As part of Citizen Science Month 2023, we’re sharing excerpts from ‘Into the Zooniverse’, a series of books celebrating the projects and people of the Zooniverse.

You can find and download all editions of ‘Into the Zooniverse’ here.

Old Weather – WW2

MEMBERS OF THE ARMED forces have been carefully recording marine weather observations since the 1850s. Weather observations were logged on every ship, every hour, almost without fail.  This was done even in the midst of battle, in the heart of a typhoon, or while in the often fatal grip of the Arctic ice pack (the sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean). Now, with the challenge of climate change upon us, it is astonishing that most of this legacy remains unused and unknown, particularly as the ocean plays a major role in regulating climate and weather.

The aim of Old Weather – WW2, led by the University of Reading, the Met Office, NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard, is to recover hidden marine weather data recorded in the U.S. Navy ships’ logbooks during World War II. Zooniverse volunteers transcribe navigation, barometer and temperature data from the deck logs of nineteen World War II ships representative of the main classes of warship in use during the period: battleship, aircraft carrier, cruiser, destroyer, and gunboat. These data will be used to drive sophisticated computer models that help us understand weather and climate in extraordinary detail. This work is having a lasting impact on climate science, but also shines a new light on the dedicated work of thousands of service members who collected these observations over nearly two centuries. 

Image credit: Old Weather – WW2 Project

Summary by: Helen Spiers

Check out this project: here

View the full ‘Into the Zooniverse’ book: here