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Science

16th Century British Navy Helping Modern-Day Climate Scientists

475px-Captainjamescookportrait One of the biggest problems facing meteorologists and climate scientists is the fact that we simply don’t have long term climate data. Sure, we’ve seen our planet get hotter and nastier in the last few decades, but, did it happen the same time a hundred years ago? What we’ve needed are data from the past, so that we can see just what is happening.

And thanks to Captain Cook and Lord Nelson and the East India Trading Company, a wealth of information has been uncovered by experts from the British Meteorological Office.

Spend any time watching or reading Hornblower, or any fiction pertaining to the British Navy in the 1600’s and 1700’s, and you will know what many historians know; the British Navy paid a lot of attention to the weather and climate around them.

In fact, you would imagine anyone out at sea would do so, no matter what century they lived in. But the British Navy was meticulous in their data gathering, and British experts from the Met Office and additional academics have discovered records dating back to the early 1600’s.

More than 6,000 logs were found, and have now provided what will turn out to be one of the greatest sources of long-term meteorological data.

“British archives contain more than 100,000 Royal Navy logbooks from around 1670 to 1850 alone,” said Dennis Wheeler, a geographer based at Sunderland University. “They are a stunning resource. Global warming is a reality, but our data shows climate science is complex. It is wrong to take particular events and link them to carbon dioxide emissions. These records will give us a much clearer picture of what is really happening.”

What they have found calls in to question modern-day thought. Wheeler has found accounts of an increasing number of storms over Britain in the late 17th century, occurring doing the Little Ice Age that hit Europe from approximately 1600 to 1850. Records also point to a warming in the 1730’s that must have been caused naturally.

So as we’ve said from the beginning, Earth’s climate is nothing short of baffling.

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4 comments
  1. Exemplary

    For Joshua Hill to state “What they have found calls in to question modern-day thought” is a masterfully worded understatement. These data lend sound credence to the clear understanding that climate change is, and has been, and will be a factor on this planet. To ascribe climate change to activities of human beings is massively human-opinion-centric and may not be based in fact. I hope that these data will be used properly and wisely to lend thoughtful consideration to the current climate change. This climate change well may be short-lived – at least in a geological time scale. Then where will be the integrity and the fortunes of those creating and investing in “carbon-offset” companies?

  2. Gustavion

    “So as we’ve said from the beginning, Earth’s climate is nothing short of baffling.”

    — Isn’t that the truth. At this point, my strongest motivation to ‘go green’ is because we need to naturally be good stewards to the environment. I think one of the best things we can do is support ‘green’ business. For example http://www.simplestop.net stops your postal junk mail and benefits the environment.

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