The annual pattern of rain day rainfall
In Manilla, the mean pattern of rainfall on rain days through the months of the year is simple and regular. This pattern can be worked out from the 125-year rainfall record of Manilla Post Office, Station 055031, beginning in 1883.
The graph above shows that, on the average, on a day when rain falls in January, the total in the day is about thirteen millimetres. When rain falls in July, the total in a day is about half of that: that is, six and a half millimetres. The pattern through the year is close to a perfect harmonic cycle, with a maximum in the third week of January, (four weeks after the longest day) and a minimum exactly six months later, in the third week of July. Only two of the monthly readings do not match the pattern well: January has about one millimetre more than would fit the curve, and December about half a millimetre less.
Of course, most people in the district realise that heavier rain falls in summer, but few would know any details. I do not think that the Bureau of Meteorology has ever worked through these figures. [See note below about the use of “rain days” in the Bureau.]
This very simple pattern of mean rainfall per rain day is the more remarkable because it comes from two other patterns that are not so simple.
The second graph is the pattern of monthly rainfall totals through the year. Manilla has two peaks of rainfall volume in the year. The major peak comes in the last days of December, a few days after the longest day, and a minor peak just six months later, at the end of June. Winter is marked, not by a minimum of rainfall, but by a secondary maximum. Much more detail is given in the post “A seasonal rainfall model for Manilla”
and in the post “Manilla 30-year Monthly Rainfall Anomalies”.
The final graph shows simply how many days of rain there are in each calendar month, on the average. This pattern is quite strange. Most months of the year have about six rain days. April has fewer: Continue reading
Porch Awnings in Summer and Winter
This porch, which is a sun-trap in winter, is converted simply to a shaded breezeway for summer.
The porch is an upstairs outdoor room, open on three sides, at the west end of my house. With a Tallowwood deck and steel balustrade, it could be called a verandah or a balcony. I like to call it a talar, although it is not as grand as the talar of the Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan.
For the colder part of the year, from March to October, the talar awnings are arranged as in the right photo. I fasten down the canvas awning on the south side to stop drafts, and I roll up the awning on the west side so I can enjoy the views. On sunny winter afternoons it is pleasant to have a late lunch there, with temperatures in the high twenties, several degrees warmer than the maximum in the thermometer screen.
For the warmer part of the year, from November to February, the awnings are arranged as in the left photo. The awning on the west side is fastened down against the intolerable heat of the afternoon sun. That also keeps the heat off the west wall of the house. The south awning is raised, to allow air to flow through, from south to north. When there is a breeze, it can be comfortable to sit on this porch even on very hot days.
By the use of cheap canvas awnings, this porch can make outdoor living pleasant in months when the climate here is too cold or too hot for it.
A neighbour’s dam
The second cloudiest month of this century brought the warmest July night.
There were two very warm spells in the trace of weekly average temperature. Both were due mainly to warm nights. The second spell, coming in the third week, reached nearly six degrees above normal. On the morning of Saturday the 23rd, the minimum reading on the screen thermometer, 14.4°, was the highest July minimum in the record from 1999.
Up to the 25th, the weather was changeable, with some days overcast and rainy, and others fine and sunny. A very warm sunny day on the 17th, following a frost, had the unusually wide daily temperature range of 21.9°. From the 25th, the weather settled to what is normal for July. In the whole month, there were sixteen frosts, which is normal.
The highest rainfall reading was only 11.4 mm. Ten days had rainfall recorded, but three of these had 0.2 mm, on days when rain was not seen.
Comparing July months
The mean daily maximum temperature (16.9°) was normal. The mean daily minimum temperature (4.0°) was two degrees above normal, making the average temperature (10.5°) one degree above normal. Similarly, the subsoil temperature (14.7°) was one degree above normal.
The daily temperature range, normally 15.0°, was 12.9°, not quite as narrow as in 2010 (12.3°). The early morning dew point was normal. At 2.2°, it was so close the the daily minimum temperature (4.0°) that fogs were to be expected.
The month was extraordinarily cloudy. Cloud cover is assessed by the number of octas (eighths) of the sky seen to be covered by cloud at 9 am. I compare cloudiness of months by the percentage of “cloudy mornings”: those when I see more than four octas of cloud. This month, with 21 cloudy mornings, had 68%. July normally has only 35%. The only month in this century with a higher value was June 2013, with 73%.
The monthly rainfall total of 32.4 mm is below the average (41 mm), in the 47th percentile. The greatest rainfall “shortage” is now in the 48-month total (2221 mm) which is in the 14th percentile. Both Greenhatch Creek and Rushes Creek are just flowing.
Data. Rainfall figures for this month are from the automatic rain gauge at Manilla, published on the internet by the Bureau of Meteorology as Station 55031. All other data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.
Parametric plots of smoothed climate variables at Manilla
“July 2016 extreme cloudiness”
July raw anomaly data (orange)
In July 2016, raw anomalies for most variables returned towards normal from extreme values in June. Some now fell within the normal range: daily maximum temperature, rainfall, and dew point. Subsoil temperature remained high. Daily temperature range was still very low and daily minimum temperature very high. The variable that became even more extreme in this month was cloudiness.
Fully smoothed data (red)
Fully-smoothed data can now be calculated up to January 2016. By that month the climate, as smoothed, was slightly warmer than in my 1999 to 2009 reference decade.
Fully smoothed data – Gaussian smoothing with half-width 6 months – are plotted in red, partly smoothed data uncoloured, and raw data for the last data point in orange. January data points are marked by squares.
Blue diamonds and the dashed blue rectangle show the extreme values in the fully smoothed data record since September 1999.
