Do you know the difference between tipping gauges and weighing precipitation gauges?
Tipping gauges were traditionally used to measure precipitation due to their comparatively lower cost. However, as technology has progressed in the precipitation monitoring sphere, many limitations of the tipping buckets have become apparent. Most people are therefore transitioning to the more accurate weighing gauges.
While tipping bucket gauges can be used to measure solid precipitation, they require a heated funnel to melt the snow. This creates a problem, as power for the heater is often difficult or impossible to supply at many field sites. Weighing gauges can measure solid precipitation without the need for heating, although inlet heaters can be used to prevent snow capping.
In addition to being preferred for hail and snowfall, weighing gauges are more accurate for measuring all forms of precipitation, particularly at high rates. Maximum rate specifications for tipping bucket gauges are 12-20 mm per minute (720-1200 mm per hour) and the uncertainty of the measurement is often unspecified beyond 8 mm per minute. Conversely, maximum rate specifications for weighing gauges are in the range of 30 to 120 mm per minute (1800-7200 mm per hour) and uncertainty is specified across the entire measurement range.
Weighing gauges can also measure smaller amounts of precipitation. Depending on the model, tipping bucket gauges require 0.1 to 0.25 mm of precipitation to trigger a tip of the bucket, in addition to the precipitation needed to wet the funnel. Weighing gauges are more sensitive and events as low as 0.025 to 0.05 mm can be detected.
Weighing gauges are becoming more popular because of their many advantages over tipping bucket gauges, particularly in regions with mixed or solid precipitation. While weighing gauges do tend to be more expensive, the price is offset by their better accuracy and precision.
After years of research, field testing, and refinement, Apogee Instruments is excited to release our new Cloudburst weighing precipitation gauge later this year!
The Apogee Cloudburst is the ultimate weighing precipitation gauge for accurately measuring total precipitation from rain, snow, sleet, and hail. With a rugged, large capacity measurement bucket, this all-weather weighing gauge is built to last years in the field. The Cloudburst matches the research-quality measurements of competing gauges at a lower cost, promising you the best results for the best price.
To learn more about the Cloudburst, check out Apogee’s article from earlier this year in the Meteorological Technology International magazine .