New Study: Pre-1900 Rainfall Events In Sydney, Melbourne “More Extreme” Than Modern Times

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The global warming crazies keep insisting that weather has become more extreme, but whenever a study looks at the past weather, it finds the opposite to be true.

The latest is a new study titled “Historical extreme rainfall events in southeastern Australia” authored by Ashcroft et al appearing in the journal Weather and Climate Extremes.

It finds no trend in NSW Australia extreme rainfall events, and oceanic cycles play a major role in the longer term, decadal scale variability.

Hat-tip: Reader Mary Brown

Looking back 178 years

The new paper describes rainfall in three of Australia’s largest cities for the last 178 years using several mean and extreme rainfall indices.

The paper also found several extreme daily rainfall events in the pre-1900 period in Sydney and Melbourne which “appear to be more extreme than anything in the modern record”.


The cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide are home to almost half of the Australian population, and are often exposed to extreme rainfall events and high year-to-year rainfall variability. However the majority of studies into rainfall in these cities, and southeastern Australia in general, are limited to the 20th century due to data availability. In this study we use rainfall data from a range of sources to examine four rainfall indices for Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide for 1839–2017. We derive the total rainfall, number of raindays, wettest day of the month and the simple daily intensity index for each city over the past 178 years, and find relatively consistent relationships between all indices despite potential data quality issues associated with the historical data. We identify several extreme daily rainfall events in the pre-1900 period in Sydney and Melbourne that warrant further examination as they appear to be more extreme than anything in the modern record. We find a moderate and relatively stable relationship between El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and annual variations of total rainfall and the number of raindays at all three cities over the research period, but no relationship between ENSO and the annual wettest day, in agreement with other studies using shorter time series.”

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5 responses to “New Study: Pre-1900 Rainfall Events In Sydney, Melbourne “More Extreme” Than Modern Times”

  1. cementafriend

    Brisbane had an extreme rainfall event in 1893. It was actually slightly north on the Sunshine coast and was a cyclone called the “Mooloolah Event”.
    It caused flooding and deaths in Brisbane and coastal rivers to the north.This is the rainfall at two sites about 80km north of Brisbane
    date Mooloolah PO Cromhurst Observatory
    31/1/1893 114mm 60mm
    1/2/1893 414mm 274mm
    2/2/1893 739mm 509mm
    3/2/1893 562mm 907mm
    4/2/1893 61mm 273mm
    Feb 1893 2655mm 2999mm
    The Cromhurst readings were taken by a well respected qualified scientist at his own observatory (built with some State funding). 1898 had more rain over the whole year than 1893 but was more spread with less flooding. This heavy rain period was followed by the worst drought in Australian history lasting from about 1900 to 1919 in various places. In the Brisbane area the lowest rain was in 1902 at around 26% of the average over 100years. The major river in Australia the Murray completed dried.
    Weather occurs in cycles and has nothing to do with the trace gas CO2.
    There is plenty of data on weather in Qld particularly on rainfall some going back to 1860. Brisbane is Australia’s 3rd largest city with a population of 2.3 million with Gold Coast 66KM south having just under 0.7 million and Sunshine Coast about 90km north having close 0.4 million. Not sure why Adelaide was put into the study as it is unrelated to the rainfall and river flow of the eastern third of the country.

  2. Streetcred

    I wouldn’t put Adelaide into the Australian major population basket. It ranks 5th by a long way out of the 5 major cities.

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