Blue Hill Observatory Sunshine – Assessment of Climate Signals in the Longest Continuous Meteorological Record in North America
Thursday, 18 December 2014
The Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory occupies a unique place in the history of the American Meteorological Society and the development of atmospheric science. Through its 129-year history, the Observatory has been operated by founder Abbott Lawrence Rotch (1861-1912), Harvard University, and the National Weather Service, and it is presently run by the non-profit Blue Hill Observatory Science Center. While daily temperature and precipitation records are available through the National Climatic Data Center, they do not include the full record of sunshine duration data that were measured using a Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder. We have recently digitized the Observatory’s original daily sunshine archives, and now present the first full collection and analysis of sunshine records extending from 1889 to the present. This data set is unique and salient to modern climate research because the collection represents the earliest and longest continuous measurements of insolation outside of Western Europe. Together the record provides an unprecedented glimpse into regional climate features, as well as important links between global phenomena and regional climate. Analysis reveals long-term fluctuations of cloud-cover and solar radiation, including signals of regional industrialization, global-dimming, volcanic eruptions, the 11-Year Solar Cycle, and the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Shorter period fluctuations include evidence of an intricate annual pattern of sunshine duration and correlations with the Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, and galactic cosmic rays.