National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

228,630 days at sea

Revenue Cutter Rush
November 04, 2015

The NOAA-National Archives logbook imaging project has now photographed more than 500,000 pages from historic ship's logbooks. This represents the daily work of generations of Navy, Coast Guard and Coast Survey officers over a total of 228,630 days at sea, in the Arctic and around the world. That's more than 600 years of experience. Their carefully recorded weather readings, and their descriptions of the world around, are written these logbooks, which constitute one of the largest unutilized reservoirs of Arctic marine-meteorological and environmental data in existence.

Weather and sea ice data being recovered by Old Weather citizen-scientists from these logbooks are used to drive sophisticated new retrospective analysis (reanalysis) systems at NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL) and at other research centers around the world. These reanalysis systems generate the most detailed reconstruction of the Earth’s atmosphere of the past two centuries yet produced. First-hand observations of sea ice from the logbooks will also give us a far more complete picture of what the Arctic ice pack was like before it began to disappear. Insight gained from recovered historical data will inform future understanding of the impact of Arctic and global climate change on ecosystems and society, and improve confidence in climate and sea ice projections.

This project is made possible by a novel collaboration between NOAA and the US National Archives, a number of other museums and libraries, Old Weather citizen-scientists, the UK Met Office, and several university research centers.