Weather Whys

Texas A&M University —

Q: When was the first rain gauge used?

A: People have been trying to measure rainfall for thousands of
years, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. “Ancient
Chinese government records show that the Chou dynasty was interested in
keeping rainfall measurements over 3,000 years ago,” McRoberts says. “We
also know that there are records in India of recording rainfall about
400 B.C. Some of the best records were kept in Korea. King Sejong wanted
to improve agricultural technology and his son, who was to become King
Munjong, invented a rain gauge in the 1400s. A rain gauge was sent to
every village to measure a farmer's potential harvest and to determine
taxes to be levied on certain areas of the country according to the
rainfall it received.”

Q: What about modern rain gauges?

A: Records appear to be somewhat sketchy, McRoberts says. “In Europe,
the earliest rain gauge appears to be one devised by inventor
Christopher Wren in 1662,” he notes. “In Great Britain in 1722, a Rev.
Horsley invented a rain gauge that seemed to set the standard for years
to come. Today, rain gauges are a bit more sophisticated than those used
200 years ago, but the idea is still the same – to see how much rain
has fallen over a 24-hour period.”