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Showing posts from November, 2010

Logging old weather

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Ever since the first Royal Navy vessels set forth to patrol the high seas, its ships have kept meticulous records of the weather. By the 1670s, the might of the British Empire was religiously keeping detailed observations on the state of the elements on and in the world’s oceans. Even during battle, ship crew members would be sent off to make a remarkable suite of measurements, including air and sea temperature, wind direction and speed, and air pressure. Dodging shrapnel hurtling through the air, these observations were diligently put into log books to help forecast the conditions individual ships might face in the near future. Even in the nineteenth century, however, it was realised there was considerable scientific value to this work beyond the immediate need of prediction. One of the most vocal supporters of their expanded use was the Rear-Admiral and great British scientist, Sir Francis Beaufort. Beaufort is best known today for his development of a scale that allows an estimatio…