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Where We’ve Been

IEDRO has operated data rescue and digitization (DR&D) projects in 9 countries over the span of the past 9 years. While many of the projects below have been completed, there is still work to be done. With each completed project brings the opportunity to look further in new areas, or deeper into areas IEDRO has already been. For example, 900 glass photographic slides of glaciers from 1870 to 1920 have been uncovered in Chile that should be digitized and compared to current status. Upper air data has been rescued and digitized in Kenya, but their hydrometeorological data still need to be done.

To determine the scope of need for data rescue, consider that El Salvador has 330,000 strip charts alone. Based on that, a rough extrapolation would indicate that there could be approximately 200,000,000 strip charts in existence across the globe. 

Quick links to project summaries: BoliviaChile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Paraguay, Senegal, Tanzania, Uruguay, Zambia


Between July 2012 and September 2013, IEDRO personnel began receiving surface data images from Bolivia. To date, IEDRO has received synoptic observations and Summary of Day observations for 22 surface stations – 16,544 pages/records in total, the equivalent of at least 10 years of data.

Project status: Project is ongoing.

Future activities: IEDRO is currently awaiting additional images and funding for further data rescue efforts to be completed. If funding can be found ($15,000 to complete the project), IEDRO plans a progress visit to SENAMHI in 2014 to ensure that the rescue of these surface observations continues. Funding will also go toward developing digital keying formats for the dozens of different types of meteorological forms rescued. Funding will help initiate keying of data, provide data to NCDC and for providing cataloged data to SENAMHI. View full project page here. 


IEDRO rescued and digitized over 500,000 images of surface observation data from the city of Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world. The data had been collected over 100 years by Jesuit priests starting in 1870 and kept safe at the private regional museum, Museo Maggiorino Borgatello. After NOAA digitized the data, it was placed in NOAA’s free and unrestricted data base where it can be accessed by the international community. The data was extremely valuable to efforts by scientists like Dr. Gil Campo of CIRES at the University of Colorado because it added insight into global weather patterns.

Project status: Completed.

Potential future activities: The IEDRO team discovered approximately 900 glass photographic slides taken of glaciers from 1870 to about 1920 in the Museo Maggiorino Borgatello. IEDRO proposes to send a photographer to Chile to record the current status of these glaciers. The current and historic photos could be compared by climate scientists to determine the changes in ice volume and temperature. Approximately $48,000 in funding would be required for imaging the glass slides, travel and fees for the photographer, digitization of the historic and recent data, and producing a full color book showing 100 of the most dramatic “then and now” photos. Copies of this book printed for resale would be our contribution to the Museo Maggiorino Borgatello for its assistance in rescuing these data.

Dominican Republic

In 2002 NOAA funded IEDRO personnel to coordinate with the Meteorological Service in rescuing upper air data. The process of DR&D began.

Project status: Upper-air data was rescued, digitized and added to NOAA’s open and unrestricted world data base. 

Potential future activities: The Meteorological Service recently allocated several employees to manually digitize the surface precipitation data from the original strip charts.  This is commendable; however there is a risk to preserving the original documents. By digitizing directly from the paper data, no electronic copy of the original data is retained. Thus the digitized data may not be validated in the future. IEDRO’s Data Rescue and Digitization Programs always image the data first so that the original document is preserved in case the paper is destroyed or discarded. Approximately $12,000 in funding is required. IEDRO would provide scanners and on-site training to image data from the original paper charts. IEDRO would also develop a program that recognizes the Dominican Republic’s unique strip chart format in order to automatically digitize the data provided by the Dominican Republic scanners.

El Salvador

In recent years, mudslides have claimed many lives in El Salvador. An IEDRO Team visited the National Meteorological Service (NMHS) of El Salvador and discovered that the NMHS has over 330,000 strip charts that need to be scanned and the data digitized. Most of these charts show detailed precipitation information which is critical to discover how much rain and at what rate will set off mudslides in various areas in the country. The IEDRO Team returned to the US with several thousand strip charts which have been scanned at IEDRO Headquarters awaiting digitization.

Project status: Project is ongoing. IEDRO has collected and scanned several thousand strip charts. 

Future activities: IEDRO plans to complete its automatic strip chart digitization program which will allow a chart to be digitized in one minute rather than the 30 minutes required to digitize a strip chart by hand. IEDRO will need to modify its strip chart software to digitize the unique size of the El Salvador precipitation strip charts and to run the program providing usable output. View full project page here.


