80% of climate data is digitized

80% of climate data is digitized

Cotton field in Tajikistan. How climate change is affecting the country here. (Photo by Oxfam.)

 

To better understand what is happening with the climate — whether global warming is a natural variation, — be aware of the recent past. However, staff at the University Rovira i Virgili, and (Spain) with the help of colleagues found that the scientific community can analyze only 20% of the collected material: others have not yet digitized and made public.

Some data on the climate in Europe date back to the XVII century. On other continents — especially in Africa and South America — observations began only in the mid XIX century. All of this information is, of course, recorded in "perishable format."

Countries that have digitized at least part of that amount and put the result to the public, can be counted on the fingers of one hand: Spain, Netherlands, Norway (in the Old World), Canada and the U.S. (New). The others, if they are all in the "figure", for some reason does not make the information available to the scientific community and the general public contrary to the requirement of the World Meteorological Organization.

According to researchers, social, political and economic consequences of such carelessness can be so great that the decision to digitize and publish climate history should be taken at the UN level. So far, scientists who want to put, say, last year's Russian heat in a historical context, to have to dig in the archives and libraries, losing precious time.

Another problem — the standardization of the data stored in the dusty pages. Were collected and fixed in different ways, and do a weather created a variety of purposes …

Of course, all need money. Meanwhile, climatology and meteorology caught in a vicious circle. On the one hand, you do want to know what the weather will be tomorrow — especially if you are managing an insurance company, a city, a country and do not want to be trapped by building, say, a solar factory where ten years will be cloudy. On the other hand, the forecasts are too often fall wide of the mark, and investors are disappointed hide checkbooks instead allocate more bank notes to the study of historical context, without which it forecasts will never be accurate.

Experts to share their thoughts in the journal Climate Research.

Dmitry Tselikov

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