UCSB Science Line
 How do scientists measure precipitation? Question Date: 2016-09-21 Answer 1:One simple way in which scientists can measure rainfall is by using a rain gauge. A rain gauge consists of a funnel at the top of a graduated cylinder that collects the rain. The total rainfall is recorded by measuring the height reached on the cylinder, which has markings in equal increments along the sides. Another way in which scientist measure rainfall is by using whatâ€™s called a tipping bucket. A tipping bucket is made of a collector funnel that directs rain drops into two small containers. These containers are positioned on either side of a horizontal lever that actually collects a few drops of rain and tips in either direction once it reaches the required weight. The water is discharged on either side of the lever through the force of gravity. This instrument allows scientist to not only record the amount of rainfall, but also the rate at which rain has fallen (based on the amount of times the lever as switched back and forth). There are more sophisticated instruments, like ground-based weather radar, that can send pulses of energy into clouds and record where and how heavy rainfall may be in a certain area. On a larger scale, scientists also use satellites that orbit above our earth to provide a larger picture of what rainfall is like all around the world. These sophisticated satellites are able to look at storms in 3-D in order to understand variations in rainfall over the land and ocean. Answer 2: One way is to have a container that collects the precipitation and measure how many inches of precipitation there are in the container. Answer 3: Very simply: you take a glass or a straight-sided bucket, set it out when it's going to rain or snow, let the precipitation fall into it, and then use a ruler to measure how deep it is. You need a straight-sided bucket, though, because otherwise water will run down the sides into it, which will add extra precipitation to your measurement. Answer 4:When rain (or snow) falls, we collect it in a little tube. As the tube fills up, we can measure how much water has collected by measuring how high the column of waters is. This is then reported as " millimetres of precipitation". Click Here to return to the search form.