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Near-zero humidities on Ben Nevis, Scotland, revealed by pioneering 19th-century observers and modern volunteers

Burt, S. ORCID: and Hawkins, E. ORCID: (2019) Near-zero humidities on Ben Nevis, Scotland, revealed by pioneering 19th-century observers and modern volunteers. International Journal of Climatology, 39 (11). pp. 4451-4466. ISSN 0899-8418

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/joc.6084


The weather on Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the British Isles, 1345 m AMSL – sometimes shows episodes of remarkably low relative humidity (RH) with few precedents anywhere else in the British Isles. We are able to quantify this for the first time using a high-quality series of hourly dry- and wet-bulb observations, made on the summit. These observations were made between 1883 and 1904, but have only just become available to modern science, thanks to thousands of volunteers who worked to rescue this unique and exemplary dataset from published volumes. Careful examination and analysis of the original observations using modern psychrometric theory revealed several occasions where we are confident that the summit RH fell close to zero as a result of anticyclonic subsidence. Three case histories are examined in some detail. The nineteenth-century Ben Nevis humidity records are also compared with contemporary automatic weather station (AWS) data from two high-altitude Scottish mountain sites.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:82775
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ben Nevis; relative humidity; anticyclonic subsidence; psychrometric calculation; crowdsourcing; Scotland; Cairngorm; Aonach Mor
Publisher:John Wiley & Sons


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