Help needed to rescue UK's old rainfall records

Help needed to rescue UK's old rainfall records

From BBC

At a loss to know what to do with your self-isolation time?

Well, why not get on the computer and help with a giant weather digitisation effort?

The UK has rainfall records dating back 200 years or so, but the vast majority of these are in handwritten form and can’t easily be used to analyse past periods of flooding and drought.

The Rainfall Rescue Project is seeking volunteers to transfer all the data into online spreadsheets.

You’re not required to rummage through old bound volumes; the Met Office has already scanned the necessary documents – all 65,000 sheets.

You simply have to visit a website, read the scribbled rainfall amounts and enter the numbers into a series of boxes.

“If you do just a couple of minutes every now and then – that’s great,” said Prof Ed Hawkins. “If you want to spend an hour doing 30 or 40 columns – then that’ll be amazing. But any amount of time, it will all add up and be a tremendous help.”

The Reading University scientist has run a number of previous “weather rescue” projects, including the digitisation of data collected by three men who lived atop Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, at the turn of the 20th Century. But this project is the biggest yet.

It’s looking to fill the yawning gap in UK digital rain gauge records between the 1820s and 1950s.

Each of 65,000 scanned sheets contains the monthly rainfall totals for a particular decade at a particular station. Something like three to five million data points in all.

But if Prof Hawkins’ team can convert this information into a computer-friendly format, it could lead to a much better understanding of the frequency and scale of big droughts and floods. And that will assist with planning for future flood and water-resource infrastructure.

For example, many

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