from the ball-bearing-ink-smears dept.
Pickens writes "The BBC reports that researchers are digitizing the captains' logs from the voyages of Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle, Captain Cook from HMS Discovery, Captain Bligh from The Bounty, and 300 other 18th and 19th century ships' logbooks to provide historical climate records for modern-day climate researchers who will use the meteorological data to build up a picture of weather patterns in the world at the beginning of the industrial era. The researchers are cross-referencing the data with historical records for crop failures, droughts and storms and will compare it with data for the modern era in order to predict similar events in the future. 'The observations from the logbooks on wind force and weather are astonishingly good and often better than modern logbooks,' says Climatologist Dr. Dennis Wheeler from the University of Sunderland. 'Of course the sailors had to be conscientious. The thought that you could hit a reef was a great incentive to get your observations absolutely right!' The logbooks will be online next year at the UK's National Archives."