While weather may be unpredictable and uncontrollable, environmental sensors make it possible to glean as much information as possible regarding weather conditions and to make predictions regarding future weather patterns. Environmental sensors may also be used to monitor and control systems and operations in response to weather. Environmental sensors may be used to measure a variety of different weather-related parameters, including the following:
Wind is considered one of the most important weather forces due to the fact that it serves as the vehicle by which latent heat moisture is driven. This is what fuels storms. Wind also provides transfer energy, so measuring the direction and speed of energy is essential for successfully predicting approaching weather patterns. Anemometers as well as other environmental sensors may be used for gauging wind speed and direction. Anemometer driven wind speed transmitters may direct systems to control operations and alert people of potentially unsafe conditions. For example a wind speed transmitter may automatically retract an awning, or alert personnel to secure equipment.
While a standard rain-collecting gauge can provide basic information, more advanced environmental sensors are often needed to gather detailed information regarding current and approaching weather conditions. Precipitation can fall in many different forms, making it necessary to utilize versatile instruments that are capable of measuring both the type and intensity of precipitation. Research-grade environmental sensors are capable of distinguishing between solid, liquid, and mixed forms of precipitation. Depending upon the type of sensors used, it is often possible to measure the speed of precipitation as it falls as well as drop size. Rain gauges may direct automated irrigation systems to stop when it is raining, or to provide input to monitoring systems in wastewater facilities.
Temperature is another common measure weather parameter that is responsible for affecting almost all other weather parameters. Unlike precipitation and wind, temperature is always present. A variety of environmental sensors may be used for measuring temperature, including thermocouples, thermistors, Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTD) sensors and mercury thermometers. In commercial manufacturing applications such as surface coating, environmental temperature sensors are used to ensure processes are within specifications.
Humidity refers to the measure of the amount of water vapor that is present in the air. Relative humidity is the most common method for measuring humidity. The higher the humidity, the more heat it is able to absorb, which can make an area feel even warmer. As a result, humidity is an important weather parameter to be measured and is one that is commonly measured in weather stations. Similar to temperature sensors, humidity sensors are used in manufacturing operations to ensure processes are within parameters. For example out of range humidity can adversely impact surface coating applications.
Barometric pressure has a direct effect on precipitation and refers to the weight of the air pressing down on the Earth’s surface. Precipitation and storms are commonly associated with low pressure. Barometric pressure is an excellent forecasting tool for weather.