Citizen scientists needed to unearth historic weather records to help predict future climate

8 March 2019

Operation Weather Rescue needs you!

As part of British Science Week 2019, NERC is funding a citizen science project that will rescue weather data to help scientists predict the future climate.

Historic weather map

Operation Weather Rescue is run by a team of meteorologists and climate scientists who want to build a legacy of environmental information that will contribute to new discoveries and answer questions about our weather and changing climate. One of the biggest challenges that researchers face is access to historical data sets - there are millions of weather records in books archived around the world that have never been scanned or manually entered into a computer.

For this project, scientists have identified 2·5 million meteorological measurements made by the UK Met Office between the years of 1860 and 1880 that they need the public to help them digitise.

Without the public's contribution to digitising these records it would take the research team years to enter the information themselves. Operation Weather Rescue uses the tried and tested method of people power, drawing on invaluable help from members of the public by asking them to enter pieces of historical weather information into their online database.

Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), who is the project lead for Operation Weather Rescue, said:

It's a great opportunity for the public to contribute to real scientific research. As the world warms, the data will provide a baseline to help us measure weather changes and monitor climate change, which will have impacts for people, communities and environments across the world.

The team includes NERC-funded researchers from the University of Reading who will use the data entered by the public to better examine storms and unusual weather events in the future. The project is funded by NERC and supported by NCAS. The original images which have been scanned are from the Met Office.

In 2017, NERC funded the first Operation Weather Rescue project, which aimed to unearth two million pieces of lost weather data gathered more than 100 years ago on the summit of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. For British Science Week, this year the project will focus on the very earliest weather records produced in the UK.

Find out more and get involved at the Weather Rescue website - external link. Share your questions and updates on Twitter using #WeatherRescue - external link - and #BSW19 - external link -.

Further information

Karen Christian
Digital Communications
01793 411568


1. NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

2. The National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) is a world leading research centre dedicated to the advancement of atmospheric science, funded by NERC. NCAS carries out research in air pollution, climate and high-impact weather, and long-term global changes in atmospheric composition and climate, and provides the UK community with state-of-the-art technologies for observing and modelling the atmosphere. These include a research aircraft, advanced ground-based observational facilities, computer modelling and support, and facilities for storing and analysing data. NCAS play a significant and influential role in many international science programmes and provide the UK with advice, leadership and national capability in atmospheric science.