Back when Eli was a young bunny, before he took up hip hop and went on world tour, he roamed the library. Libraries are odd places, filled with books that appealed to the whims of the librarians, but to make a long story longer, Eli became entranced by several random volumes of Joseph Needham's (aka 李約瑟) Science and Civilization in China. Needham was a significant biologist who became obsessed with the question of how the West could come to dominate China in science and technology when the Chinese had such a significant lead before 1800.
Earlier this year, during one of the interminable discussions on early instrumental temperature measurements, Eli thought, well, are there early Chinese instrumental temperature records? So he wrote to the Needham Institute
I am interested if there is any record of Chinese instrumental temperature measurement and Chinese weather records. In particular, is any of this discussed in published volumes of Science and Civilization in China (prob. V4?) I ask as I do not have easy access to the complete set of published volumes as per the World Cat and knowing which volume(s) to target would make my research easier. I find this curious as I am in Washington Dc, near the US Library of Congress and several university libraries, including my own, but so be it.
Thank you for your help.and got the following reply from John Moffett, the Needham Institute Librarian
JN has a short section on Meteorology in Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 3 (CUP, 1959), pp. 462-496. There doesn't seem to be much since, in English, though you could try this for some more recent information:The link is to a book which describes setting up a weather observatory in Hong Kong, not really early times when compared to the Central England Temperature Series
Main author:MacKeown, P. K.
Title:Early China coast meteorology : the role of Hong Kong / P. Kevin MacKeown.
- Published:Hong Kong : Hong Kong University Press, c2010
- Numerous personality clashes and financial and other intrigues surrounded the early efforts to set up an Observatory in Hong Kong. Blending personalities, politics and practicalities of studying the weather, this entertaining book provides valuable and informative insights into the public and private controversies growing out of responses to and responsibilities involved in the protection of life and property. This portrait is set firmly in the context of the history of Hong Kong as British colony on the China Coast and its role as a burgeoning commercial port within the trading complex of the Empire. It brings to life many of the people and institutions in Hong Kong and elsewhere on the development of meteorology on the China Coast.
So Eli has two questions
1. Why did the Chinese civilization not develop temperature measurement instruments
2. Are there historical (not proxy) Chinese records of climate which are being used to develop temperature and precipitation measures.
Perhaps some Chinese bunny could help poor Eli's curiosity
(BTW if somebunny can answer these questions for the Indic/SE Asia or anyone elses home town, feel free to help, temperature measurement appears to have been very late to develop requiring several technologies but as said above, precipitation is easy, and so are planting records).