On the value of early marine weather observations: the Malaspina expedition (1789-1794)
Great advances in meteorological science were made in the late 18th century. In particular, meteorological instruments were carried on ships and the first systematic meteorological readings over the oceans were made. One of these collections of instrumental meteorological readings was carried out by the Malaspina expedition (1789-1794), organized by the Spanish crown to study its vast possessions around the world. We have recovered meteorological variables such as air temperature (maximum and minimum), atmospheric pressure (maximum and minimum), wind (intensity and direction), and appearance (state of the sky) from the documentation generated by the explorers during the journey. In total, nearly 13 000 instrumental data have been digitized and rescued from this maritime expedition. The comparison of daily temperature and pressure observations with reanalysis and weather stations data shows a good overall agreement. Moreover, apparent discrepancies during several anchored periods have allowed for testing the consistency and quality of these early instrumental marine weather readings.