When the weather readings began at Armagh Observatory over 200 years ago, only present temperature and pressure were recorded. Today, the weather observations continue to be made every day in Armagh at 9am GMT. The climate record is now the longest in the UK and Ireland.
Shane Kelly is the principal meteorological observer. He has been so for over 20 years now, the longest period any one person has held this responsibility since the Observatory was built. When Shane is not available, Armagh PhD students step in to make the observations. This now forms a part of the training they receive in the skills of scientific measurement.
The full suite of data collected has grown over the years. It includes recording the present temperature and pressure, the daily maximum and minimum temperatures, and the grass surface and soil temperatures. This has application, for instance, to agriculture, guiding when to plant crops. Most instruments are enclosed inside the Stevenson Screen, with others located around the Met Enclosure.
The amount of sunshine each day is measured using a Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder; a glass ball which concentrates the sunlight to burn a strip along a special card. Present cloud cover, wind speed and direction, general weather, and the state of ground are also recorded.
A new Automatic Weather Station has been added recently, able to sample conditions minute-by-minute and so increase the richness of the dataset.
The Armagh dataset contributes to quantifying our understanding of how the climate has changed over the past. It shows a clear warming trend over the past three decades. As the oldest Centennial station in the UK and Ireland, maintaining and continuing this record of daily weather measurements in Armagh is particularly important.