Unearthed Victorian weather data reveals brand new rainfall records

The Rainfall Rescue project saw 16,000 members of the public digitise millions of records from the Victorian era.

Rainfall rescue project reveals previously unknown rainfall records for Scotland iStock

Several Scottish weather records have been changed after brand new data surfaced from 5.2 million previously unrecorded observations.

The Rainfall Rescue project, which began in March 2020, was organised by the University of Reading and offered members of the public the opportunity to digitally transcribe 130 years worth of handwritten observations.

A distraction from the pandemic for many, the call out saw more than 16,000 volunteers sign up to digitise millions of records in just 16 days.

On Friday, the results of the records were made available to the public. 

Professor Ed Hakwins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, and the founder of the Rainfall Rescue project said: “Thanks to the hard work of the volunteers, we now have detailed accounts of the amount of rain that fell, back to 1836.

“As well as being a fascinating glimpse into the past, the new data allows a longer and more detailed picture of variations in monthly rainfall.”

As a direct result of the project, there are several “new” records for Scotland. Previously the driest year on record was 1870 with 1089mm of rain, but it is now 1855 which had 954mm of rainfall.

Originally our driest Spring was in 1980 (150mm) however it is now 1852 (109mm) and our driest Autumn was originally in 1937 (233mm) but thanks to the new records it is now 1851 (220mm).

The new records will help new scientific research and increase our understanding of rainfall, extremes, and flood risks across the country.

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