The award was created due to the importance of long-term meteorological observations as part of the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity. These measurements serve the needs of current and future generations for long-term high quality climate records and provide unique information about climate variability. Long term measurements of the weather provide the backbone for weather forecasting and climate science. Ensuring their long term sustainability is important for understanding how these might change in the future.
To highlight their importance, the WMO recognises Centennial Observing Stations for their contributions sustained over at least one century. The first meteorological measurements in Armagh were made in December 1794. Since July 14th, 1795 daily measurements have been made in Armagh, every single day – the longest continuous daily weather record in the British Isles.
The award of the WMO Centennial Observing Station status to Armagh Observatory & Planetarium was commemorated by a ceremony featuring current and former AOP staff, many of whom have contributed to the meteorological records over the years, representatives from Met Éireann and the Met Office, the BBC, the AOP Board of Governors, and the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
There are currently 8 Centennial Stations recognised by the WMO in the UK, and two others on the island of Ireland.