Old Weather project online and in the news

Published on 30 November 2010 by in News


A groundbreaking citizen science project, led by SEARCH project partners the UK Met Office, has attracted thousands of volunteers and made international headlines.

Old Weather is an online volunteer project aiming to digitise ship logs from WWI Royal Navy vessels, in order to gain a clearer picture of worldwide weather events at the time. The project team recently launched their website, as part of the popular citizen science community Zooniverse.

Old Weather allows volunteers to select a particular WWI vessel they would like to follow.

They will then digitise the ship’s logs, which include meteorological data and observations from the crew. Top contributors to the Old Weather site are given the status of Captain or Lieutenant on their chosen ship.

The Old Weather site has already attracted over 7000 volunteers, who have digitised more than 170,000 pages of data.

The Old Weather project has been profiled by leading international media:


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First Fleet weather research in the news

Published on 30 September 2010 by in News


Research into the treacherous weather conditions the First Fleet battled on the epic voyage to Australia has attracted a wealth of media attention this week.

SEARCH lead researcher Joelle Gergis spoke with a range of media about the First Fleet weather reconstruction she prepared with Rob Allan and Philip Brohan of the UK Met Office:

– Australian Geographic
– The Age and Sydney Morning Herald
– ABC News
– SBS News
– The Daily Telegraph

The reports come as a conference in New Zealand, coordinated by SEARCH research partner Andrew Lorrey, aims to promote the recovery of old weather data buried in logbooks and early weather records.

Further details of the conference and the First Fleet weather data recovery research is available in this Australian Science Media Centre online briefing.

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Scientists seek lost pieces of the climate puzzle

Published on 22 September 2010 by in News


International climate scientists, including members of the SEARCH team, will meet in New Zealand next week as part of an immense global effort to recover lost weather data from the past.

The Asian-Pacific Network (APN) for Global Change Research workshop in Auckland on September 27–29 will discuss the latest research using recovered weather information, often from handwritten sources such as historical weather station diaries, ship records and explorers’ logs.

The effort to uncover and digitise this rare weather information will be vital to understanding climate variability and change in the Australasian–Pacific region.

With increasing concern about climate change, variability, and extremes, there is an urgent need for reliable, high-quality instrumental observations of past weather conditions.

On a global level, the international Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth (ACRE) initiative has been instrumental in promoting the rescue of lost weather data and linking various international research projects that reconstruct past weather conditions.

Unfortunately, many valuable historical observations in the Australasian-Pacific region are hidden away in archives, limiting our understanding of how the current human-induced climate change fits into the context of regional variability.

The Auckland meeting aims to tackle this issue, allowing the region’s scientists to share the latest reconstructed data, creating longer and more detailed climate records.

These records will then help researchers to test the accuracy of current climate model projections, and to constrain future climate model scenarios.

The meeting is being coordinated by SEARCH research partner Dr Andrew Lorrey of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

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Black Thursday. Image: State Library of Victoria

Black Thursday. Image: State Library of Victoria

The SEARCH project will draw on the expertise of volunteers to build a comprehensive online database of early Australian meteorological records and historical accounts of weather events.

Volunteers will work out of our partner libraries, The State Library of Victoria, The State Library of New South Wales and the National Library of Australia to help us populate the SEARCH Project’s OzDocs Database with this valuable information about South-East Australia’s climate past.

This citizen science project will see our volunteers scouring historical documents such as early settlers’ diaries, the colony’s first newspapers and Government Gazettes, for evidence of significant weather events.

This data will help us piece together details of our climate history, allowing the SEARCH team to view our current climate patterns in the context of natural historical variability.

The OzDocs project is currently in pilot stage. If you would like to contribute as a volunteer, please sign up for a user account, or contact the project team at info@climatehistory.com.au for further information.

The Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth (ACRE) project is undertaking a similar climate history citizen science project, spearheaded by SEARCH project partner researcher Dr Rob Allen from the UK Met Office.

A volunteer team in Adelaide is looking at the early South Australian weather records of Charles Todd, who kept meticulous weather data from Adelaide between the 1870s to the early 1900s.

The ACRE project was recently profiled on the ABC’s Stateline.

One of the most successful citizen science projects is Galaxy Zoo, an online astronomy project that enlists the general public to assist with the classification of millions of galaxies from telescopic images.

Lucas Laurson’s article in Science from June 25 2010 also profiles various research organisations undertaking citizen science projects.

The Journal of Arthur Bowes-Smyth, State Library of New South Wales

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HMS Sirius Lieutenant William Bradley recorded the daily noon temperature in his weather journal maintained over the course of the First Fleet’s journey from 1787-1788. He continued to record the noon temperature while the HMS Sirius was anchored at Port Jackson during the first eight months of the settlement of Sydney Cove.

A preview of the paper to appear in the UK journal Weather is available here

The route of this historic journey, together with the temperatures experienced by those aboard the Sirius can now be viewed in a Google Earth reconstruction, prepared by Dr Philip Brohan of the UK Met Office. This work forms part of the global effort to recover historical weather data, the Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth (ACRE) Initiative. Further details of Bradley’s weather record are available at OldWeather.org.

View the weather conditions of the First Fleet voyage, as animated in Google Earth (Google Earth .kmz file)

If you do not have Google Earth, download it here. whois directory

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