The southern Alps are home to breathtaking landscapes that have delighted visitors and inspired artists for centuries. They are also home to some of the most extreme weather phenomena in Europe, and are experiencing a rapid climate warming. We know this because quantitative meteorological observations have been performed in Alpine cities, villages, and even mountain huts, thanks to the dedication of hundreds of women and men over several generations. These data are by all means a heritage of mankind and allow scientists to understand how climate has changed in the past, and what can be expected in the future.
A short history lesson
The first regular meteorological observations started in the largest cities of the then Austrian territories of the southern Alps during the first half of the 19th century. After the establishment of a central weather office in Vienna (1851), the number of weather stations in the region grew rapidly. At the beginning of the 20th century, more than 150 stations in the southern Alps had their observations published in Austrian yearbooks.
Between 1915 and 1918, World War I hit this part of Europe particularly hard, until the eventual collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Most of the stations (now on Italian territory) were reactivated only a few months after the end of the hostilities, but their history and their data archives gradually faded into oblivion.
In recent years, a partial recovery of these data was carried out by different institutions, however their use has been limited so far. In fact, most scientific publications and regional climate reports nowadays still discard observations made before the year 1921 (hence the name of the website).
Why this website?
In most countries, the national weather service is responsible for the recovery and storage of historical meteorological observations. Italy, the country where meteorology as a science was born, does not have a national weather service. Italian historical data are mainly recovered thanks to spontaneous efforts by researchers working for universities and other public institutions.
This website was created to give an overview of the availability of the “forgotten” data in the former Austrian provinces of Italy and of the progress made in the digitization of data, as well as to promote the use of the data and metadata that have been digitized. The data can be used freely under a Creative Commons license (see below).
You can help!
The contents of this website arise entirely from voluntary work. Everyone is welcome to contribute by reporting missing or incorrect information, and by helping with the manual typing of the data into a computer-readable format (such as Excel tables), so that they can be used by students, researchers, and anyone interested in weather and climate.
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University of Bern
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