Meteorological Visibility Observations: A User’s Guide

Woman standing on a stone at the top of Blackford Hill

This Meteorological Observation Guide has been written as part of a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) Research Experience Placement carried out in the School of GeoSciences, The University of Edinburgh.

The guide steps teachers and students through the importance and use of visibility observations in meteorology, and how to run a visibility observation project using Blackford Hill in Edinburgh as an example.

The visibility observation procedure provided is the procedure used over the period of the NERC Research Experience Placement carried out in the School of GeoSciences, The University of Edinburgh.

The activities are  transferrable to other locations with a suitable vantage point. The work can be carried out by a class group or as part of a specific scientific project for senior pupils.

The aim of the research project was to investigate specific aspects of how global climate change affects the climate of Britain.
There are two main aims to this project:

1. Conduct visibility observations from Blackford Hill in Edinburgh, observing to see whether in times of anti-cyclonic weather, pollution build up in the atmosphere reduces the observed visibility.

2. Analysis of historical climate models to see how the frequency of anti-cyclones over the UK has changed due to anthropogenic climate change.

This guide is part of the former section.

Bonus material includes a ‘Meet the Scientists’ profile with information about the creator of the resource, James Holehouse.

Keywords: Anti-cyclonic weather; Meteorological Visibility Observations; hill; Climate Change; Weather; Climate


Created as part of the School of Geosciences’ Outreach Programme, which allows students in their final year to work in partnership with a local school to develop a set of lesson plans.

The resource is provided on a CC BY 4.0 licence and has been uploaded to TES Connect which hosts a range of lesson materials for early years, primary, secondary, and special needs teaching.


Go to ‘Meteorological Visibility Observations: A User’s Guide’ on TES Connect

Learn more about the GeoScience Outreach & Engagement Course


Image: Blackford Hill, by Brian Cameron, CC BY-SA 4.0