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M. Cruz Gallego
,
Fernando Domínguez-Castro
,
José M. Vaquero
, and
Ricardo García-Herrera

Abstract

Some of the first systematic meteorological observations in Africa were made by two women in Equatorial Guinea in 1875. Sisters Isabel and Juliana Urquiola, together with Manuel Iradier, Isabel's husband, built a meteorological observatory on Little Elobey Island (0°59′46″N, 9°32′14″E), off the tiny nation's western coast. From 1 June to 31 December 1875, the sisters took subdaily readings (6, 12, 15, and 18 h past midnight local time) of humidity, temperature, precipitation, and wind direction and speed. To evaluate the quality of these historical observations, the authors have compared them with equivalent modern meteorological data from Cocobeach (the modern meteorological station nearest to Little Elobey). The monthly-mean distributions of maximum and minimum temperature are similar to those of Cocobeach, but minimum temperatures are 2.4°C higher than Cocobeach values. Despite this difference, the observations of the Urquiola sisters were found to be far better and more consistent than other observations of the time. Sadly, the duo never enjoyed an appropriate acknowledgment of their detailed weather measurements, some taken eight times per day, which were some of the first measurements in Equatorial Guinea. Their unappreciated task unfortunately also had a high cost on their health for the rest of their lives, made all the worse for Isabel Urquiola with the loss of a baby.

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Cary J. Mock
,
Michael Chenoweth
,
Isabel Altamirano
,
Matthew D. Rodgers
, and
Ricardo García-Herrera

Major hurricanes are prominent meteorological hazards of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts. However, the official modern record of Atlantic basin tropical cyclones starts at 1851, and it does not provide a comprehensive measure of the frequency and magnitude of major hurricanes. Vast amounts of documentary weather data extend back several centuries, but many of these have not yet been fully utilized for hurricane reconstruction. These sources include weather diaries, ship logbooks, ship protests, and newspapers from American, British, and Spanish archives. A coordinated effort, utilizing these historical sources, has reconstructed a major hurricane in August 1812, which is the closest to ever pass by New Orleans, Louisiana, including Hurricane Katrina. The storm became a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea, passed south of Jamaica as a tropical storm, and then strengthened to hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall about 65 km southeast of New Orleans and passed just to the west of the city. Historical storm surge and damage reports indicate it as a major hurricane at landfall. Given that conditions during 1812 include having lower sea level, higher land elevation prior to human-induced subsidence, and more extensive wetlands, a recurrence of such a major hurricane would likely have a greater detrimental societal impact than that of Hurricane Katrina. The 1812 hurricane study provides an example of how historical data can be utilized to reconstruct past hurricanes in a manner that renders them directly comparable with those within our modern record.

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Ricardo García Herrera
,
Rolando R. García
,
M. Rosario Prieto
,
Emiliano Hernández
,
Luis Gimeno
, and
Henry F. Díaz

Spanish historical archives contain a vast store of information about Spain and its former colonies in America and Asia. Some searches for climate-related information within these archives have been undertaken recently, but they have been by no means exhaustive. This paper discusses the principal archives and shows, by means of several examples, that they exhibit a high potential for inferring past climate over a wide range of timescales and geographical areas. Extraction of such information is often time consuming, and requires a combination of archival, historical, and climatological expertise, and the development of individualized methodologies to fit each situation and type of data. In spite of these difficulties, the archives can be particularly useful in many cases where there are no alternative sources of climate data. Thus, the complexities of the multidisciplinary effort required should not discourage other researchers from undertaking similar studies.

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Rolando R. Garcia
,
Henry F. Díaz
,
Ricardo García Herrera
,
Jon Eischeid
,
María del Rosario Prieto
,
Emiliano Hernández
,
Luis Gimeno
,
Francisco Rubio Durán
, and
Ana María Bascary

Historical accounts of the voyages of the Manila galleons derived from the Archivo General de Indias (General Archive of the Indies, Seville, Spain) are used to infer past changes in the atmospheric circulation of the tropical Pacific Ocean. It is shown that the length of the voyage between Acapulco, Mexico, and the Philippine Islands during the period 1590–1750 exhibits large secular trends, such that voyages in the middle of the seventeenth century are some 40% longer than those at the beginning or at the end of the century, and that these trends are unlikely to have been caused by societal or technological factors. Analysis of a series of “virtual voyages,” constructed from modern wind data, indicates that sailing time to the Philippines depended critically on the strength of the trade winds and the position of the western Pacific monsoon trough. These results suggest that the atmospheric circulation of the western Pacific underwent large, multidecadal fluctuations during the seventeenth century.

