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Historical Records of Australian Science
  The history of science, pure and applied, in Australia and the southwest Pacific
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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 25(1)

What’s Happening to the Weather? Australian Climate, H. C. Russell, and the Theory of a Nineteen-Year Cycle

Julia Miller

Historical Records of Australian Science 25(1) 18 - 27
Published: 05 May 2014


The theory of a nineteen-year climate cycle put forward by acclaimed New SouthWales Government Astronomer Henry Chamberlain Russell is arguably one of his least successful contributions to science. Yet his ability to draw global connections made Russell a pioneer in the field of climate science— one whose innovative thinking helped prepare the way for much later achievements in the field of seasonal prediction. While controversial, Russell's theory sparked intense interest in meteorology and climate cycles and, at a time when extreme weather events were putting pressure on agriculture and pastoralism in New South Wales, it addressed the question of whether the Australian climate was undergoing permanent change. An historical understanding of ideas about climate cycles illuminates current debates on how to address the problems associated with anthropogenic climate change.

Full text doi:10.1071/HR14006

© Australian Academy of Science 2014

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