Friday, October 7, 2022

Study reveals previous local weather of Cape Town

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(high left) Location of Cape Town and the Castle (the place climate observations have been made for the day registers). (high proper) A “Perspective of the Castle of Good Hope, as seen from the Waterfront” by Jan Wittebol, ∼1680 (supply: Comprehensive Atlas, p. 26: Nationaal Archief, 4 VEL Record No. 830). (middel) A panorama of Cape Town and its environment as seen from the ocean (by Robert Jacob Gordon, 1778; supply: Rijksmuseum on-line digital useful resource library). (backside) A plan view dated to ∼1760–89 (cartographer unknown; supply: Comprehensive Atlas, p. 103. Nationaal Archief, 4, TOPO 15.72). Credit: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (2022). DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-21-0127.1

New insights into the historical past of South Africa’s local weather have been revealed.

In a mission that spanned seven years, the Tracing History Trust, with help from Cardiff University and Wits University, has digitized and transcribed the Dutch East India Company’s day registers which have been written between 1652 to 1791.

In the their first paper learning these information, printed within the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, authors reveal how folks have been affected by climate and local weather between 1773 and 1791.

The findings present there have been, on common, extra wet days on this interval than at any time since then. The information additionally reinforce what scientists already learn about growing temperatures over current centuries.

Dr. Mark Williams, based mostly on the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University, says that “while we know a lot about the historical climate of the Northern Hemisphere, much less has been studied on the Southern Hemisphere. That’s why the records from the Dutch East India Company are so invaluable and merit further investigation.”

“The quotidian data present in the day registers allows for a deeper analysis of the everyday lives of people in the Cape, and also the machinations of the colonial system. Often, what is included in the canons of ‘history’ are major political events and other flashpoints, but through the lens of the every day, over time we can see broader trends that have major environmental and social implications.”

“We can also see how weather and economic systems across geographies were interconnected. For instance, major volcanic eruptions affected the weather and climate in the Cape. And if there were monsoons in the Indian Ocean, or frozen conditions in the Atlantic Ocean, then trade was affected too.”

“Obviously, these detailed weather records were also a way for the colonial empires to have control over the movement of ships and thus the colonies as a whole.”

Professor Stefan Grab within the School of Geography, Archaeology & Environmental Studies at Wits University, says that “the day registers are an unprecedented record of South African history which spans many subjects such as daily weather conditions, economics, trade, and religion. In particular, the daily weather record is the most comprehensive of data, with no other forms of weather records (gleaned from organic matter for example) able to reveal such detailed information.”

“Back then the weather wouldn’t have been impacted as much by humans. We see that global warming has increased since the industrial revolution, and our research adds detail on how local weather and climate have changed in response to such warming.”

The publication of the paper coincides with the completion of the transcription of the day registers, masking virtually 140 years. These have been transferred to The Hague and can quickly be out there on-line.


South African colonial diaries are serving to local weather scientists reconstruct climate patterns of the previous


More data:
Stefan Grab et al, The Late-Eighteenth-Century Climate of Cape Town, South Africa, Based on the Dutch East India Company “Day Registers” (1773–91), Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (2022). DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-21-0127.1

Provided by
Cardiff University


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Study reveals previous local weather of Cape Town (2022, September 22)
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