Tuesday, October 6, 2009

18th century ships’ logs predict future weather forecast

University of Sunderland News: 150 years ago Charles Darwin's 'Origin of the Species' revolutionised how we view the natural world - now his voyages on HMS Beagle are influencing modern research on the evolution of our climate. A ground-breaking partnership between JISC, the University of Sunderland, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the British Atmospheric Data Centre sees historical naval logbooks being used for the first time in research into climate change. The logbooks include famous voyages such as the Beagle, Cook's HMS Discovery and Parry's polar expedition in HMS Hecla.

The UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy Logbooks (CORRAL) project has digitised nearly 300 ships' logbooks dating back to the 1760s. The accurate weather information they contain is being used to reconstruct past climate change - hitherto untapped scientific data. Research team leader Dr Dennis Wheeler of the University of Sunderland comments: "The observations from the logbooks on wind force and weather are astonishingly good and often better than modern logbooks. Of course the sailors had to be conscientious - the thought that you could hit a reef was a great incentive to get your observations absolutely right!

"What happens in the oceans controls what happens in the atmosphere - so we absolutely need to comprehend the oceans to understand future weather patterns," he added.

Ships' logbooks were the main resource used to monitor the weather in the oceans. Officers on these ships kept careful records of the daily, and sometimes hourly, climate conditions. What that means today is modern researchers are able to find out what the weather was like anywhere in the world on a particular day, right through the Little Ice Age and back to 1750….

A 1707 painting called 'De Windstoot' in Dutch, meaning 'The Gale' by Willem van de Velde II

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey guys, i travel 50 miles to work (stupid yeah… looking for another job…) anyway im just wondering would you recommend me driving all that way at 3.30am? i travel from preston to liverpool airport….i cant seem to find a decent site with readable weather!!!