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Fernando Domínguez-Castro
,
María de la Cruz Gallego
,
Jose M. Vaquero
,
Ricardo García Herrera
,
Victoria Corral
,
Rosa M. Marina Sáez
,
Ricardo M. Trigo
,
Renata Libonati
,
Iván Noguera
,
Ahmed El Kenawy
,
Dhais Peña Angulo
, and
Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano

Abstract

In 1639, the German naturalist Georg Marcgraf established the first astronomical observatory in the Americas, located in Recife (Brazil). There, he made the first daily systematic meteorological observations of wind direction, precipitation, fog, and thunder and lightning from 1640 to 1642. We outline the circumstances that led to this observatory being established and analyze the observations. The range of values obtained from all the variables recorded by Marcgraf corresponds well with Recife’s current climate. However, wetter-than-normal conditions were recorded during 1640, while anomalous concentrations of foggy days occurred from May to December 1641. We hypothesize that these anomalous record foggy days could be associated with the highly explosive eruptions of the Komagatake and Parker volcanoes, both in 1640.

Open access
Stefan Brönnimann
,
Rob Allan
,
Linden Ashcroft
,
Saba Baer
,
Mariano Barriendos
,
Rudolf Brázdil
,
Yuri Brugnara
,
Manola Brunet
,
Michele Brunetti
,
Barbara Chimani
,
Richard Cornes
,
Fernando Domínguez-Castro
,
Janusz Filipiak
,
Dimitra Founda
,
Ricardo García Herrera
,
Joelle Gergis
,
Stefan Grab
,
Lisa Hannak
,
Heli Huhtamaa
,
Kim S. Jacobsen
,
Phil Jones
,
Sylvie Jourdain
,
Andrea Kiss
,
Kuanhui Elaine Lin
,
Andrew Lorrey
,
Elin Lundstad
,
Jürg Luterbacher
,
Franz Mauelshagen
,
Maurizio Maugeri
,
Nicolas Maughan
,
Anders Moberg
,
Raphael Neukom
,
Sharon Nicholson
,
Simon Noone
,
Øyvind Nordli
,
Kristín Björg Ólafsdóttir
,
Petra R. Pearce
,
Lucas Pfister
,
Kathleen Pribyl
,
Rajmund Przybylak
,
Christa Pudmenzky
,
Dubravka Rasol
,
Delia Reichenbach
,
Ladislava Řezníčková
,
Fernando S. Rodrigo
,
Christian Rohr
,
Oleg Skrynyk
,
Victoria Slonosky
,
Peter Thorne
,
Maria Antónia Valente
,
José M. Vaquero
,
Nancy E. Westcottt
,
Fiona Williamson
, and
Przemysław Wyszyński

Abstract

Instrumental meteorological measurements from periods prior to the start of national weather services are designated “early instrumental data.” They have played an important role in climate research as they allow daily to decadal variability and changes of temperature, pressure, and precipitation, including extremes, to be addressed. Early instrumental data can also help place twenty-first century climatic changes into a historical context such as defining preindustrial climate and its variability. Until recently, the focus was on long, high-quality series, while the large number of shorter series (which together also cover long periods) received little to no attention. The shift in climate and climate impact research from mean climate characteristics toward weather variability and extremes, as well as the success of historical reanalyses that make use of short series, generates a need for locating and exploring further early instrumental measurements. However, information on early instrumental series has never been electronically compiled on a global scale. Here we attempt a worldwide compilation of metadata on early instrumental meteorological records prior to 1850 (1890 for Africa and the Arctic). Our global inventory comprises information on several thousand records, about half of which have not yet been digitized (not even as monthly means), and only approximately 20% of which have made it to global repositories. The inventory will help to prioritize data rescue efforts and can be used to analyze the potential feasibility of historical weather data products. The inventory will be maintained as a living document and is a first, critical, step toward the systematic rescue and reevaluation of these highly valuable early records. Additions to the inventory are welcome.

Open access
Stefan Brönnimann
,
Rob Allan
,
Linden Ashcroft
,
Saba Baer
,
Mariano Barriendos
,
Rudolf Brázdil
,
Yuri Brugnara
,
Manola Brunet
,
Michele Brunetti
,
Barbara Chimani
,
Richard Cornes
,
Fernando Domínguez-Castro
,
Janusz Filipiak
,
Dimitra Founda
,
Ricardo García Herrera
,
Joelle Gergis
,
Stefan Grab
,
Lisa Hannak
,
Heli Huhtamaa
,
Kim S. Jacobsen
,
Phil Jones
,
Sylvie Jourdain
,
Andrea Kiss
,
Kuanhui Elaine Lin
,
Andrew Lorrey
,
Elin Lundstad
,
Jürg Luterbacher
,
Franz Mauelshagen
,
Maurizio Maugeri
,
Nicolas Maughan
,
Anders Moberg
,
Raphael Neukom
,
Sharon Nicholson
,
Simon Noone
,
Øyvind Nordli
,
Kristín Björg Ólafsdóttir
,
Petra R. Pearce
,
Lucas Pfister
,
Kathleen Pribyl
,
Rajmund Przybylak
,
Christa Pudmenzky
,
Dubravka Rasol
,
Delia Reichenbach
,
Ladislava Řezníčková
,
Fernando S. Rodrigo
,
Christian Rohr
,
Oleg Skrynyk
,
Victoria Slonosky
,
Peter Thorne
,
Maria Antónia Valente
,
José M. Vaquero
,
Nancy E. Westcott
,
Fiona Williamson
, and
Przemysław Wyszyński
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