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Keywords:

  • marine meteorological data;
  • ship's logbooks;
  • archives;
  • data rescue;
  • digitisation;
  • metadata

Abstract

The RECovery of Logbooks and International Marine data (RECLAIM) project is a concerted, international effort to facilitate and encourage the recovery—through imaging and digitisation—of archived marine weather observations, platform and instrumental metadata and historical documentation, from many different countries. Non-instrumental observations of wind and weather have been recorded in ships' logbooks for hundreds of years, augmented by systematic instrumental observations of sea surface and air temperatures, barometric pressure and other meteorological (and oceanographic) elements largely since the mid-nineteenth century. Once digitised, these data are widely useful for climate studies and other avenues of scientific research—including oceanography, fisheries, maritime history and ecology—thus improvements seeking to address gaps and weaknesses in the currently available data record can be of major importance. In addition to documenting and prioritising archived ship logbook records for imaging and digitisation in support of that goal, RECLAIM provides expert assistance in the interpretation of historical marine records in relation to navigation, observational practices and recording. Since the project inception in 2005, RECLAIM has facilitated, for example, recovery of logbooks of the Dutch and English East India Companies in the nineteenth century, and of the British Royal Navy of the twentieth century. Currently the project website includes reference lists, rescued UK and US marine documents, extensive UK archive reports and detailed inventories of ship movements. A variety of other developing international linkages are discussed, including to Chilean, Dutch, French, German, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and US historical records. © Royal Meteorological Society and Crown Copyright 2010.