to the north. Herrings also are moving northward, while Greenland now knows many birds which hitherto remained far to the south.

These changes are of the greatest strategical importance. Norway's most northern harbour of Spitzbergen, where at the beginning of this century coal could be loaded only for a period of three months, is now ice free for seven months of the year. The average winter temperature of Russian harbours such as Kola and Archangel has risen steadily too.

The entire Northern Ice Sea is becoming softer. When Fnedjor Nansen ploughed his way through the ice with the Fram towards the end of the last century, the average thickness of the ice was 145 inches. Members of the crew of the Soviet icebreaker Sedow not long ago found that the ice was only 85 inches thick and that floes have become considerably less.

The greatest changes have taken place on the American side. The huge Muir glacier in Alaska has withdrawn 14 miles in the past half century - at the rate of about 409 yards a year.

These changes would be of the greatest importance in a future war. Permanent ice-free harbours and a reasonable passage through the ice sea would, for instance, give the Soviet Union a tremendous advantage.

Change of climate is not only noticeable near the poles. Near the equator conditions are becoming hotter. This may prove disastrous.

For example it has been proved that the Sahara is creeping towards the south as well as towards the north at the rate of a mile a year. If this continues, the African natives will have to move to another continent eventually, for the coastal areas will become over-populated. It was the "drying out" of Central Asia, after all, which moved Asiatic peoples in the past to invade Europe.

And so it appears that the world is leaving the so-called small ice period, which started around 1300. In Holland, the first European country to register weather and climatological conditions at the beginning of the 18th century, it is shown by records that the average winter temperature has been rising continuously.

The reason is that the sun has apparently opened a new "warmth offensive."

It has been known for a long time that the sun has its whims. Otherwise it cannot be explained how under the masses of ice which cover Greenland and Spitzbergen, black coal should be found. Obviously there was a time when jungle forests grew in that zone.



The World's Weather is Just Crazy

Barrier Miner, 22 August 1950

By CARL WALLIS

The floods and record rains that bedevilled the eastern States recently were part of a world cycle of unusual weather, said the chief meteorologist at Sydney's Weather Bureau (Mr. J. Hogan).

The cause of this cycle was that bands of high and low pressure had shifted from their normal place on the earth's surface.

No one knows yet why they shifted, but meteorologists all over the world are trying to find out. If and when they do find out, the secret of long range weather forecasting will be in their grasp.

That's because the force and direction of the winds, which blow from high pressure to low pressure areas, depend on where those areas are. And the nature of the moving air - hot, cold, dry, moist - decides whether or not the winds will bring rain with them.

Longest fog

Sydney's record rainfall for June and July occurred because there were mild north-east winds carrying moisture-laden air from the tropics, instead of the usual stream of dry air carried by the cold westerlies from Central Australia.

Now take a look at other countries, and see what they have had to endure. Here's a case-book of British weather during the past two years:

December, 1948, began it. Londoners had the longest fog anyone could remember - it lasted nearly five days.

Traffic became disorganised. Time lost by workers was valued at £3,750,000 a day.

Even then England got off lightly, for in parts of Western Europe the fog lasted for 10 days.

By January 3, 1949, wild gales had sprung up. The English Midlands froze over. Just across the Channel, observers on top of the Eiffel Tower reported gusts of 162 miles an hour.

In February, 1949, normally the middle of the English winter, the weather turned warm.

Shops did a brisk trade in dark glasses. Crocuses popped out. In Suffolk, village wells ran dry for the first time in any February, and the War Office rushed water tanks to the villagers.

Grass fires broke out on golf links. Passengers in the Queen Mary, 250 miles out on the Atlantic, walked the deck in summer clothes.

Drought came

Then came the spring and summer drought. Easter last year was the sunniest in living memory, and it brought the hottest April night for 50 years. Londoners slept in the parks.

In May the British Weather Bureau declared a state of "absolute drought" which meant that 15 days had passed with rainfall of less than an inch a day - a serious matter in England, where wells quickly dry up.

