A Fresh Start in the Age of the Internet (Since 2010)

In June 2006, the Swiss Federal Council added Euro-Climhist to the list of Swiss databases that should be maintained and supported in the long term. This enactment allowed developing the database into an improved scientific information system accessible to the public via Internet. After the retirement of Christian Pfister in September, 2009, his successor as professor of environmental and climate history, Christian Rohr, took over the management of Euro-Climhist. On the one hand, it was supported by the Oeschger Centre for Climatic Change Research of the University of Bern and by the Section for Economic, Social and Environmental History of the Bern Institute of History, on the other hand, since 1st July, 2010 also through the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Switzerland at the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology Meteo Swiss. In particular, it involved working out a new systematic through the substantial reduction from 2400 to about 300 codes without losing precision to detail which was done through complementary COMP codes. Moreover, several ten thousand new records were included. Release 1 of Euro-Climhist went online on 3rd May, 2012, but it had to be soon disconnected due to technical shortcomings. On the IT site the project then suffered from long-standing vacancies until Antoine Jover joined in December, 2014. Being an experienced, efficient and cooperative software-engineer he brought Euro-Climhist to the current level in collaborative work with Matthias Fries.

 

What’s next?

For the period after 1501 Euro-Climhist might be structured in the form of regional modules akin to the Module Switzerland. These should be worked out by regional groups under their own authorship using the approach and the software of Euro-Climhist. The procedure should be similar to an article in a volume of essays. The responsible authors keep the ownership and control of their data. Any record will be marked with the initials of the corresponding contributors and can be blocked for enquiries, if requested. The database managers will act as “editors” by supporting the input and the processing of data. By doing so the needed supra-regional homogenization of documentary data should be achieved by insuring at the same time the authorship of regional groups. Module “Switzerland” (Release 2) is the first of those regional modules.

For the period prior to 1501 regional modules make no sense because the data-density is not sufficient. A specific module “Middle Ages” will cover the time span of 1000-1500 for entire Europe. The preparations for this module have begun in December 2015.