Schotland, Richard M. Institute of Atmospheric Physics, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
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An instrument consisting of two thermometers which is used in the measurement of the moisture content of air or other gases. The bulb or sensing area of one of the thermometers either is covered by a thin piece of clean muslin cloth wetted uniformly with distilled water or is otherwise coated with a film of distilled water. The temperatures of both the bulb and the air contacting the bulb are lowered by the evaporation which takes place when unsaturated air moves past the wetted bulb. An equilibrium temperature, termed the wet-bulb temperature (TW), will be reached; it closely approaches the lowest temperature to which air can be cooled by the evaporation of water into that air. The water-vapor content of the air surrounding the wet bulb can be determined from this wet-bulb temperature and from the air temperature measured by the thermometer with the dry bulb (TD) by using an expression of the form e = eSW − aP (TD − TW). Here e is the water-vapor pressure of the air, eSW is the saturation water-vapor pressure at the wet-bulb temperature, P is atmospheric pressure, and a is the psychrometric constant, which depends upon properties of air and water, as well as on speed of ventilation of air passing the wet bulb.
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