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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-155
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2018-155
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Nov 2018

Research article | 13 Nov 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Extracting Weather Information from a Plantation Document

Gregory Burris, Jane Washburn, Omar Lasheen, Sophia Dorribo, James B. Elsner, and Ronald E. Doel Gregory Burris et al.
  • Florida State University, 113 Collegiate Loop, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA

Abstract. The authors introduce a method for extracting weather and climate data from a historical plantation document. They demonstrate the method on a document from Shirley Plantation in Virginia (USA) covering the period 1816–1842. They show how the resulting data are organized into a spreadsheet that includes direct weather observations and information on various cultivars. They then give two examples showing how the data can be used for climate studies. The first example is a comparison of spring onset between the plantation era and the modern era. Modern median final spring freeze event (for the years 1943–2017) is occurring a week earlier than the historical median (for the years 1822–1839). The second analysis involves developing an index for mid-summer temperatures from the timing of first malaria-like symptoms in the plantation population each year. The median day when these symptoms would begin occurring in the modern period is a month and a half earlier than the median day they occurred in the historical period. The authors suggest that this type of local weather information from historical archives, either direct from observations or indirect from phenophase timing, can be useful toward a more complete understanding of climates of the past.

Gregory Burris et al.
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Status: open (until 09 Jan 2019)
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Gregory Burris et al.
Gregory Burris et al.
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Short summary
Historical documents are full of untapped data on past climate conditions. Our paper sets out a method for extracting this information into a database that is easily utilized by climate scientists. We apply this method a document from the Shirley Plantation covering the years 1816–1842. We then provide two case studies to demonstrate the validity and utility of the new method and database.
Historical documents are full of untapped data on past climate conditions. Our paper sets out a...
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