FAQ

Click on the questions to see the answers – or ask your own.

General

I don’t know how to be a weather detective

Finding and tagging the weather observations is not hard, but it’s important to get it right. That’s why we’ve included a tutorial as part of the signup process. You’ll need to go through the tutorial before you can actively start making weather observations. You can also watch the tutorial from ‘The Science’ page.

There are several unique challenges in reading old log books – the handwriting is a world away from our modern digital word! See some of the ‘handwriting’ help sections for more info.

If you need to refresh your skills you can watch the tutorial again at any time – just look for the link in the identifying tool.

How will I find out the results of our work?

You can stay in touch with any outcomes from Weather Detective by
FacebookABC Science and National Science Week
TwitterNatinoal Science Week and ABC Science
Email –  ABC Science Updates

Do I need to be a scientist to take part?

Definitely not – Weather Detective is aimed at citizens regardless of their experience with science. You just need to want to volunteer your time.

Can people from outside Australia participate?

Anyone in the whole world can help make weather observations. Unfortunately the competition to win a tablet device, and the schools competition are only open to Australian residents.

Can children do Weather Detective?

Weather Detective is appropriate for children in upper primary school, but is probably too hard for younger children.  Many of the old log books are written in cursive handwriting and are difficult to read, which would be a challenge for children still learning how to write.

What do I do if I make a mistake?

You can click into your observation and change it at any time – just click on the observation tag to open it up and then click into the field you want to change If you want to delete an observation just click and drag the tag off the page.

You can make changes UNTIL you’ve submitted your page.

Once you’ve submitted the page you can’t undo it. But try not to worry too much about if it’s only a minor error – the scientists have methods to validate the data that should eliminate small identification errors.

If you make a substantial error – say you realise you’ve been doing the identifying wrong for 10 photos – then you can let us know via the contact us form. Please include a contact email address.

How do I undo/delete my observation?

You can delete your observation by clicking on the tag and dragging it off the page. You’ll then be asked if you want to delete your observation, and you’ll have to confirm if you want to go ahead with deleting it.

Can I save my work before I’m ready to submit it?

We will automatically save your work for you – and if you don’t finish or ‘submit’ a page it will still be there for you next time you log in.

 

The exception to this is for school groups. Because the individuals in a school group will all use the same login we can’t preserve each person’s work.  Just do as much as you can, and it will still be valuable.

Help – the page is blank, unreadable or written in another language!

If you can’t read the page for any reason – it might be blank, a front page, written in French, Spanish or Dutch – then you can skip the page by clicking on the ‘Skip’ button in the right hand column of the identifier tool.

Can I get more pages from the same ship? or captain?

It would have been wonderful if we could let you stick with the one ship, so you could follow the voyage and get to know the Captain’s handwriting.

Unfortunately, it’s simply not possible because of the way the pages were collated.   The log books aren’t actually log books – they’re pages. Each page was returned individually to Clement Wragge who filed them by month, which makes a certain amount of sense if you’re interested in the weather observations. And that’s how they remain today. Once we’ve completed our work on Weather Detective then we’ll be able to sew together the voyages of each ship – in a way it’s another exciting outcome for Weather Detective.

 

How do I watch the tutorial again?

You can watch the video tutorial here or click on the tutorial link in the Weather Detective Identifier to see the shorter tutorial.

Schools

How do I get my school involved?

You can enter your class as a school group – you just need an adult to register for Weather Detective, and you also need parental approval for the students to participate.

Once you have this, just sign up and register as a school group with an email address and a password. Students will use these to login and participate. Any number of students can take part at once, and while they work individually, there work will count towards a collective score.

Once your group has completed 50 weather observations you’ll be sent an email asking if you’d like to enter the competition to win a schools prize. Simply follow the directions on how to enter – you’ll need your contact details.

The competition

How do I enter the competition to win a tablet device?

Register for Weather Detective and do at least 20 weather observations (as an individual) or 50 (if you enter as a school group) and then you’ll be asked to enter the competition. All you need to do then is complete the entry form. Go on! You’d be crazy not to. For more information see >the competition.

I have to do 20 observations? What does that mean?

That means you have to make 20 weather observations – one tag equals one observation.

Technical issues

What do I do if I have a technical question?

If you can’t find the answer on the site you can use the contact us form to send us an email.

I’m using a Mac and having problems with zoom and tagging observations.

