Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making Old Weather New Again

Last year we talked about the OldWeather project and it's attempt to gather data from 100-year old naval records.  All ships back then recorded local conditions in a highly consistent way, creating a reliable record useful for climate change research.  They also traveled across the globe, providing a rich data collection unmatched elsewhere.  As citizen scientists we were asked to view images of the ships logs and transcribe the data into a usable electronic form.  This program has been going strong with many ship's logs completed.  Find out more, or better yet, join the action, by reading all about it here on OpenScientist.

But that's not all.  The logs provide more than just weather data, they also provide key insights into the ship's journeys and reveal much about life at sea.  This is of great interest to naval historians who have set about turning these logs and transcriptions into a compelling narrative.  And they need your help too.

Getting Started is Easy:
  1. Visit the OldWeather web site to learn more about the project and the ships being researched.
  2. Find a ship you are interested in and whose logs have already been transcribed.
  3. Visit the Naval History Homepage to learn more about the log editing project.
  4. Let the editors know which ship(s) you are interested in editing by sending an e-mail to  They will respond back with a Microsoft Word file containing a raw feed of the transcribed logs.
  5. Now you can start editing!  Learn the common abbreviations and style requirements at , and you will also receive instructions with the e-mail word file.  Follow them closely so everyone can produce a consistent product.
  6. Mail your finished narrative to the Naval History editors.  That's all there is to it!
The beauty of this project is that it not only lets you work with important scientific data from the last century, but it brings that data to life with the exciting voyages taken to collect it.  So we get to enjoy citizen science from a whole new perspective. 

Isn't it fun to see things with fresh eyes?