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Early instrumental meteorological measurements in Switzerland

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Pfister Lucas, Hupfer Franziska, Brugnara Yuri, Munz Lukas, Villiger Leonie, Meyer Lukas, Schwander Mikhaël, Isotta Francesco Alessandro, Rohr Christian, Brönnimann Stefan,
Project Swiss Early Instrumental Measurements for Studying Decadal Climate Variability (CHIMES)
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Climate of the Past
Volume (Issue) 15(4)
Page(s) 1345 - 1361
Title of proceedings Climate of the Past
DOI 10.5194/cp-15-1345-2019

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Abstract. The decadal variability of weather and its extremes are still poorly understood. This is partly due to the scarcity of records, which, for many parts of the world, only allow for studies of 20th century weather. However, the 18th and early 19th centuries saw some pronounced climatic variations, with equally pronounced impacts on the environment and society. Considerable amounts of weather data are available even for that time but have not yet been digitised. Given recent progress in the quantitative reconstruction of subdaily weather, such data could form the basis of weather reconstructions. In Switzerland, measurements before 1864 (the start of the national network) have never been systematically compiled except for three prominent series (Geneva, Basel, Great St. Bernard Pass). Here we provide an overview of early instrumental meteorological measurements in Switzerland resulting from an archive survey. Our inventory encompasses 334 entries from 206 locations, providing an estimated 3640 station years and reaching back to the early 18th century. Most of the data sheets have been photographed and a considerable fraction is undergoing digitisation. This paper accompanies the online publication of the imaged data series and metadata. We provide a detailed inventory of the series, discuss their historical context, and provide the photographed data sheets. We demonstrate their usefulness on behalf of two historical cases and show how they complement the existing series in Europe. If similar searches in other countries yield similarly rich results, an extension of daily weather reconstructions for Europe back to the 1760s is possible.