By July some parts of Britain were enduring temperatures higher than any previously recorded.

By September the drought threatened to cause mass unemployment in north-eastern counties, because reservoirs were nearly dry and so could not supply shipyards and other industrial plants.

Householders in these areas got a ration of three buckets of water a day.

A 20-mile stretch of the Liverpool Leeds Canal dried up, so that bargemen were out of work for two months. London had freak thunderstorms, some lasting for only 90 seconds.

In October came two weeks of flood rains; then, on the Sussex coast, the worst gale in living memory. In Hastings, furniture floated about in 5 ft. of water.

Last December more gales. The weather in Western Europe and North Africa was altogether bewildering - gales in Britain and Greece, snow in Morocco, summery sunshine in Normandy, with spring blossoms out.

January of this year - one of the longest winter mild spells in living memory in England. February - gales again, rising to 102 miles an hour, and floods. The Severn rose 8 ft. in 24 hours, and the Wye flooded hundreds of acres in Somerset.

92 m.p.h. gale

April - a 92 miles-an-hour gale struck Blackpool. It came so suddenly that people promenading in spring weather had to cling to lamp-posts to avoid being swept away.

Bleakest British Easter for many years.

Capt. William Stewart, of the Cunard liner Pranconia, said the Atlantic storms were the worst in his experience. Three passengers died of heart failure.

Following the gales came the heaviest April snowstorm for 31 years. It cut off electricity in wide areas by felling power-lines, and electricity rationing followed for a time all over England.

In May freak storms wrecked several villages in Bedfordshire, lifted dogs and cats 50 ft. into the air, raised a horse-float 20 ft. up, with a pony inside it, and smashed cars against fences.

It was a genuine tornado which came down from the sky like an inverted ice cream cone - the first tornado in Britain for 22 years.

June - heat wave again. Fifty service men and women collapsed while rehearsing a King's birthday parade. Two women strolled down Regent Street in bathing costume, and men rushed to buy straw hats.

Such is the climate record of one country. But throughout the world you will find similar departures from normal.

Let's look through the news of Western Europe.

France - Hottest September day for a century. A swimming race had to be postponed because the river had dried up.

Italy - Record floods last October. Whole families drowned at Capua. The total death-roll was 100; £750,000 worth of crops were ruined, and the swollen river covered 1,000 square miles.

For days afterward rescue columns, directed by aircraft, were pushing through to villages isolated by vast stretches of mud.

Big deathroll

Spain and Sweden - Fearful storms caused a long death-roll. In Andalusia (Spain) alone, six large rivers overflowed, and 50 people died by drowning and lightning-stroke or were buried alive.

Holland - Last January the winter freeze was so violent that motor cars crossed the Zuyder Zee.

Turkey - The worst recorded spell of cold in its history. Scores of people froze to death, and hungry wolves terrorised villages.

Austria - In April avalanche warnings went out, and snowdrifts blocked the Brenner Pass over the Alps.

In America the weather picture made a similar crazy pattern.

Last January the southern States enjoyed record-breaking summery weather, while the north and north-west endured the severest cold wave for 60 years. Then in New York the temperature reached 79 deg.; in Oklahoma it went down to 2 deg.

Floods drove 40,000 people from their homes in various States. Freak storms - the wildest for 50 years - killed 34.

In April unseasonable snow fell, and the temperature (25 deg.) was a record low for the month.

May ushered in the colossal Winnipeg (Canada) floods, which made 12,000 people homeless, covered 14 towns and 200 square miles of country.

Short of water

A great drought hit the eastern States at the end of last year. This kept New York City so short of water that residents were asked to go without baths and shaves and drink less water on a specified day each week.

A model in a shop window demonstrated how to take a bath in a gallon of water.

Mayor O'Owyer called in a scientist, Dr. Wallace Howell, to try to make rain artificially.

