Online database will help researchers, government planners prepare for natural disasters
BERN, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss national weather service, MeteoSwiss, and the University of Bern have brought online more than 125,000 historical data on weather, climate and natural disasters housed in a database called Euro-Climhist, the first such DB, unique in the world, according to Bern. Euro-Climhist is designed to become a European-wide database. It was presented 3 May in Bern.
The Centre Oeschger at the university with support from the Swiss GCOS (Global Climate Observing System) Office has been gathering a wealth of information from sources such as public and private chronicles, books kept by public institutions such as hospitals that date back to the Middle Ages.
The result is a database that covers 1550-1864, when Switzerland began official weather recordings.
The centre “has been working intensely in recent years to systematically collect the data, run quality control checks and safeguard digitally these documents,” says MeteoSwiss points out in a press release.
Floods such as those in 2005 that caused CHF3 billion in damage provide information that, compared to similar disasters in the past, can help governments plan to better protect their populations, but such data can also be useful in evaluating the safety of nuclear power plants. Risk experts, climatology researchers but also insurance companies calculate risks based on the long-term picture of the frequency of extreme natural disasters.
Accurate and regular reporting of data became accessible only with the arrival of measuring instruments in the second half of the 19th century