An interesting source of historical climate data

Quite honestly, I am surprised that nobody has thought of this before.

From the London Times:

Captains' logs yield climate clues
Records kept by Nelson and Cook are shedding light on climate change

Britain's great seafaring tradition is to provide a unique insight into modern climate change, thanks to thousands of Royal Navy logbooks that have survived from the 17th century onwards.

The logbooks kept by every naval ship, ranging from Nelson's Victory and Cook's Endeavour down to the humblest frigate, are emerging as one of the world's best sources for long-term weather data. The discovery has been made by a group of British academics and Met Office scientists who are seeking new ways to plot historic changes in climate.

"This is a treasure trove," said Dr Sam Willis, a maritime historian and author who is affiliated with Exeter University's Centre for Maritime Historical Studies.

"Ships' officers recorded air pressure, wind strength, air and sea temperature and other weather conditions. From those records scientists can build a detailed picture of past weather and climate."

Some of the early finds:

One paper, published by Dr Dennis Wheeler, a Sunderland University geographer, in the journal The Holocene, details a surge in the frequency of summer storms over Britain in the 1680s and 1690s.

Many scientists believe storms are a consequence of global warming, but these were the coldest decades of the so-called Little Ice Age that hit Europe from about 1600 to 1850.

Wheeler and his colleagues have since won European Union funding to extend this research to 1750. This shows that during the 1730s, Europe underwent a period of rapid warming similar to that recorded recently - and which must have had natural origins.

Another use of ships logs was to look at Polar Ice and the idea that we are in danger of it melting is ludicrous. It has melted before on a regular basis. Polar Ice melting is not a new phenonomon...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on August 4, 2008 4:58 PM.

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