A shower of rain at the Maclean Anzac Day dawn service was always on the cards as part of the sodden start to 2011.
A shower of rain at the Maclean Anzac Day dawn service was always on the cards as part of the sodden start to 2011. Adam Hourigan

Wet weather a long lasting trend

IF you feel the past few months have been wetter than you can remember, you are probably right.

Recent research on North Queensland coral reefs has been able to unlock climate data going back to the 17th century.

The research revealed a trend from the 1850s of increased rainfall and variability, which scientists have predicted will be an effect of global warming.

Senior principal research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science Dr Janice Lough said freshwater floods affected corals, leaving banding in the structures from which scientists have been able to recover climate data.

Using data from coral cores taken up until 1981 they have been able to reconstruct the climate of tropical Queensland going back to 1685, centuries before climate records were kept.

The data showed until the 1850s there was a trend to drier conditions, with 1823 the driest. However, since the 1850s the trend has reversed and rainfall and variability had trended up ever since, with the summer of 1973-74 the wettest on record.

And Dr Lough said the most recent summer, although not as wet, had the most number of wet days on record.

Dr Lough said coral reefs along the Northern NSW coast may not be large enough to yield enough data to conduct similar studies here.

But she said that the Bureau of Meteorology figures over the past nine months have shown large sections of the country recording their highest rainfall figures.



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