Description and General Background to Ships’ Logbooks as a Source of Climatic Data


Meteorological observations made on board ships prior to 1854 have until now been overlooked in climatological research largely as a result of the lack of rigorous abstraction and treatment criteria. However, the CLIWOC project has shown that millions of potentially valuable observations have been preserved throughout Europe in the many logbooks that were prepared by officers in the navies of the great powers. Moreover these data can be used and treated in a fashion similar to today's ship-based instrumental observations. The most significant logbook collections are from Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and France. This paper describes the main archives where the logbooks can be found and provides an account of their contents and of the manner in which they were set out. The potential of this source is emphasised by the fact that whilst the CLIWOC project abstracted data for 300,000 days, nearly 90% of the European logbook collections have yet to be examined. This paper concludes with a discussion as to the direction of future studies in this important field.

8 Figures and Tables

Showing 1-10 of 14 references

CLIWOC: A climatological database for the world's oceans 1750–1854

  • R García-Herrera, G P Können, D Wheeler, M R Prieto, P D Jones, F B Koek
  • 2005
1 Excerpt

Deriving wind force significance from nautical reports through content analysis

  • M R Prieto, D Gallego, R García-Herrera, N Calvo
  • 2005
2 Excerpts

Determination of wind force and present weather terms: The Dutch case', Clim. Change, this volume

  • F B Koek, G P Können
  • 2005
3 Excerpts

Preliminary reconstructions of the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation index from wind strength measures taken during the CLIWOC period

  • P D Jones, M Salmon
  • 2005
1 Excerpt

An examination of the accuracy and consistency ships' logbook weather observations and records

  • D Wheeler
  • 2004

From calm to storm: The origin of the Beaufort Scale

  • D Wheeler, C Wilkinson
  • 2004
1 Excerpt

Pre-1872 extension of the Japanese instrumental meteorological observation series back to 1819

  • G P Können, M Zaiki, A P M Baede, T Mikami, P D Jones, T Tsukahara
  • 2003
1 Excerpt

Atmospheric circulation changes in the tropical pacific inferred from the voyages of the manila galleons in the sixteenth–eighteenth centuries

  • R García, H Díaz, +6 authors A Bascary
  • 2001
1 Excerpt

Archivo General de Indias. Inventario de la Sección de Correos, Ministerio de Educación y Cultura

  • López Gutierrez
  • 1996
1 Excerpt

The usefulness of ships' log-books in the synoptic analysis of past climates

  • J Oliver, J A Kington
  • 1970
1 Excerpt