April, May, and June were the wettest, dreariest months anyone in New York can remember. Dr. Howell emphasised that he had nothing to do with the rain; but this did not stop shopkeepers and others, who had suffered from it, suing the mayor for damages...

So you see other countries have suffered from mad meteorology, too.

Perhaps in a few years we shall no longer be surprised at aberrations in world weather, because we shall know what causes them.

But that will not make them less irritating or alarming.



World is Getting Warmer, Experts Claim

Advocate, 29 April 1950

From a Reuter Correspondent in Copenhagen

THE World is getting warmer, but cooler temperatures will come again. This is the conclusion which emerges from a 100-odd page report on "recent climatic fluctuations" issued by the Danish Royal Geographical Association.

STATING that the world's average temperature rose by 0.35 degrees centigrade in the period from 1910 to 1940, the report declares: "The greatest temperature rise, of more than 3 degrees, has taken place in Greenland, but Spitsbergen, North Asia and northern parts of North America can also show appreciable rises of more than 2 degrees.

"Otherwise, the rises are in the neighborhood of 1 degree in the North Temperate Zone.

"It is remarkable that the temperature rises at the great lakes of North America are less than in the districts to the east, north and west of them.

"The most extensive fall appears to have taken place in East Asia and Australia."

The year 1934, the report continues, was particularly warm in central Europe and in Scandinavia - in several places it was the warmest year ever recorded.

In 1947 there was a continuous severe winter in places in south Scandinavia, central Europe and England, but an unusually mild winter in South Greenland.

"In the Polar regions and mountains a considerable melting of glaciers has taken place, a process which has been particularly advanced by longer and warmer summers and shorter and milder winters, with more rain and less snow.

"Mild winters alone cannot cause the glaciers and Polar ice to dwindle. The precipitation, evaporation and temperature of the other seasons have also a decided significance for the reduction."

Danish experts do not attempt to predict any date when the world's ice caps will be completely melted. Such an event is regarded as "absolutely impossible".

Sooner or later, the experts believe, the present upward trend in world temperatures will stop, and the world will slowly revert to the climatic conditions which were normal at the turn of the century.

"White Christmases" will then return to those areas of the earth which at one time regarded snow at this time of the year as inevitable. There may even be skating again on a frozen Thames.

Effect on flora

Meanwhile, the climatic improvement is having a considerable effect on flora and fauna.

"The prolonged and warmer summers have made it possible to harvest twice in many places where previously only one harvest was possible," the report says. "The boundary line for both animals and plants has moved farther north and higher up the mountains.

"Denmark has thus been enriched by not less than 25 new species of birds, the Faroe Islands by eight, Iceland by six, and West Greenland by five new species. In north Scandinavia, spruce and pine grow better than before."

The icy waters round Greenland have also benefited by the temperature swing. Between 1910 and 1920, the years when the climatic improvements were first recorded, the prevailing wind around south Greenland changed from north west to south-east.

At the same time, codfish began to be found in greater quantities off the Greenland coasts.

But this change in the schemes of nature is, to some extent, being offset by changes elsewhere. The report comments:

"It now appears, however, that so much ice has melted in the Polar regions that there arises the possibility of disastrous consequences for fishing in the northern oceans, because fish cannot live in the cold, fresh and foodless melted ice which is spreading south in the direction of Iceland and North Norway as a slow surface covering from the east Greenland ocean."

Danish experts, while emphasising that the average world temperatures are continually rising and falling over long periods, maintain that the present upward swing is greater than ever previously recorded.

Less rain

While the world's thermometers have been gradually recording the change in temperatures, other scientific instruments have been recording other climatic changes.

The Danish report states that in the years from 1910 to 1940, less rain than normal fell on the world generally.

While more than normal fell in the Arctic and North Temperate Zone, in Mexico, at La Plata, South India and south-East Asia, less fell in the greater part of the United States, the north of South America, Africa, Malaya and Australia.

