13 research outputs found

    Formalizing Trust in Historical Weather Data

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    Historical instrumental weather observations are vital to understanding past, present, and future climate variability and change. However, the quantity of historical weather observations to be rescued globally far exceeds the resources available to do the rescuing. Which observations should be prioritized? Here we formalize guidelines help make decisions on rescuing historical data. Rather than wait until resource-intensive digitization is done to assess the dataÔÇÖs value, insights can be gleaned from the context in which the observations were made and the history of the ob-servers. Further insights can be gained from the transcription platforms used and the transcribers involved in the data rescue process, without which even the best historical observations can be mishandled. We use the concept of trust to help integrate and formalize the guidelines across the life cycle of data rescue, from the original observation source to the transcribed data element. Five cases of citizen science-based historical data rescue, two from Canada and three from Australia, guide us in constructing a trust checklist. The checklist assembles information from the original observers and their observations to the current transcribers and transcription approaches they use. Nineteen elements are generated to help future data rescue projects answer the question of whether resources should be devoted to rescuing historical meteorological material under consideration

    Enlisting Students to Transcribe Historical Climate and Weather Data For Research: Building Knowledge Translation Via Classroom-Based Citizen Science

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    DRAW (Data Rescue: Archives & Weather) is a citizen science project that asks the Canadian public to take part in transcribing millions of meteorological observations recorded between 1871 and 1963 at McGill UniversityÔÇÖs Observatory in Montreal, Quebec, which was demolished in 1963. We examine how classroom-based curricula can integrate citizen science so youth can learn more about their community via engagement with the local history of weather conditions and impacts. Conducted in March 2018, this research examined knowledge translation during a three-week course module through written reflections, classroom video footage, exit interviews, and a final group research assignment. We worked with 21 studentsÔÇö16- to 20-year-olds enrolled in a social science research methods course at Dawson College, a two-year coll├Ęge d\u27enseignement g├ęn├ęral et professionnel (college of general and vocational education) that attracts local students and is a funded part of education in the province of Quebec. We found knowledge translation was facilitated by student engagement with their communityÔÇÖs history and appreciation for aiding credible scientific research. Knowledge translation suffered from attempts to include archival records that could be difficult to find, access, and read. Our work showed that citizen science, as a vehicle for community engagement and scientific literacy, requires considerable contextualization, for example, the use of frequently asked questions, tutorials, and blogs for context, and historical context to ensure knowledge translation takes place

    From books to bytes: A new data rescue tool

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    Abstract Historical data provides observational information crucial to our understanding of the evolution of geophysical processes. However, there is a gap between predigital age observations, which are typically handwritten, and data that is discoverable and analysable. The data rescue protocols here address this gap, covering the information lifecycle from handwritten register pages to transcriptionÔÇÉready content, describing the historical data, the database design for the data rescue, and the development of an application design to transcribe the meteorological information directly from an image file to the database. The preparatory steps necessary to organize, curate, image, and structure the meteorological information, prior to transcribing the historical data, are outlined here in an integrated methodology. The initial organization, the development of an image file nomenclature to link the rescued data to the original source, and the description of a metadata schema to optimize the transcription application are all vital to the process of ensuring traceability and transparency in the data rescue process. Taken together, these steps describe best practices guidelines for similar projects. Although we designed the methodology and application to be used in any data rescue context, our particular concern was to accommodate the needs of citizen scientists. We thus focused on making our application easily maintained, flexible, direct to database, clear, and simple to use. Open Practices This article has earned an Open Data badge for making publicly available the digitallyÔÇÉshareable data necessary to reproduce the reported results. The data is available at https://citsci.geog.mcgill.ca. Learn more about the Open Practices badges from the Center for Open Science: https://osf.io/tvyxz/wiki

    Towards a more reliable historical reanalysis: improvements for version 3 of the Twentieth Century Reanalysis system

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    Historical reanalyses that span more than a century are needed for a wide range of studies, from understanding largeÔÇÉscale climate trends to diagnosing the impacts of individual historical extreme weather events. The Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR) Project is an effort to fill this need. It is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and is facilitated by collaboration with the international Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth initiative. 20CR is the first ensemble of subÔÇÉdaily global atmospheric conditions spanning over 100 years. This provides a best estimate of the weather at any given place and time as well as an estimate of its confidence and uncertainty. While extremely useful, version 2c of this dataset (20CRv2c) has several significant issues, including inaccurate estimates of confidence and a global sea level pressure bias in the midÔÇÉ19th century. These and other issues can reduce its effectiveness for studies at many spatial and temporal scales. Therefore, the 20CR system underwent a series of developments to generate a significant new version of the reanalysis. The version 3 system (NOAAÔÇÉCIRESÔÇÉDOE 20CRv3) uses upgraded data assimilation methods including an adaptive inflation algorithm; has a newer, higherÔÇÉresolution forecast model that specifies dry air mass; and assimilates a larger set of pressure observations. These changes have improved the ensembleÔÇÉbased estimates of confidence, removed spinÔÇÉup effects in the precipitation fields, and diminished the seaÔÇÉlevel pressure bias. Other improvements include more accurate representations of storm intensity, smaller errors, and largeÔÇÉscale reductions in model bias. The 20CRv3 system is comprehensively reviewed, focusing on the aspects that have ameliorated issues in 20CRv2c. Despite the many improvements, some challenges remain, including a systematic bias in tropical precipitation and timeÔÇÉvarying biases in southern highÔÇÉlatitude pressure fields

