How to Collect Scientific Rainfall Data with Rain Gauge Scales
Rainfall is a crucial part of any scientific environmental operations. Not only does it affect the local climate, but also plays an important role in agricultural activities, water supply, and sewage management.
For this reason, environmental organizations should understand the value of measuring precipitation to ensure that their information is being reported smoothly and responsibly. One way to do this is by using rain gauge scales which provide precise readings on rainfall amounts.
In this article, the metrology experts at Arlyn Scales discuss why organizations should measure precipitation. Then, we explain why rain gauge scales are the best way to collect scientific rainfall data.
Why is it Important to Collect Rainfall Data?
This data is critical for the scientific community in developing an understanding of the local, regional, national, and global climate. Just as important, collecting this data over the course of years helps in the study of climate change, global warming, and a host of other issues.
Besides the scientific value, rainfall data is very important for the agricultural community. Seasonal rainfall information is used for deciding when certain crops should be planted or harvested, and even which type or variety of crop should be chosen for that season.
The volume of rainfall is also one of the variables in predicting the amount of growth for various grazing crops. This information is used by farmers in making economic decisions as to the type of feed used for animals, and even the expected costs for raising these animals.
Rainfall data is also a public health and safety issue.
There are many areas that are periodically subject to drought conditions. Measurement of rainfall is used to help understand if those conditions are in effect, and their severity.
Various public regulations pertaining to water usage can be set by measuring this data, such as lawn watering, car washing, and more. In times of very high rainfall, potential flood conditions can be predicted by proper rainfall measurement techniques.
How Do Scientists & Professionals Measure Precipitation?
Devices to measure rainfall have been available for many years. These include:
- Open Cylinder
- Tipping Gauge
- Rain Gauge Scale
Measuring Rainfall with an Open Cylinder
One of the most primitive types is simply an open cylinder. The rain collects in the cylinder over time.
The measurements may be recorded by someone who travels to all of the collection sites and notes the level within the cylinder. Generally, the cylinder will be emptied at that time, so that it can collect a new sample.
Of course, there are many significant sources of error in this method.
There will be a certain amount of natural evaporation. If precipitation is in the form of snow or sleet, it may block the entry to the cylinder.
There is also considerable effort required to record these readings. Therefore, it’s important to collect these readings before the cylinder overflows.
Measuring Rainfall with a Tipping Gauge
Another type of device is known as a tipping gauge. A collection container is attached — in an unstable method — to a frame with a pivoting connection.
The container collects the rain until the weight of the water causes the container to tip on its pivot. It then tips over, empties its contents, and advances a counter which measures the number of times that it has tipped.
You can determine the total volume of precipitation by multiplying the weight by the number of times the gauge tipped.
Measuring Rainfall with a Rain Gauge Scale
A much better method of recording rainfall is by using a rain gauge scale. A container sits on the platform of a precise electronic scale and an electronic output sends data to a recording device.
This allows very accurate measurement of precipitation, and also records the time and date of that precipitation.
Rain gauge scales enable you to conserve energy
Because rain gauge scales are often located in remote locations, they must often operate on battery power. The scale may be designed to consume very low power, but this will often interfere with its accuracy.
Another power saving technique is to program the scale to power itself on and off according to a schedule. For example, it may turn itself on for only 1 second every minute.
This can allow enough time for an accurate reading, but reduces the power consumption by a factor of 60. Of course, if it only turned on once in ten minutes, the power consumption would now be reduced by a factor of 600, offering much longer battery life.
Rain gauge scales are built to endure
The components of the scale must be designed to operate for long periods of time in hazardous, outdoor environments. The load sensor of the scale is the most prone to damage by moisture and extremes of temperature.
While aluminum is the most common material used for scale load cells, the highest quality scales use stainless steel for the load cell. Besides providing much lower opportunities for corrosion, stainless steel is also much more rugged.
In all cases, the load cells, and the entire scale, must have excellent temperature correction capability. While most scales are designed to be used within an industrial or laboratory environment, rain gauge scales are subject to very wide ranges of temperature.
Measure Rainfall for Data-Driven Operations with Arlyn Scales
Accurate rainfall data can be invaluable to businesses that need to measure and track changes in weather conditions. With rain gauge scales from Arlyn Scales, you can easily collect reliable precipitation measurements without the need for a lot of space or specialized equipment.
By measuring your local environment with our products, you can make more informed decisions about operations management and adjust for any sudden shifts in climate patterns.
To find the most accurate rain gauge scale for your data-driven business, reach out to our team today!