Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions  over the Earth
Data Rescue ACRE’s Commitment

The Importance of Data Rescue

ACRE   is   committed   to   building   accessible   databanks   of   terrestrial   &   marine   surface   climate   data covering   the   globe   for   the   last   250   years.   The   data   are   crucial   to   our   understanding   of   past   weather phenomenon   and   it   can   also   help   us   understand   today’s   weather   and   climate   and   aid   the   prediction   of how climate might change in future. The Challenge The   historical   record   of   our   climate   is   preserved   in   a   variety   of   formats.      Some,   from   the   computer   era, is   recorded   in   electronic   format   and   only   needs   the   commitment   of   national   meteorological   services   to make   their   data   available   for   consolidation   into   a   centralised   global   databank.      Other   data   exists   as   the paper    records    of    professional    meteorologists    who    meticulously    recorded    instrumental    data.    The historical   record   is   also   held   in   the   wider   community   in   formats   such   as   the   diaries   of   explorers, missionaries   and   “gentleman”   scientists,   in   government   and   newspaper   reports,   in   private   archives and   in   the   observations   of   telegraphists,   postmasters,   lighthouse   keepers   and   private   citizens.   Surface marine   climate   data   are   typically   found   in   the   ship   logbooks,   captain’s   remark   books,   and   the   records of port authorities. Consolidating   the   paper   records   into   a   global   databank   presents   a   major   challenge   for   a   number   of reasons: 1 . Many have been lost or misplaced, requiring dedicated “data-detectives” to hunt them down. 2 . Some    are    held    in    archives    that    are    under    threat    from    under-funding,    poor    control    or environmental degradation (eg. mould, fading ink).  3 . A large number are recorded in handwriting which varies from legible to incomprehensible. 4 . The   volume   of   the   historical   record   can   be   overwhelming,   comprising   millions   of   data   points   for a single geographical region over a period of 200 years. 5 . The   type   and   quality   of   records   can   be   highly   variable,   posing   a   challenge   in   bringing   together the data they contain into a coherent and homogenous databank. 6 . There   are   large   gaps   in   the   climate   record,   especially   over   the   oceans   where   sparse   data   are only    available    in    scattered    shipping    journals,    or    in    colonial-era    countries    that    have    a comprehensive record extending to periods before independence. ACRE’s Core Task The   process   of   salvaging   these   paper-based   climate   histories   is   called   “Data   Rescue”.      It   involves   the discovery,   identification   and   cataloguing   of   worldwide   records,   imaging   (scanning,   photographing) them   and   then   transcribing   into   electronic   form   (digitising)   the   useful   climatic   data   they   contain.   This   is a   major   pillar   of ACRE’s   core   activities.      Given   the   immensity   of   the   task, ACRE   acts   as   a   coordinator of   many   independent   funded   and   unfunded   projects   that   undertake   data   rescue   activities   around   the globe.      A   diverse   community   of   climate   researchers,   meteorologists,   social   scientists,   archivists   and citizen   scientists   have   committed   themselves   to   ACRE’s   vision   of   building   a   comprehensive   climate record that is available to all. ACRE achieves its coordinating role by Fostering a community of partners that are interested in historical climatology Fostering   the   establishment   of   citizen   science   initiatives   to   undertake   regional   climate   data rescue Assisting with funding applications for data rescue activities Informing national meteorological services of the importance of investing in data rescue Encouraging young scientists to engage with climate history Identifying and cataloguing new sources of the climate record Validating   known   material   and   cross-referencing   with   natural   proxies   (tree   rings,   coral   and   ice cores, sediments, etc) Ensuring existing climate data are consolidated into open-access global databanks Developing methods of expressing climate narratives in numeric form Undertaking its own data rescue activities Organising global and regional conferences on data rescue Coordinating between projects Sources of the historical climate record Below are representative samples of climate records that are being rescued and digitised by ACRE Partners: Terrestrial data: Mauritius terrestrial observations (late 18 th  to early 20 th  centuries) held by the National Archives of Mauritius and the Mauritius Meteorological Service Japan-Asia Climate Data covering the Japanese mainland, various Japanese colonial territories in China and Korea during WW2, plus counties and islands in the NW Pacific Canadian Journals (1740’s – 1870’s) of a multitude of weather observers Sir Charles Todd Weather Folios (1879-1909) – covering Australia and New Zealand with over one million data points Daily Weather Records and Annual Yearbooks of National Meteorological Services extending back into the mid 19th Century, with often an overlap of stations across several neighbouring countries and listings from overseas colonies – eg. UK, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Greece, Italy, India. US Weather Bureau Bulletin of International Meteorological Observations (1875-1887), with once daily tabulations of primarily Northern Hemisphere (limited Southern Hemisphere data for southern Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand regions) terrestrial and marine surface weather observations Marine data: English East India Company (EIC) logbooks (1798 -1834) – held in the British Library where 900 of the 2,000 logs have instrumental data Extended World War 1 period logbooks (1914-1923) - held at the National Archives in the UKcomprising 350,000 pages of logbooks US Government ship logs of Arctic voyages in the mid-19th century containing 300,000+ pages Chinese and South China Sea instrumental weather observations. Chilean Ship Logbooks (1860 – on) and lighthouse weather records UK Colonial registers and Royal Naval Logbooks – including logbooks of ships on voyages of discovery 1700-1850 held at The National Archives in the UK Extraxts from Logbboks of ships that sailed the seas around Australia in the 1890s and 1900s containing some 700,000 lines held at the National Archives, Brisbane
LINKS International    Environmental    Data    Rescue    Organisation    (IEDRO)    –    an   ACRE    partner    organisation focussed on the rescue of environmental data Data Rescue Before It’s Too Late” - video
“Consolidating the paper record presents a major challenge…”
“ACRE coordinates many projects around the globe that under-take data rescue…”
“US ship logbooks of Arctic voyages contain 300,000 pages of weather data…”