Why we need old weather data

When people ask me what I do here, my standard response is “Soy investigadora, en el Centro de Cambio Climatic”. Most people take this to mean that I work with the political and economic solutions required to solve the diabolical problem of climate change (which they then quiz me about), but sadly this is not true.

I work with old weather.

Yep, old numbers. Historical weather observations taken up to 250 years ago. I find them, digitise them, and check them to see how reliable they are.

When I occasionally manage to explain this in my basic Spanish, people generally look disappointed, confused, and then they slink away.

Recovering old weather data is not at the “coal face” of climate change research (haha, pun), and many people may think that it’s not really important for helping us figure out how we are going to manage the future.

How wrong they are!Read More »

Rea-whatnow?

Disclaimer: This is my first attempt at a grandma-friendly explanation of one of the key instruments in a climate scientist’s bag: climate reanalyses.

connectthedot

My new job is all about finding weather observations that can feed into things called reanalyses. A reanalysis product is a massive dataset that can be used to recreate how we think the weather and climate behaved. Having this kind of ‘guess-timate’ of the recent atmosphere helps scientists learn more about how weather patterns form and decay, different ways that the atmosphere is responding to climate change, and all sorts of cool  ways to understand how the weather works. Reanalyses are used to study things like extreme weather events, improving weather forecasting, how climate change is affecting the atmosphere, and sun, wind and rain availability for renewable energy and agriculture.

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