Innovative Climate Tracking Initiative Launched – Old Weather: Whaling

Museum Whaleship Journals Used to Uncover Weather Patterns Throughout the Centuries

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.  – Today marks the official launch of Old Weather: Whaling, a crowd-sourced research initiative that will help scientists analyze historical data from whaling logbooks, in an effort to improve the collective understanding of long-term climate variability and weather patterns, from the 19th century into the future.

Old Weather: Whaling is the sister project of Old Weather, a successful ongoing project led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the University of Washington and Zooniverse, the citizen science web portal. Similar to the original Old Weather, Old Weather: Whaling (OWW) is about citizens extracting historic weather measurements and other data from ship logs. However, OWW offers particular focus on observations of sea ice, which many whaling ships sailed through and documented while navigating Arctic waters.

“The Whaling Museum is honored to play an integral role in this historic research initiative - especially given the magnitude of its potential for contributing to the body of knowledge on climate patterns,” said Michael Lapides, Curator of Digital Initiatives. The Museum has contributed the project’s original data sources (logbooks and journals) along with Providence Public Library, the Nantucket Historical Association, Martha’s Vineyard Museum, Mystic Seaport, and the New Bedford Free Public Library. Weather and sea-ice data from these sources will be transcribed via the Old Weather project and integrated into existing global data sets. High-resolution images of historical documents, extracted data, and related research products will be provided to project partners and collaborators, and freely available online.


The crowd-sourcing model of Old Weather allows for any and all to become citizen scientists and contribute to the initiative.  “Volunteer citizen-scientists who join Old Weather can make real contributions to our understanding of one of the most important scientific questions of our time,” said Kevin Wood, a climate scientist with NOAA and the University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere (who helped develop the Old Weather Project). “The data that volunteers extract from logbooks will drive climate and sea-ice models, which will assist in future climate predictions.”

For more information or to become a citizen scientist, visit


Michael Lapides, New Bedford Whaling Museum

Monica Allen, NOAA communications


About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales and the history and culture of the South Coast. For more information visit