LONDON, Oct. 13 (UPI) — British researchers say a new project will use old Royal Navy logbooks to build a picture of how the world’s climate has changed over the last century.
The project, OldWeather.org, will use public volunteers to re-trace routes taken by some 280 World War I-era Royal Navy ships by transcribing information about weather and other events from images of ships’ logbooks, the BBC reported.
“These naval logbooks contain an amazing treasure trove of information but because the entries are handwritten they are incredibly difficult for a computer to read,” OldWeather.org team member Chris Lintott of Oxford University said.
“By getting an army of online human volunteers to retrace these voyages and transcribe the information recorded by British sailors we can re-live both the climate of the past and key moments in naval history,” he said.
“Historical weather data is vital because it allows us to test our models of the Earth’s climate: If we can correctly account for what the weather was doing in the past, then we can have more confidence in our predictions of the future,” said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the U.K. Met Office.
Most data about past climate comes from land-based stations recording data for more than 150 years.
Weather information from WWI-era ships, spanning the period 1904 to 1929, effectively extends this network to 280 mobile, seaborne weather stations, project organizers say.
Web volunteers will be rewarded by rising through the ranks from cadet to captain of their chosen ship, depending on the number of pages they transcribe, the BBC said.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.