Microclimate for Cultural Heritage


  • D. Camuffo, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istittuo di Chimica e Tecnologie, Inorganiche e dei Materiali Avanzati, Corso Stati Uniti 4, 35127, Padova, Italy

This is a useful microphysics handbook for conservators and specialists in physics, chemistry, architecture, engineering, geology and biology dealing with the environment and works of art. A rigourous treatment and a background familiarity with the underlying physics behind mathematics are covered, giving a detailed description and interpretation of the main microphysical phenomena, removing unsound popular beliefs. The basis are given for non-destructive diagnostics to evaluate causes of damage determined by atmoshpheric factors, as well as negative consequences of the unsound use of technology and mass tourism. To this aim, suggestions are given on the fundamental principles in designing heating, air conditioning, lighting and in reducing the deposition of pollutants on works of art. Theory and experience are coupled to describe the complex condensation mechanisms and the fundamental role played by water in the stone deterioration and the formation of crusts on monuments. Urban meteorology, air-surface interactions, atmospheric stability, dispersion and deposition of airborne pollutants are also key topics of this book, for which the main aim has been to make comprehensible to a wider audience a matter that is only familiar to a few specialists.

This book combines a theoretical background with many years of accurate laboratory research, field surveys and practice. The first part, devoted to applied theory, is a concise treatise on microphysics, which includes a survey on the basic ideas which are necessary for environmental diagnostic and conservation. The second part of the book focuses on the practical utilisation and shows in detail how field surveys should be performed, with many suggestions and examples and the indication of some common errors that should be avoided.

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Book information

  • Published: April 1998
  • Imprint: ELSEVIER
  • ISBN: 978-0-444-82925-2


...highly recommended book.
A. Longhetto, Il Nuovo Cimento Vol. 22, no. 1

Even the most casual reader of the conservation literature will have encountered examples of the remarkable body of work by Dario Camuffo wherein he has applied fundamental principles of physics to the study of the microenvironment of such diverse systems as temperature and humidity gradients in the Sistine Chapel, acid deposition and biocorrosion on Trajan's column, and the aeolian erosion of the Great Sphinx.

The present work is no mere compilation or recapitulation of the author's previously published papers, but rather a publication of the fundamental principles and theoretical basis for the study of the microenvironments encountered by the most diverse forms of cultural property. It is appropriate that it finds its place in the series, 'Developments in Atmospheric Science' among such titles as Physical Principles of Micro-Meteorological Measurements, Man's Impact on Climate and Atmospheric Aerosols. Where rigor is called for, the treatment includes derivations and equations. Yet the author never allows rigor mortis to set in. Always, clear practical examples are provided. Indeed, the theoretical treatment is at the service of the discussions of the many case studies introduced.

It is perhaps useful to consider Camuffo's text in parallel to the widely read classic by Garry Thomson, The Museum Environment. In attempting to deal with the different levels of scientific appreciation brought by his prospective readers, Thomson covers the same material twice, offering, in effect, an introductory version and then a more advanced version for each topic. This solution always seemed rather artificial. It is much to the credit of Dr. Camuffo that he has written a book that may be the advanced-level version of The Museum Environment, while integrating the treatment in such a way that the conservator, the conservation scientist and the atmospheric physicist can all turn to it for reference and even enjoyment.

The book i
N.S. Baer, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Conservation, Institute of Fine Arts, Studies in Conservation 45

...the potential for this book could be substantial in many senior undergraduate courses.
B.D. Amiro, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

