The Moravian missionaries at the Labrador coast and their centuries-long contribution to instrumental meteorological observations
Earth and related Environmental sciences
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The history of instrumental meteorological observations in Labrador/Nunatsiavut,Canada, began in August 1771 when the Unitas Fratrum, also known as the “Moravian Brethren”, established a mission among the Inuit on the Labrador coast. The Brethren named this place “Nain” after a city mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible. The missionaries included learned men, trained in the natural sciences, and in October of that same year they began to undertake instrumental meteorological observations. These observations have been continued, in one form or another, to the present day. As will be shown in this paper, the year 1771 thus marks the beginning of a long time series of meteorological observations from Labrador. The authors of this paper are currently researching the climatic history of the Labrador/Nunatsiavut region by tracing the meteorological observations of the Moravian missionaries to be found in scientific publications of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As will be demonstrated, the records of these observations in Labrador go through several stages; from being almost completely forgotten, to being published and republished in the main international meteorological journals. In this latter context, it may be said that the channels for the distribution of this knowledge are still being charted; this process involves tracking contacts between the Moravian Church and their sympathisers, as well as between the Church and contemporary scientists. This paper seeks to elucidate knowledge of these old records by placing them in the context of the research field of historical climatology and, at the same time, to honour the Moravian missionary observers for their valuable contribution to knowledge of past variations in climate.
CitationDemarée, G.; Ogilvie, A.. (2008). The Moravian missionaries at the Labrador coast and their centuries-long contribution to instrumental meteorological observations. , Issue 0, p. 423-450, IRM,