Surface Temperatures Workshop

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.

5 Responses to “Surface Temperatures Workshop”

  1. cce Says:

    I wonder if Google.org (Google’s philanthropic arm) would be willing to donate Google Books’ scanning resources to help digitize and archive these documents. They have an interest in climate change.

  2. Nick.Barnes Says:

    Google.org were at the workshop.

  3. Michael de POdesta Says:

    Just to say it was good to meet you both at the meeting and thanks for the mug. As an outsider I was rather boggled for most of the time and am only just beginning to assimilate it all.

    On one specific point, I see now the relevance of completely open approach to these data and analyses which you advocate.

    All the best

    Michael

  4. John Keyes Says:

    An approach like The Guardian used for the MP Expenses could work here. Provide cheap incentives (t-shirts, prints, etc.) to the most productive contributors.

  5. Notes from the Surface Temperatures Workshop | Serendipity Says:

    [...] agreement on open source software either. The more software oriented participants (most notably, Nick Barnes, from the Climate Code Foundation) argued strongly that all software, including every tool used to [...]

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