Forecast weather: Elements of weather and instruments used to measure them

May 12 2023 - Views: 2597
Rate: 4.5 - 51Votes
Do you know that there are up to 8 common different elements of weather and climate (not just only temperature, humidity, and winds)? Check out this article “Forecast weather: Elements of weather and how to measure them” to know more about them as well as instruments used to measure these elements!

Looking at a weather report or a weather forecast, you will easily realize that there are various factors included. Air temperature, humidity, winds are the factors you most often see or listen to in a weather forecast, right?

Of course, they are all important elements of the weather that meteorologists use to observe, measure, and forecast weather. But do you know that together with these, precipitation or chance of rain, visibility, clouds, air pressure, and sunshine duration are also essential elements of weather and climate? That’s true!

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Elements of weather

Well, if you want to learn deeply about elements of weather, this article is definitely for you as right below here, we are going to explain to you what they are, how they influence the weather, how they are measured, and more. Keep reading on to find out a lot of interesting information in this article.

Forecast weather: Elements of weather and their instruments

Weather consists of different elements. The ways that these elements interact with each other create different weather events. Let’s take a deeper look at each of the most common weather elements listed below here to see what it is and how they affect the weather. 


Normally, the temperature is one of the very first elements mentioned in a weather forecast or a weather report. It’s probably also one of the first topics we often discuss when it comes to the weather, right? That means the temperature is so familiar to us and we all know what it is.

Temperature measures the degree of the coldness or hotness of a place from day today. During the day, the temperature may change repeatedly depending on the angle of the sun.

It’s a very important element of weather and clearly influences other weather elements like wind, precipitation, clouds, and more.

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Weather temperature forecast 


In a weather report, we also often see the percentage of humidity, right? And that’s the relative humidity. Another type of humidity is absolute humidity which is measured in g/m3 (grams per cubic meter).

Simply, humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air at any specific time. Though humidity normally can’t be seen, we can feel it.

Not only does humidity influence our physical comfort levels, but it also plays a big part in weather formation and can be used to forecast weather events like a coming storm, for example.

See also: What is humidity and how does humidity affect weather?

Atmospheric pressure

Atmospheric pressure or air pressure is another important element of weather, particularly when it comes to changing atmospheric conditions. Changes in atmospheric pressure are mainly caused by the descent of cold air and the rise of warm air.

More specifically, atmospheric pressure is the result of the pressure that is created by the weight of air in Earth’s atmosphere.

Do you know that the air has weight? In fact, the air is filled with small particles of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and more. The weight of these particles creates pressure because of the gravitational force of the Earth. Air (atmospheric) pressure is highest on the Earth’s surface and decreases at higher altitudes.

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Green wheat stalks blowing in the wind

Wind (Wind speed and wind direction)

The wind is one of the major driving forces of weather that meteorologists deeply take into account when forecast weather. In fact, the majority of weather events, including extreme ones like thunderstorms, hurricanes, … are driven by wind.

The wind is defined as the large-scale movement of air from areas of high air pressure to areas of low pressure in the atmosphere. Also, the strength and speed of wind are determined by the difference in air pressures as well as the distance between the high-pressure areas and low-pressure areas.


Precipitation is water (liquid or frozen water) forming in the atmosphere and falling back to the Earth. Precipitation comes in many different forms such as rain, snow, mist, sleet, fog, …

Together with condensation and evaporation, precipitation is one of the major parts of the global water cycle. Precipitation can be predicted by observing clouds and other signs in the sky.

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Light clouds on a sunny day


Cloud is simply a large collection of tiny water droplets or ice crystals that formed after water reached condensation level and not remaining in gaseous form anymore.

It’s important to study clouds with scientific equipment to forecast weather conditions. Different types of clouds determine different weather conditions. For example, dark heavy clouds indicate that there will be thunderstorms or heavy rain, while light clouds indicate little or no precipitation.

Sunshine duration

Sunshine duration (also referred to as sunlight hours) is simply the length of time that the Earth’s surface is exposed to solar radiation. This element of weather is normally measured in hours per day or per year.

Sunshine duration influences other elements of weather like temperature, humidity, and air pressure as well.

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Sunshine in summer


Visibility may not clearly seem like an element of weather, but it is also mentioned in weather reports or weather forecasts, especially when discussing and measuring weather conditions like mist, fog, smog, or freezing drizzle. It’s a measure of the distance at which light or an object can be clearly observed. 

