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Assimilating Weather Data into a Digital Event Gazetteer of Airborne Parachute Operations during the French Indochina War

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  • 1 Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
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Abstract

Modern datasets cataloging historical events, known as digital event gazetteers, feature spatiotemporal data regarding events that enable analysis through parameters including location and other descriptive information of those events. Weather and climate data represent two dimensions of spatiotemporal information, which can enhance understanding of historical events. A recently published digital event gazetteer of airborne parachute operations [opérations aéroportées (OAPs)] during and prior to the French Indochina War, spanning from 1945 to 1954, represents an opportunity to associate discrete historical events with weather information. This study outlines a methodology for assimilating weather data into the construct of a digital event gazetteer and then demonstrates example analyses of how the weather and climate conditions in Indochina may relate to OAPs during the war.

A synoptic classification, utilizing the self-organizing maps procedure, is performed using daily mean sea level pressure data from 1945 to 2010, from a twentieth-century reanalysis dataset, to characterize weather patterns over the Indochina Peninsula. Since observations are sparse during the years of the conflict, the resulting weather patterns are associated with modern precipitation observations in the area, as a representation of wet and dry patterns during the war. The appropriate daily weather pattern is then assigned to each OAP in order to investigate its relationship with the weather and climate patterns of Indochina, including the influence of monsoon seasons, and how the resulting precipitation patterns affected combat operations across the theater. Additionally, specific OAPs of various missions are analyzed to investigate how weather patterns may have affected operation planning during the French Indochina War.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Johnathan P. Kirk, jkirk9@kent.edu

Abstract

Modern datasets cataloging historical events, known as digital event gazetteers, feature spatiotemporal data regarding events that enable analysis through parameters including location and other descriptive information of those events. Weather and climate data represent two dimensions of spatiotemporal information, which can enhance understanding of historical events. A recently published digital event gazetteer of airborne parachute operations [opérations aéroportées (OAPs)] during and prior to the French Indochina War, spanning from 1945 to 1954, represents an opportunity to associate discrete historical events with weather information. This study outlines a methodology for assimilating weather data into the construct of a digital event gazetteer and then demonstrates example analyses of how the weather and climate conditions in Indochina may relate to OAPs during the war.

A synoptic classification, utilizing the self-organizing maps procedure, is performed using daily mean sea level pressure data from 1945 to 2010, from a twentieth-century reanalysis dataset, to characterize weather patterns over the Indochina Peninsula. Since observations are sparse during the years of the conflict, the resulting weather patterns are associated with modern precipitation observations in the area, as a representation of wet and dry patterns during the war. The appropriate daily weather pattern is then assigned to each OAP in order to investigate its relationship with the weather and climate patterns of Indochina, including the influence of monsoon seasons, and how the resulting precipitation patterns affected combat operations across the theater. Additionally, specific OAPs of various missions are analyzed to investigate how weather patterns may have affected operation planning during the French Indochina War.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Johnathan P. Kirk, jkirk9@kent.edu
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