Posted by Nick.Barnes | Filed under Uncategorized
David Jones and I attended the Surface Temperatures workshop at the Met Office in Exeter this week. This is the kickoff meeting for an ambitious new project to produce a far more comprehensive databank of surface temperature records than currently exists, especially at finer time resolution (daily and sub-daily) and incorporating many station records which are not currently available.
There were around 80 attendees from around the world, including climate scientists, meteorologists, computer people, statisticians, metrologists, and ourselves. This was the first outing for our new Climate Code Foundation, although many people there were aware of Clear Climate Code. This was the first time either of us had attended a climate science meeting. We were made welcome, our motivation and focus was respected, and our voices were heard. The project principles established at the meeting include a strong commitment to openness and transparency, and although some scientists don’t share our conviction of the importance of code publication, the project is committed to publishing all its code.
We were not paid for our participation or for our expenses. In the final meeting we were asked to contribute to software aspects of the project, and said that this may be possible depending on resources.
A mind-boggling side-light: estimates of the volume of non-digitized or hard-copy data range in the hundreds of millions of pages; NCDC alone has a digital archive of 56 million page images, and literally thousands of boxes of unscanned hard-copy in their basement. Many national weather services, and other governmental, non-governmental, and commercial organisations also have large paper or imaged archives; the Galaxy Zoo people are working with the Met Office and the National Maritime Museum on an amazingly cool new crowd-sourced project to recover weather records from millions of imaged pages of Royal Navy log books. There was a strong emphasis at the meeting on the need to retain original data and to make any dataset fully traceable to that original data (I imagine a web interface in which one can drill down to page images of the original weather station hard-copy records). It was clear to the meeting that this traceability requirement implies software publication.