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.