You are watching: An ideal shelter for housing a temperature-measurement instrument should be

After completing this section, friend should be able to describe suitable thermometer location to ensure precise temperature measurements, as well as discuss reasons why typical "air" temperature readings on financial institution thermometers, automobile thermometers, and also "on the field" at sporting events may it is in inaccurate.


When deciding ~ above a title for this section, ns strongly considered, "Measuring Temperature: Why your car Thermometer is Lying to You," but that seemed a small long. Girlfriend see, measuring the temperature that the air might seem straightforward, yet it"s more facility than you can think. And, if you deserve to find numerous sources the temperature observations, some are certainly more accurate and also meaningful 보다 others. So, let"s start with some common instruments because that measuring temperature, and also discuss the proper means to measure up temperature. Climate we"ll talk around the flaws the some usual temperature observations. Together it turns out, you have to be leery of temperature from bank thermometers, vehicle thermometers, and also those bring away "on the field" at sporting events!


For starters, go you know that multiple species of thermometers (instruments because that measuring temperature) exist? I"ll quickly define some usual types:

Liquid-in-glass thermometers (credit: NOAA) have actually been around for much more than 200 years, and also haven"t adjusted much because they"re simple, inexpensive, and also reasonably accurate. A liquid (usually alcohol or mercury) is cost-free to relocate within a thin opened inside a glass enclosure. Temperature changes cause the fluid to either expand or contract, causing a change of the length of the liquid in the thermometer.


Bimetallic thermometers space often placed outside homes on patios and are often used as food preparation thermometers.
Credit: publicly Domain

Bimetallic Thermometers, an instance of i beg your pardon is displayed on the right, are often an installed on patios or provided for cooking thermometers, and also don"t contain any liquid. Instead, two species of steel are welded together into a piece that is coiled right into a spiral (usually on the back side of the thermometer face). Temperature changes cause the strip to broaden or contract unevenly, and move the guideline on the challenge of the thermometer.

Thermistors (Credit: Ansgar Helwig / CC-BY-SA 2.0) space a typical breed of electric thermometer that actions temperature using the relationship in between temperature and also electrical resistance. Thermistors are commonly the resource of exterior temperature readings on automobile dashboards (Credit: Steve Seman), and are additionally used to measure up temperatures over the earth"s surface once weather balloons room launched.

So, why is your car thermometer lying to you? The fact that it offers a thermistor to measure exterior temperature isn"t the concern (thermistors are sensibly accurate), but it"s the placement of the thermistor that"s the problem. To see why, let"s start with exactly how temperatures must properly be measured.

Thermometer Placement

For temperature readings to be accurate and meaningful, thermometers have to be located five to six feet over the ground (ideally no over a led surface) to minimize the result that the underlying ground itself might have ~ above temperature. Thermometers likewise should no be exposed to direct sunlight. The bimetallic strip or "bulb" of a liquid-in-glass thermometer absorbs solar radiation more efficiently than neighboring air, for this reason exposure to direct sunlight reasons it to measure up a temperature that"s higher than the bordering air. Come truly measure up air temperature, a thermometer have to be in the shade, where the temperature that the thermometer itself need to be the exact same as the air temperature. Finally, thermometers shouldn"t be situated too close to buildings since warmth from buildings (via emitted radiation or the escape of air v vents, etc.) can contaminate the temperature reading.

In bespeak to accomplish proper thermometer "siting" at numerous of the nearly 10,000 main U.S. Participating Observer (COOP) Network sites, thermometers are put in "cotton-region shelters," (shown below) i m sorry are additionally known together "Stevenson Screens" (named after their designer, the father of author Robert luigi Stevenson). Cotton-region shelters sit about five feet over ground atop a base, and also have open up vents on the sides to allow air to circulation freely through the shelter and also contact the thermometers. Come maximize the enjoy of just arrive solar radiation, cotton-region shelters space painted white, and in addition to protecting the thermometers from straight solar radiation, cotton-region shelters likewise protect the instruments inside indigenous falling precipitation.


The cotton-region shelter (Stevenson Screen) exterior of the Walker building on pen State"s key campus helps to ensure the temperature is measure properly.

Other official temperature dimensions taken via the Automated surface ar Observing mechanism (ASOS), mainly located at airports, have actually shields that serve the exact same basic function of a cotton-region shelter, and also if girlfriend have ever purchased a house weather station, its thermometer should have actually come v a shield to attempt to protect it from direct solar radiation, however still allow for cost-free air flow.

So, now that you know just how temperature should be measured, what"s the problem with temperature measured by financial institution thermometers, auto thermometers, or "on the field" in ~ sporting events? for starters, financial institution thermometers are regularly housed really close come (or space attached to) buildings. Furthermore, they"re often exposed to direct sunlight, or space encased in a dark-colored shelter, i beg your pardon maximizes the absorb of solar radiation. So, once you check out a really high temperature top top a bank thermometer top top a sunny day, don"t to buy it! The thermometer is most likely not sited properly, and is in an environment causing it come read much too warm.

What about your auto thermometer? In most cars, the thermistor is situated behind the car"s front grille, which means it is influenced by the temperature the the car"s engine, exhaust from neighboring vehicles, and the basic road. Most vehicle grilles are just a couple of feet off the ground, i m sorry is close sufficient to the hot pavement (which is properly emitting radiation), to furthermore warm the thermistor"s environment. As a result, like bank thermometers, her car"s external temperature reading is frequently too high, especially when you"re in stop-and-go website traffic on a clear day. As soon as you"re traveling under the roadway at highway speeds, the rapid flow the air near the thermistor does help make temperature readings a bit more accurate and meaningful, although still not ideal. The temperature readings should also be a bit more accurate in ~ night or top top cloudy job (although again, still not ideal). Despite their shortcomings, however, a car"s thermistor can provide you a great idea around temperature changes when you travel (temperature increases and decreases together you drive up and down mountainous terrain, for example).

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Finally, what about temperatures measure up "on the field" in ~ sporting events? Often, they"re too high, together well. For starters, the thermometers are regularly exposed to straight sunlight. Furthermore, put a thermometer ~ above the field method that temperature is being measured inches over the ground, where conduction deserve to make the blazing hot. Remember that temperatures can technique 140 degrees Fahrenheit in a thin layer of waiting in call with the soil on a sunny, summer day thanks to conduction. Darker synthetic playing surfaces just exaggerate the problem, because they much more readily absorb solar radiation (similar to exactly how paved surfaces much more readily absorb solar radiation compared to grassy surfaces). One of two people way, temperature measured top top the play surface space not representative of waiting temperatures 5 or six feet above ground, wherein official dimensions are taken.

My last comments in our lesson top top temperature are helpful ones: If you ever before invest in a house weather station, and you want to for sure accurate and meaningful temperature measurement, location your thermometer away from any kind of buildings, five to 6 feet over ground (ideally no over a paved surface), and also make certain it"s shielded from straight solar radiation, however can get as much open air circulation as possible. Furthermore, don"t buy right into the temperatures presented on car or bank thermometers. They"re not sited properly and are generally lying to you!