What are the Instruments used for Measuring Climate Change?

Climate Real Talk Team

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Global climate change is a global issue that has different parameters depending on the region of Earth being discussed. Climate change involves changes in the Earth’s climate system over time and there are instruments that can be used for measuring climate change.

These changes can be driven by natural variability or human activities and are taking place at many timescales, from years to millennia.

Instruments used for Measuring Climate Change

There are many natural and human-induced climate drivers, including the solar cycle, volcanic eruptions, greenhouse gases, and land use changes. The Earth’s climate is an important part of the energy balance. The climate system includes the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and land surface and is strongly influenced by the complex interactions between these systems.

Instruments used FOR measurINg Climate Change

There are various instruments used in various regions of the world to monitor and measure changes in the atmosphere or its components. These include the climate recorders that keep a continuous account of climate variability.

The principal climate change parameters that are measured and reported by instruments include:

1. Temperature

The temperature of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere has increased by approximately 0.6 °C during the 20th century, due to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. An increase in global mean temperatures has been observed over several decades during the 20th century and is expected to continue.

Measuring temperature on Earth is done with thermometers. Thermometers measure the temperature of a substance with respect to a reference temperature, the latter being chosen to be “usually” room temperature. Because of this reference, all thermometer measurements are also relative measurements, not absolute temperatures.

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2. Precipitation

Accurate measurement of precipitation over time is a great indicator of Climate change. The amount of precipitation depends on the temperature at which it falls, meaning that precipitation generally increases with increasing temperatures. Likewise, factors such as wind and humidity affect precipitation levels. These factors are called confounding factors and must be accounted for when determining precipitation levels.

The instrument used for the measurement of precipitation is called a rain gauge. This instrument measures the amount of rain annually and from that determines the climate of the region where it was installed.

More information on Precipitation can be found at

3. Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases

The principal atmospheric greenhouse gases which have increased in concentration during the 20th century include carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Changes in these gases are a result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. Changes in concentrations of greenhouse gases are good indicators of climate change.

For example, an increase in carbon dioxide concentration is a cause for concern due to radiative forcing and its contribution to an enhanced greenhouse effect.

There are a couple of ways to measure the different greenhouse gases ranging from manometry and the use of an Infrared gas analyzer for CO2, Differential absorption lidar for methane gas monitoring, and even Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSat) mention but a few.

Climate change is a global issue. It affects the entire planet on various levels and impacts both humans and the environment in various ways. As a result, several organizations and instruments track and monitor climate change.

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.


There are many parameters that can be used to measure climate change. Temperature and precipitation are a couple of the most important ones. They both have a direct effect on climate change and are a critical part of understanding climate change.

Although there is much debate about the causes of climate change, it is evident that rising temperatures and changes in precipitation are a direct result. Climate variability and extremes are also important to consider. They all indicate that climate change is affecting Earth in several ways.

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