Dry Air in Winter 2017

Photo of red Eucalyptus flowers

Eucalyptus leucoxylon in winter

This winter had remarkably dry air. The lowest early morning dew point was -10.0°, and the winter mean was -0.5°. Both were record low values. Through the season, the dew point got further and further below the early morning temperature, ending five degrees lower.

Daily maximum and minimum temperatures were near normal. However, they were more than a degree cooler than in the recent winters of 2009 and 2013.

Graphical log for winter 2017

With dry air came a wide daily temperature range of 16.3°, second only to 17.5° in the winter of 2002. It also brought sunny weather, with only 32% cloudy mornings. While that was near the average for my “normal” decade 1999-2008, it was lower than in any recent winter. The winters of the last decade, 2007-2016, were much more cloudy, averaging 45% cloudy mornings. Winter 2016 had 53%!

There were four brief spells of rain this winter, none with heavy rain. They were spaced about seventeen days apart. That sequence had begun in autumn, with heavier falls then. After the 4th of August there was no rain at all.

The total rainfall of 89.8 mm was at the 27th percentile, well below the winter average of 125 mm. Five recent winters had similar amounts of rain: 2000 (98 mm), 2001 (107 mm), 2003 (102 mm), 2004 (97 mm) and 2006 (104 mm). Two were much drier: 2002 (44 mm) and 2011 (55 mm).

Climate for winter 2017


Data. A Bureau of Meteorology automatic rain gauge operates in the museum yard. From 17 March 2017, 9 am daily readings are published as Manilla Museum, Station 55312.  These reports use that rainfall data when it is available. All other data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

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August 2017 arid and sunny

Photo of a honey-eater feeding

Noisy Miner in Emu Bush

Very few days in August were cloudy, and only one day, the 4th, had some rain: 13.6 mm. Extremely dry air produced a 21st-century record low dew point of minus 10.0 degrees on the 20th. The dry air and clear skies dried out the soil, and also made for wide ranges of temperature. Twelve days were more than 20° warmer than their nights. The actual temperatures, however, were not extreme. Weekly average temperatures remained normal until falling to 3.3° lower in the final days.
Frosts (below +2.2° in the screen) happened on 17 mornings, just two more than normal.

Weather log

Comparing August months

Arid August months like this occurred in 2012 and 2013, but not since then. The mean early morning dew points in 2012 (-2.2°) and this time (-2.8°) were record values, far below the normal value of +2.2°. This month was also very sunny, had little rain, and had a daily temperature range of 17.9°, a record for August.
Temperatures were close to normal. The daily maximum (19.8°) was a degree above normal, and the daily minimum (1.9°) was a degree below normal.
The total rainfall of 13.8 mm (20th percentile) was far below the August average (40 mm). Added to the low total for July (13.2 mm), the two-month total is only 27.0 mm, which is at the 6th percentile. That makes it the first serious rainfall shortage of any duration since October 2015, when the 30-month total had been at the 6th percentile. For two-month rainfall totals, there has not been such a shortage since nearly four years ago (September 2013).

Climate graph for August


Data. A Bureau of Meteorology automatic rain gauge operates in the museum yard. From 17 March 2017, 9 am daily readings are published as Manilla Museum, Station 55312.  These reports use that rainfall data when it is available. All other data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

3-year trends to August 2017

Arid and sunny

3-year climate trends to August 2017

August raw anomaly data (orange)

In August 2017 all moisture indicators except rainfall showed even greater aridity (high up on the graphs) than in July. Daily minimum temperature anomaly (lower left graph) fell extremely low, but both the daily maximum temperature anomaly (x-axis in all graphs) and that of subsoil (lower right graph) were just slightly above normal.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

Fully-smoothed data points now include summer 2016-17. The daily maximum temperature anomaly peaked in February 2017 at +0.9°, much the same temperature as in the previous two peaks: February 2016 and October 2014. The daily minimum temperature anomaly was just about to peak, but the subsoil temperature anomaly was rising persistently.

Moisture anomaly variables, which had moved strongly towards arid in the spring, peaked in aridity during the summer:

Lowest rainfall, in January, was just 13 mm below normal;
least cloudiness, in February, was still 11% above normal;
lowest dew point, in November, was 1.7° below normal;
widest daily temperature range, in January, was only 0.1° wider than normal.

Although aridity reached peaks, this was not an arid summer. The peak values cited were not far from normal, and the graphs show that more arid times occurred within the previous two years.


