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Imaging and digitisation of historical instrumental marine and terrestrial weather observations

A sum of £350,000 - £200,000 in 2007/8 and £150,000 in 2008/9 - has been obtained to image and digitise daily to sub-daily meteorological observations from collections of ship logbooks held in UK repositories. Expenditure will come from the climate research subcontract budget within the Defra/MoD funded Integrated Climate Program of the Met Office Hadley Centre in the UK.

ACRE will oversee this project, which focuses on extracting, imaging and digitising of daily to sub-daily meteorological observations from the following collections:

Ship Logbook Collections

  1. 2007/2008: The English East India Company (EEIC) (1780s-1830s) - 900 logbooks held in the British Library have instrumental data (imaging by the British Library, digitised by the Climate Data Modernization Program [CDMP] in the US). (Example logbook page).
  2. 2008/2009: An extended period during and following World War 1 (1914-1923) - 7,000-8,000 Royal Navy logbooks held in the UK National Archives (imaging by the UK National Archives - see some examples). This work follows a successful earlier project to digitise Royal Navy logbooks from the period around World War 2.
In the course of undertaking this work a new source of historical marine weather observations was found that has never been digitised before - remarks books.  So far, only an inventory of the holdings in the archives of the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton, Somerset has been possible.  This inventory was undertaken during the UK summer of 2008 by Ms Catherine Ward and Dr Fiona Williamson.

Ship Remarks Books
  1. 2008: British hydrographic and survey vessel remarks books (1759-1909) – held at the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) about 6,000 remarks books.
UKHO Remarks Books Inventory 2008        UKHO Remarks Book inventory article        Report on the Royal Navy Remarks Books

Expeditions, travels, circumnavigations and ships of exploration

A small, on-going initiative was also undertaken to digitise various marine and some terrestrial weather data from books, journals, ship logbooks and reports that had been scanned and made generally available on the WWW:
  1. 2007/2008: Printed/published late 19th-early 20th Century Antarctic expeditions, station data plus ships of exploration – online plus held in the Met Office Library & Archives (Example logbook page - from the Discovery, on Mawson's 1929-31 expedition. This logbook is held in the Australian National Meteorological Library.)
  2. The Challenger Expedition (1872-6)
  3. The second voyage of HMS Beagle (1831-6)
  4. The voyage of the Uranie (1817-20)
List of all data digitised    18th & 19thC Ships of exploration and scientific expeditions    List of Antarctic expeditions prior to 1942    List of Antarctic data digitised

Due to the specialist nature of all of this work, it involves close cooperation between ACRE, the Met Office Hadley Centre, the British Library, the UK National Archives, the Climate Data Modernization Program (CDMP) in the US, and Sunderland University in the UK .

The data obtained by this imaging and digitisation initiative will:

  1. form part of a joint ACRE, Met Office Hadley Centre, and international effort to improve the global historical observational coverage of weather variables (sea surface temperatures, mean sea level pressure, winds, sea-ice, etc);
  2. be used in the ACRE project to support long historical global surface-observations-only, and climate quality, reanalyses.

These actions will improve our current observational evaluations of climate variability and change, and vital if we are to produce new, long historical climate quality reanalyses for customers and commercial user needs and their model inputs. 

CoRRaL: UK Colonial registers and Royal Naval Logbooks

This is a Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) Digitisation Programme: Enriching Digital Resources funded project (UK Colonial registers and Royal Naval Logbooks: Making the past available for the future) commencing in October 2008.  It will image and digitise daily logbooks of ships on voyages of discovery (1700-1850: ADM-55 at The National Archives), and attached to the Hydrographic Survey (1830-1850: held at The National Archives) plus UK colonial meteorological registers, journals and gazettes (1700:1920: held at The National Archives and the Met Office Archives).

CoRRaL Meeting 1 minutes.doc           CoRRaL_Meeting 2 minutes.doc     CoRRaL Meeting 3 Minutes.doc     CoRRaL Meeting 4 Minutes.doc    CoRRaL Meeting 5 Minutes.doc

Report on May 2010 visit

ACRE is managed by Rob Allan
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