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200 Years On The Net

13th November 2000
Staff at Armagh Observatory have begun a new project to unlock Armagh's unique 200-year long meteorological record. These observations, which comprise an important part of Northern Ireland's scientific heritage, represent the longest climate archive from a single site in Ireland and have a key role to play in understanding the causes of global warming. The project staff will make the historic records available over the internet to schools, historians, and individual climate researchers, and provide individual series of typed data for detailed scientific analysis.

Armagh's unique weather records are of special interest to students of global warming. John Butler, astronomer in charge of the project, said ``In the Armagh Observatory's records we already see the influence of Global Warming over the past century and they indicate strongly that changes in the Sun are at least partially responsible.''

As storms, floods and heavy rainfall increasingly hit the headlines, we need to know their cause, how unusual they are, and whether they really are coming more often than in the past. Answers to these questions lie in further research, and in detailed analyses of long time series meteorological data such as that contained in the Armagh archive.

The meteorology project, which is expected to last for a total of two years, is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will encourage greater appreciation of Northern Ireland's rich scientific heritage, give modern electronic access to the whole meteorological record and observational archive, and provide a permanent climatological resource for future research, learning and education.

A plot showing the change in temperature at Armagh Observatory since 1796 and the simultaneous changes in the length of the `11-year' sunspot cycle, adapted from the article 'A provisional long mean air temperature series for Armagh Observatory', Journal for Atmospheric and Solar Terrestrial Physics, Vol 58, p1657-1672, 1996, by C.J. Butler and D.J. Johnston.".

Data Plot

Squares represent the mean temperature at Armagh.
Solid histogram represents the length of the sunspot cycle.

Some examples of the Armagh meteorological records

For further details, contact John Butler or John McFarland at Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928, FAX: 028-3752-7174; e-mail: cjb@star.arm.ac.uk; jmf@star.arm.ac.uk.

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Last Revised: 13th November 2000
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