The price of data

In climate research, scientists are confronted with a problem apparently trivial, but in reality incredibly complex: How to get historical weather observations to study climate? The world is covered by thousands of weather stations - it has been for more than a century - yet the collection and distribution of their measurements is not officially coordinated at international level. Scientists regularly need to ask single station managers (e.g., national meteorological institutes) for data. The answer is not always positive, the data may be subjected to use restrictions that can hamper their scientific value, or have a monetary cost. Even in the best scenario, collecting them this way can turn out to be an extremely time-consuming effort.

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The numbers tell the tale

“I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” This quote from Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson captures the central idea of EUSTACE. A clear view on the historic perspective of climate change and climate variability, including the climatic extremes, is essential for understanding how and why the temperature of the earth changes. So far, so good – but the point of this blog is not to confirm the view on the necessity to collect and understand observational data. In this blog, we would like to take you to the situation where data is not yet collected. How to get to the situation where one has data? And can we trust this data? Uncovering and understanding observational data – especially when it is not data from the most recent period – requires skills which would suit a detective!

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Presenting the EUSTACE project at the Climateurope-festival

From April 5-7, 2017 the Climateurope festival was organized in Valencia, Spain. Climateurope aims at, among others, to coordinate and integrate on-going and future European climate modelling,  climate observations and  climate service infrastructure initiatives. Since I’m involved in both EUSTACE and Climateurope I took the opportunity to present EUSTACE at this festival at the “Market place”. The weather was really pleasant in Valencia, therefore this “market place” was outside in “Las Naves”, not far from the harbor. During lunch and coffee breaks the participants enjoyed the good Valencian food and also took the opportunity to get information on the various projects presented. I had some nice talks with people from among others Spain and who didn’t know our EUSTACE project yet. The publicly available time series on daily temperatures is relatively limited for Spain, and EUSTACE could be an alternative source for temperature data for them.

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