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Making Global Weather Records Available

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Thundery wintry showers

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http://www.nzherald.co.nz/science/news/article.cfm?c_id=82&objectid=10565358

I see that according to this link, there's a project to make the world's weather records freely available on the internet. I can see a lot of advantages behind this, including the points made on the site. It may make it easier to get access to all climate data for use in climate change analysis (such as for the IPCC reports) and studying of local climates to help identify hazards and recurrence of extreme events.

The points about curiosity about past weather events should not be overlooked. I'm always on the lookout for North East weather data from the period 1993 onwards to see how other nearby sites' observations differed from my own observations for Cleadon, plus it would be interesting to finally see what the weather was doing on June 22nd 1984 for example.

In addition it would help clear up all of the arguments surrounding availablility of the climate data that is used by various climate scientists, as I quite often see the scientists getting flak for hiding data when really it's more of a copyright issue.

Talking of copyright, that's the one disadvantage of making these records freely available. Do weather companies make much in the way of money by making them available only commercially, and does this help the weather community as a whole? I'm not knowledgeable enough on the rights and wrongs of this to know the true answers to that- plus I have vested (mainly curiosity-based) interests in it, but it's clear that this will be the main barrier to making records freely available.

One feasible middle ground for those worried about copyrights and revenues could be to make records freely available for non-commercial use only, or Philip Eden's method of restricting the use of long quotations without permission, or quotation without acknowledging the source.

On a related note, I'm currently doing a major redesign of the "Cleadon Weather Records" section of my website, where I will soon be uploading a new revised version which will hopefully look more professional and user-friendly and contain a bit more information on the observational side (a section on "significant events" for each month). This approach is inspired partly by an article of Philip Eden's in "Weather" where he correctly points out that the recent move towards automated weather stations is coming at the expense of traditional observational diaries. I'm aware that one day, these records could potentially be of use to people, and I am happy to employ a similar approach to what Philip himself does with making his weather records available.
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