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Anemometer - Windows to the Universe

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This cup anemometer measures the wind speed, and the wind vane on the left side of the image measures the direction the wind is blowing.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NOAA

Anemometer

An anemometer is a weather instrument used to measure the wind (it can also be called a wind gauge). These instruments can be used in a backyard weather station or on a well-equipped scientific research vehicle.

Before there was a standard way to measure the wind, people used phrases like "strong wind" or "soft wind" to describe the wind. In 1806, Sir Francis Beaufort of the British Navy made the first formal measurements of the effects of wind on the ocean, called the Beaufort Scale. In the 1970s, Dr. Theodore Fujita of the University of Chicago created the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which covers the high winds found in tornadoes and severe hurricanes.

Trees can also help us determine the wind speed. For example, with a calm wind leaves on a tree don't move, with a moderate breeze the small branches move, and with a strong gale whole branches break off trees.

Last modified June 11, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF