Visualising 100 ships

I was really excited to see, a few days ago, that we’ve now completed the logs for 100 ships (100! and that only includes those where every page has been looked at by at least three people – there are many more making good progress). So we’ve now got enough information to look at the results from the fleet as a whole, as well as individual ships.

As one way of doing this I’ve made a video showing the ship movements from all the completed pages so far: Every point is one digitised weather observation, coloured by pressure (red=high, blue=low). At 10 days a second it takes 5 minutes to get through 1914-22, but there’s plenty to see – I like such visualisations because they always bring out new information:

Apart from the weather information (watch the sporadic outbursts of widespread low pressure – bad weather – in the North Atlantic), I like the way one ship settles in Bermuda – apparently determined to watch out the whole war from there; I bet that’s a very desirable posting. It’s also notable how big an effect the war apparently has on the patterns of movement – there is an explosion of activity in August 1914 and a clear reduction in late 1918. The war gets very little mention in the logbooks, but our results still indicate that it had a big impact on the activity of the ships.

We can also see a few cases that require more quality control: there are a few ships travelling through the Sahara, the Amazon and the Greenland Ice-cap – these are probably position errors in the logbooks. I think the ships in inland China, however, are the river gunboats about their proper business.

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6 responses to “Visualising 100 ships”

  1. Steven says :

    This is awesome!

  2. Gordon Smith says :

    Philip, you really have a way with date. V interesting. Gordon

  3. s bush says :

    very cool! reminds me of videos of cell activity in the body.

  4. jen says :

    Regarding: Sitting in Bermuda… I’m transcribing the HMS Leviathan (not quite done – around 85%), and she summers in Halifax and winters in Bermuda. There are quite a few other ships I see regularly in both ports who do the same thing.

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