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Lerwick Observatory

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Lerwick Observatory is located on the Shetland Mainland, on a ridge of high ground 82 metres above sea level (with a wind vane at 93 metres), and about 2.5 kilometres southwest of Lerwick harbour, on moorland consisting of peat bog, heather and rocky outcrops.

The site was first established in 1919, with observations beginning in 1921, and the first full year of recordings being completed in 1922.

Meteorological observations

The observatory is operated by the Meteorological Office (Met Office) as a meteorological station which out routine synoptic observations and upper-air measurements. Further work arried out at the station includes the detection of thunderstorms, measurement of solar radiation, monitoring atmospheric pollution levels, and chemical sampling.

Ozone measurements

Lerwick is one of only two stations in the UK where ozone measurements are made - the other is located at Camborne in Cornwall. These stations are part of the UK Upper Air Observing Network, operated by the Met Office. Ground based Dobson Spectrophotometers are used to make daily measurements of total ozone, the largest part of which exists in the stratospheric ozone layer, at a height of 8-30 kilometres. Lerwick also carries out ozone concentration profiles, using balloon borne ozonesondes.

Magnetic observations

Responsibility for magnetic observations on the site passed from the Met Office to BGS (British Geological Survey) in 1968.[1]

The station[2] is linked to INTERMAGNET,[3] the International Real-time Magnetic Observatory Network, a global network of observatories which monitors the Earth's magnetic field. Measurements at the site are carried out utilising a three component fluxgate, and total field proton magnetometers.

Seismic observations

BGS uses Lerwick as a seismological station, recording data from a local three-component seismometer set, and from the Shetland seismic array, using a radio link.

Cold War connection

The observatory earned its place in a Scottish CND listing because it is the location of a Met Office station, and is said to provide reports which are important for the operation of radar and sonar in the area. The online page has gone, but the reference can still be seen in their publication, Fortress Scotland.


1 Lerwick Magnetic Observatory

2 Lerwick Observatory


External links

Aerial views



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