The Project “Dieci e Lode”, an Italian acronym which stands for “Climatological data of the Former Italian Colonies and their Digitalization” is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture (Public Notice, funded by the European Union – NextGenerationEU, for the provision of non-repayable contributions in favour of micro and small enterprises, third sector entities, and profit and non-profit organizations operating in the cultural and creative sectors to promote innovation and digital transition. PNRR, Mission 1 – Digitization, innovation, competitiveness, and culture, Component 3 – Tourism and Culture 4.0 (M1C3), Measure 3 “Cultural and creative industry 4.0”, Investment 3.3: “Capacity building for cultural operators to manage digital and green transition”, Sub-Investment 3.3.2: – Support for cultural and creative sectors for innovation and digital transition (Action A II)).”

The Project

Project Team
  • Alessandro Ceppi: AISAM member, principal investigator of the project “Dieci e Lode”: an Italian acronym which stands for “Climatological data of the Former Italian Colonies and their Digitalization.”
  • Dino Zardicounsellor, he oversees the scientific and dissemination aspects of the project.
  • Maurizio Maugeri: AISAM member, he oversees the scientific part related to data and information to be digitized and the reconstruction of observational networks.
  • Michele Brunetti:AISAM member, he oversees the scientific part related to data and information to be digitized and the reconstruction of observational networks.
  • Luigi Iafrate: AISAM member, he supports the research activities of data sources and coordinates the exchange of volumes and data to be digitized at the CREA in Rome with the company that will carry out the digitization activities.
Participant
  • Francesco Sudati: AISAM member, he oversees the scientific part related to data and information to be digitized and the reconstruction of observational networks.

  • Maria Carmen Beltrano: AISAM member and former CREA employee, she supports the research activities of data sources and coordinates the exchange of volumes and data to be digitized at the CREA in Rome with the company that will carry out the digitization activities

  • Marina Baldi: AISAM member, he oversees the scientific part related to data and information to be digitized and the reconstruction of observational networks.
  • Federico Stefanini: he oversees the scientific part related to digitization through OCR techniques

  • Veronica Manara: AISAM member, she oversees the scientific part related to data and information to be digitized and the reconstruction of observational networks.

  • Samuele Gianpietro: project graphic designer, he oversees the image part.

Background

Italy has played a very significant role in the birth and development of modern meteorology, considering that many meteorological instruments, including Galileo’s thermometer and Torricelli’s barometer, were invented in Italy. Moreover, what can be defined as the first international observational network, linked to the Accademia del Cimento, was founded in our country. Thanks to this unique role, Italy possesses a heritage of ancient meteorological data of exceptional value (Camuffo and Bertolin, 2012). The recovery of this enormous observational heritage has been ongoing for a long time (Cottone, 1939; Bossolasco, 1945), and in recent decades, a significant portion of these data has been digitized. However, despite many developed activities, a substantial fraction of them remains available only on paper, which unfortunately is deteriorating over time, risking the loss of data and information of inestimable value for scientific research in the field of meteorology and climate change. Among the data that still need to be recovered are those from areas of central-northern Africa that were formerly Italian colonies.

The objective of this project is to recover meteorological observations from these former Italian colonies (particularly Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Libya) and all other territories that were under Italian control which still own valuable data to be recovered. The project will allow, thanks to free access to these new precious data, to fill some gaps in the climate reconstruction of the last century, enabling a significant leap in the reconstruction accuracy of atmospheric patterns for an area that has proven to be crucial in recent climate change.

Area of study

Among the many data still to be recovered, there is a very significant fraction of those collected in territories belonging to Italy (Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Libya, Dodecanese, Albania, Dalmatia, Istria) starting from the 19th century (already since the end of the 1800s, in fact, the Central Meteorological Office published data and news regarding Eritrea, Somalia, Tripolitania, and Cyrenaica). In this context, the present project aims to conduct a detailed reconnaissance of the meteorological data and information available for these areas (Figure 1) during the period when they were under the control of our country.

Figure 1: Nations, including territories that were under Italian control between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Objectives

The heritage of meteorological observations from the territories that were under Italian control between the late 19th century and the early 20th century is mainly found today in the National Meteorological Archive of the CREA (Council for Research in Agricultural and the analysis of Agricultural Economy), while many volumes containing important information on these data and tables resulting from their elaboration are located in the Library of the Collegio Romano. It is easy to understand how this material is not easily and immediately accessible, both for scholars and for any other potential user. Additionally, these volumes are subject to deterioration and wear over time, making them only accessible to expert personnel. Therefore, the imposing task of digitization that AISAM aims to develop in this context allows to preserve a heritage of inestimable value and, secondly, to be able to use, consult, browse, and study a significant series of past information in territories that are still poorly covered by monitoring networks from any location in the world. Anyone will thus be able to access conveniently consultable online data to conduct analyses and studies to better understand the climate of the past and its ongoing changes.

