Self-isolation proves a boon to rainfall project

Posted: April 1, 2020 by oldbrew in data, MET office, News, weather

OCR software isn’t up to the job apparently. Let’s hope they don’t resort to data ‘adjustments’ after all the public’s efforts. Rain is a popular topic in the UK.

Scientists have been amazed at the public’s response to help digitise the UK’s old rainfall records, reports BBC News.

Handwritten numbers on documents dating back 200 years are being transferred to a spreadsheet format so that computers can analyse past weather patterns.

The volunteers blitzed their way through rain gauge data from the 1950s, 40s and 30s in just four days.

Project leader Prof Ed Hawkins had suggested the work might be a good way for people to use self-isolation time.

“It’s been incredible. I thought we might get this far after three or four weeks, not three or four days,” he told BBC News.

“We’ve had almost 12,000 volunteers sign up. They’re now working on the 1920s and I’m racing to get the 1910s ready for them.”

The Rainfall Rescue Project was launched just last Thursday. Its aim is to recover all the entries on the so-called “10 Year Rainfall Sheets”.

These are the 65,000 pieces of paper in the UK Met Office archives that contain the monthly and decadal rainfall totals at thousands of weather stations across the country.

Buried in this mass of data is information that can inform flood and drought planning, but only if its scribbled numbers can be made computer-friendly.

The Met Office has had every sheet scanned, from the 1950s back to the 1820s (60s onwards are already digitised).

Volunteers who visit the Rainfall Rescue Project website are presented with these documents, one after another, and asked to transfer their numbers into a series of boxes.

Full report here.

  1. Adam Gallon says:

    I’m partaking in this. It’s tedious, so doing half a dozen every evening.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Adam G – one small step for you, one giant leap for the Met Office.