British Rainfall Records Extended to 1836 Thanks to Covid


Britain’s official rainfall records date back to the year before Queen Victoria ascended the throne, thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers who were confined to their homes during Covid.

Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in England, call for help More than 65,000 handwritten monthly rainfall diaries spanning three centuries from all over England and Ireland are copied.

The inscriptions in the records were too irregular to be machine-readable; The human eye was needed. More than 16,000 people He answered Hawkins’ request, and together they accomplished the task in a little over two weeks.

This was two years ago, during the UK’s first coronavirus quarantine. Now, the country’s weather agency, the Met Office, has added 3.3 million data points from the copied pages to the national precipitation statistics, enriching the official record with many more observations and extending it to 1836. A fresh detail on the strange weather of 1852, when an extremely dry spring followed by severe flooding in November and December.

Dr. “Had the weather that brought us so much rain in 1852 happened once again, it would probably have brought more rain on our island because we live in a warmer world,” Hawkins told Reading. Having better knowledge of past endpoints can help strengthen our defenses against future ones, he said.

Hawkins and a team of volunteers and other researchers reveal how they process and clean up data in a study published Friday. Journal of Geology Data.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface,” he said, of what to learn from Britain’s climate archives. Citing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he added, “The United States has enormous archives at NOAA that have yet to be fully explored.”

The Met Office knew the value of data old rain logs When she scanned them in 2019, Catherine Ross, archivist at the agency and author of the new study, said. However, Dr. It’s only thanks to volunteers during the 2020 lockdown that ornate, sometimes idiosyncratic, handwritten information has been made useful for scientific analysis, Ross said.

Records begin with measurements taken from scattered observers in 1677. By 1860, data collection was being coordinated by the British Precipitation Organization, which would later become part of the Met Office. More people were involved: ordinary citizens, clergy, wealthy landowners who entrusted the task to gardeners and gardeners. That last category apparently included the royal family: Archives include rainfall readings from Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, and Sandringham House.

Dr. “The Victorian Age: People want to control, measure and understand statistically in much greater detail,” Ross said. “There is an increasing understanding of ‘we can collect observations and do something with them’.”

In the notes they keep along with their rainfall logs, the record holders reveal the diligence and some of the challenges they put into the task. From the village of Ludgvan, Cornwall, Rev. W. Borlase added this footnote to his reading. October 1770: “The receiver is pretty full. He may have escaped. I do not know.”

Observers documented several insults visited on rain gauges: child vandalism; clogging of bird nests; damage from tourists, lawnmowers and ponies. In 1948, monks at Belmont Abbey in Herefordshire noticed a bullet hole in their gauge. In a mental institution, records were kept for more than two years in the 1950s, as the sign was “hidden by inmates.”

As World War II raged, a 1944 diary states that a rain gauge was “destroyed by enemy action.” In the village of West Ayton, he concluded the record-breaking readings in 1949 with the rendition “too old to bother anymore”.

After the records were copied, the data had to be organized by precise location. This presented its own challenges. The notes of a rain gauge in Scotland describe it simply as “in a valley between hills”.

Dr. Hawkins, perhaps most climate lines, a way to visualize global warming. He is dealing with now another online project Copying weather observations made by sailors around the world in the mid-19th century. Part of a larger enterprise, GloSATThis aims to extend records of worldwide surface temperatures on land, ocean and ice into the 1780s. Currently, most global temperature records begin in the 1850s.

Additional information can help scientists better understand the Earth’s climate before the Industrial Revolution and the large-scale carbon emissions from human activities that accompanied it. It may also reveal more about how the climate responded to several major volcanic eruptions in the early 19th century, including one on Mount Tambora in what is now Indonesia, that cooled the planet and caused what has been called a “summerless year.” ”

Dr. “We probably haven’t had a really big one since Tambora in 1815,” Hawkins said. “We are probably a late person. Therefore, it would probably be very useful to understand the consequences of such an explosion in advance.”



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