Uzbekistan rescues historical meteorological and hydrological data

Uzbekistan rescues historical meteorological and hydrological data



1 August 2017

Uzhydromet briefs international organizations about its data rescue project

Uzhydromet Briefs International Organizations about Its Data Rescue Project

The national meteorological and hydrological service of Uzbekistan, Uzhydromet, has converted more than 4 million pages of hydrometeorological observational data into digital images under a a data restoration project funded by the Korea Meteorological Administration as part of an international World Meteorological campaign to preserve important historical records.

As at the end of July 2017, Uzhydromet has imaged around one fifth of the data pages, estimated at a total of about 18 million pages. For Uzhydromet, rescuing data recorded on paper is a high-priority given that the historical records go back to 1860s. If lost, the data would be lost forever.

Representatives of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Embassy accepted the invitation of Uzhydromet to join a meeting on 28 July in the capital Tashkent with the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to review progress.

Mr. Ihncheol Seong, Director of KMA International Cooperation Division, expressed his appreciation with the substantial progress achieved in the project only after two years into implementation. 

“We take great pride in seeing the skill and dedication of Uzhydromet staff. They are extremely committed in processing the rescue of valuable historical hydrological and meteorological data.  Most importantly, the success of the project is attributable to the leadership of Uzhydromet.  They have taken ownership of the project and kept it moving forward,” he said.

The next phase will be digitization of the images to allow that information previously locked away in papers stored in the archive at Uzhydromet become available to researchers, decision makers, international organizations and other stakeholders who need the data for their work.

Once imported into databases for modeling and forecasting, Uzhydromet will be able to better assist for example agricultural planning, water resource management, civil engineering and construction, as well as for economic sectors such as tourism.

“It is amazing work”, said Claire Thomas, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent while attending the event.  “We all realize the importance of long term data in scientific research but to see weather observations collected since the 1860s rescued is remarkable”

KMA reaffirmed its commitment to Uzhydromet and the project.  “As sponsors of this project, we have reviewed the progress of work undertaken and we believe it is important to continue our financial, administrative, and technical assistance in keeping this project moving forward” said Mr. Seong.

More than 20 staff members from Uzhydromet joined the event, including the skilled workers who do the day-to-day rescue operations.

“We believe this work will lead to good and lasting services by Uzhydromet for the people of Uzbekistan,” said Dr. Natalya Agaltseva, Head of Department of Projects Preparation and Monitoring at Uzhydromet. “And we feel very grateful for the support given to us by KMA and the WMO.”

The system and processes were designed by the International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO) to allow high-quality images to be obtained without harming the original paper records.  “Everything from our custom-built camera stands to the network and storage was designed specifically for rescuing data for Uzhydromet,” said Mr. Randy McCracken, Project Manager with IEDRO.  “Our partnership with Uzhydromet is a top priority, and we believe this data rescue work can be a model for other institutions in Central Asia and around the world.”

Overseeing the project, Ms. Ayşe Altunoğlu, Head, Project Coordination Unit at WMO, expressed her gratitude for the cooperation among all partners of the project. “We have assembled an excellent team.  From our Korean and American partners to special advisors from Bulgaria we have brought together experts to create a remarkable system. The system, once completed with the digitization component, will enable Uzbekistan to share hydrometeorological data nationally and regionally.

Moving forward, this data rescue operation is on track to complete this first phase of data rescue in 16 months - providing this operation has funding to maintain staff and equipment. Additional funding is also needed for the critical phase of digitization.

WMO has a long-running campaign to support climate data rescue given that reliable records of historical climate is vital to understanding and preparing for present and future climate change.

WMO Guidelines on Best Practices for Climate Data Rescue available here.
Details of the WMO Data Rescue project in Uzbekistan are available here.  
Details of IEDRO activities are available here.

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