Historic warships to be raided for missing climate data

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HMS Warrior (1860) at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard (with the Spinnaker Tower also visible). Credit: Strobilomyces / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Logbooks kept by sailors aboard the British warship HMS Warrior in the 1860s may soon help reveal a more complete picture of how Earth’s climate has changed since pre-industrial times.

As on other warships of its day, the Warrior’s crew began to measure air temperature regularly, among other meteorological observations, to strengthen their knowledge of winds and currents and to make rudimentary forecasts in order to ‘reach their destinations all over the world.

These paper documents will now be digitized by citizen scientists as part of a new sea weather rescue project launched today (October 26) by scientists from the University of Reading.

The resulting 1860s and 1870s temperature data from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans will expand existing long-term climate records and allow computational analysis to improve comparisons between the current climate and that before the industrial revolution of the early 19th century.

Professor Ed Hawkins, NCAS climatologist at the University of Reading who is co-leading the project, said: “Those aboard ships navigating historic battles or trying to reach uncharted lands would have focused on the task at hand. accomplish, but little did they know that the weather records they kept to aid them on their journeys would be gold mines for scientists nearly 200 years later.

“The records we need to save are some of the earliest coordinated meteorological measurements and would have been handwritten by sailors, but they are no less valuable in the age of supercomputers for understanding climate change.”

Praveen Teleti, NCAS research scientist at the University of Reading and co-leader of the project, said: “Transcribing these recordings would take a person several lives, but with the help of an army of volunteers we can accomplish the task. a chance for members of the public to be part of a collective mission to use history to help us understand the future of our planet. “

HMS Warrior

The HMS Warrior, a 40-gun steam armored frigate, was built around 1860 at the start of an arms race between the UK and France that sparked a rapid advance in warship design. It is now a tourist attraction as a museum ship in the historic Portsmouth Shipyard.

Among other ships, Weather Rescue at Sea volunteers will also explore records of ships involved in the Shimonoseki campaign of 1863-64. This saw the navies of Britain, the Netherlands and the United States engage in a series of battles with Japanese ships for control of the Shimonoseki Strait, a strategic passage for trade in Japanese waters. .

The records recovered from the logbooks will help fill in the gaps in the 19th century temperature records, which are currently relatively poor for the 1860s and 1870s compared to other decades since 1850.

The Weather Rescue At Sea Project is the data rescue component of GloSAT, a project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council to develop and analyze a climate record dating back to the 1780s, using observations of the temperature of the air recorded across land, ocean and ice.

The new GloSAT temperature record will give a longer and more consistent picture of changes in the air temperature of the planet’s surface and advance the understanding of climate change since the late 18th century.

The Weather Rescue At Sea Project is the data rescue component of GloSAT, a project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council to develop and analyze a climate record dating back to the 1780s, using observations of the temperature of the air recorded across land, ocean and ice.

The new GloSAT temperature record will give a longer and more consistent picture of changes in the air temperature of the planet’s surface and advance the understanding of climate change since the late 18th century.

Weather Rescue at Sea follows on from previous citizen science projects led by Professor Hawkins, which collectively digitized millions of archived weather data. These include observations made at a remote Victorian weather station atop Ben Nevis in Scotland, and reports of rainfall as early as the 1820s, the latter having seen more than 15,000 volunteers working on more than 5 million records in only two weeks.

Volunteers can register for Weather Rescue at Sea at rdg.ac/seaweather.


Scientists look to ‘hot spot’ for longest weather record


Provided by the University of Reading

Quote: Historic Warships to Loot for Missing Climate Data (2021, October 26) retrieved October 27, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-historic-warships-raided-climate.html

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