    The seeds of divergence: the economy of French North America, 1688 to 1760

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    Generally, Canada has been ignored in the literature on the colonial origins of divergence with most of the attention going to the United States. Late nineteenth century estimates of income per capita show that Canada was relatively poorer than the United States and that within Canada, the French and Catholic population of Quebec was considerably poorer. Was this gap long standing? Some evidence has been advanced for earlier periods, but it is quite limited and not well-suited for comparison with other societies. This thesis aims to contribute both to Canadian economic history and to comparative work on inequality across nations during the early modern period. With the use of novel prices and wages from QuebecÔÇöwhich was then the largest settlement in Canada and under French ruleÔÇöa price index, a series of real wages and a measurement of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are constructed. They are used to shed light both on the course of economic development until the French were defeated by the British in 1760 and on standards of living in that colony relative to the mother country, France, as well as the American colonies. The work is divided into three components. The first component relates to the construction of a price index. The absence of such an index has been a thorn in the side of Canadian historians as it has limited the ability of historians to obtain real values of wages, output and living standards. This index shows that prices did not follow any trend and remained at a stable level. However, there were episodes of wide swingsÔÇömostly due to wars and the monetary experiment of playing card money. The creation of this index lays the foundation of the next component. The second component constructs a standardized real wage series in the form of welfare ratios (a consumption basket divided by nominal wage rate multiplied by length of work year) to compare Canada with France, England and Colonial America. Two measures are derived. The first relies on a ÔÇťbare bonesÔÇŁ definition of consumption with a large share of land-intensive goods. This measure indicates that Canada was poorer than England and Colonial America and not appreciably richer than France. However, this measure overestimates the relative position of Canada to the Old World because of the strong presence of land-intensive goods. A second measure is created using a ÔÇťrespectableÔÇŁ definition of consumption in which the basket includes a larger share of manufactured goods and capital-intensive goods. This second basket better reflects differences in living standards since the abundance of land in Canada (and Colonial America) made it easy to achieve bare subsistence, but the scarcity of capital and skilled labor made the consumption of luxuries and manufactured goods (clothing, lighting, imported goods) highly expensive. With this measure, the advantage of New France over France evaporates and turns slightly negative. In comparison with Britain and Colonial America, the gap widens appreciably. This element is the most important for future research. By showing a reversal because of a shift to a different type of basket, it shows that Old World and New World comparisons are very sensitive to how we measure the cost of living. Furthermore, there are no sustained improvements in living standards over the period regardless of the measure used. Gaps in living standards observed later in the nineteenth century existed as far back as the seventeenth century. In a wider American perspective that includes the Spanish colonies, Canada fares better. The third component computes a new series for Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is to avoid problems associated with using real wages in the form of welfare ratios which assume a constant labor supply. This assumption is hard to defend in the case of Colonial Canada as there were many signs of increasing industriousness during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The GDP series suggest no long-run trend in living standards (from 1688 to circa 1765). The long peace era of 1713 to 1740 was marked by modest economic growth which offset a steady decline that had started in 1688, but by 1760 (as a result of constant warfare) living standards had sunk below their 1688 levels. These developments are accompanied by observations that suggest that other indicators of living standard declined. The flat-lining of incomes is accompanied by substantial increases in the amount of time worked, rising mortality and rising infant mortality. In addition, comparisons of incomes with the American colonies confirm the results obtained with wagesÔÇö Canada was considerably poorer. At the end, a long conclusion is provides an exploratory discussion of why Canada would have diverged early on. In structural terms, it is argued that the French colony was plagued by the problem of a small population which prohibited the existence of scale effects. In combination with the fact that it was dispersed throughout the territory, the small population of New France limited the scope for specialization and economies of scale. However, this problem was in part created, and in part aggravated, by institutional factors like seigneurial tenure. The colonial origins of French AmericaÔÇÖs divergence from the rest of North America are thus partly institutional

    The Seeds of Divergence: The Economy of French North America, 1688 to 1760

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    Homogenisation of a Canadian surface pressure database

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    This paper describes the collection, checking and homogenisation of a Canadian atmospheric surface pressure database. The object of the exercise was to create a database of monthly mean surface pressure for as many stations as possible across Canada as far back in time as possible. Data sources included the World Weather Records, Monthly Climatic Data for the World Bulletins, the Global Historical Climate Network and the electronic meteorological report archives of Environment Canada. Much of the earlier data was in paper form and had to be digitized by hand. Over 66,000 individual mean monthly pressure values were obtained, with a missing value rate of 5.9%. The homogenisation procedures used were the Standard Normal Homogeneity Test (SNHT; Alexandersson and Moberg 1997) and Multiple Comparison Analysis (MCA; as used by Slonosky et al 1999). In addition, simple subtraction of sea-level pressure from station-level pressure revealed a major inhomogeneity which took place in 1977, when computer generated pressure reduction tables were used for the first time by the Meteorological Service of Canada, and when the meteorological reporting procedure was brought into alignment with the World Meteorological OrganisationÔÇÖs guidelines. As a result, the final homogenised database shows appreciable differences in trends compared to the unhomogenised series. The final database has been used by Slonosky & Graham (2003) in the statistical analysis of trends and variability of surface pressure across Canada during the 20th century. Published in Proceedings of Fourth seminar for homogenisation and quality control in climatological databases. Budapest, Hungary. 6-10, October 2003