Help us uncover important weather records hidden in the log books of ships that sailed the seas around Australia in the 1890s and 1900s. Weather Detective is seeking the assistance of citizen scientists to search through old ships’ log books for weather observations and – using a simple web interface – transcribe those observations into a global database of weather over the centuries.  

You can do it ALL from the comfort of your lounge room. All you need is a computer or tablet and a connection to the internet.


Citizen science

Weather Detective is an online citizen science project undertaken by ABC Science in conjunction with the University of Southern Queensland as part of National Science Week 2014.

Anyone can join in – you don’t need to be a scientist! Throughout the month of August we’ll asking for your help with transcribing weather observations from old ships’ log books. We’re taking a crowd-sourcing approach to reduce this workload and ask regular folk to get involved and help the scientists with their research work.

This crowd-sourcing approach is called ‘citizen science’ – it’s about using the power of the people to increase the breadth of science by gathering or processing information important to a scientific project.

>More on ‘the science

How it works


To take part in ‘Weather Detective’ you first need to register with your details, including a valid email address and a password.

Schools can also join in – an adult just needs to register for the group (‘how do I get my school involved?’).


Before you start finding weather information in the log books we’ll take you through a quick tutorial on what to do. You can return to this tutorial later if you need to refresh your knowledge or have any questions.

Follow the instructions in the tutorial on how to tag and transcribe weather observations in the log books. We’ll keep track of how many images you’ve done so you can chart your progress.

Enter the competition

Once you’ve transcribed 20 observations you’re eligible to enter the competition to win a tablet device. There is a separate prize for school groups and your school group will need to transcribe 50 observations to be eligible to enter the school’s competition.
>More on the competition

Keep going!

You can come back anytime to transcribe more observations and we’d love it if you do!

The team

Weather Detective is a collaboration between ABC Science and the University of Southern Queensland
>More on the Scientific team

Project produced by Kylie Andrews (ABC Science)
Technical production by Leonie Wilson and Ryan Sabir (Bitcraft)
Design by Julie Ramsden

Weather Detective was funded under the Inspiring Australia program.


John William's missionary ship is one of the many ships the log books for Weather Detective have come from.
John William’s missionary ship is just one of many ships whose log books will be looked at in Weather Detective.
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