Unearthing historic weather records to help predict our future climate
The Operation Weather Rescue project is run by a team of UK meteorologists and climate scientists who are unearthing historic weather data to answer questions about our changing climate. Their project uses the tried and tested method of people power; drawing on invaluable help from members of the public by asking them to enter pieces of historical weather information into their online database.
Operation Weather Rescue has been run twice before, but this is the first time the citizen science project will focus on the very earliest weather records produced in the UK.
For British Science Week, running from 8 - 17 March 2019, we have identified two decades of important historical weather data that has never been digitised – and we need the public’s help to rectify this. All in all, there are 2.5 million pieces of information between the years of 1860 and 1880 that we need the public to help us to digitise during British Science Week.
This will be the first time that climate scientists and meteorologists from around the globe will have had access to the raw data from this period. It will give us a better understanding of the climate from the past and will help us to predict what the future could look like.
The team includes researchers from the University of Reading who will use the data entered by the public to better examine storms and unusual weather events in the future. The project is supported by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the Natural Environment Research Council. The scanned images used in this part of the project have been provided by the archive at the Met Office.
Professor Ed Hawkins, NCAS climate scientist based at the University of Reading, who is the project lead for Operation Weather Rescue, says: “We’re incredibly excited to be partnering with the British Science Association for this year’s British Science Week. We’re hoping that the buzz of the week will give this important project a huge boost and are looking forward to seeing what progress can be made through these two decades’-worth of data.
“It’s a great opportunity for the public to contribute to real scientific research. As the world warms, the data will provide a baseline to help us measure weather changes and monitor climate change, which will have impacts for people, communities and environments across the world.”
One of the biggest challenges that researchers face is access to historical data sets – there are millions of pages of data held in archives around the world that have never been digitised. Without the public’s contribution to digitising these records, it would take the team years to enter the information themselves, and so we hope that during British Science Week we can make a real contribution to this important research.
Find out more and get involved at www.weatherrescue.org, and use #weatherrescue hashtag on social media to let us know you’re taking part!