Projects per year
This essay outlines the development of the modern meteorological infrastructure in China, and the competing agendas of different centres for metrological research and weather forecasting between 1869 and the fall of the Qing dynasty. It explores how Britons and Americans in Chinese government employ in the Maritime Customs Service worked with Jesuit scientists at Shanghai’s Zikawei Observatory to establish a scientific as well as a practical meteorological system in China, and it looks at how both groups engaged with the ambitions and pretensions of British colonial science, notably in the British colony at Hong Kong. The paper outlines the processes of collection, analysis and dissemination of data to scientists and to mariners, and the inter-related roles of new technology -- notably the telegraph and telephone – and new infrastructures – notably the lighthouse network developed by the Customs after 1869. Bringing China within the field of scientific knowledge by generating and disseminating data, and establishing an effective storm warning system for China coast shipping, was the objective of Sir Robert Hart, Inspector-General of the Customs, as he developed the system. The data generated is important today for climate scientists, and the story of its development provides a case study of the growth of a transnational scientific network in the late nineteenth century, and the incorporation of information and data from China into the wider domain of Western science.
|Title of host publication||Treaty Ports in Modern China|
|Subtitle of host publication||Law, land and power|
|Editors||Robert Bickers, Isabella Jackson|
|Number of pages||22|
|Publication status||Published - 31 May 2016|
- History of science
- Chinese Maritime Customs Service
- Chinese history
1/09/08 → 1/09/11
Bickers, R. (2016). ‘Throwing Light on Natural Laws’: Meteorology on the China coast, 1869-1912. In R. Bickers, & I. Jackson (Eds.), Treaty Ports in Modern China: Law, land and power (pp. 180-201). Routledge.