Mirrors to reflect the sun

I have begun to warm the shady side of my house with reflected sunlight in winter.

Aluminium mirrors to reflect sun

Sun Mirrors Mar-17

This winter’s set-up.

The first photo shows the present temporary set-up, done on the 10th of March 2017. That is, soon after I had changed the house from its summer regimen (to keep cool) to its winter regimen (to keep warm).
As shown, I attached aluminium foil to the courtyard wall on the south boundary of my block. The foil forms mirrors that reflect winter sun onto the south wall of the house, the edge of the floor slab, the footings and some nearby concrete paths.
The mirrors are sheets of aluminium cooking foil (“Alfoil”) 300 mm wide, cut to 900 mm lengths. I attached the foil to the wall in vertical strips with double-sided tape. As the wall is 12.6 metres long, the total mirror area is 11.3 square metres.

Last winter’s set-up.

Temporary aluminium mirrors to reflect sunlight

Sun Mirrors May-16

Last year, during April and May, I attached only 17 strips of foil 700 mm long in the same way. The total area then was 3.6 square metres. In that winter, the wind did a little damage, which I taped over. Much worse damage was caused by a magpie-lark attacking his reflection. By October, they were torn as shown in the third photo.

Aluminium foil damaged by birds

Bird Damage Oct-16

I repaired some of that damage, too, using builders’ foil, which is stronger. Early in November 2016, I removed all the foil. By then I wanted shade. not sunlight.

Effect of the mirrors

The white-painted courtyard wall reflects nearly all the sunlight it receives. However, this is diffuse reflection, going equally in every direction. Only a small part of it goes to points likely to warm the house.

Sunlight that has been reflected towards the house.

Reflected Light May-16

The aluminium foil reflects in a specular (mirror-like) way, sending nearly all of the solar energy downward at the same angle that it arrived. Because the foil is wrinkled, these mirrors spread the beam of sunlight out to about twice the width of the mirror surface. It is still quite concentrated as can be seen in the last photo, which is lit mainly by reflection from the foil.

Light reflected from these aluminium mirrors is not aimed precisely at points where it would best warm the house. The mirrors are not mobile, and their location owes a lot to chance. Furthermore, the house shades the mirrors for parts of each day; different parts as the season changes.
However, I think the warming effect will be useful, and I hope to be able to measure it.

Related Topics

The mirrors are part of the Courtyard that I have described in posts and pages listed in “My House Page”.


I raised the question of mirrors to reflect sunlight in a thread titled “Reflective Film” on a forum of the Alternative Technology Association (Melbourne).

Summer 2016-17 the hottest

Young bearded dragon

Tiny Dragon

This summer, like summer 2013-14, was marked by repeated heat waves. The first, early in December, was brief. Another, in mid-January, led into one that was hotter, and persisted through the first half of February. On a weekly basis, temperatures did not fall below normal at any time in the season. Mid-February had the two hottest days of the new century, at 44.9° and 43.8°.
Although there were as many rain days as usual (22), only two days had rainfall exceeding 15 mm, and there was almost no rain in February.

Graphical log for summer 2016-17.

Comparing summer seasons

Mean temperatures set new records for the summer season: daily maximum 35.6°, average 27.6°, and daily minimum 19.7°. Each of these was more than a degree higher than the old record. Nearly all such figures for the months December, January, and February had also been records. However, the subsoil temperature for the summer (24.7°) was low.
Two indicators of moisture were a little low: mean early morning dew point (13.4°) was down 0.7°, and mean daily temperature range (15.9°) was 0.8° wider than usual.
The percentage of cloudy mornings (38%) was almost the same as in the last four summers, and lower than in the previous two. However, 38% is much more cloudy than the “normal” figure of 31% cloudy mornings that was set in the decade 1999-2008. Summers were more sunny then.
This summer’s rainfall was very low. The unofficial total of 101.4 mm would place it as the seventh driest on record. As shown on the graph, summer 2013-14 was drier (85 mm). Otherwise,  there has not been a drier summer in the half-century since 1964-65 (70 mm).

Climate for summer 2016-17


Data. Rainfall figures are usually from the automatic rain gauge at Manilla, published on the internet by the Bureau of Meteorology as Station 55031. However, the gauge ceased recording five months ago (8/10/16), and this month’s readings are from my non-standard gauge. All data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

February 2017 had the hottest day

February 2017 was a month of extreme heat and hardly any rain.

Rainbow

No-rain Rainbow

The temperature rose to 44.9° on the 11th, the highest reading in this record from 1999. The next day, at 43.8°, was the next highest, beating readings of 43.7° on 3/01/2014 and 43.2° on 12/01/2013. These extremely hot days were part of a long heat-wave. Every day reached above 30° for 64 days up to the 19th, and the average weekly temperature was above 30° (4° above normal) from the 1st to the 15th.
Nights also remained warmer than normal until, abruptly, the temperature fell to 9.5° on the 20th: the 4th coldest February night! After that, day and night temperatures were normal.
Rain showers were seen frequently, but the only daily readings (unofficial) were 1.1 mm on the 20th and 3.0 mm on the 27th.

Weather log February 2017

Comparing February months

This was by far the hottest February of the new century, with highest values of all three temperatures: mean maximum temperature (36.8°), mean average temperature (28.4°) and mean minimum temperature (20.0°). Subsoil temperature was normal.
While cloudiness was normal, a rather low dew point and rather wide daily temperature range reflect low moisture, while the rainfall was very low indeed.
The estimated monthly rainfall total of 4.1 mm exceeds that of just a very few February months: 1901 (2 mm), 1932 (3 mm), and perhaps 1923 and 1938 (both 4 mm), but no others. However, this extremely low rainfall for the month has not brought any serious rainfall shortages for totals of more than one month. The four-month total of 123 mm is at the 17th percentile, which is not even as bad as the five-year total (2844 mm) which is at the 14th percentile.

