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Philip Brohan, Rob Allan, J. Eric Freeman, Anne M. Waple, Dennis Wheeler, Clive Wilkinson, and Scott Woodruff

Weather observations are vital for climate change monitoring and prediction. For the world's oceans, there are many meteorological and oceanographic observations available back to the mid-twentieth century, but coverage is limited in earlier periods, and particularly also during the two world wars. Before 1850 there are currently very few instrumental observations available. Consequently, detailed observational estimates of surface climate change can be made only back to the mid-nineteenth century. To improve and extend this early coverage, scientists need more observations from these periods. Fortunately, many such observations exist in logbooks, reports, and other paper records, but their inclusion in the climatic datasets requires that these paper records be abstracted from the world's archives, digitized into an electronic form, and blended into existing climate databases.

As a first step in this direction, selected Royal Navy logbooks from the period of 1938–47, kept in the U.K. National Archives, have been photographed and digitized. These have provided more than 1,500,000 new observations for this period, and a preliminary analysis has shown significant improvements to the record of climate change in the mid-twentieth century.

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Stefan Brönnimann, Rob Allan, Christopher Atkinson, Roberto Buizza, Olga Bulygina, Per Dahlgren, Dick Dee, Robert Dunn, Pedro Gomes, Viju O. John, Sylvie Jourdain, Leopold Haimberger, Hans Hersbach, John Kennedy, Paul Poli, Jouni Pulliainen, Nick Rayner, Roger Saunders, Jörg Schulz, Alexander Sterin, Alexander Stickler, Holly Titchner, Maria Antonia Valente, Clara Ventura, and Clive Wilkinson


Global dynamical reanalyses of the atmosphere and ocean fundamentally rely on observations, not just for the assimilation (i.e., for the definition of the state of the Earth system components) but also in many other steps along the production chain. Observations are used to constrain the model boundary conditions, for the calibration or uncertainty determination of other observations, and for the evaluation of data products. This requires major efforts, including data rescue (for historical observations), data management (including metadatabases), compilation and quality control, and error estimation. The work on observations ideally occurs one cycle ahead of the generation cycle of reanalyses, allowing the reanalyses to make full use of it. In this paper we describe the activities within ERA-CLIM2, which range from surface, upper-air, and Southern Ocean data rescue to satellite data recalibration and from the generation of snow-cover products to the development of a global station data metadatabase. The project has not produced new data collections. Rather, the data generated has fed into global repositories and will serve future reanalysis projects. The continuation of this effort is first contingent upon the organization of data rescue and also upon a series of targeted research activities to address newly identified in situ and satellite records.

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