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Treasure trove of Royal Navy logbooks casts doubt on climate theory

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Whenever I mention the kindness, scientific curiosity or initiative of members of the Royal Navy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, my co-editor kindly reminds me that Captain Jack Aubrey is a fictional hero.

But author Patrick O'Brian's prodigious research into the thousands of logbooks kept by the Royal Navy shows him on mark again when he has Aubrey making countless scientific observations. This is hardly the most important aspect of the latest news, but it pleases me. The real news is this -

Scientists have uncovered a treasure trove of meteorological information contained in the detailed logs kept by those on board the vessels that established Britain's great seafaring traditition including those on Nelson's HMS Victory and Cook's HMS Endeavour.

Every Royal Naval ship kept a detailed record of climate including air pressure, wind strength, air and sea temperature and major meteorological disturbances.

A group of academics and Met Office scientists has unearthed the records dating from the 1600s and examined more than 6,000 logs, which have provided one of the world's best sources for long-term weather data.

Their studies have raised questions about modern climate change theories.

A paper by Dennis Wheeler, a geographer based at Sunderland University, recounts an increasing number of summer storms over Britain in the late 17th century.

The records also suggest that Europe saw a spell of rapid warming, similar to that experienced today, during the 1730s that must have been caused naturally. Many scientists believe that storms are caused by global warming, but these came during the so-called Little Ice Age that affected Europe from about 1600 to 1850. . .

British archives contain more than 100,000 Royal Navy logbooks between 1670 and 1850 alone. Their observations were taken around the entire world.

The real Royal Navy also abolished the slave trade and liberated slaves.

Comments (1)

Interesting story. Complete rubbish, I'm afraid.

Only one newspaper actually spoke to Wheeler, the Sunday Times. Their writeup is reasonably accurate (the above monstrosity is not):

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article4449527.ece

Later, Ben Goldacre spoke to Wheeler, who is pretty livid about the gross misrepresentation of his work by the denialist loonies:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/13/1

Lesson 1 about climate change denialism: denialists lie.

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