Grand-St-Bernard celebrates 200 years of observation

Grand-St-Bernard celebrates 200 years of observation



15 September 2017

Managed for most of its life by monks and operated today by MeteoSwiss, the meteorological station at Grand-St-Bernard, located high in the Swiss Alps near the border with Italy, is today celebrating 200 years of uninterrupted meteorological observation.

During the ceremony, the World Meteorological Organization presented the station with a Certificat and a commemorative metal plate designating it as a Centennial Observing Station. The ceremony was attended by representatives of WMO, MeteoSwiss, the Observatory of Geneva, the canton of Valais, and members of the local monastery.

Perched at an altitude of 2473 m, the Hospice of Grand-St-Bernard was founded in 1080. It has long been famous both for its religious community and its breed of large St Bernard dogs, renown for rescuing travellers lost in the mountains.

“Maintaining an observation station, day in and day out, for 200 years is a major achievement,” said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova. “You need skilled people, financial resources, a stable location for the equipment and – perhaps most importantly – dedication and commitment. On behalf of WMO I congratulate you on your accomplishment.”

Grand-Saint-Bernard boasts one of the world’s longest and most robust continuous records of meteorological observations.  These observations make an essential contribution to scientists’ growing understanding of climate change and the climate system.

WMO is committed to promoting long-term weather observations around the world. The year 2016 was the warmest year in the global record, and 2017 is on track to be among the warmest. Scientists know this only because of continuous land-based observations from thermometers around the globe. Unfortunately, too many old weather stations are being closed because of budget problems or urban development.

In response, WMO created the Centennial Observing Stations initiative to raise awareness of this problem and to encourage governments everywhere to protect and maintain these vital scientific observations. The initiative also seeks to rescue and homogenize observational data that are stored on paper rather than digitally. So far, 60 stations around the world have been certified as meeting the necessary requirements to be recognized as Centennials. More are expected to be certified next year.

Grand-Saint-Bernard is also one of only two Swiss stations that are part of the Surface Network of the Global Climate Observing System, co-sponsored by WMO. This global network consists of over 1 000 stations selected from many thousands of existing meteorological stations that monitor daily global and large-scale climate variability. Grand-Saint-Bernard observations have proven to be both reliable and of high quality.

Observation data are the foundation of climate science.  Observations and modelling allow scientists to create credible scenarios of our future climate. Their results are then assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

For more information, please visit the WMO webpage on long-term observations

Contact: Michael Williams, Chief, Communication and Public Affairs, WMO: +41-79-406-4730 (cell), 

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