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Logs From New Bedford Whaling Ships Could Help Meteorologists

NEW BEDFORD (CBS) -- The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a new project called "Old Weather Whaling."

"This is a great example of the kind of log book that would be in old weather whaling. Because there would be talk of whatever they encountered that day. What the winds were like," says Michael Lapides, director of digital initiatives at the museum.

The drawings catch your eye as you move through the museum case by case, but then you start reading the notes. That's when folks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration realized something.

"They're the ones who came to us and said, 'What you have is really significant.' And the reason is that it extends the long range models for weather," Lapides says.

In fact, the weather information predates some of our current climate data by more than 100 years.

New Bedford Whaling Museum
Old logs from New Bedford whaling ships predate current climate data. (WBZ-TV)

If you're a weather or history buff, you can go to the Old Weather Whaling website and participate.

On that website, you'll be guided to a place where weather data exists. From there you transcribe the weather data which then goes into the database that climate scientists really use.

The director of marketing just started with the museum and has had fun getting involved with the project.

"That first line in almost every log entry says something about the weather. So you can picture yourself onboard, imagine what it may have been like and as you go through the museum, all the exhibits compliment that," says Gayle Hargreaves, director of marketing at the museum.

"You know, you can image the captain's hand writing that out, making that illustration. It's really fascinating."

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