Help the UK digitize rainfall records

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With people in Britain having more time on their hands, the University of Reading is asking for help transcribing historic rainfall records.

The Rainfall Rescue project is run by Prof. Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading, with the aim of filling the gap in digital weather records between the 1820s and 1950s.

Members of the public are invited to transcribe observations made before the age of computers.

Historic information will help scientists to better understand why certain parts of the UK are wetter or dryer than others at different times and look at long-term trends and historical patterns.

Hawkins says the chance to take part in a serious science project may provide a welcome distraction while spending long spells indoors due to COVID-19.

He said, “We’re set to reach back further than ever in time to rescue millions of pieces of UK rainfall data that are currently going to waste in filing cabinets. These records will help scientists better understand how and why rainfall varies so much in different locations across the UK.”

Despite there being several thousand rain gauges in the UK in the 1950s, digital data is limited, with the rest still on paper and stored in the National Meteorological Archive.

The project aims to extend the digital record of monthly rainfall measurements and information back to the 1820s.

The data will be made freely and openly available, allowing scientists to analyze the data using computer models and study unusually wet or dry years.

Of particular interest are extreme years such as the 1921 drought and the very wet summer in 1912.

To get involved click here.

At the time of writing, the work was 35% complete with the help of almost 12,000 volunteers and counting.

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