300-year-old ship journals to help understand climate change 

Lara Bodger
June 28th, 2022

This article is more than 2 years old.

The National Archives has over 700 meters of shelf space worth of journals just waiting to be investigated

There are ample pages of history to sift through (photo: Rigsarkivet)

The National Archives and the Danish Meteorological Institute are joining forces to digitise 300-year-old ship journals to understand how the climate is changing. 

The records may be old and battered but they hold detailed information on past weather conditions. 

And there are a lot of them. The records take up over 700 metres of shelf space, according to the National Archives.

“We owe the Danish sailors a lot because the ship journals are a gold mine in terms of knowledge about weather conditions over a long historical period,” said Adam Jon Kronegh, an archiver with the National Archives.

READ ALSO: Birdsong’s getting louder: Why increasing numbers are making Denmark their home due to climate change

Immense interest already
The journals were written during voyages made around the world – with the oldest record dating back to 1675. 

The organisations will compare past weather events to predict weather events, helping us to understand climate change and what to expect in the future. 

“They relate, for example, to weather conditions in the Øresund region and Arctic areas – particularly in Greenland. The knowledge gleaned from the historical sources are unique in relation to uniformity and scope,” said Kronegh.

Kronegh said that there was already “great interest in using the journals in climate research, domestically as well as internationally”.

Read more about the initiative here (in Danish).


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