Summing up, the report concludes:

"Although there is much to suggest that the present climatic fluctuation is due to fluctuations of solarsradiation, which is, of course, the all-dominating source of energy for the earth, the question of the cause will remain open until sufficiently exact measurements for a longer time of the solar radiation are available.

"As long as there remains any doubt as the cause of climatic fluctuation, it will be difficult to make any prediction regarding its further progress. But, even if the present fluctuation has occurred quite suddenly, and perhaps will disappear just as suddenly, there may, by means of a systematic registration of pressure, temperature, solar radiation, wind, precipitation, etcetera, be a possibility of predicting an eventual return to the climate we had before the improvement began over great areas."



Changing Climate

The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 January 1926

By Henry Holm Clayton, former Chief Forecast Division, Argentine Weather Service, now Cooperator with Smithsonian Institution relating Solar Conditions and Weather.

Mr Clayton, one of America's leading meteorologists, has spent the last ten years in studying world weather. When in Argentine he developed a method of forecasting based upon the changes in the amount of heat radiated from the sun.

Our climate is slowly changing, decade by decade and century by century.

Although the temperature year by year fluctuates widely from the average, there is an underlying upward trend in the northern United States and Canada like a slowly rising tide, while in the south of the United States the trend is the other way. Thus the contrast between the weather of the north and south is diminishing, and the climate of the country as a whole is ameliorating.

It has been widely held that climate is a fixed quantity, and that if we have a long enough period of observation, say 30, 50, or 100 years, we can average out the vagaries of the weather and determine the real climatic constant. That idea has given rise to another widely held view, which is that, if the temperature or the rainfall, for example, is above normal for a few years, then later it will be as much below normal, so that, in the course of time, the same average condition prevails.

Those ideas are being abandoned by advanced students of the weather, who hold that climate as well as weather is in a continuous state of change. Thirty, fifty, or one hundred year averages have no meaning as indicating any fixed normal above and below which the temperature may oscillate, but will again return to the same level. The investigations of A. E. Douglass, Gerard De Greer, Ellsworth Huntington, and others have proved that climate, like the weather, or like the tides, is in a continuous process of ebb and flow, and hundreds, or even thousands, of years may intervene before the same condition returns.

In intervals of time measured by many thousands of years the climate of a place like New England may change from a condition where ice covers the land surfaces to a depth of thousands of feet to conditions so mild as to be almost tropical.

Even in the course of several centuries the climate of New England may oscillate between cold conditions similar to those of Labrador and mild conditions similar to those which prevail on the coast of Virginia at the present time.

Regular observations of the temperature at Boston and at New Haven extend back almost to colonial times. The observations at New Haven began in 1778, and in Boston in 1790. The two sets of records run almost parallel. The mean annual temperature of the past 50 years of observation is materially higher than those of the first 50 years. The coldest periods recorded were from 1782 to 1792, and from 1812 to 1823. Since then the trend of the temperature has been upward. The mean temperature of the ten years ending with 1925 is two and six tenths warmer than the mean of the ten years ending with 1821. If January and July are considered separately, it is found that the mean of the past ten Januaries has averaged four degrees warmer than the mean of the ten from 1812 to 1821, and the mean of the past ten Julys has averaged one and seven-tenths degrees warmer.

This progressive rise of temperature is indicated by observations taken all over the northern part of the United States. In St. Paul, Minn., the temperature of the decade ending with 1925 averages two and eight tenths degrees warmer than that of the first decade of observation from 1859 to 1868.

In Canada the rise has been even more pronounced. At Winnipeg, for the ten years ending with 1925, the average yearly temperature is four degrees higher than that of the first ten years of observation ending with 1884. The rise at other Canadian stations, like Port Arthur and Dawson, is even greater. In Alaska, the period covered by the observations is comparatively short, but even these show a progressive advance in the mean temperature taken in ten-year averages. But the existence of milder conditions in Alaska is best told by the retreat of the glaciers ever since they were first observed.

