Aug. 29, 2011

Rainfall graph as function of Earth's tilt

Here's a normal looking rainfall graph, showing southern Somalia in 2008:

However, if you cut it up in half and flip vertically, you see an interesting symmetry:

As with many things in nature, rainfall is reflectively cyclical in some parts of the world. This, of course, comes from the seasons - because they're a function of Earth's tilt throughout the year.

This pedantic introduction takes me to  revisit how graphs of rainfall are displayed.  It's rather easy to get lost in a line graph so I thought to try to plot rainfall as polar graphs. After all, the Earth is round and any given year is dependently cyclical.  However, the results aren't quite as intuitive as I'd like them to be.

Healthy starburst shape

Variant of starburst

Missing second rainfall season

Misfortune of looking like a clock

These are polar graphs - which are basically line graphs wrapped around an axis.  To explain that this is a loop - or a yearly cycle, I had placed dotted circles to give this a shape. (Dec = up, Jul = down)

I had a name for these: rainfall thumbprints.

Because no two sampled locations really behaved the same exact way, this best illustrated rainfall behavior and timing disparity.  However, most people didn't know what they were looking at until after a lengthy explanation. Worse yet, closer you got to the equator, you got more clocks and less starbursts.

If only the planet would cooperate and make my graphs make more sense.

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