Measuring rain levels for agricultural purposes, the rain gauge was first created in 1441 by King Sejong of the Korean Choson Dynasty. Unfortunately for the citizens of King Sejong's kingdom, frequent droughts plagued their crops. These droughts created problems in regards to tax collection, as the amount of taxes were based off of the production of their farms.
Because of this restriction, the King needed a reliable way to understand how many crops the local land could produce, and therefore how much tax to charge. Therefore, the rain gauge was invented and used to measure rain amounts and to determine much tax to charge each citizen. Immediately after its invention, each village was sent an official rain gauge to measure local rainfall levels.
Nearly two hundred years passed before the creation of the rain gauge in Europe. Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke were the first Englishmen to create a rain gauge based off of a tipping bucket. Invented in 1662, this design worked by funneling the water onto a lever, that would tip once it reached a pre-set amount, and allow for an accurate calculation for the amount of precipitation.
Using this model, the rain gauge was used over the next forty years to measure rainfall amounts in various places throughout Britain. Two publications, one it 1694 and one it 1704, recorded these measurements. This record allowed for the first understanding of various rainfall amounts between different geographical areas throughout the country, and provided the first scientific basis for studying precipitation.
Today, rain gauges are consistently used to measure rainfall amounts using a standardized method. However, they are not perfect and have numerous disadvantages including their inability to accurately measure solid precipitation like ice or snow, and the nearly impossible task of measuring rainfall during a hurricane. Despite these weaknesses, however, rain gauges remain an important scientific tool to calculate rainfall and understand weather patterns throughout the world.