Water 2013, 5(4), 1622-1637; doi:10.3390/w5041622
Article

Shield or not to Shield: Effects of Solar Radiation on Water Temperature Sensor Accuracy

Department of Geography, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 July 2013; in revised form: 5 September 2013 / Accepted: 23 September 2013 / Published: 7 October 2013
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Abstract: Temperature sensors are potentially susceptible to errors due to heating by solar radiation. Although this is well known for air temperature (Ta), significance to continuous water temperature (Tw) monitoring is relatively untested. This paper assesses radiative errors by comparing measurements of exposed and shielded Tinytag sensors under indirect and direct solar radiation, and in laboratory experiments under controlled, artificial light. In shallow, still-water and under direct solar radiation, measurement discrepancies between exposed and shielded sensors averaged 0.4 °C but can reach 1.6 °C. Around 0.3 °C of this inconsistency is explained by variance in measurement accuracy between sensors; the remainder is attributed to solar radiation. Discrepancies were found to increase with light intensity, but to attain Tw differences in excess of 0.5 °C requires direct, bright solar radiation (>400 W m−2 in the total spectrum). Under laboratory conditions, radiative errors are an order of magnitude lower when thermistors are placed in flowing water (even at velocities as low as 0.1 m s−1). Radiative errors were also modest relative to the discrepancy between different thermistor manufacturers. Based on these controlled experiments, a set of guidelines are recommended for deploying thermistor arrays in water bodies.
Keywords: water temperature; solar radiation; error; radiation shield; thermistor; light intensity; lux; rivers; hydrology; flume

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MDPI and ACS Style

Johnson, M.F.; Wilby, R.L. Shield or not to Shield: Effects of Solar Radiation on Water Temperature Sensor Accuracy. Water 2013, 5, 1622-1637.

AMA Style

Johnson MF, Wilby RL. Shield or not to Shield: Effects of Solar Radiation on Water Temperature Sensor Accuracy. Water. 2013; 5(4):1622-1637.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Johnson, Matthew F.; Wilby, Robert L. 2013. "Shield or not to Shield: Effects of Solar Radiation on Water Temperature Sensor Accuracy." Water 5, no. 4: 1622-1637.

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