Articles | Volume 11, issue 8
Clim. Past, 11, 1027–1047, 2015
Clim. Past, 11, 1027–1047, 2015

Research article 06 Aug 2015

Research article | 06 Aug 2015

A collection of sub-daily pressure and temperature observations for the early instrumental period with a focus on the "year without a summer" 1816

Y. Brugnara1,2, R. Auchmann1,2, S. Brönnimann1,2, R. J. Allan3, I. Auer4, M. Barriendos5, H. Bergström6, J. Bhend7, R. Brázdil8,9, G. P. Compo10, R. C. Cornes11, F. Dominguez-Castro12,13, A. F. V. van Engelen14, J. Filipiak15, J. Holopainen16, S. Jourdain17, M. Kunz18, J. Luterbacher19, M. Maugeri20, L. Mercalli21, A. Moberg22,23, C. J. Mock24, G. Pichard25, L. Řezníčková8,9, G. van der Schrier14, V. Slonosky26, Z. Ustrnul27, M. A. Valente28, A. Wypych27, and X. Yin29 Y. Brugnara et al.
  • 1Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 3Hadley Centre, Met Office, Exeter, Devon, UK
  • 4ZAMG (Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics), Vienna, Austria
  • 5Department of Modern History, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • 6Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 7Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 8Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 9Global Change Research Centre, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 10University of Colorado Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the Physical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 11CRU (Climatic Research Unit), School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 12Department of Physics, Universidad de Extremadura, Badajoz, Spain
  • 13Departamento de Ingenieríia Civil y Ambiental, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito, Ecuador
  • 14KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute), De Bilt, the Netherlands
  • 15Institute of Geography, University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland
  • 16Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 17Météo-France, Direction de la Climatologie, Toulouse, France
  • 18Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 19Department of Geography, Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
  • 20Università degli Studi di Milano, Department of Physics, Milan, Italy
  • 21SMI (Società Meteorologica Italiana), Turin, Italy
  • 22Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 23Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 24Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA
  • 25Department of History, Université Aix-Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, France
  • 26McGill University, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Montreal, Montreal, Canada
  • 27Jagiellonian University, Department of Climatology, Cracow, Poland
  • 28Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 29ERT, Inc., Asheville, NC, USA

Abstract. The eruption of Mount Tambora (Indonesia) in April 1815 is the largest documented volcanic eruption in history. It is associated with a large global cooling during the following year, felt particularly in parts of Europe and North America, where the year 1816 became known as the "year without a summer". This paper describes an effort made to collect surface meteorological observations from the early instrumental period, with a focus on the years of and immediately following the eruption (1815–1817). Although the collection aimed in particular at pressure observations, correspondent temperature observations were also recovered. Some of the series had already been described in the literature, but a large part of the data, recently digitised from original weather diaries and contemporary magazines and newspapers, is presented here for the first time. The collection puts together more than 50 sub-daily series from land observatories in Europe and North America and from ships in the tropics. The pressure observations have been corrected for temperature and gravity and reduced to mean sea level. Moreover, an additional statistical correction was applied to take into account common error sources in mercury barometers. To assess the reliability of the corrected data set, the variance in the pressure observations is compared with modern climatologies, and single observations are used for synoptic analyses of three case studies in Europe. All raw observations will be made available to the scientific community in the International Surface Pressure Databank.

Short summary
A data set of instrumental pressure and temperature observations for the early instrumental period (before ca. 1850) is described. This is the result of a digitisation effort involving the period immediately after the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, combined with the collection of already available sub-daily time series. The highest data availability is therefore for the years 1815 to 1817. An analysis of pressure variability and of case studies in Europe is performed for that period.