Instrumental pressure observations and atmospheric circulation from the 17th and 18th centuries: London and Paris

VC Slonosky, PD Jones, TD Davies

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Daily pressure observations recorded by William Derham (1657–1735) at Upminster, Essex (near London), from 1697 to 1706 and 1708 have been corrected, converted to modern units and the Gregorian calendar, and adjusted for homogeneity. These pressure readings have been compared with previously published contemporary observations from Paris, and the two sets of early instrumental data used to calculate a daily series of the pressure difference between Paris and London. Frequency analysis of the daily series reveals that reversals of the south–north pressure gradient and easterly winds were more common from 1697 to 1708 than during the 1990s. Monthly mean values of Paris–London pressure differences have been compared with previously published monthly mean reconstructed surface pressure maps and to a reconstructed North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. There is a good agreement between the strength and direction of monthly mean flow between London and Paris estimated from the circulation maps and the sign and magnitude of the Paris–London westerly flow index, but the correlation between the Paris–London index, known to be a good proxy for European zonal circulation, and the reconstructed NAO index, is low (0.2). Correlations between the monthly mean Paris–London zonal circulation index and central England temperatures suggest a strong relationship during winter and late summer from 1697 to 1708. The meticulous daily instrumental observations and the monthly and seasonal climate descriptions of Derham, his collection of instrumental observations and climatic descriptions from contemporary observers throughout Europe, and his early theories on the causes of climate change make his publications a valuable source of information for studies on climate during the early instrumental period. It is hoped that more of Derham's papers related to weather and climate may eventually come to light.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-298
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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