Normal values are based on averages for the decade from March 1999.* They appear on these graphs as a turquoise (turquoise) circle at the origin (0,0). A range of anomalies called “normal” is shown by a dashed rectangle in aqua (aqua). For values in degrees, the assigned normal range is +/-0.7°; for cloudiness, +/-7%; for monthly rainfall, +/-14 mm.
* Normal values for rainfall are based on averages for the 125 years beginning 1883.
Two very warm nights
On two mornings this month, the 21st and 23rd, the minimum temperature in my thermometer screen was higher than it has ever been in July. That is, in the 17-year record that I began in March 1999.
These minimum readings were 14.3° and 14.4°. The highest July minimum had been 13.5° (31/07/2010), and only five readings had ever been above 12°. Such readings are more than ten degrees higher than normal in July.
In fact, one of the nights was much warmer than the minimum temperature indicates.
Minima not always at night
High minimum temperature readings are the usual evidence of warm nights. Unfortunately, they are not the same thing. Especially in the case of very high readings, they can be misleading.
The catch is that we expect daily maximum temperature to occur in daytime, when the sun is in the sky, and daily minimum temperature to occur at night, when it is not. In Manilla’s very sunny climate, the maximum is usually about fifteen degrees higher than the minimum. We can expect the maximum about 3 pm, and the minimum about 6 am.
When a thermometer is read at 9 am (as they are), the maximum reading recorded on it is usually that of the afternoon, and the minimum reading that of just before sunrise. Usually, but not always!
Times when nights are very warm are usually cloudy. The clouds form a blanket that keeps us warm. Because they also block the sun in daytime, the daily maximum temperature may be almost the same as the daily minimum. The times when maxima and minima occur may become vague. As a complication, warm nights tend to happen when warm air comes to us on the wind. Then much colder air often follows. If the cold air arrives before 9 am, it will lower the minimum temperature reading, destroying the evidence of a warm night.
I do not have a thermograph that makes a continuous temperature trace. The trace for Tamworth Airport can be seen here. (Choose a date.)
For this month’s warmest night, the Tamworth thermograph trace shows that the daily minimum temperature value is misleading due to these factors. The night was much warmer.
Between 5:30 pm on the 22nd and 5:30 am on the 23rd, the lowest temperature, which came at 7:40 pm, was 17.8°. Most of the night, from midnight to 4:00 am, was above 20°! Yet the (Tamworth) minimum for the 24 hour period was 12.5°.
Earlier in the month, in the 24 hours to 9 am on the 6th, the conventional maximum and minimum values were highly misleading. The daily maximum was the very last reading (10.0°) and the daily minimum the very first, 24 hours earlier (6.5°). The afternoon maximum temperature was 8.0° and the pre-dawn minimum temperature was 8.2°. On that date, the day was 0.2° cooler than the night!
A Heat-control Courtyard
I have added a courtyard to my high-mass solar-passive house to improve summer cooling and winter heating.
Courtyard Wall Panels and Gates
The courtyard extends 13 metres along the south wall of the house. It is completely enclosed by a wall of white-painted polystyrene sandwich panels 1.8 metres high, with two gates of the same material.
By September 2015 trenches had been dug for the courtyard foundation, and by December it was complete.
Courtyard Trenches, West
Courtyard Trenches, East
This house is in BCA Climate Zone 4: Hot dry summer, cool winter. For comfort, it must be made very much cooler in summer and very much warmer in winter. The courtyard was built to help to achieve both results without the use of heaters or coolers.
In summer, it should ensure a supply of very cool air at night. In this house, cool air is drawn in to replace warm air that flows out the clear-story windows by the stack effect, assisted by fans. By day, the courtyard walls also block some solar radiation.
The Courtyard Through The Western Gate
In winter, the white courtyard wall reflects sunshine north towards the house, and re-radiates heat lost from the house wall back towards it.
Much more detail is given in the page “A Heat-control Courtyard”. All photos on this topic are in a gallery in “House Photos – 2016”.
To invite discussion of how courtyards can affect indoor and outdoor climate of houses, I opened a thread “Courtyards for Climate Control” on the forum of the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) based in Melbourne.
The louvre opened
A daily chore in summer
My high-mass solar-passive house keeps me comfortable through the year with very little attention. I have detailed the actions I must take in this post. Being in BCA Climate Zone 4 “Hot dry summer, cool winter”, I have a summer regimen to keep the house cool, and a winter regimen to keep it warm. Most actions are required only twice a year: to change over from one regimen to the other. However, one action is required daily throughout the hot season: I must open doors each evening to admit cool air, then close them again in the morning. At night, air is drawn through the house and out the clearstory windows by the stack effect, assisted by fans at the windows. Warm air in the house is purged by the flow of cold night air, which continues to cool the mass of the house until sunrise.
My louvre vent project
[Photos, with descriptions, may be seen in carousel view here.]
I have put into effect a long-standing project to avoid the daily chore of opening and closing doors. I bought a motorized louvre window (Breezway Altair Powerlouvre Innoscreen) to let in the night air.
Louvre Time Clock
It is controlled by a programmable electric time clock (Hager EG203E) that will open the louvre at 21:00 and close it at 07:00 daily through the hot season. In the cold season the louvre will remain closed, with the motor control turned off.
The louvre closed
The louvre is installed low in a wall on the colder south side of the house. It is near the back door that I have been opening and closing up to now. It was difficult to find a place to fit it.
I thought of fitting a motorized louvre in the back door itself. This would have been awkward and expensive. Doubly so, because the back door opens into the laundry, which forms an air-lock, and the inner laundry door would also have needed a motorized louvre.
The kitchen was the only suitable room to admit the cooling air. Of course, it is almost completely lined with benches and cupboards. Eventually, I found a place for the louvre, and had a hole cut in the wall for it.
Louvre aperture from outdoors
Louvre aperture from indoors
The place I chose is partly behind the refrigerator. Continue reading