Methods of Rainfall Collection

This topic submitted by Natalie Geiszler, Becky Gordon, Catherine Johnson, Erin Reschke, Ali Stout at 10:24 pm on 10/24/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Smith

Methods of Rainfall Collection

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 eight hand-made gauges in four different locations on the Northeast side of the Art Museum Building (two on the top of a hill, two in the middle of a hill, two at the bottom of a hill, and two in an open field). This arrangement 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 and evaporation. By placing these gauges at different elevations and different wind exposures, we will be able to calculate an approximate daily value by averaging the eight numbers together to account for any error caused by wind. Evaporation, however, is inevitable. 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 and our man-made rain gauges will yield similar results. In other words, we expect that the electronic rain gauge will be equally representative. 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. After making this decision, we encountered problems that hindered our rainfall collection. The rainfall collectors were too small for the amount of rain we received, and there were too few rainfall collectors to make our sample representative. Therefore, we doubled the amount of rainfall collectors and equipped them all with larger containers for collecting rainfall.
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 (Middleton 57).

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 we are analyzing it ourselves in our experiment. 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 container. We will then 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 0.1 inches of rain is collected. This will signal an attached recorder and calculate the rainfall over a period of time ( Another type of rain gauge is the optical rain gauge, which "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 moved. 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 will lead us to our conclusion--that a man-made rain gauge is equivalent in reading rainfall amount to that of an electronic rain gauge.


· (8) 1 meter long stakes
· (1) graduated cylinder
· (8) uniform rainfall containers (jars)
· (8) empty 2-liter, plastic, Coke bottles
· (8) plastic funnels with mouths approximately 20 centimeters in diameter
· Duct Tape
· Hayes Cummins' electronic rain gauge


· Construct the four rain gauges by placing a rainfall container into each of the four 2-liter bottles, attaching a funnel to the mouth of each container with Duck tape, and attaching 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 two stakes in each of 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, keeping in mind necessary conversions from milliliters to inches.
· Empty recorded rainfall by removing the tape strip from the bottom and pouring rain out of collecting containers.
· Visit Hayes Cummins web site to record the daily readings of his rain gauge
· Continue this procedure for approximately five to six weeks.
· Enter data in Statview program and analyze the t-test results and p-values.

In-Class Rainfall Collection

· For our class lab, we plan to have the students take the daily reading of all nine gauges. We will display our data and results regarding our findings, allowing the class to see if our results support the null hypothesis.
Date Hayes Gauge 1 Gauge 2 Gauge 3 Gauge 4 Gauge5 Gauge6 Gauge7 Gauge8

Averaging the eight daily rain gauge measurements, will ensure statistically sound results by eliminating as much human error as possible. 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 procedures and findings. They will collect data for one day that may or may not be added into our findings. We plan to start collecting daily data October 17th and continue for the next five to six weeks.

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