There have been a couple of issues with doing Weather Detective on a Mac computer.  Our developers are currently sorting it out.

Latitude and Longitude

What is latitude and longitude? & how to read it.

Latitude and longitude are a way of recording location – they can be a little tricky and you may need all your Weather Detective skills to find them.

Latitude – is North or South – it tells the location between the Earth’s equator and the poles. At the Equator the latitude is 0 degrees; at the North Pole it’s 90 degrees N (North); and at the South Pole it’s 90 degrees S (South). Points with the same latitude run parallel to the Equator, around the Earth.

Longitude – is East or West – and describes the position around the Earth. The starting point is the Prime Meridian which goes through Greenwich, England – this is 0 degrees. Longitude ranges from 180 degrees East to 180 degrees West (which is often written as a negative number). Points with the same longitude run all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole. Australia ranges from 115 degrees E to 145 degrees E and has roughly the same longitude as Japan.

Degrees and minutes – Longitude and latitude are measured in degrees and minutes, which will be written next to each other.

Degrees are sometimes shown as a small circle (o). Minutes go from 0-60 and are sometimes shown as two little lines (“). Often they will be split by a small space or a dot. Sometimes the numbers may run into each other. Remember latitude degrees go from 0 – 90; and longitude degrees go from 0 – 180. Anything that follows them is likely to be the minutes.

North or South? East or West?  – it’s vital that you know whether the latitude is North or South; and whether the longitude is East or West – otherwise your location point may end up in completely the wrong spot – but sometimes this can be tricky to work out. Look for an S or N or an E or W next to the number. Or it may be at the top of the column. Alternatively, it could be written in full as South, or East. Or it may have been written against the very first record but not the next.

How to write long and lat in Weather Detective

Write the longitude and latitude with a dot between the degrees and minutes, and with the letter at the end, ie
2.42S and 109.13E
34.54N and 145.14E
23S and 123E

Note – in Weather Detective we’re NOT writing longitude and latitude in decimal degrees. Just write the degrees and minutes separated by a dot.

 

Help, my ship has been placed on the land?

Yes, this can happen. Double check to make sure you’ve got the right location for latitude and longitude – could you have mistaken an N for an S? or an E for a W?

If it all checks out then just leave it – your job is to record what you see, and if that’s what you see then that’s what you see. The scientists will work it out when they come to verify the data.

Latitude and longitude – I can’t see one

If you can’t see a latitude and longitude then don’t worry about it – just enter in what information is there for the other fields.

If there is a place name, such as ‘Sydney’ you could use a tool such as latlong finder to find it’s location . While you may enter a location that is on land, at least it will be better than nothing.

However, make sure you use the degrees and minutes, rather than be tempted to use the decimal degrees – which will give a slightly different location.

For example, the coordinates of Sydney in decimal degrees are
Latitude: -33.8678500
Longitude: 151.2073200
While in degrees and decimal minutes they are
Latitude: 33°52.071′ S
Longitude: 151°12.4392′ E

Therefore when you enter them in Weather Detective you need to enter them as 33.52S and 151.12 E

I can’t find a N or S or E or W

First – check all over the page. Take a look at the top of the column, and at all the longitude and latitudes to see if one of them has a direction recorded against it.

If you can’t see any obvious way to work out whether your latitude is an N or a S, or your longitude an E or a W, then this is where you have to put your weather detective skills to the test! Can you find any other way to work out the direction? Is there a place name somewhere?

However, there will be times when we just don’t know where the location is – and only you can be the judge of that. In that case, just leave latitude and longitude out.

I have a place name, but no numbers. What do I do?

If there is a place name, such as ‘Sydney’ you could use a tool such as latlong finder to find it’s location . While you may enter a location that is on land, at least it will be better than nothing.

However, make sure you use the degrees and minutes, rather than be tempted to use the decimal degrees – which will give a slightly different location.

For example, the coordinates of Sydney in decimal degrees are
Latitude: -33.8678500
Longitude: 151.2073200
While in degrees and decimal minutes they are
Latitude: 33°52.071′ S
Longitude: 151°12.4392′ E

Therefore when you enter them in Weather Detective you need to enter them as 33.52S and 151.12 E

I found a longitude and latitude on the internet for a place name. How should I write it?

Make sure you use the degrees and minutes, rather than be tempted to use the decimal degrees – which will give a slightly different location.

