MacKillop College student Monique Thompson has surprised teachers and peers after discovering evidence of a drastic temperature increases in Port Macquarie's historical data.
The year 12 student studied the historical weather records of Port Macquarie as part of a HSC depth study for earth and environmental science.
The 18-year-old began research for the project using data from the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and government websites in March this year.
"We could choose anything to do the study on and I wanted to look at something on climate change," Ms Thompson said citing her childhood on Lord Howe Island as a major cause of her passion for the environment.
"It's an interest of mine because I'm interested in sustainability and looking after the environment.
"I found that the maximum monthly temperatures have increased since about 1910, which is how far the data goes back. It's a really consistent trend of a 2.5 degree increase over the last 100 years.
"The rate of temperature increase is increasing as well. For example the rate of change in the first 80 years is what we have had in the last 20 years."
Ms Thompson said the ocean regulates temperatures around Port Macquarie and could be helping resist extreme temperature spikes which are being felt elsewhere in Australia.
"From my research there are significant changes across Australia and it was interesting to see that Port Macquarie is also being affected," she said.
"I'd found during the winter months recently there has been quite a significant drop in temperatures. This could be because there's less cloud cover and clearer nights allowing temperatures to drop more.
"I thought they'd be some change when I started but I didn't think the temperature increase would be so significant."
MacKillop College Port Macquarie science teacher Rob Mahon said students were given free reign to investigate anything relevant to the course.
"Monique's sources for the project were the absolute gold standard of credibility, peer reviewed and all that stuff," he said.
"I was really impressed with how well the project was put together and I've read scientific papers which weren't this well put together.
"She chose to look at three different parameters over the last century; monthly average maximum temperatures, monthly average minimum temperatures and monthly average rainfall.
"One of these showed strikingly clear results while another showed surprising results. Her graphs which illustrate the data are easy to read for the general public.
"It's really relevant because this is original analysis and if you look online for Port Macquarie data changes over 100 years, there's nothing there.
"It cuts through variation of weather to look at what the bigger trends are. I was pleased to see a project presented to this standard."
Ms Thompson's depth study will be entered in the STANSW (Sci Teachers Assoc New South Wales) Young Scientist awards for 2020.