British Science Week 2019 is in full swing and we’re thrilled to see so many of you getting involved. To date, over 1,000 of you have registered to help classify old weather records as part of our citizen science project, Operation Weather Rescue.

Last week, we released research which revealed that on average, Brits spend the equivalent of a full working day thinking about, talking about, or checking the weather every week. That’s a full eight hours a week. We hope for British Science Week we can convert some of that brain time into action; namely, classifying old weather records to help researchers understand past weather patterns while helping to predict future climates!

By dedicating just ten minutes of your day, you can help gather data sets that would otherwise take researchers months, or even years.

That’s why we’re asking you to rally up your colleagues and join our ‘hump day half-hour’ citizen science challenge!

All you need to do is log on to at midday today (Wednesday 13 March) and

  • Choose a location or click ‘CLASSIFY’ in the top-right corner
  • read the instructions in the pop-up box and when you get to the end select ‘Let’s Go!’
  • spend 15-30mins being a citizen scientist and digitising data to tackle climate change
  • let us know you participated by tagging #WeatherRescue and #BSW19 on social media

 Can you take 15 minutes out of your day to help us?

Professor Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading and NCAS, who is the project lead for Operation Weather Rescue, says: “Hundreds of volunteers have already helped us classify 220,000 number of weather records. This data is currently unknown to climate scientists and will help improve our understanding of weather variations. By taking just a few minutes out of their day, people can contribute to real scientific research in a meaningful and tangible way.”

Why we need your help

One of the biggest challenges that researchers face is access to historical data sets – there are millions of pages of data held in archives around the world that have never been digitised. By understanding the patterns in this historic weather, scientists can build a more accurate picture and look at implications for climate change today.

If we can better understand how the weather has already changed, we’ll be able to better predict what’s coming – and we need as many records as possible to do that. By analysing some of the most severe weather events that occurred in the past, we can improve our understanding of the range of possible weather we might expect to see in future.

Where we’ve got to so far

There’s 2.5 million pieces of information between the years of 1860 and 1880 that we need your help digitising. So far, we’ve got through 222,000 classifications which is just under 10% of our total target.

We’re currently working through two-year batches of data at a time. Once a batch has been completed, it’s removed from the website and the progress bar goes back to zero. If you’d like to see up-to-date stats on how the project is doing, you can find them here.

You can see the up to date numbers on the stats page

The history

Following the 1859 shipwreck of a Royal Charter Ship which resulted in 400 deaths, Vice Admiral Robert Fitzroy posed the idea that similar losses could be avoided if we could foresee such storms. As the head of Met Office, he dispatched weather instruments to all corners of the UK and asked meteorologists to send him observations every day.

He gathered these observations and made forecasts – the very first of their kind, in 1861.

These observations were hand-written and were never digitised, until now. Which is why we need your help.

By looking back in time, researchers can better predict future weather patterns

Find out more and get involved at and on social media with #WeatherRescue #BSW19.

Find out more about British Science Week here.