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Sling Psychrometer and Relative Humidity Lab Name __________________

Water vapor is the invisible, gaseous form of water that hangs around in our atmosphere along with liquid water
(cloud droplets, rain drops) and ice water (snow, hail, and sleet). When the air contains abundant water vapor, we
say the air feels humid; when the air has very little water vapor in it, we say the air feels dry or arid. In the driest
deserts, the volume of water vapor present in the air can be nearly 0 while in tropical rainforests; water vapor can
occupy as much as 4% of the airs volume. Although the amount of water vapor changes over distance and time, it
is always measurable.

Humidity, when simply expressed as a measure of how much water vapor is present at a given temperature is called
absolute humidity. On warm, humid days, we sense this by observing how muggy or sticky the air feels. Water or
sweat from your skin cannot evaporate easily because the air already carries much water vapor. More commonly,
though humidity is reported as relative humidity. For a given temperature, relative humidity is expressed as a
percentage of how much moisture the air actually contains relative to how much moisture the air could contain. In
other words, air like a sponge, could absorb that much volume of water.

For example, at 30 degrees C, warm air can hold a maximum (100%) of 26 g/m3 of water. If, that much water was
present, the air would be filled with water vapor and no more evaporation could take place. At this point,
condensation begins to take place, and water droplets form on tiny particles in the air or on cool surfaces along the
ground. The temperature at which the air becomes saturated with water vapor is called the dew point. In our
examples 30 degrees C is the dew point and relative humidity is 100% because the air is holding all the moisture it
can. If the same air only contains 13 g/m3, the relative humidity would be 50%. When the air temperature cools to
the dew point, dew, fog and clouds can form. Frost forms when the air temperature is low enough that the water
vapor turns directly into ice.

Pre-Lab

1. Compare the humidity between a summer day in Miami Florida, with that of Phoenix Arizona. Which city
would you predict would have a higher humidity? Why?

2. Define the following terms:


a. humidity:

b. Relative humidity:

3. The same air as described above now contains 6.5g/m 3.


a. What is the relative humidity now?

b. How would this air feel on your skin?

c. How would your skin feel if the same air cooled to the dew point?

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How it works

1. When water evaporates, heat is required to change water into water vapor. As a result, evaporation has a
definite cooling effect. Think about how you feel when you get out of a pool on a warm day. The chilled
feeling is the cooling effect of water evaporating from your skin.
2. Warm air holds more moisture than cool air. In fact, air at near room temperature, 20 degrees C or 68
degrees F, holds twice as much water vapor as air at 10 degrees C or 50 degrees F. That is why during
sticky summer days, a sudden drop in temperature often brings welcome relief from the high humidity.

What to do:

1. Wet the cloth covering one the end of one thermometer.


2. Make sure that both thermometers are securely attached to the backing device, then carefully whirl the
two thermometers in the air for about 30 seconds.
3. Immediately after whirling, record the temperatures indicated on both thermometers.
4. The difference between the readings on the wet and dry bulb thermometers is a measure of the amount of
heat energy that is needed at the wet-bulb temperature to produce air saturated with water vapor. This
measure is termed wet-bulb depression.

Investigation 1: Relative Humidity

1. Using the Relative Humidity Chart (separate page) follow the row containing the dry-bulb temperature until
you reach the intersection of the column containing the web-bulb depression.
2. The resulting value is the relative humidity. Record the result on your worksheet.

Trial Number Dry-Bulb Reading Wet-Bulb Reading Wet-Bulb Depression


(dry bulb temp wet bulb temp)
1-inside Degrees C Degrees C Degrees C
2-outside Degrees C Degrees C Degrees C

Relative Humidity (from chart):______________%

Investigation 2: Dew Point

1. From your previous investigation, re-record the values of the dry-bulb or air temperature (and the wet-bulb
depression onto your worksheet.
2. To determine the dew point temperature, find the dry-bulb (air temperature) along the left column of the
Dew Point Chart.
3. Next, find the vertical column that corresponds to the relative humidity you found above. Trace your
fingers to find where these two numbers meet. This value is the Dew Point.
3. Record this value on your worksheet.

Trial Number Dry-Bulb Reading Relative Humidity Dew Point (from Chart)
From above (from chart)
1- Inside Degrees C % Degrees C
2- Outside Degrees C % Degrees C

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1. Why does the temperature decrease on the wet-bulb thermometer?

2. What would happen if the air in this room suddenly cooled to the dew point?

3. What does it mean if the water does not evaporate from the wet-bulb thermometer?

4. Why should you not perform this experiment in direct sunlight?

5. Can a sling psychrometer be used when the temperature is below freezing? Why or why not?

6. Why is learning about the psychorometer important?

Minnesota summers can get fairly humid. Many outdoor workers can get overheated and very sick from being
too hot or getting dehydrated from a combination of temperature and humidity. A few people in Minnesota die
every summer from heat stroke. It is very important to stay hydrated in the hot weather especially if you are
exercising. But, as the humidity increases our bodies are not able to cool down because the sweat we make is
not able to evaporate. In that case, no matter how hydrated a person is they are just not able to cool down and
should rest in the shade or get to a cool place.

Use the Heat Index chart to answer questions on the next page.

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Heat Index

Relative Humidity (%)


25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
125
T 120 139 148
e 115 127 135 143 151
m 110 117 123 130 137 143 150
p 105 109 113 118 123 129 135 142 149
e 100 101 104 107 110 115 120 126 132 138 144
r 95 94 96 98 101 104 107 110 114 119 124 130 136
a 90 88 90 91 93 95 96 98 100 102 106 109 113 117 122
t
85 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 93 95 97 99 102 105 108
u
80 77 78 79 79 80 81 81 82 83 85 86 86 87 88 89 91
r
75 72 73 73 74 74 75 75 76 76 77 77 78 78 79 79 80
e
70 66 67 67 68 68 69 69 70 70 70 70 71 71 71 71 72

6. Many employers allow outdoor workers to choose to go home or work indoors if the heat index gets
above 100 degrees F. If the air temperature is 90 degrees, what would the relative humidity need to
be to send workers home?

7. If the relative humidity is 90%, and you own a construction company, what would the temperature
be for you send your workers home?

8. Why does it feel so hot when the humidity is high, even though you are sweating a lot?

9. If you have a glass of ice water outside on a hot day, sometimes people say the glass is sweating.
What is really happening to the glass of water?