What is temperature, how is it measured and what is it for?

thermometers are used to measure temperature

For meteorology, science, the study of climate change and ecosystems and, in general, for everyday life, it is important to know the temperature. Temperature is a physical property that can be measured and its usefulness is enormous in understanding many things on this planet.

It is also considered an important meteorological variable and that is why we are going to emphasize all the characteristics of temperature. What do you need to know about temperature?

Temperature and its importance

thermometers measure maximum and minimum temperatures

In the world it is well known that temperature is one of the magnitudes that more are used in order to describe and explain the state of the atmosphere. In the news, when talking about weather, there is always a section dedicated to the temperatures that we are going to have, because it is important in order to explain the meteorological state of our area. The temperature changes throughout the day, it varies on cloudy days, or with wind, at night, from one season to another, in different places, etc. We will never have an equal and stable temperature for many hours.

Sometimes, we find that in winter temperatures drop below 0 ° C and in summer in many places (and increasingly because of global warming) they rise and are placed above 40 ° C. In physics, temperature is described as a quantity that is related to how fast the particles that make up matter have to move. The more agitation these particles have, the higher the temperature. That is why when we are cold we rub our hands, since the continuous friction and movement of the particles that make up our skin causes the temperature to increase and we warm up.

How do we measure the temperature?

there are different types of thermometers and measurement scales

To be able to measure the temperature, we have to base ourselves on the properties that matter has when they are altered by changes in it. That is, until recently, the temperature was measured with mercury thermometers, based on the expansion of the mercury metal with increasing temperature. In this way, on a scale of degrees Celsius, we can know how many degrees of temperature we are or is some material.

Other ways to measure temperature based on the properties of matter is by analyzing the electrical resistance of some materials, the volume of a body, the color of an object, etc.

Maximum and minimum temperatures in meteorology

temperatures rise due to global warming

Weathermen often speak of maximum and minimum temperatures. And it is that in meteorology it is very common to talk about maximum and minimum temperatures, of highest and lowest values ​​recorded over a period of time, etc. With these measurements, temperature records are created that are used to measure the characteristics of the climate of a region. That is why when we talk about weather man we talk about meteorology and when we talk about temperatures and global warming we talk about climate.

To measure these extreme temperatures, maximum and minimum thermometers are used.

  • The maximum thermometer consists of an ordinary thermometer, the tube of which has a choke on the inside near the tank: when the temperature rises, the expansion of the mercury in the tank pushes with enough force to overcome the resistance opposed by the choke. On the other hand, when the temperature drops and the mass of mercury contracts, the column breaks, leaving, therefore, its free end in the most advanced position it has occupied during the entire interval.
  • The minimum thermometer is alcohol and it has an index of enamel immersed in the liquid inside. When the temperature rises, the alcohol passes between the walls of the tube and the index, and it does not move; On the other hand, when the temperature decreases, the alcohol drags said index in its backward movement because it encounters a very great resistance to leaving the liquid. The position of the index, therefore, indicates the lowest temperature reached.

In what units do we measure temperature?

in cold waves the temperatures drop enormously

In almost all physical quantities there are different units of measurement depending on the scale at which you want to measure. Temperature is no exception and therefore we have three units of measurement for temperature:

  • The scale in degrees Celsius (° C): It consists of a regular division into 100 intervals, where 0 corresponds to the freezing point of water and 100 to its boiling point. It is expressed in degrees centigrade and is the one we usually use.
  • Fahrenheit scale (ºF): It is commonly used in the United States. The thermometer is graduated between 32ºF (corresponding to 0ºC) and 212ºF (corresponding to 100ºC).
  • Kelvin scale (K): It is the scale most used by scientists. It is a scale that does not have negative values ​​of temperature and its zero is located in the state in which the particles that make up a material do not move. The boiling point of water corresponds to 373 K and the freezing point to 273 K. Therefore, a change of 1 degree on the Kelvin scale is the same as a change of 1 degree on the Celsius scale.

How do we know that we measure temperature well?

the temperature measurement must be done in a suitable way

One of the important things to consider when measuring air temperature is know where we should place the thermometer to accurately and correctly measure the temperature value. Depending on the area and the height at which we place it, it can cause us various problems. For example, if we place it near a wall, it will measure its temperature; if it is exposed to the wind it will mark one value and if it is protected it will mark another; If it is under the direct action of the sun, it will absorb solar radiation and heat up with hardly any air intervening, indicating a temperature higher than that of the air.

To avoid all these problems and that meteorologists around the world can compare their measurements with each other and have reliable data, the World Meteorological Organization has established guidelines to measure temperature equally in all countries of the world. Thermometers They must be ventilated, protected from precipitation and direct solar radiation, and at a certain height from the ground (so that the energy absorbed by the earth during the day does not modify the measurements).

As you can see, temperature is something fundamental in meteorology and it is thanks to these temperature records that data on the planet's climate are obtained. By observing the changes in the climate that humans are producing, we can act in the most affected places.

If you also want to know how the thermal sensation is calculated, do not hesitate to click here:

Person having heat
Related article:
How to calculate the wind chill?

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  1.   Siralf said

    Hello, I wonder if when I watch the Weather Channel or the news the temperature that has been in Madrid today, is it an average of all the stations or is it the maximum and minimum measurement in one of them. Thanks 😉