22nd International Conference on Interactive Information Processing Systems for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology


Saving a national treasure—CDMP “Forts” project: adding historic pre-1893 weather observations to NOAA's digital database

Raymond T. Truesdell, Information Manufacturing Corporation, Asheville, NC; and T. F. Ross

Prior to the establishment of the United States Weather Bureau in the 1890s, volunteer civilian and military weather observers throughout the growing Nation observed and documented weather data. Now, meteorologists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, through NOAA's Climate Database Modernization Program (CDMP), are working to convert these historic climate data to a digital format that can be used by weather and climate researchers. To accomplish this, the original observer's forms, which extend as far back as the 1780s and vary widely in quality and format, are prepared for keying. The forms have been converted into a digital image (picture) format; CDMP meteorologists inspect each form, identifying the columns of meteorological elements to be keyed. In addition, all important metadata on the form, such as observer names and locations, instrumentation, and station history, are painstakingly documented. Along the way, fascinating facts about the observations and the people who made them are found and noted for posterity. Once the forms are prepared, the elements to be keyed are sent along with the images to CDMP keying contractors in Kentucky, where the data are keyed into text files. Over the next few years, data from around 160 sites will be incorporated into the National Climatic Data Center's digital database, with the potential for several hundred over the life of the project. These data will be accessible by researchers around the globe, and applicable to important climate change studies and many other research projects.

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Session 5, Applications in Meteorology, Oceanography, Hydrology and Climatology
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 8:30 AM-12:15 PM, A411

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