A DR&D site was established in 2002 with funding from NOAA. Upper air observations were rescued and digitized by NOAA contractors.

Project status: Data of initial upper air observations completed.

Potential future activities: IEDRO has offered to rescue and digitize surface hydrometeorological data.  In 2014 IEDRO will contact Kenya’s Meteorological Service to initiate activity on this project. Funding or approximately $32,000 is needed to re-establish the DR&D Program in Kenya.


In 2002 NOAA began one of the first DR&D sites in Malawi. The Meteorological Service’s Martin Mwanangwa Munkhondya became the focal point for the Malawian data rescue efforts. He is now IEDRO’s volunteer Program Manager for Africa.

Project status: Project is ongoing. IEDRO, in coordination with Mr. Munkhondya and NOAA, has rescued and digitized all the Malawi upper air data.

Future activities: IEDRO is now working with Mr. Munkhondya to begin rescuing historic surface data. Mr. Munkhondya has established a non-profit organization, the Centre for Climate Change and Environment Management, to further the data rescue and digitization effort in Malawi. IEDRO is currently receiving and will be digitizing weather data from Malawi as soon as funding is found to develop data keying formats for the various hydrometeorological data forms used by Malawi. Funding of approximately $13,000 is needed for the digitization of the surface data.

Data analysis: An important application of weather data can be seen in trend analysis of Malawi’s precipitation. In Malawi, 100% of electricity is based on water. Both electricity and water are relatively expensive resources. As an alternative, Malawians use wood from trees for cooking fires. Re-forestation has been initiated only recently and weather data is needed to help promote the growth of new forests. People may be more likely to use electrical cooking rather than cutting down trees if trend analysis in precipitation indicates an increase in the water supply and a corresponding decrease in electricity prices. View full project page here. 


A DR&D site focusing on upper air data was established with NOAA funding in Mozambique in 2002. In April 2014 Maputo, Mozambique, will host the World Meteorological Organization for the International Workshop on Rescuing Climate Heritage of Indian Ocean Countries.

Future activities: In 2014 IEDRO will be negotiating with Mozambique’s Meteorological Service to resume data rescue and digitization activities. Funding to re-establish a data rescue and digitization site in Maputo, Mozambique would be approximately $23,000.


Project status: Starting in 2002, upper air observations were rescued and digitized through NOAA contractors.

Future activities: The data rescue effort has been expanded and will take place as part of IEDRO’s West African Climate Data Rescue and Digitization Facility project. 


In 2006 IEDRO held discussions with the Meteorological Service in Paraguay regarding the rescue of weather data. Although there is a great need for rescuing and digitizing the surface data, funding has not yet been secured.

Project status: Needs have been identified.

Potential future activities: Funding of approximately $40,000 is required to establish a DR&D program at the National Meteorological Service of Paraguay.


In 2002, NOAA funded the DR&D effort with the Senegal NMHS and all the upper-air data was imaged and digitized by NOAA contractors.

Project status: Upper-air data rescue and digitization have been completed.

Potential future activities: Rescuing surface data would be the next effort. Funding of approximately $48,000 would be required for IEDRO to send a team to rescue and digitize surface data. The project would involve education of personnel, and the provision of cameras, scanners and computers.


Beginning in 2009, IEDRO received over 500 upper air pilot balloon observations or PIBAL. PIBAL data determines the wind speed and wind direction for an area. In planning a new airport runway, for example, the data can help to determine from which direction the heaviest winds have historically come.

Project status: PIBAL data has been rescued. Project is ongoing.

Future activities: In 2014 Tanzanian PIBAL observations will be digitized using the IEDRO keying workstation software. Once these historic upper-air observations are digitized, IEDRO hopes to begin a surface DR&D program. Funding of approximately $48,000 would be required. View full project page here.


With NOAA funding, IEDRO established data rescue sites for Uruguay’s National Meteorological Service and SOHMA, the Navy of Uruguay. Both sites captured upper air data and surface observations. The resulting data was sent to NOAA where the upper-air data were digitized by contractors. NOAA no long provides this digitization service.

Project status: Upper-air data rescue and digitization have been completed.

Potential future activities: IEDRO is seeking funds to establish surface DR&D programs at both sites. The funding required would be approximately $37,000.


Zambia began DR&D activities with NOAA funding in 2002. The focus then was on upper air data.

Project status: Upper-air data was rescued and digitized.

Future activities: In 2014 IEDRO will be negotiating with Zambia’s Meteorological Service to establish a surface DR&D program. Funding of $46,000 would be required to complete the project.