ben nevis

Ben Nevis getting new weather station for the first time since 1904

Image credit: pa

A new weather station has been installed at the summit of Ben Nevis to keep track of wind, pressure, temperature, precipitation and humidity.

The highest mountain in the UK is located in the Scottish Highlands but has not had any sort of weather tracking facility in over a century.

The summit, which is the collapsed dome of an ancient volcano, still features the ruins of an observatory, which was continuously staffed between 1883 and 1904.

The meteorological data collected during this period is still considered important for understanding Scottish mountain weather.

A team of scientists scaled Ben Nevis to install the new temporary weather station, which will produce comprehensive data that can be compared with Victorian records.

Dr Barbara Brooks from the expedition said: “This is a temporary weather station, which for four weeks will do the same work as the Victorian weathermen all those years ago.

“Thankfully, technology has moved on so there’s no need for our team to be stationed on the summit over the winter months.

“Having access to Ben Nevis’ records through Operation Weather Rescue means we will be able to start making comparisons, looking for any patterns and better understand the conditions on our mountain tops.

“If we can prove that the technology works and the data is robust, we’re hopeful this could lead to a new, permanent weather station on the summit, which would be invaluable for meteorologists.”

Operation Weather Rescue: Ben Nevis launched in September to try to digitise two million “lost” measurements taken by the Victorian volunteers, known as the Weathermen of Ben Nevis.

The weather enthusiasts had recorded the data by hand, every hour on the hour, each day of the year, from 1883 to 1904.

Since the project started, more than 3,500 volunteers have digitised over 1.25 million of their observations.

Dr Brooks hopes the new, temporary weather station will produce comprehensive data to be compared with these Victorian records.

It took the team five hours to reach the 1,345-metre summit on Tuesday.

Climate change specialist Professor Ed Hawkins, who led the operation, said: “Operation Weather Rescue: Ben Nevis will fill gaps in our knowledge and provide a baseline from which we can measure any changes to the weather today.

“Unearthing this type of data feeds into the bigger picture, helping international researchers understand climatic changes and make better forecasts for the future.

“The Ben Nevis weather data will tell us more about extreme rainfall, which is thought to be becoming more common in the UK.”

The new weather station relies on 3G coverage at the peak of Ben Nevis to transmit data back to the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS).

Last month mobile network operator O2 deployed fleets of helicopters and off-road vehicles to install 4G technology in remote Scottish towns and villages, including Ben Nevis. 

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