The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism of Botswana has presented an award to the Department of Meteorological Services national data-rescue team in recognition of its outstanding work on imaging and digitizing old weather records. To date the team has imaged some 40 000 documents and digitized and quality checked 500 documents. The rescue of these invaluable data will assist scientists studying long-term climate trends in the region and empower national climate services to deliver more useful information and predictions.
Analog data repositories and archives, many of which go back decades or even centuries, are a critical source of climate and weather observations. Particularly in developing countries, there are huge paper databases that have still not been examined. Too many are at risk of being lost due to inadequate storage conditions or to other problems.
In Botswana, the recovery of this “data treasure” has been initiated by the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) initiative with support from the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Cooperation Mechanism (GCM) and WMO. One aim of the SASSCAL initiative is to support national meteorological services in southern African with data management and data rescue. The GCM was established to identify and make effective use of the resources available for improving climate observing systems in developing countries. In particular, it seeks to enable them to collect, exchange, and utilize data on a continuing basis to support implementation of the UN Climate Change Convention. In pursuance of the UNFCCC. It also promotes data rescue.
The Department of Meteorological Services (DMS) applied for financial support from the GCM for data rescue activities in late 2015. The funding made it possible to buy several shelves, one storage cabinet, one scanner, two digital cameras and other equipment. DMS staff members were trained by an expert from Germany’s National Meteorological Service (DWD) in data-rescue and archiving techniques. The data-rescue team then started to digitize and archive the approximately two million paper records estimated to exist at the DMS. It is expected to take some 50 person-years to complete the task.
WMO is supporting data rescue initiatives around the world through a long-running campaign led by the Expert Team Data Rescue (ET-DARE). It also promotes the protection of long-term weather observations through its Centennial Observing Stations initiative.