Revisiting the early instrumental temperature records of Basel and Geneva

Brugnara, Yuri; Brönnimann, Stefan (2023). Revisiting the early instrumental temperature records of Basel and Geneva. Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 32(6), pp. 513-527. Borntraeger 10.1127/metz/2023/1191

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Basel and Geneva have two of the longest meteorological records in Switzerland, covering more than two and a half centuries. The respective monthly temperature series were published over 60 years ago and are part of todays main global temperature data sets. After digitizing the raw sub-daily measurements, we rebuilt the early instrumental part (i.e., before 1864) of the two series at daily resolution using modern methods and additional data sources that were not considered in previous efforts. A comparison with the old series and with other existing recontructions show a generally good agreement only for the last 30 years. Before the 1830s a few systematic differences appear, particularly in summer, suggesting that both new and old versions contain residual inhomogeneities. We use the new series together with other reconstructions to analyze the periods 1791–1807 and 1808–1824, which have been described, respectively, as a warm and cold period in summer in previous studies. Our results suggest that most existing instrumental data sets tend to overestimate summer temperature in Switzerland during the former period, confirming previous results based on proxy records. The overestimation is particularly large (almost 1 °C) in the old Geneva series. On the other hand, we find a probable systematic underestimation of summer temperature in our Basel series. Before the 1780s the agreement between existing reconstructions is poor, so that it is hardly possible to make confident statements about climate variability for the first few decades covered by the series. Nevertheless, the daily resolution of the data allows an insight into individual meteorological events such as cold spells and heat waves.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Brugnara, Yuri, Brönnimann, Stefan


900 History > 910 Geography & travel








Madina Susanna Vogt

Date Deposited:

07 Dec 2023 12:43

Last Modified:

07 Dec 2023 12:43

Publisher DOI:





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