For example, the coordinates of Sydney in decimal degrees are
Latitude: -33.8678500
Longitude: 151.2073200
While in degrees and decimal minutes they are
Latitude: 33°52.071′ S
Longitude: 151°12.4392′ E

Therefore when you enter them in Weather Detective you need to enter them as 33.52S and 151.12 E

Should I include latitude and longitude for times other than noon if they are provided?

Record latitude and longitude whenever you see it – every little bit of information is useful.

That means you may be recording the latitude at 6 am in the field entitled ‘latitude at noon’ – don’t worry, the scientists will work it out!

Wind

Wind direction – I can’t make it out

The wind direction tells you where the wind is coming from – for example an N means the wind is coming from the north – known as a ‘Northerly.’ The possible variations are as follows…

N – North
NNE – North north east
NE – North East
ENE – East north east
E – East
ESE – East south east
SE – South east
SSE – South south east
S – South
SSW – South south west
SW – South West
WSW – West south west
W – West
WNW – West north west
NW – North west
NWW – North west west

Wind direction – what if they list more than one.

Yes, that’s tricky – choose the first one.

Force of wind – what to do if they list 2 numbers, such as 5/6

Yes, that’s tricky – choose the first one.

Abbreviations

There are all these abbreviations on my page – how should I record them?

Simply write them as you see them into the ‘General comments’ field.

What do the abbreviations mean?

We don’t know what you’ll find on each log book page, but we’ve included some common abbreviations in ‘Abbreviations Help‘. If the abbreviation you find isn’t there then let us know via the  Ask a question box at the bottom of this page.

What do weather abbreviations, like B.C, or B.C.P, B.C.O.P or B.C.O or O.R mean? and how should I transcribe them?

Just write what you see into the comments field.

Most of the codes you’ll see are Beaufort Letters – a system of abbreviations first used by Francis Beaufort (later Admiral Sir Francis) early in the 1800′s, and intended for use at sea. The scheme has been considerably revised since those days.

You can look up what they mean at the Weather FAQs

Handwriting

Handwriting – I can’t read it

You’re not alone. Reading the handwriting in the old logbooks is hard – even the experts struggle with it. Try to do your best job, but at times it will be an educated guess.

Look for clues – use letters from other words that you can read to piece together the letters in the words you can’t. Looking at the comments fields and dates (especially the letters in the month) can help.

Sound out the word - there was no spellcheck for log books and some words may be misspelt or spelled phonetically.

Type what you see - some of the ship names are unfamiliar words to us now – they may have had more meaning at the time – so just type the letters as you see them.

Midday/Midnight confusion

Times – Noon/Midday/12pm

Is noon 12am or 12 pm? If you’re confused, don’t worry – it confuses a lot of people, and in many ways it is counter-intuitive, which is why the terms ‘midday’, ‘noon’ and ‘midnight’ are still used.

The answer is simple though
midday = noon = 12pm
midnight = 12am

Does the day start at midnight or finish at midnight?

This is another area of massive confusion. We’re  asked the scientists who said that midnight should be known as hour 0 (not 24) and hence is the BEGINNING of a new day.

Other

What is a barometer?

A barometer is a scientific instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure.

What do I do if ‘ditto’ or “” is written in the comments field?

Ditto or “” means a copy of the above record.

Normally we ask you to just write whatever you see – but in this case it would be more useful to write the words in the above record.  Luckily this should be super easy as each new observation tag should replicate your previous observation – so the comments should already be a copy of the previous.

Temperature

The temperature is in Celsius. Do you want me to convert to Fahrenheit?

We thought all measurements in the log book pages were in imperial (ie, Fahrenheit, feet etc) but the researchers were suprised to discover that some are in Celsius.  

“It looks like before the French Revolution (1789-1799) they used an imperial system but changed to metric afterwards. We learned something new today,” they said.

If possible, could you please convert measurements into Fahrenheit and feet.

UPDATE:  The researchers have asked Weather Detectives to just enter the number that’s written, and not to worry about whether it’s in metric of imperial.

They’ll put a check in when processing the observations to detect whether temp is in C/F or pressure in in/mm by “a simple plausibility check”.

Dry bulb and wet bulb temperature listed – what do I do?

Record the dry bulb in the ‘Thermometer’ field and add any other information into the Comments field.

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