Climate and microclimate
  The Sun’s energy
  Weather and climate
  Climate of the British Isles
  The growing season
  World climates
  Local climate

The normal method of measuring the air temperature uses a vertically mounted mercury-in-glass thermometer that is able to read to the nearest 0.1°C. In order to obtain an accurate result, thermometers used must be protected from direct radiation i.e. the readings must be made 'in the shade'.

Stevenson’s Screen showing Max-
Figure 2.12 Stevenson’s Screen showing Max-
Min Thermometer (horizontal) and Wet and Dry
Thermometer (vertical).
In meteorological stations, they are held in the Stevenson’s Screen (see Figures 2.1 and 2.12), which is designed to ensure that accurate results are obtained at a standard distance from the ground. The screen’s most obvious feature is the slatted sides, which ensure that the sun does not shine directly on to the instruments (see radiation) whilst allowing the free flow of air around the instruments. The whole screen is painted white to reflect radiation that, along with its insulated top and base, keeps the conditions inside similar to that of the surrounding air. In controlled environments such as glasshouses the environment is monitored by instruments held in an aspirated screen, which draws air across the instruments to give a more accurate indication of the surrounding conditions.

The dry bulb thermometer is paired with a wet bulb thermometer that has, around its bulb, a muslin bag kept wet with distilled water. In combination, they are used to determine the humidity (see below). Robust mercury-in-glass thermometers set in sleeves are also used to determine soil temperatures; temperatures both at the soil surface and at 300 mm depth are usually recorded in agro- meteorological stations. The highest and lowest temperatures over the day (and night) are recorded on the Max-Min (maximum and minimum) thermometers (see Figure 2.12) mounted horizontally on the fl oor of the screen. The maximum thermometer is a mercury-in-glass design, but with a constriction in the narrow tube near the bulb that contains the mercury. This allows the mercury to expand as it warms up, but when temperatures fall the mercury cannot pass back into the bulb and so the highest temperature achieved can be read off ('today’s high’). Shaking the contents back into the bulb resets it. The minimum thermometer contains alcohol. This expands as it warms but as it contracts to the lowest temperature ('tonight’s low’) a thin marker is pulled down by the retreating liquid. Because it is lightly sprung, the marker is left behind whenever the temperature rises. Using a magnet, or tilting, to bring the marker back to the surface of the liquid in the tube, can reset the thermometer. In addition to the screen reading, there are other lowesttemperature thermometers placed at ground level giving 'over bare soil' and 'grass’ temperatures (see Figure 2.1).