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Thematical Queries

The data available for selection can be queried by means of the category scheme. It is divided into six main categories:

  1. Descriptive data: They describe the weather (cloud cover, precipitation, perceived air temperature, wind direction and strength) and their impact on (crop) plants, buildings and other man-made artifacts, as well as on humans and livestock (including epidemics and animal diseases), geological and geomorphological hazards, as well as atmospheric and extraterrestrial phenomena.
  2. Instrumental measurement series and serial weather data: Instrumental measurement series are data on temperature, precipitation, air pressure, wind force or water level recorded with contemporary measuring instruments whose values (if at all possible) must be converted into modern measurement scales. Serial weather data means the monthly frequency of weather phenomena counted based on weather diaries, such as the number of days of precipitation or snowfall. The measured values of MeteoSwiss (from 1864) may not (yet) be displayed for legal reasons. Researchers can obtain them through IDAweb, a data portal for teaching and research by MeteoSwiss.
  3. Biophysical proxy data: Proxy data refers to temperature or precipitation indicators in the natural or semi-natural environment: "Bio" stands for biological processes related to the climate, mainly the development of (crop) plants. "Physical" stands for physical processes related to the climate such as floods, snow cover and the ice cover of waters. The biophysical data are primarily phytophenological observations. The information is often provided in the “Day of Year” style (number of days in the relevant year). Accordingly, “244” corresponds to the 244th day of that year (September 1 in normal years).
  4. Temperature and precipitation indices: These are understood to mean monthly or seasonal classifications on a scale from -3 (extremely cold) to +3 (extremely hot) or -3 (extremely dry) to +3 (extremely humid). Information on the temperature and precipitation conditions refers to whole seasons.
  5. (Climate relevant) economic data: This refers to agricultural production and fishery data, as far as related to weather conditions, as well as feed and food price data. However, such information cannot be understood as climate indicators, because many other factors are also responsible for prices and availability in general.
  6. Socio-political data: Socio-political data means the physical and social consequences of economic processes on households and societies, as far as they are influenced by weather and climate. These include weather processions and prayer services as well as the crisis-related persecution of minorities such as Jews and witches.

Any number of topics and subtopics can be chosen. Subcategories are always included in the main categories. If no category is selected, all data available for the selected period and area will be displayed.

Combination of categories: AND/OR:

AND presents observations containing all selected categories at the chosen location (e.g., temperature and precipitation).

OR includes all observations containing at least one of the selected categories (e.g., either temperature or precipitation).

Long series can be queried using a special function.


Query by Time Intervals and Periods

Topics can be queried in the time interval between two dates either for the entire year or only for one period of the year (month, season). Meteorological seasons are winter (December of the previous year until February), spring (March to May), summer (June to August), and autumn (September to November).


a) “Storm Damage” from “01.01.1540” to “31.12.1560”, Periods: All – shows all documented storm damage between 1540 and 1560.

b) "Storm damage" From "01.01.1540", to "31.12.1560", Periods: Winter – between 1540 and 1560 indicates only storm damage in meteorological winter.

Attention: When querying “all events” in the selected time interval (example 1), always set “periods: all” in advance.

If no time interval is selected, all events are displayed.

Daily observations make up the lion's share of all data from 1684 to 1863. They can block the view at the selected categories. Therefore, it is recommended to exclude daily weather observations from the query, if not explicitly requested.


Query for Locations

The spatial query within Switzerland is based on the present administrative structure, i.e. structured by cantons with the associated municipalities. Municipalities are always subcategories of the cantons concerned. The spatial expansion of communities changed as a result of mergers. The names of many historic communities are thus only to be found as community parts of current communities

To gain an overview of a specific area, a reference point and a corresponding radius can be selected. For example, if Zurich and a radius of 25 kilometers are selected, all selected topics will be displayed in this perimeter.

The spelling of the place names corresponds with the chosen language. For example, if French is chosen, Genéve must be selected for Geneva, Ginevra in Italian, Genf in German.

Regions, valleys, rivers, lakes, glaciers, mountain peaks, passes and forests can also be queried. Those regions are sometimes blurred; their scope changes over time. They are, therefore, not assigned to any municipalities. Similarly, valleys, rivers, lakes, glaciers, mountain peaks, passes and forests cannot be queried by choosing a canton.