Climate change

Why you take air temperature in the shade

Renew Economy ran a thought provoking article recently, referencing an article in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. The article belittled the extreme temperatures parts of Australia has seen this summer. It suggested that we shouldn’t be concerned about climate change and this summer’s extreme heat wave because Australia has seen temperatures of 50°c+ before.

“Take March 18, 1832, which The Sydney Gazette reported as “insufferably warm”,” Devine wrote. She then went on to quote that newspaper: “At 1pm, the thermometer was 54°C in the sun. The cattle suffered much. Working bullocks dropped dead.”

Why do we take air temperature in the shade?

However, R.E. flagged up an interesting point; the report measured the air temperature in the sun. Giles Parkinson who wrote the article on R.E. commented that even a 6 year old will know you measure temperature in the shade. However, I didn’t know this and I thought some of our readers and customers might not know it either. So, for those of us that didn’t know here’s why you take temperature in the shade.

Why you take air temperature in the shade

Why the sun makes a difference with testing air temperature

All temperatures taken for records of air temperature are taken in the shade. Any temperature gauges that are recording temperatures in the sun will be affected by the sun’s radiation and the temperature during that period will appear significantly hotter.

This article actually provides a complete breakdown on how to take the most efficient temperature reading.

Why does this matter?

The historic temperature reading provides reference for current temperatures as does whether it was recorded in the sun or shade. For example; in 1837 if the reading for the temperature in the sun was 54°c the shade temperature may have been 40°c or lower. Therefore recent temperatures in NSW of 50°c+ are extreme and do suggest that climate change is having an impact on Australian temperatures.

Belittling climate change affects by saying the country has experienced temperatures like this before is reaching. Especially if your reference point is a redundant (and technically inaccurate) record that was taken in the sun.


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