This climatic change is all the more remarkable because in the southern part of the United States the trend is the other way. At Charleston, S.C., the mean temperature of the ten years ending with 1920 Is nearly two degrees colder than that of the first ten years of observation from 1823 to 1832, and there has been a distinct trend downward. At San Diego, Cal., at El Paso, Tex, and Key West, Fla., the trends are also downward.

These facts indicate that the contrast in temperature between the northern States and the southern is diminishing.

Will this continue with backward ebbs and flows like an incoming tide until we are ushered into the mild temperature of an interglacial period?

Or are we now on the crest of some warmer period from which there will be a retreat?

No one at present can answer these questions, but one thing seems certain, since we are now in a long swing of milder years in the Northern United States and Canada, we can be reasonably sure that there will not be a return of the cold winters and cool summers which characterised the years around 1816, although it is quite possible that the temperature of the coming winter or coming summer may be below the mean of the past ten years.

But even the temperature of the year 1816, which has been called a year without a summer, was not so low as one might be led to infer from this description. The winter was cold, but not colder than many subsequent winters, and the mean temperature of July of that year in New Haven was 65.8 degrees, which may be compared with 67.0 in 1891 and 68.8 degrees in 1914.



What Is The World Coming To?

Wodonga and Towong Sentinel, 29 September 1939

Scientists have confirmed the fact that the Arctic regions around Spitzbergen are warming up at the rate of approximately one degree in every two years.

Since 1910, when observations first started in those regions, the cumulative rise of winter temperature has amounted to nearly 16 degrees.

Such a profound change has been attended by new and strange phenomena over the whole area surrounding the Polar basin. It has been found that the Polar icefields are receding gradually northwards, while soil which at one time remained solidly frozen throughout the year now undergoes a partial thaw during the Arctic summers.

In the Barents Sea area where, during earlier observations, only small patches became free from ice, large spaces of open water now occur at frequent intervals.

Ice-breakers and other vessels which regularly make journeys to the far North are now able to penetrate with comparative ease into regions which could not be reached twenty years ago.

There has been a gradual drift northward of several kinds of fish into areas once completely ice covered.

The milder conditions have not been confined to areas north of the Russian coast. From parts of Greenland comes evidence of a higher winter temperature, with considerably less snow, than was the case in the early part of the twentieth century. When this warming-up process was first noticed, says a writer in the "Evening Standard," scientists were inclined to attribute it to a temporary increase in the volume of the North Atlantic Drift, or even to a change in the course of the river of warmth, but subsequent events point to this theory being only partially correct.

Parts of the Polar regions not affected by the warm waters have grown decidedly warmer in the last 20 years, while temperatures have become higher in the far north-east of Siberia and well inland - remote from oceanic effects.

In support of the belief that the Atlantic river of warmth cannot be wholly responsible for the widespread rise in temperature there are the trustworthy records obtained by Mr. J. B. Kincer, of the Weather Bureau at Washington, which show that the rise in temperature at places as far apart as Canada and Africa, South America and Asia, Bombay and Santiago (Chile) has been well marked since the middle of last century.

It is possible that the world as a whole is becoming warmer. One scientist puts forward the theory that an increase in carbon dioxide (due to the huge amounts of coal being used) may be responsible for such a change, while astronomers look to the sun for an explanation.

Quite apart from any fluctuations in the sun's actual output of radiative energy, it is possible that the warmth received from the sun may vary from time to time due to the earth passing through regions of space in which meteoric dust is unevenly distributed.



Click below to learn about climate change since the 19th century

Climate Curiosities
(The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser – 6 October 1877)

Curious Change of Climate in Scotland
(Border Watch – 24 June 1874)

Blowing Up of the North Pole
(The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser – 3 June 1890)

The Heat Wave in Australia
(Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette – 25 January 1896)

The Heat Wave in Australia
(Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette – 25 January 1896)

Is the Climate Changing?
(The Brisbane Courier – 24 February 1903)

Is the Earth Getting Warmer?
(Examiner – 26 May 1906)

Ice Ages in Australia
(The Register – 26 May 1906)