Table of Contents

Foreword by R.E. Munn. Preface. Acknowledgements. Part I. Atmospheric Physics Applied to Microclimate Analysis and Conservation. Chapter 1. Microclimate, Air and Temperature. The microclimate. Air, water vapour and perfect gases. Temperature. Mechanisms of temperature degradation. The temperature in a building, a room. The temperature in a showcase. Is it possible to combine people comfort, conservation needs and low cost? Monitoring air temperature to study air-surface interactions and for microclimate diagnostics. Drawing air temperature and other isolines. Chapter 2. Humidity. Partial pressure of the water vapour. Derivation of the latent heats for the phase changes. Mixing ratio of dry air and water vapour. Monitoring mixing ratio to study air-surface interactions and for environmental diagnostics. Specific humidity. Absolute humidity. Relative humidity. The equilibrium moisture content. Mechanisms of humidity degradation. What is the best type of microclimate for conservation? Keeping constant relative humidity in rooms and showcases. Dew point: the temperature of condensation. Frost point: the temperature of freezing. Wet bulb temperature: the temperature of evaporation. The psychrometric chart. Chapter 3. Parameters for Describing Air Masses and Vertical Motions. Equivalent temperature. Adiabatic gradient in the troposphere. Potential temperature. Equivalent-potential temperature. Virtual temperature. Chapter 4. Radiation and Light. The emission of radiation from bodies and the effects of the absorbed energy. Radiometric temperature. Angular distribution of radiant emission of bodies. Attenuation of light in the atmosphere. Daily and seasonal cycles of solar radiation on a surface. What is the colour of natural light? Artificial lighting, optical filters and optical fibres. Deterioration to works of art caused by light. Chapter 5. Physics of Drop Formation and Micropore Condensation. How a curved water meniscus changes the equilibrium vapour tension. Derivation of the Kelvin equation for droplets formation and micropore condensation. Derivation of the Kelvin equation from the Stevin and Laplace laws. Derivation of the Kelvin equation from the Gibbs potential. The formation of droplets in the atmosphere: homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation. Bubbles. Micropore condensation and stone weathering. Adsorption isotherms. Freezing-thawing cycles. Chapter 6. Atmospheric Water and Stone Weathering. Acid rain, rainfall and crusts. Mechanisms of penetration of rainwater. Evaporation from a damp monument. Capillary suction. Lowering of the equilibrium vapour tension over a solution. Climate cycles, sea spray and salt damage. Some common errors that must be avoided. Condensation or evaporation? Not only rising dampness. Drying damp murals. Chapter 7. Atmospheric Stability and Pollutant Dispersion. Introduction. The vertical temperature gradient and plume behaviour. Effects due to topographic horizontal inhomogeneity. The urban climate: heat island and aerodynamic disturbance. Dispersion and transportation of pollutants in a city. Wind friction near a surface. The vertical fluxes of heat, moisture and momentum. Heat balance at the soil or the monument surface. Main parameters used in measuring atmospheric stability and turbulence. Plume dispersion. Stability categories to evaluate the atmospheric stability. Brookhaven. Pasquill. Successive extensions. Chapter 8. Dry Deposition of Airborne Particulate Matter: Mechanisms and Effects. Introduction. Random walk and Brownian diffusivity. Brownian deposition. Thermophoresis. Diffusiophoresis. Stefan flow. Gravitational settling. Electrophoresis. Photophoresis. Aerodynamic deposition: inertial impaction and interception. Adhesion of particles to paintings or other surfaces. Vertical distribution of particles in still air and their resuspension by turbulence. How soiling develops. What is the most appropriate heating and air conditioning system to avoid soiling? Inappropriate position of paintings. Uplifting of giant particles and wind erosion. Kinetic energy and sand blasting. Part II. Performing Microclimate Field Surveys. Chapter 9. Introduction to Field Measurements. Weather stations and observations for monument conservation. Statistical representation of the data. Frequency of observation. Length of the observation period. Response time of a sensor. Essential glossary. Chapter 10. Measuring Temperature. Measuring air temperature. Choice of the sensor. Response to the air temperature and infrared radiation. Thermometers. Screen. Instrument location. Measuring vertical profiles of air temperature and room atmospheric stability. Measuring surface temperature. Contact sensors. Radiometers and remote sensing. Chapter 11. Measuring Humidity. Measuring air humidity. Measuring principles. Hygrometers. Calibrating hygrometers. Measuring monument humidity and air-artefact interactions. Measuring heat and moisture exchanges between air and monuments. Measuring humidity inside walls. Measuring time of wetness. Chapter 12. Measuring Wind and Indoor Air Motions. Meteorological wind measurements. Anemometry. Installing anemometers. Measuring wind vector components. Averaging wind direction. Measuring wind variance. Measuring inside air motions. Hot wire anemometry. Sonic anemometry. Laser-Doppler anemometry. A simple analysis of atmospheric turbulence. Chapter 13. Measuring Rainfall and Windborne Droplets. Meteorological precipitation measurements. Precipitation on monuments. Wet and dry deposition samplers. References. References index. Subject index.