Integrating Climate Information into the Gazetteer for Scotland
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Descriptive gazetteers index geographical features and provide information about their characteristics. The Gazetteer for Scotland (GfS) describes thousands of places throughout the country, containing information such as dates, history, locations, photographs and maps. One characteristic lacking in GfS is climate information, which is commonly included in other descriptive resources, such as travel guides. This project adds climate information for the towns in GfS in the form of textual descriptions, tables and graphs that detail temperature, precipitation, frost and sunshine characteristics for every month of the year. The climate estimates are derived from 1981-2010 climate averages at Met Office weather stations in Scotland, but many of the places in GfS for which climate information is sought have never had climate data linked to them. To estimate climate characteristics for these places a process of regression is used to model relationships between geography and climate, and interpolation is used to evaluate patterns in each climate variable between the stations. This dual process accounts for both geographical effects and natural climatic variation in order to maintain a high level of accuracy across Scotland. Accuracy assessment by validating the final climate surfaces against an independent dataset yields positive results, with mean absolute errors of 0.19ºC for high temperatures, 0.07ºC for low temperatures, and 0.35 days per month for days of precipitation. The appropriate climate values are extracted for all towns and displayed in a new section of the Gazetteer for Scotland website, enriching the information available to users. Based on user feedback the resulting new resource is a valuable addition to the Gazetteer for Scotland’s place descriptions.