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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-2019-26
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-26
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Mar 2019

Research article | 14 Mar 2019

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

Swiss Early Instrumental Meteorological Measurements

Lucas Pfister1,2, Franziska Hupfer1,2, Yuri Brugnara1,2, Lukas Munz1,2, Leonie Villiger1,2, Lukas Meyer1,2, Mickhaël Schwander1,2, Francesco Alessandro Isotta3, Christian Rohr1,4, and Stefan Brönnimann1,2 Lucas Pfister et al.
  • 1Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4Institute of History, University of Bern, Switzerland

Abstract. Decadal variability of weather and its extremes is still poorly understood. This is partly due to the shortness of records, which, for many parts of the world, only allow studies of 20th century weather. However, the 18th and early 19th century have seen some pronounced climatic variations, with equally pronounced impacts on the environment and society. Considerable amounts of weather data are available even for that time, but have not yet been digitised. Given the recent progress in quantitative reconstruction of sub-daily weather, such data could form the basis of weather reconstructions. In Switzerland, measurements before 1864 (the start of the national network) have never been systematically compiled except for three prominent series (Geneva, Basel, Great St. Bernard Pass). Here we provide an overview of early instrumental meteorological measurements in Switzerland resulting from an archive survey. Our inventory encompasses 335 entries from 206 locations, providing an estimated 3640 station years and reaching back to the early 18th century. Most of the data sheets have been photographed and a considerable fraction is undergoing digitisation. This paper accompanies the online publication of the imaged data series and metadata. We provide a detailed inventory of the series, discuss their historical context and provide the photographed data sheets. We demonstrate their usefulness on behalf of two historical cases and show how they complement the existing series in Europe. If similar searches in other countries yield similarly rich results, an extension of daily weather reconstructions for Europe back to the 1760s is possible.

Lucas Pfister et al.
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Short summary
The 18th and early 19th century have seen pronounced climatic variations with large impacts on environment and society. Although instrumental meteorological data for that period exist, only a small fraction has been subject of research. This study provides an overview of early instrumental meteorological records in Switzerland resulting from an archive survey and demonstrates the great potential of such data. It is accompanied by the online publication of the imaged data series and metadata.
The 18th and early 19th century have seen pronounced climatic variations with large impacts on...
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