Early and Irregular data

Systematic collection of weather observations in the UK started not long after the foundation of the Met Office in 1854, but many sites in and around the UK started recording the weather much earlier. The Central England Temperature series has daily data back to 1772, and the 20th Century Reanalysis shows useful skill over europe in 1816. Ship observations are available as far back as far as 1699. It would be very desireable to extend all the major UK datasets back to cover 200 years. How far back can we go?

The NMLA has some records from the early 19th century and before (weather diaries in particular), but most of the records from that long ago are dispersed through many other archives. Researchers, however, are hunting them out: the Copernicus Climate Change Data Rescue Service is building an invertory of early data, and projects coordinated by ACRE, have started to digitise some of it.

One of the unique strengths of the UK is the potential to have good quality climate reconstructions stretching back more than 200 years - we should encourage this work.


Locations known to be making observations in 1811 (red dots) and the expected impact of digitising their observations on a reanalysis (details).