Main content area

Design and evaluation of an inexpensive radiation shield for monitoring surface air temperatures

Holden, Zachary A., Klene, Anna E., F. Keefe, Robert, G. Moisen, Gretchen
Agricultural and forest meteorology 2013 v.180 pp. 281-286
air temperature, equipment, forest canopy, forestry, monitoring, solar radiation, trees, Montana
Inexpensive temperature sensors are widely used in agricultural and forestry research. This paper describes a low-cost (∼3USD) radiation shield (radshield) designed for monitoring surface air temperatures in harsh outdoor environments. We compared the performance of the radshield paired with low-cost temperature sensors at three sites in western Montana to several types of commercially available instruments. Comparisons included observations made under a tree canopy and in full sun with both passive and mechanically aspirated radiation shields. Beneath a forest canopy, temperature sensors housed within the radshield showed bias of less than 0.5°C for hourly temperatures when compared with the same sensors housed in an unaspirated Gill-style shield. Sensors and shields mounted on poles in full sun were slightly warmer under low-wind conditions, but overall were cooler than data from an adjacent Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS). When compared with observations from a high-quality temperature sensor housed in a mechanically aspirated solar radiation shield used in the Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS), observations from inexpensive temperature sensors housed within radshields were biased with mean absolute error of 0.99°C, but performed as well as those housed within a more expensive, commercially available Gill-style radiation shield. Our initial evaluation suggests that the radshield, instrumented with a low-cost sensor is suitable for monitoring surface air temperatures across a range of outdoor environments.