Above are 8 elements of weather and their effects on the weather, in general, and on other elements of weather, in particular. Let’s move on to the next part of this article and we will learn about instruments used to measure these weather elements and forecast weather.

Instruments for measuring elements of weather 

To measure and forecast weather conditions, meteorologists use a wide range of instruments. Read on to know which instruments are used to measure different elements of weather.

Instruments for measuring air temperature

The thermometer is used to measure the temperature in degrees Celsius and degrees Fahrenheit. Thermometers come in all sizes and shapes and date back to the 18th century.

The mercury, bimetal, and especially electronic thermometer are among the most commonly used instruments for measuring air temperature. They are usually kept 6 feet above the ground in a white box under the shade to record the temperature of the day.

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A thermometer

Instruments for measuring atmospheric pressure

Barometers are the instruments used to measure atmospheric pressure in units of millibars. Similar to the thermometers, the barometers also come in different forms such as mercury, aneroid, water, and digital barometers as well. The very first barometer was invented in 1643 by Evangelista Torricelli - an Italian physicist and mathematician.

Under most conditions, low and falling pressure indicates poor weather, while high and rising pressure is an indicator of sunny weather. That’s how atmospheric pressure helps meteorologists to forecast weather.

Instruments for measuring humidity

To measure the humidity or the amount of water vapor in the air, meteorologists use the instrument named hygrometer. Like thermometers and barometers, we can also find more than 1 type of this instrument.

One of the very common humidity measurement instruments is the psychrometer which uses one wet bulb and one dry bulb thermometer to measure the relative humidity of the atmosphere.

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Forecast weather: What instrument is used to measure precipitation? 

Instruments for measuring precipitation

A rain gauge is used to measure the amount of rainfall. It’s a measured container that captures the rain and measures the amount of rain falling over a period of time.

The standard rain gauge has a long, narrow cylinder that’s capable of measuring rainfall of up to 8 inches. There are also other rain gauges that collect the rain and weigh it, then later converting this measurement into inches.

Instruments for measuring wind (Wind speed and wind direction)

The next instruments used to observe and forecast weather are the anemometer and wind vane (or weather vane). While the anemometer is used to measure wind speed in miles per hour, the wind vane is used to measure wind direction at any given time.

About the anemometer, this instrument consists of three (or four) cups fixed to a mobile shaft. When the wind blows faster, then the cups spin around faster. The actual wind speed shows up on a dial. Besides, there’s also another type of anemometer that uses a propeller (not cups) to accomplish the same function.

About wind vane, it’s a flat-shaped object (normally a weighted arrow) that spins freely on a fixed axis and points east, west, north, or south. This instrument can be found on top of a weather station.

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Weather forecast and wind direction: The wind vane is used to measure wind direction at any given time

Instruments for measuring clouds 

To measure the cloud, meteorologists use a device named Ceilometer. This instrument is used to measure the height of the cloud as well as also used for determining natural aerosols concentration in the atmosphere.

Weather satellites and weather radars are advanced instruments that meteorologists use to study clouds in detail. Satellite and radar images help accurately measure cloud density, the movement of clouds, the amount of moisture, ….

Instruments for measuring the sunshine duration

Another instrument used to observe and forecast weather is the Campbell Stokes Recorder. Meteorologists use this device to record sunshine duration, and because of this, sometimes, the Campbell Stokes Recorder is also referred to as sunshine recorder.

This weather instrument basically consists of a spherical lens that focuses the sunlight on a specific type of tape and then makes its measurement of how many hours the sun shines on the day.

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The Campbell Stokes Recorder

Instruments for measuring visibility

To measure visibility, meteorologists use visibility sensors such as "forward scatter sensor", for example. In the past, it was the standard to use our own vision (our eyes) to measure the degree to which an object can be observed.


In addition to the basic weather instruments mentioned recently, meteorologists also use many other devices to measure and forecast weather elements. Some of them are weather balloons, disdrometer, lightning detector, snow gauges, and many others.


Recently, we learn about the most common elements of the weather and their influences on other weather elements as well as their effects on the weather as a whole. Together with that, we also explore some of the most popular instruments used to observe and measure each element of the weather. That’s all for today’s article with the topic of “Forecast weather: Elements of weather and instruments measuring them”. Hope that you did find all of the information in this article interesting and useful.


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  1. Lacante

    very useful!

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