Pavan Kumar H.

About 20 to 30 strands of hair are used to measure humidity

MANGALORE: What has human hair got to do with weather reading? Well, the Meteorological Observatory at Panambur, near here, cannot do with it.

The most important factor that determines the exact level of humidity has been the human hair.

Interestingly, human hair (when its fat contents are removed) acquires a unique quality: it increases its length when there is more humidity and shortens as the humidity content comes down. This is known as Hair-hygrograph.

About 20 to 30 strands are used to measure humidity. The bunch of hair is dipped in a chemical to remove fat content. When it is ready for use, the bunch looks like a piece of brownish piece of cloth. You cannot make out that a bunch of hair has been morphed into this.

Hair-hygrograph is one of the simple methods employed here.


Established in 1971, this climate predicting centre still has working thermograph to measure temperature, though it is equipped with modern method of recording temperature called Stevenson’s screen. Both readings are compared for accuracy.

The Stevenson’s screen also calculates humidity. You get Dry bulb, Wet bulb, maximum and minimum readings. Dry bulb gives present temperature while Wet bulb indicates the level of humidity.

Another equipment that has been serving the observatory for long has been microbarograph, which measures atmospheric pressure.

Modern equipment that do the same job are barometer and Dines Pressure Tube.

The observatory has a seismograph (to measure earthquake), rain gauge, cup anemometer (speed of wind), wind wing (direction of the wind), and digital radar system (measuring weather above earth up to 30 km).

IT has changed the way the Meteorological Department functions – the previously used electro magnetic seismograph has been replaced by the digital seismograph. The digital seismograph has the capacity to convert the analog readings into digital. The latter gives accurate and quick information enabling authorities take action fast.

Like most other observatories, this unit too sends a hydrogen filled balloon in the air along with the Radio-sounde every day at 4.30 p.m.

Once in the air, the instrument sends the parameters such as pressure, temperature, relative humidity wind direction and wind speed from 30 kilo-meters above the earth surface. The readings are used to predict the weather for the next 24 hours.

That is how you get your weather forecast every day.