DOCU-CLIM: A global documentary climate dataset for climate reconstructions

Angela-Maria Burgdorf, Stefan Brönnimann, George Adamson, Tatsuya Amano, Yasuyuki Aono, David Barriopedro, Teresa Bullón, Chantal Camenisch, Dario Camuffo, Valérie Daux, María Del rosario prieto, Petr Dobrovolný, David Gallego, Ricardo García-Herrera, Joelle Gergis, Stefan Grab, Matthew j. Hannaford, Jari Holopainen, Clare Kelso, Zoltán KernAndrea Kiss, Elaine Kuan-Hui lin, Neil j. Loader, Martin Možný, David Nash, Sharon e. Nicholson, Christian Pfister, Fernando s. Rodrigo, This Rutishauser, Sapna Sharma, Katalin Takács, Ernesto t. Vargas, Inmaculada Vega

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Documentary climate data describe evidence of past climate arising from predominantly written historical documents such as diaries, chronicles, newspapers, or logbooks. Over the past decades, historians and climatologists have generated numerous document-based time series of local and regional climates. However, a global dataset of documentary climate time series has never been compiled, and documentary data are rarely used in large-scale climate reconstructions. Here, we present the first global multi-variable collection of documentary climate records. The dataset DOCU-CLIM comprises 621 time series (both published and hitherto unpublished) providing information on historical variations in temperature, precipitation, and wind regime. The series are evaluated by formulating proxy forward models (i.e., predicting the documentary observations from climate fields) in an overlapping period. Results show strong correlations, particularly for the temperature-sensitive series. Correlations are somewhat lower for precipitation-sensitive series. Overall, we ascribe considerable potential to documentary records as climate data, especially in regions and seasons not well represented by early instrumental data and palaeoclimate proxies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number402
JournalScientific Data
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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