International Environmental Data Rescue Organization
While persusing the booths at this year's annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, I stumbled across the International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO), and non-profit organization dedicated to saving old climate records throughout the world. I quickly signed up the Weather Underground to be a financial supporter, and urge those of you interested to contribute to this worthwhile charity!
IEDRO works primarily in third-world countries such as Kenya, Malawi, and the Dominican Republic. They hire and train local people to scan in paper climate records using a digital camera. The data are then keyed into a computer in comma-delimited format, burned onto a CD-ROM, and sent via
courier from the local U.S. embassy directly to the U.S. The final CD-ROMs end up at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).
In many of the countries IEDRO works in, the old climate records are literally molding away in old cardboard boxes. These records often have decayed into non-legibility. So, IEDRO is in a race against time to save the data before they are permanently lost. With the issue of climate change quickly emerging as one of the most important scientific challenges of all time to solve, as much historical data as possible needs to be saved so that we can better see where climate change might be occurring. IEDRO also provides employment to third-world workers who typically desperately need jobs, so IEDRO's efforts have a double benefit.
Dr. Rick Crouthamel of IEDRO describes how the workers they hire digitize data, using the digital camera on the stand behind him.
My next blog will be Friday.