Note:

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.

Annual Rainfall Extremes at Manilla NSW: IV

IV. Some distributions had heavy tails

Graph of history of heavy tails in Manilla annual rainfall

This graph is based on applying a 21-year sampling window to each year in the Manilla rainfall record, then adding smoothing. (See “Note about Sampling” below.)

“Heavy tails”

In the previous postI plotted only the most extreme high and low values of annual rainfall in each sampling window. Now, I choose two rainfall amounts (very high and very low) to define where the “Tails” of the frequency distribution begin. These Tails are the parts that I will call “extreme”. I count the number of values that qualify as extreme by being within the tails.
In this post, I recognise heavy tails, when before I recognised long tails.

Making the graph

The long-term Normal Distribution

The graph relies on the long-term Normal Distribution curve (“L-T Norm. Dist.” in the legend of the graph). That is, the curve that I fitted earlier to the 134-year record of annual rainfall values at Manilla NSW.
Histogram annual rainfall frequency Manilla NSWThe graph is copied here.

I defined as “Extreme Values” those either below the 5th percentile or above the 95th percentile of the fitted Normal Distribution. That is to say, those that were more than 1.645 times the Standard Deviation (SD = 156 mm) below or above the Mean (M = 652 mm). When expressed in millimetres of annual rainfall, that is less than 395 mm or more than 909 mm.
These ‘Tails’ of the Normal Distribution each totalled 5% of the modeled population, making 10% when added together.

The data

For each year’s 21-year sample, I counted those rainfall values that were lower than 395 mm (for the Low Tail) and those higher than 909 mm (for the High Tail). I added the two to give a count for Both Tails. To get a percentage value, I divided by 21.
I then found the ratio of this value to that of the fitted long-term Normal Distribution by dividing by 5% for each tail, and by 10% for both tails together. Ratios above 1.0 are Heavy Tails, and ratios below 1.0 are Light Tails.
That ratio, when smoothed, is plotted on the main graph at the head of the page.

Results

The resulting pattern of heavier and lighter tails, shown above, is similar to that found by using more and less extreme values, shown in the graph copied here.

Graph of history of extremes of annual rainfallAs before, there were less extremes in the 1900’s, 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s.
As before, there were more extremes in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
In the 1890’s, the “Tails” graph did not confirm the more extreme values that had been found earlier.

The 1990’s discrepancy

Extremes had been near normal through the last five decades in the earlier graph. By contrast, the “Tails” graph shows extremes in the most recent decade, the 1990’s, that were just as high as those in the 1950’s. Those two episodes differ, however: in the 1950’s only the high tail was heavy; in the 1990’s, only the low tail was heavy.
(For the 1990’s heavy low tail, see the Note below.)

The inadequacy of the data

Continue reading

Annual Rainfall Extremes at Manilla NSW: III

III. When extreme values were more or less extreme

Graph of history of extremes of annual rainfall

This graph is based on applying a 21-year sampling window to each year in the Manilla rainfall record, then adding smoothing. (See “Note about Sampling” below.)

Making the graph

For each year, I have identified the highest and lowest values of annual rainfall in its 21-year sample. I already know the long-term mean annual rainfall at Manilla: 652 mm. From those values I have plotted the height of the maximum value above the mean (red) and the depth of the lowest value below the mean (green). Both may be called “Extreme Values”.
The difference between the maximum value and the minimum value in each 21-year sample is the Total Range. That also is a measure of Extreme Value, which I graphed in an earlier post.
The Total Range is equal to the sum of the two Extreme Values that are plotted. To make it easy to compare the three measures, I have divided the Total Range by two. I have  plotted that value in blue.

Two discordant results

All three measures agree well except at two dates: 1897 and 1980. On both occasions the Minimum Value (green) was not extreme at all, being only about 200 mm below the long-term mean. The Maximum Value in 1980 was rather extreme (about 330 mm above the mean). The Maximum Value in 1897 was the most extreme value that appears on this graph: 475 mm above the mean!
The pattern of this graph is dominated by this single feature. It is due to just one data item: the annual rainfall reading of 1129 mm in the year 1890, which was the highest ever.

The pattern

For extreme annual rainfalls at Manilla, this graph suggests the following:

They were more extreme than usual at the end of the 19th century and in the 1940’s.
They were less extreme than usual from the 1900’s through to the 1930’s.
They have been no more or less extreme than one should expect through all of the last five decades.

