The Union Recorder

Columns

January 21, 2014

OUR SPACE: A new rain gauge in your global back yard

MILLEDGEVILLE — You’ve seen them: those sun-bleached vertical transparent tubes in the back yard that collect rain water and tell you how much precipitation you had the night before. For some it’s merely fun to know (especially when your frenemies down the road have different measurements, and it always seems to be sunnier on their side of the fence), and for the hobby gardeners out there it’s downright vital. Do your squash plants need watering today? Or did your own personal black cloud hanging over your head provide a silver lining in the form of rain?

Measuring precipitation has long been an arduous and painstaking process, and data could only be acquired by visiting all those tubes and gathering data. If rain data gathering is your job you are limited by the data you were able to read and the places you could put up your little tubes (and you fervently hope that no wild critter out there thinks of your collection tubes as an outdoorsy version of champagne flutes).

But the guesswork and the gaps between measurements will soon be a thing of the past, because a new satellite will take care of all of those pesky measurements from high above: GPM, or the Global Precipitation Measurement mission is designed to use radar to measure all global precipitation every few days with unprecedented accuracy and far more regularly than ever before possible.

Yeah, so GPM isn’t a very catchy name, and unless something goes horribly wrong up there, GPM isn’t going to be front page news. So it rained an inch on Buckingham Palace. Big whoop, right?

While the Buckingham Palace gardeners may beg to differ, they might be equally disinterested in the fact that the Milledgeville Country Club got trace amounts of snow on the same day. And yet, we have the data available.

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