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Harpenden's Rothamsted Research to be recognised for furthering climate science

PUBLISHED: 19:05 22 March 2019

Environmental scientist Tony Scott, who runs Rothamsted Weather Station in Harpenden, receiving a plaque for contributions to climate change from the Met Office's Simon Gilbert. Picture: Rothamsted Research

Environmental scientist Tony Scott, who runs Rothamsted Weather Station in Harpenden, receiving a plaque for contributions to climate change from the Met Office's Simon Gilbert. Picture: Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research Centre in Harpenden received a plaque in recognition of its contribution to climate science.

Environmental scientist Tony Scott, who runs Rothamsted Weather Station in Harpenden, receiving a plaque for contributions to climate change from the Met Office's Simon Gilbert. Picture: Rothamsted ResearchEnvironmental scientist Tony Scott, who runs Rothamsted Weather Station in Harpenden, receiving a plaque for contributions to climate change from the Met Office's Simon Gilbert. Picture: Rothamsted Research

The plaque, presented by the Met Office, commemorates Rothamsted’s designation as a World Meteorological Organisation Centennial Station and marks more than 140 years as an operating weather station.

Present at the ceremony on Wednesday, March 20 were weather recording station manager Tony Scott, institute historians Roger Plumb and John Jenkyn and chief executive Achim Dobermann, as well as the Met Office’s head of observation partnerships Simon Gilbert.

Both current and historical weather recording equipment was also on display, including original 19th century underground drain gauges.

Rothamsted is the longest serving of the five sites given centennial station status, with continuous records dating back to 1853.

A Campbell-Stokes recorder which was used to measure hours of sunshine at Rothamsted Research in the late nineteenth century. Picture: Rothamsted ResearchA Campbell-Stokes recorder which was used to measure hours of sunshine at Rothamsted Research in the late nineteenth century. Picture: Rothamsted Research

Tony Scott said: “Measuring, understanding, and predicting climate change is only possible because of long term data sets that allow you to separate natural year to year variation from longer term trends.

“The link to agriculture is significant, because in addition to being affected by it, farming can also cause - and potentially prevent - increased greenhouse gas emissions.

“The weather records are invaluable in helping understand the impact of climate on farming, whether its crop growth and yield as well as insect pests and diseases.”

Rothamsted’s weather records have shown dramatic changes in temperature and rainfall over the past 25 years, especially in the first 12 years of this century.

Tony explained: “Weather recording, at what is known as the Rothamsted Weather Station, was set up by our founders, Lawes and Gilbert, when they became interested in the amount, and the chemistry, of rain that fell on an acre of land.

“In 1872 they took their interest in the amount of rainfall and its impact on arable crops to wanting to know how much rain water percolated through bare soil.”

Lawes and Gilbert built gauges which are the oldest pieces of equipment still in use at the recording station.

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