Unlocking Pre-1850 Instrumental Meteorological Records: A Global Inventory

Brönnimann, Stefan; Allan, Rob; Ashcroft, Linden; Baer, Saba; Barriendos, Mariano; Brázdil, Rudolf; Brugnara, Yuri; Brunet, Manola; Brunetti, Michele; Chimani, Barbara; Cornes, Richard; Domínguez-Castro, Fernando; Filipiak, Janusz; Founda, Dimitra; Herrera, Ricardo García; Gergis, Joelle; Grab, Stefan; Hannak, Lisa; Huhtamaa, Heli; Jacobsen, Kim S.; ... (2019). Unlocking Pre-1850 Instrumental Meteorological Records: A Global Inventory. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 100(12), ES389-ES413. American Meteorological Society 10.1175/BAMS-D-19-0040.1

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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.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Climatology
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History > Economic, Social and Environmental History

UniBE Contributor:

Brönnimann, Stefan; Baer, Saba Sabina; Brugnara, Yuri; Huhtamaa, Heli Maaria; Lundstad, Elin; Neukom, Raphael; Pfister, Lucas Martin; Reichenbach, Delia and Rohr, Christian


900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History




American Meteorological Society


[18] European Research Council ; [4] Swiss National Science Foundation ; [UNSPECIFIED] National Science Centre, Poland ; [UNSPECIFIED] BEIS U.K.–China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund ; [UNSPECIFIED] DAAD project ; [UNSPECIFIED] JPI-Climate/Belmont Forum ; [UNSPECIFIED] SustES-Adaptation Strategies for Sustainable Ecosystem Services and Food Security ; [UNSPECIFIED] Environment and Climate Change Canada ; [UNSPECIFIED] Junta of Extremadura ; [UNSPECIFIED] Spanish Government




André Hürzeler

Date Deposited:

20 Jan 2020 09:12

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:35

Publisher DOI:






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