History of the Anemometer

Wind velocity or speed is measured by an anemometer

An anemometer on a weather vane
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Wind velocity or speed is measured by a cup anemometer, an instrument with three or four small hollow metal hemispheres set so that they catch the wind and revolve about a vertical rod. An electrical device records the revolutions of the cups and calculates the wind velocity. The word anemometer comes from the Greek word for wind, "anemos."

Mechanical Anemometer

In 1450, the Italian art architect Leon Battista Alberti invented the first mechanical anemometer. This instrument consisted of a disk placed perpendicular to the wind. It would rotate by the force of the wind, and by the angle of inclination of the disk the wind force momentary showed itself. The same type of anemometer was later re-invented by Englishman Robert Hooke who is often mistakenly considered the inventor of the first anemometer. The Mayans were also building wind towers (anemometers) at the same time as Hooke. Another reference credits Wolfius as re-inventing the anemometer in 1709.

Hemispherical Cup Anemometer

The hemispherical cup anemometer (still used today) was invented in 1846 by Irish researcher, John Thomas Romney Robinson and consisted of four hemispherical cups. The cups rotated horizontally with the wind and a combination of wheels recorded the number of revolutions in a given time. Want to build your own hemispherical cup anemometer

Sonic Anemometer

A sonic anemometer determines instantaneous wind speed and direction (turbulence) by measuring how ​much sound waves traveling between a pair of transducers are sped up or slowed down by the effect of the wind. The sonic anemometer was invented by geologist Dr. Andreas Pflitsch in 1994.


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Bellis, Mary. "History of the Anemometer." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/history-of-the-anemometer-1991222. Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 27). History of the Anemometer. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-the-anemometer-1991222 Bellis, Mary. "History of the Anemometer." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-the-anemometer-1991222 (accessed May 28, 2023).