Climate for February 2017.


Data. Rainfall figures are usually from the automatic rain gauge at Manilla, published on the internet by the Bureau of Meteorology as Station 55031. However, the gauge ceased recording four months ago (8/10/16), and this month’s readings are from my non-standard gauge. All data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

3-year trends to February 2017

Parametric plots of smoothed climate variables at Manilla
“Extreme heat with little rain”

3-year trends to February 2017.

February raw anomaly data (orange)

In February 2017 days became extremely hot and rainfall very low. The subsoil temperature rose from low to normal.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

Fully-smoothed values are now available for the winter months (June, July, and August) of 2016. That winter, as daily maximum temperature fell through normal values, a maximum in moisture was shown by maxima in rainfall, cloudiness, and dew point, and a minimum in daily temperature range. None of the smoothed values was extreme; in fact, the dew point remained on the dry side of normal.
Not only daily maximum temperature anomaly fell during the summer. Both the daily minimum temperature anomaly and the subsoil temperature anomaly also fell. The smoothed daily minimum temperature anomaly had just reached a record high value in May, and was still above normal as the summer ended.


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.

Manilla’s Yearly Rainfall History

Lately, Manilla’s rainfall is normal, and more reliable
than it ever was.

Manilla yearly rainfall record, 21-yr smoothed

Yearly rainfall totals

The first graph helps to make sense of the history of Manilla’s rainfall, using the totals for each year. The actual figures make little sense, jumping up or down from one year to the next. The figures here have been calmed down. First, I replaced each yearly figure by an average of twenty-one years, ten years before and ten years after the date. Then I smoothed that figure some more.
The pattern is plain. There were periods in the past when there was much more or less rain than usual.
In four decades the rainfall was some 30 mm higher than normal: the 1890’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. In four other decades, the rainfall was some 30 mm lower than normal: the 1900’s, 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s.
Rainfall here collapsed about 1900. The collapse was was widespread, as was recognised half a century ago.

Using the average line drawn across the graph (at 652 mm), you can see that rainfall was below average from 1902 to 1951: almost exactly the first half of the twentieth century. After 1951, rainfall was above average for the 44 years to 1995. Since then, the annual rainfall (as plotted) has been remarkably close to the 132-year average.
Present rainfall will seem low to those who remember the 1970’s, but the 1970’s were wet times and now is normal. Few alive now will remember that Manilla’s rainfall really was much lower in the 1930’s.

Manilla yearly rainfall scatters.

Yearly rainfall scatter

The second graph also groups the data twenty-one years at a time. It shows the scatter of yearly rainfalls in each group. More scatter or spread means the rainfall was less reliable. Comparing the graphs, times of high scatter (very unreliable rainfall) were not times of low rainfall, as one might think. Annual rainfall scatter and rainfall amount were not related.
Times of very unreliable rainfall came in 1919 (dry), 1949 (normal) and 1958 (wet). Times of reliable rainfall came in 1908 and 1936 (both dry). However, by far the most reliable rainfall came since 1992, extending to 2004 and likely up to this year.

Global warming

It has been argued that human-induced climate change will cause climatic extremes to happen more often in future. Already, when any extreme climate event is reported, someone will say that climate change has caused it.

The present steady rise in global temperature began about 1975. Does this Manilla rainfall record show more extreme events since that date? Definitely not! Quite the contrary. Continue reading

January 2017 had the hottest night

Cumulus congestus at 130 km

Showers at 130 kilometres

The daily weather log

In the early morning on the 14th, the minimum temperature was 28.2°, the hottest night in this record from 1999. That beat 27.8° set on November the 28th, 2009. Of January months, only this month and January 2006 had no nights as cool as 15°. There were no cool days either: like January 2002, no days were as cool as 30° (and none since 16/12/16). However, only two days this month went over 40°: the 12th with 41.4° and the 13th with 41.2°. That hardly compares with January 2003, which had five. The weekly average temperature was over 30° (4.7° above normal) from the 11th to the 15th. Late in the month, it got as low as 28°, then climbed again.
Showers and storms brought rain on 8 days, but the maximum was only 19.8 mm.

Weather log January 2017

Comparing January months

As in December, this was the hottest January of the new century. It easily beat January 2013 in mean daily maximum (36.4°), mean average (28.7°), and especially mean daily minimum (hot nights: 21.0°). As this months days and nights were both so warm, the daily temperature range was quite normal (15.4°).
Contradicting the high air temperatures, the subsoil temperature was below normal, at 25.1°.
The month was more humid than usual. Afternoon humidity, at 36%, was the highest January value in twelve years (normally 28%), and early morning dew point was the highest in eleven years.
The monthly rainfall total of 48.5 mm is in the 30th percentile, well below the average of 87 mm. Rainfall totals for more than one month still show no shortages. The 48-month total of 2320 mm (down 280 mm) has the lowest percentile value (23rd percentile) as a legacy of dry months around 2013.

Climate for January

 


Data. Rainfall figures are usually from the automatic rain gauge at Manilla, published on the internet by the Bureau of Meteorology as Station 55031. However, the gauge ceased recording four months ago (8/10/16), and this month’s readings are from my non-standard gauge. All data, including subsoil at 750 mm, are from 3 Monash Street, Manilla.

3-year trends to January 2017

Parametric plots of smoothed climate variables at Manilla
“January 2017 very hot”

3-year trends to January 2017

January raw anomaly data (orange)

In January 2017 both days and nights became even hotter. While rainfall was low, dew point was high.

 Fully smoothed data (red)

At the time of the latest fully-smoothed anomalies, in July 2016, most variables were still moving towards towards cool and moist.


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.