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March 16, 2011

OldWeather.org — Can World War I Royal Navy logbooks help forecast the weather of the future?

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Wrote Rachel Saslow in an October 18, 2010 Washington Post story, "A bunch of British scientists needs help digitizing the weather information from World War I Royal Navy logbooks, and they're asking anyone with a few spare minutes to help. The Web site Zooniverse.com, which coordinates "citizen science" projects, launched OldWeather.org on Oct. 12.

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"The goal of Old Weather is to make century-old weather data available to researchers and historians so they can create more-accurate climate change models. 'If we wish to understand what the weather will do in the future, then we need to understand what the weather was doing in the past,' says Clive Wilkinson, coordinator of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, in a video on the site.

"To join, you need to sign up for a Zooniverse account, a painless process that takes about two minutes. Then jump right in and choose one of 238 WWI vessels, choosing from among battleships, cruisers, sloops and others. The site provides video tutorials on how to read logbooks, such as where to find the latitude and longitude, the date and weather readings. Scientists need human eyes to complete this project because computers aren't great at deciphering the nuances of handwriting.

"The folks behind Old Weather, including the University of Oxford and the National Maritime Museum, anticipate human errors, too. They hope that by 'crowdsourcing' the logbooks, each entry will be looked at by multiple people and mistakes will be filtered out."

 

March 16, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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