What Are Wind Speed Anemometers?

industrial environmental sensors

As the name suggests, wind speed anemometers are used to measure the speed of wind. This commonly used weather station instrument provides important information used by scientists, meteorologists, and others. The word “anemometer” comes from a Greek word meaning “wind.”

Looking at History

According to officials, Leon Battista Alberti first used the term “wind speed anemometer” in 1450. Since that time, the actual design has undergone very little change. Reportedly, Alberti was the inventor, although a number of others, including the Mayans and Robert Hooke, developed their own version of the instrument.

The wind speed anemometer did go through some design changes in 1846 by John Thomas Romney Robinson, who used mechanical wheels and four hemispherical cups. In 1926, a three cup anemometer was developed by John Patterson, which was improved on in 1935 by Breyoort and again in 1991 by Joiner.

The ability to detect the direction of wind as well as speed was an addition thanks to Derek Wetson in 1991. The latest change recorded took place in 1994, when Dr. Andrews Pflitsch created a type of sonic anemometer.

Types of Wind Speed Anemometers

Today, there are several kinds of wind speed anemometers. While the concept remains much the same among them, there are distinct differences in design. The options include the following:

  • Acoustic Anemometers
  • Cup Anemometers
  • Differential Pressure Anemometers
  • Hot-Wire Anemometers
  • Laser/Doppler Anemometers
  • Pitot Tube Static Anemometers
  • Ping Pong Anemometers
  • Plate Anemometers
  • Sonic Anemometers
  • Tube Anemometers
  • Vane Anemometers

Density Measurement and Instrument Location

As mentioned, there are differences in the design of wind speed anemometers and, therefore, unique functionalities. For example, when looking at the tube anemometer, while scale is typically graduated as a velocity scale, the measurement of pressure is captured. Whenever the air density is dramatically different from the value of calibration, there has to be an allowance made. In this case, roughly 1.5% is added to the recorded velocity by a tube anemometer for every 1,000 feet above sea level.

As far as placement of wind speed anemometers, the effects of terrain have to be considered when making comparisons from one location to another. This is especially important when talking about height. In addition, there are things like natural versus artificial canyons and even the presence of trees that have to be considered. For anemometer height specific in open rural terrain, the standard is 10 meters.

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