The co-evolution of historical source materials in the geophysical, hydrological and meteorological sciences: learning from the past and moving forward

Heather Sangster, Cerys Jones, Neil Macdonald

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Abstract

Historical data sources are used by a wide variety of disciplines, but rarely do they look outside their particular research fields at how others are using and applying historical data. The use and application of historical data has grown rapidly over the last couple of decades within the meteorological, geophysical and hydrological disciplines, but have done so relatively independently. By coevolving, each discipline has developed separate themes or areas, with varying degrees of uptake beyond their academic communities. We find that whilst the geophysical discipline has been relatively successful in engaging with international policymakers and stakeholders, this has not been reflected within the meteorological or hydrological disciplines to date. This disparity has occurred for a variety of reasons, including varying scales of disaster and social, political and cultural structures. In examining current developments within the disciplines, evidence suggests that this disparity is lessening, as each are using online databases and some citizen science, but that they continue to evolve independently with little unifying structure or purpose. This continued autonomy makes multi-hazard analysis challenging which, considering the potential that historical datasets present in the emerging field of multi-hazards analysis, is a considerable hindrance to this field of research. In looking forward, opportunities emerge for improved understanding of the risks presented to societies by natural hazards in the past, but also for examining how resilience, behaviour and adaptation alter during periods of repose
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-82
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Volume42
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • historical sources
  • meteorology
  • hydrology
  • geophysical
  • interdisciplinary
  • resilience

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