Methods of Rainfall Collection

This topic submitted by Natalie Geiszler, Catherine Johnson, Erin Reschke, Ali Stout, Becky Gordon at 11:04 pm on 10/4/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Smith

Ali Stout
Becky Gordon
Natalie Geiszler
Catherine Johnson
Erin Reschke

Our initial purpose is to compare the methodology of a man-made and read rain gauge to that of a manufactured, electronically read rain gauge. Because "small elevation differences can cause considerable changes in amounts of rainfall" (Campbell 5), we plan to place four hand-made gauges in four different locations on Western Campus (on top of a hill, in the middle of a hill, at the bottom of a hill, and in an open field). Doing this will give us the best chance at accuracy, therefore enabling a true comparison. Each gauge will be subject to experimental error because of varying exposure to wind. By placing these gauges at different elevations and different wind exposures, we will be able to calculate an approximate daily value by averaging the four numbers together to make up for any error. We will then compare these results to that of Hayes Cummins' electronic device. Each location on the hill will be void of any coverage or foliage obstruction to guarantee more accurate and precise data collection.
We hypothesize that Hayes Cummins' electronic rain gauge is the more precise method of measuring the collected rain than the other method which consists of placing four man made gauge's at different elevations and averaging them. This hypothesis is similar to the clover lab in that we will use the t test to prove or disprove our hypothesis.
We decided on this project by process of elimination. Our initial idea was to deal with the chlorophyll levels in various tree leaves, where we soon found multiple obstacles in our process and experimental design. With the leaves already starting to change color, we ran out of time and were skeptical about the accuracy our results would yield. Our second experimental idea was going to involve observation of gender dominance through handholding. This was going to be a human behavioral study. The difficulty we met in this case was lack of resources, and the anticipation of insufficient data. We came upon our final and current idea by returning to our original interest in nature within our surrounding environment. Our last minute change of plans turned out to accommodate a more independent student based lab. This idea reduces the dependency we had previously placed on the science lab and equipment. Therefore, we decided to study the methods of rainfall collection.
We hope to apply the ideas and statistical methods that we learned in the clover lab to a more useful and relevant topic, accomplishing a better understanding of statistical methods for our class and ourselves. This will allow our class and us to become more familiar with the practical uses of stat view, p values, and t tests.


Rain has been an important factor of life for human beings since Ancient Egyptian times. They relied on it much like we do for the growth of their food. They portrayed rain as having originated from a deity. Aristotle, a philosopher of Greco-roman times, was the first to separate rain from astrology. He was the first to construct theories as to why it rains. Isaac Newton added to the theories on rainfall and weather. Hundreds of years later people are studying the same question as past philosophers and scientists.

The study and recording of rainfall is beneficial to all mankind, you can see it on weather channels or the news. Such recordings influence the daily lives of humans through effects on crops, allergies, and traffic. Everyday we trust the weathermen to tell us what the daily rainfall is, but in our experiment we are analyzing it ourselves. These all-knowing weathermen use practically the same devices and techniques as we will but more technically advanced, like Hayes Cummins' electronic rain gauge. Just as many forecasters and airports, we will use a rain gauge type that was invented a hundred years ago. It will consist of a collecting funnel that drains the water into a tall measuring tube, which we will then read to record the daily rainfall amount ( Another possible method of rainfall collection can be taken from the tipping bucket rain gauge. This contraption consists of two buckets that will tip when approximately .1inches of rain is collected. This will signal an attached recorder and calculate the rainfall over a period of time ( One other type of rain gauge is the optical rain gauge. It, "estimates rainfall from the number density of the rain drops" (Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate 443). It accomplishes this by emitting an infrared laser about a meter long, which fluctuates as drops pass. This estimates the amount of rain by how fast the beam is moves. There are many ways to measure rainfall electronically, "weighing the amount of accumulated water, using float valve to measure the height of the water column, or measuring the electrical capacitance of the water column" (Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate 442). This experiment leads us to an effective conclusion of how representative of total rainfall a man-read rain gauge is to that of an electronically read rain gauge.
(Below are illustrations of the three different types of rain gauges)


· (4) 1meter long stakes
· (4) uniform graduated cylinders
· (4) empty 2-liter,plastic, Coke bottles
· (4) plastic funnels with mouths approximately 20 centimeters in diameter
· Duck Tape
· Hayes Cummins' electronic rain gauge

· Construct the four rain gauges:
· Place a graduated cylinder into each of the four 2-liter bottles
· Attach a funnel to the mouth of each cylinder with Duck tape
· Attach the above collecting device with Duck tape to stakes
· Place entire device into the soil so that each are level and equidistant to the ground.
· Place stakes in four planned locations that are void of any obstruction due to trees and buildings.
· Record daily amount of rainfall at the same time, 7pm, everyday.
· Visit Hayes Cummins web site to record his rain gauges daily readings.
· Continue this procedure for approximately five to six weeks.
· Enter data in Statview program and analyze the t-test results and p-values.
· Then for our class lab, we plan to have them take the daily reading of all five gauges. Then we will display our data and results regarding our findings, allowing the class to see if our null hypothesis is correct.
Date Hayes Gauge 1 Gauge 2 Gauge 3 Gauge 4

Averaging the four gauges, daily, will ensure statistically sound results by eliminating as much human error as possible. We will discover if our lab is statistically sound after we complete the t-test results. Our lab is a simple and productive way of conducting an experiment that is comprehensible to the average student. The class will not be expected to work the recorded data, because we plan to give an in depth explanation of our procedure and findings. What they will do is collect data for one day that may or may not be added into our findings. We plan to start collecting data October 6th and continue for the next five to six weeks, recording daily.

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