South Pole Warming Up
(Clarence and Richmond Examiner – 31 July 1906)

Change in Climate
(West Gippsland Gazette – 19 March 1912)

Is the Earth Drying Up?
(Burra Record – 24 June 1914)

Mixed Weather: Is the British Climate Changing?
(The Register – 5 February 1920)

Temperate Arctic
(Cairns Post – 3 March 1923)

The North Pole – Causes of Change of Climate
(The Daily News – 16 April 1923)

Thawing in Arctic: Discovery of Island Previously Ice Buried
(The Mercury – 3 September 1923)

Changing Climate of Europe: Winter Becomes Warmer
(Geraldton Guardian – 13 May 1926)

Great Heat and Tornadoes in America
(The Capricornian – 31 July 1926)

Climate – Evidence of Change – Interesting Speculations
(The Daily News – 14 March 1927)

A Very Wet February
(The Queenslander – 23 February 1928)

Heat Wave of 1896
(Barrier Miner – 8 February 1929)

Earth Growing Warmer: What Swiss Glaciers Reveal
(The Courier-Mail – 22 June 1934)

Riddle of the Glaciers
(Sydney Morning Herald – 13 January 1939)

Earth's New Cycle of Warm Weather
(Cairns Post – 26 April 1939)

Climate Trends: Changes Noticed in Norway
(The Canberra Times – 19 July 1939)

World's Temperature Hotter
(Northern Times – 12 July 1940)

Our Climate Warming Up, Says Expert
(The Mail – 23 July 1940)

Arctic Climate's Alarming Change
(Townsville Daily Bulletin – 31 May 1947)

Temperatures Rising in Arctic Region
(The Canberra Times – 31 May 1947)

Whole Earth Seems to be Warming Up
(The Courier-Mail – 6 June 1947)

Suppose the Polar Ice Melted
(Sunday Times – 22 June 1947)

Whole Earth Seems to be Warming Up
(Worker – 15 December 1947)

A Changing World
(Singleton Argus - 24 March 1948)

World is Getting Warmer, Experts Claim
(Advocate – 29 April 1950)

The Earth is Getting Warmer
(The Northern Miner – 5 May 1950)

Changing Climatic Conditions
(Cairns Post – 13 May 1950)

Ocean Levels May Rise as World Gets Hotter
(The Mercury – 15 May 1950)

Winters May Be Warmer - In 1,000 Years!
(The Argus – 18 May 1950)

World is Warming
(The Courier-Mail – 22 May 1950)

The World's Weather is Just Crazy
(Barrier Miner – 22 August 1950)

Things Warming Up in Greenland
(Cairns Post – 31 October 1950)

Weather Really is Changing
(The Canberra Times – 31 March 1951)

Our Climate is Changing
(The Argus – 24 May 1951)

Changing Climate and Bird Distribution
(The West Australian – 16 June 1951)

Our Warming Earth
(Barrier Miner – 4 July 1951)

Rapid Melting of Polar Caps
(The Canberra Times – 18 February 1952)

World Gets Warmer in Last 50 Years
(The Canberra Times – 22 August 1952)

Melbourne's Weather Is Changing!
(The Argus – 18 March 1953)

Our Changing Weather
(The Sun-Herald – 11 October 1953)

Experts Believe Our Weather is Changing
(Sydney Morning Herald – 19 April 1954)

Summers Are Cooler, Wetter
(The Argus – 4 May 1954)

A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems
(CIA – August 1974)


American heat wave

Heat Wave in America
(The North Queensland Register – 30 September 1896)

The Heat Wave in America
(The North Queensland Register – 8 July 1901)

Record Heat Wave
(Clarence and Richmond Examiner – 24 August 1911)

Heat Wave in America
(Worker – 10 July 1913)

Heat Wave Abated
(The Daily News – 10 June 1925)


Extreme weather

A Chronological Listing of Early Weather Events
(PDF global chronology of extreme weather since 2 AD, including Australia)


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