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15 oktober 2010

Old Weather

Op verschillende websites is afgelopen dagen aandacht geschonken aan het Old Weather project.

Hier het persbericht en filmpje wat bij de introductie van dit project werd rondgezonden:

World War One ships chart past climate

The public are being asked to revisit the voyages of World War One Royal Navy warships to help scientists working on a JISC project to understand the climate of the past and unearth new historical information.
Visitors to OldWeather.org, which launches today (12 October 2010), will be able to retrace the routes taken by any of 280 Royal Navy ships including historic vessels such as HMS Caroline, the last survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland still afloat.
The naval logbooks contain a treasure trove of information but because the entries are handwritten they are incredibly difficult for a computer to read. By getting an army of online human volunteers to retrace these voyages and transcribe the information recorded by British sailors we can relive both the climate of the past and key moments in naval history.
Alastair Dunning, programme manager at JISC which is funding the project, said: "Solving complex scientific problems used to be restricted to the laboratories of the university campus. But with sites like Old Weather, the general public can play an important role in uncovering the data that underpins the arguments behind climate change. Hopefully, Old Weather can spark a whole range of similar cyber science projects, engaging the public in the grand scientific issues of our time."
The ‘virtual sailors’ visiting OldWeather.org are rewarded for their efforts by a rise through the ratings from cadet to captain of a particular ship according to the number of pages they transcribe. The project is inspired by earlier Oxford University-led ‘citizen science’ projects, such as Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo – that have seen more than 320,000 people make over 150 million classifications – which have shown that ordinary web users can make observations that are as accurate as those made by experts.
Dr Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office, 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. Unfortunately, the historical record is full of gaps, particularly from before 1920 and at sea, so this project is invaluable."
Dr Robert Simpson of Oxford University, one of the OldWeather.org team, said: "Luckily, these observations made by Royal Navy sailors every four hours without fail – even whilst under enemy fire! – can help to fill this ‘data gap’. It’s almost like launching a weather satellite into the skies at a time when manpowered flight was still in its infancy."
OldWeather.org forms a key part of the International ACRE Project, which is recovering past weather and climate data from around the world and bringing them into widespread use.
Most of the data about past climate comes from land-based weather monitoring stations which have been systematically recording data for over 150 years. The weather information from the ships at OldWeather.org, which spans the period 1905-1929, effectively extends this land-based network to 280 seaborne weather stations traversing the world’s oceans.
It isn’t just gaps in the weather records that the team hope to fill but gaps in the history books too. OldWeather.org is teaming up with naval historians in an effort to add to our knowledge of the exploits of hundreds of Royal Navy vessels and the thousands of men who served on them.
"Life in the trenches is well documented but the maritime struggle that took place during World War One is less well known," said historian Gordon Smith of Naval-History.Net. "This was a global conflict that reached across the world’s oceans to every part of the globe and was about far more than just the Battle of Jutland. We hope these new records will give people a fresh insight into naval history and encourage people to find out more about Britain’s naval past and the role their relatives played in it."

Old Weather - Getting Started from The Zooniverse on Vimeo.

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