Dr Chris O'Brien


Research Fellow

Dr Chris O’Brien is a Historian and Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Northern Research Futures Collaborative Research Network (CRN), based at the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) and the Northern Institute (NI), Charles Darwin University (CDU); as well as ANU’s North Australia Research Unit (NARU). 

Chris is also a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Environmental History and the History Department at ANU. On July 13 2012 Chris was awarded a PhD in History from ANU for his thesis A Clockwork Climate: An Atmospheric History of Northern Australia. Prior to his PhD Chris gained a first class honours degree in History from the University of Sydney.

Research Interests

  • Environmental History
  • Cultural History
  • Intellectual History
  • Weather and Climate
  • Oceans
  • Science
  • Northern Australia
  • Southern Asia
  • Australasia
  • European encounters with the Tropics
  • Transport and Communications
  • Time

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Research Projects

Current Projects

In addition to converting his thesis into a book, Chris is working on a history of weather and climate across the Indonesian Maritime Continent and the Arafuru/Timor region (including northern Australia), post 1600 CE, tentatively called Chasing the Winds. This builds on his work on Northern Australia undertaken for A Clockwork Climate?

Publications & Resources

Book Chapters

O'Brien, C. (2014). Imported Understandings: Calendars, Weather, and Climate in Tropical Australia, 1870s–1940s. In J.Beattie, E. O’Gorman & M. Henry (eds.), Climate, Science, and Colonization, (pp. 195-211). USA: Palgrave MacMillan.

Journal Articles

Stephens, A., Oppermann, E., Turnour, J., Brewer, T., O'Brien, C., Rayner, T., Blackwood, G., & Dale, A. (2015). Identifying Tensions in the Development of Northern Australia: Implications for Governance. Journal of Economic and Social Policy, 17(1), Article 5.

O'Brien, C. (2014). Deliberate Confusions. History of Meteorology, 6, 17-34. 

Conference Proceedings & Papers

Understanding Climate, Adapting to Change, Wallace/Darwin Science Symposium, Universitas Hasanuddin, Makassar, Indonesia.

Rethinking Seasons: Changing Climate, Changing Time, Cultural History of Climate Change Conference, ANU, Canberra.

July 2013: Deliberate Confusions, 24th International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester, UK.

Dr Chris O'Brien


T: +61 8 8920 9981
E: chrisob001@gmail.com

Darwin, NT