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History Of Weather Observing Tools

Temperature Measurement: Who invented the thermometer?

  • 1593 – Galileo Galilei (Italy): First water thermometer.
  • 1714 – Gabriel Fahrenheit (Germany): First mercury thermometer with Fahrenheit scale.
  • 1743 – Andrus Celsius (Sweden): Invented Celsius scale mercury thermometer.
  • 1848 - Lord William Thomson Kelvin (Scotland): Creator of the Kelvin Scale (measurement of hot and cold absolute extremes, for example absolute zero is -273C).

Humidity Measurement: Who invented the hygrometer?

  • 1400s - Leonardo da Vinci (Italy): First primitive hygrometer.
  • 1664 - Francesco Folli (Italy): First practical hygrometer.
  • 1783 - Horace Bénédict de Saussure (Switzerland): Invented a hygrometer that uses human hair to measure humidity.
  • 1820 - John Frederic Daniell (Britain): First dew point hygrometer using electrical resistance.

Pressure Measurement: Who invented the barometer?

  • 1644 – Evangelista Torricelli (Italy): invented an instrument called the Torricelli tube, a 4 ft long glass tube containing mercury inverted into a dish, used for experiments to create a vacuum. He suggested that it was the weight of air changing from day to day that caused variation in the height of the mercury. Using Torricelli's design, his colleague Vincenzo Viviani made the first mercury barometer.
  • 1843 – Lucien Vidie (France): Invented a metallic barometer that he called aneroid, from the Greek, meaning "without liquid." The device consisted of a sealed metallic vacuum chamber which has flexible upper and lower surfaces connected to an index pointer. As barometric pressure changes, the height of the chamber fluctuates causing the pointer to move up or down. Aneroid barometers are compact and easily portable.

Wind Measurement: Who invented the anemometer?

  • 1450 – Leon Battista Alberti (Italy): described and illustrated a swinging-plate, deflection-type anemometer.
  • 1805 - Sir Francis Beaufort (Britain): Created the “Beaufort Scale” used to visually estimate wind speed by observing the effect of wind on common objects.
  • 1846 – John Thomas Romney Robinson (Ireland): Invented the first four-cup anemometer, predecessor to modern anemometers for wind measurement.

Precipitation Measurement: Who invented the rain gauge?

  • 1441 - King Sejong and his son, Prince Munjong, invented the first standardized rain gage. These were sent throughout the kingdom as an official tool to assess land taxes based upon a farmer's potential harvest.
  • 1662 - Sir Christopher Wren (Britain): Invented the mechanical self-emptying tipping bucket rain gauge, the type used today for rain measurement in most home weather stations.

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