Comment

This graph depends on very simple statistics: the maximum, the minimum and the mean. Such a sparse data set is subject to the effect of chance. Also, although this is not obvious, this graph assumes that other features of the distribution of annual rainfall have not been changing, which is not true.

I have more to say on this topic.


Note about Sampling

I chose a 21-year sampling window to be wide enough to contain enough points for analysis, without losing time-resolution, or losing too many years at each end of the record from 1883 to 2016.
The first mid-year of a sampling window was 1893 and the last, 2006.
To remove jumps in the trace on the graph, I then applied a nine-point Gaussian smoothing function. That further reduced the years that could be plotted to those from 1897 to 2002.

Courtyard wicket gates

Courtyard wicket gate half open

View East Through Wicket Gate

This small courtyard has been described on its own page: “A Heat-control Courtyard”.

Built to help control the indoor climate, it is enclosed by solid walls and solid gates made of a sandwich of fibre and polystyrene.
At times when free circulation of air is wanted, the gates can be latched open. That has the disadvantage that dogs and small children can pass in and out.
I have now made the control of air separate from the control of traffic by adding a wicket gate in each gateway.

The first photo (above) is a view of the courtyard as one would enter it from the west. Both main gates are open. The west wicket gate stands partly open, and the east wicket gate is closed.

Courtyard wicket gate bolted open.

West solid gate closed and wicket gate bolted open.

The second photo, taken from just inside the courtyard, shows the west main gate closed to prevent the flow of air. The wicket gate is fully open, as it would be in that case, secured there by its drop bolt.

Courtyard seen through the east wicket gate

Courtyard through east wicket gate

 

 

 

 

In the third photo, the courtyard is seen through the open east main gate and the bars of the closed east wicket gate.

These photos were taken on the 1st of August 2017 at 10:30 am. They show the courtyard receiving sunshine that passes over the roof of the house, as it does during winter mornings. Some sunshine is direct, some reflecting diffusely off the wall, and some reflecting brightly off mirrors of aluminium foil.

Two thermometer screens can be seen in the third photo. I am monitoring temperatures to find if the courtyard is affecting the indoor climate. As an experiment, I keep the main gates open or closed in alternate months. When gates were open in a particular month of the first year, they are closed in that month of the next year.


The wicket gates are made of welded, pre-galvanised steel tube in the style “Pool’nPlay Flattop”, powder-coated in white. They were supplied and installed in July 2017 by Bluedog Fences for $1793.

July 2017 fine with cold nights

July morning photo of Manilla from the lookout

Manilla Prospect in July

Through most of the month, days were fine and sunny, but some days, mainly in the middle, were cloudy and some had a little rain. The highest reading, on the 16th, was only 7.4 mm.
No days were remarkable except the 28th which, at 23.7°, equalled the record for July set 31/07/14. It was 6.1° above normal.
Frosts (below +2.2° in the screen) happened on 23 mornings, 6 more than normal. However, the coldest morning, at -2.6°, was not nearly as cold as the record of -5.1° set in 2002.

Weather log

Comparing July months

Unlike July 2016, which had been cloudy with warm nights, this July was fine with cold nights. Days, at 18.1°, were not quite as warm as in July 2013 (18.9°), the warmest in the new century.
Moisture was scarce, as in the record-making July of 2002. Readings that reflected low moisture were:

Daily minimum temperature very low: +1.2° (2002: 0.9°);
Very many frosts: 23 (2002: 27);
Very low percentage of cloudy mornings: 29% (2002: 23%);
Very low early morning dew point: -1.4° (2002: -1.4°);
Very wide daily temperature range: 16.9° (2002: 18.5°);
Very low rainfall: 13.2 mm (2002: 1.0 mm).

Relative humidity in the early mornings, normally 90% in July, was 74%. That was the lowest July value in my 13-year record.
Despite the total rainfall of 13.2 mm (16th percentile) being far below the July average (41 mm), there are still no shortages of rainfall for groups of months. The most recent serious shortage was nearly two years ago. In October 2015, the 30-month total to that date (1216 mm) was still down at the 6th percentile. That shortage was carried over from an earlier extreme event: the 85 mm summer rainfall of 2013-14 that was 142 mm below average.

Climate graph for July


Data. A Bureau of Meteorology automatic rain gauge operates in the museum yard. From 17 March 2017, 9 am daily readings are published as Manilla Museum, Station 55312.  These reports use that rainfall data when it is available. All other data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.