Exploring ENSO From Archives of Societies: Looking at the Strong El Niño of 1877–8 in Singapore

Event Type: Seminar

Date: 30 March 2021, 13:00 to 15:00

About the Event

The El Niño of 1877-8 was one of the strongest ENSO events of the nineteenth century. It’s devastating impacts on parts of Asia, especially India, China and Australia have been documented, even if the climate record itself is still being recovered. This event occurred at a time where meteorological science was developing rapidly and the number of registering stations around the globe was steadily increasing, albeit still with gaps and problems. However, this event was critical in early understandings of global climatic teleconnections, recognised by scientists across the globe due to the extent and extreme nature of the event. This work has two aims. First, it proposes to explore the types of archives of societies available to study the two events for Singapore, a relatively understudied region for this type of investigation. In so doing it will also look at gaps and problems inherent in using these archives. Second, it also seeks to uncover the social impacts of these events on what was then the Straits Settlements under British imperial authority. It looks at intersections between climate and health; governance and mitigation of weather and, importantly, the human-environment nexus in creating man-made – as opposed to meteorological – disasters.

Watch Now

The recorded version of this live webinar is now available for viewing.

About the Speaker

Fiona Williamson

Fiona Williamson is a social and environmental historian working on intersections between climate & urban society in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, especially how climate shaped cities, societies, and cultures. Williamson also works on the history of weather science in the China Seas region and have undertaken studies on the burgeoning meteorological services of British Malaya and Hong Kong during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is currently engaged in a variety of multi-disciplinary projects, including the history of urban heat and the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI); nature-induced disasters and extreme weather, and climate change working with scientists and geographers, including leading the Southeast Asian arm of the international Atmospheric Circulations over the Earth (ACRE) initiative based at the Hadley Centre (UKMO).


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