In particular, the data measured by Italy in its former colonies can therefore make a significant contribution to international climatological research. The same data are also of great importance for meteorological offices currently monitoring these territories to place meteorological observations in a longer-term context and, therefore, of greater significance in the study of ongoing climate change and in assessing how important resources are changing

Materials and Methods

Regarding the data and publications, the main source will be the National Meteorological Archive of the CREA

in Rome (Figure 2), specifically the Historical Central Library of Italian Meteorology. Once the most relevant data and other information have been identified, activities will proceed with photographic scanning aimed at publishing online images of the data sheets and volumes identified during the previous reconnaissance. The overall number of pages expected to be scanned is approximately 40,000. The scanning activity will be accompanied by detailed indexing work to facilitate finding the data and information of interest.

In addition to the digitization work, the context where meteorological observations were developed and conducted in the former Italian colonies will be reconstructed. This restoration aims to highlight the role played by the involved institutions and to recreate the profile and contribution of the main operators who contributed to making and processing the information. The digitized material will then be supplemented by a detailed description of the context where it was produced, in order to make it suitable for use by a non-specialist audience.

The project will be complemented by case studies aimed at evaluating possible implementations of Citizen Science activities aimed at extracting numerical series from digitized data sheets available for climatological research, thus, enhancing a line of activity already present in AISAM. Currently, AISAM is coordinating the Cli-DaRe@school project, which involves the participation of many Italian schools and hundreds of students. A feasibility study will also be conducted to assess how these activities can be supported by the latest Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology.

Figure 2: Historical archives of climatic data at the Collegio Romano headquarters, later moved to CREA, and some examples of observation sheets collected at the Aziza station.

Coordination and Dissemination

Furthermore, the proposed project is supported by the institutions to which the AISAM members of the Project Team (listed above) belong, namely, CREA, the University of Trento, Politecnico di Milano, the University of Milan, and CNR-ISAC in Bologna; high-level public entities and institutions that nationally and internationally attest to the professionalism of the Project Team members.

The development of the project, aimed at digitizing meteorological and climatological data in territories that were once part of our country and that unfortunately cannot boast a widespread monitoring network today nor have adequate data archives to effectively document the temporal evolution of meteorological variables and the related ongoing climate changes, encourages the AISAM association to establish and foster collaborative relationships both with national institutions such as ItaliaMeteo, ISPRA (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale), Aeronautica Militare, other universities, and research institutions, as well as with international ones such as the meteorological services of those states whose the territories were under Italy’s control (Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Libya, Greece, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia), providing an access service to climatic data of absolute importance for the scientific (and non-scientific) community for the reconstruction of past climate that would otherwise remain confined to current paper archives.

 

Conclusions

The project of digitizing climatological data from former Italian colonies represents a significant step towards understanding the climate of the past in areas that still lack a dense monitoring network for detecting meteorological phenomena. The availability and accessibility of data in international databases will allow for full utilization of the recovered data, which will be important for a better understanding of climate change in the areas covered by the project.

The cultural content of this project will benefit a wide range of categories and users: from young students in schools to researchers at universities and research institutions, as well as businesses and meteorological services in those nations that were once Italian colonies.

References

Bossolasco, M. Il potere refrigerante dell’aria a Messina ed a Mogadiscio. Geofisica Pura e Applicata 7, 33–61 (1945). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01999937.

Camuffo, D., Bertolin, C. The earliest temperature observations in the world: the Medici Network (1654–1670). Climatic Change 111, 335–363 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-011-0142-5

Cottone, A. Il coefficiente D’attrito interno negli strati inferiori dell’atmosfera a Mogadiscio (Periodo ottobre-febbraio). Geofisica Pura e Applicata 1, 99–106 (1939). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01993044.

Results

Events

Friday, May 31 2024Kick-off Workshop

Bologna, Sala Polivalente “Guido Fanti”, Regione Emilia-Romagna (viale Aldo Moro, 50)

Media

Our Partners

Our Sponsors

Contacts

For further information or to join our initiatives you can contact us at the following e-mail address: diecielode@aisam.eu

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