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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 10:06 am 
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Interlude: Introducing Blobworld (GIMPin')

Menducia is bloody stupid to use as an example, so I'm putting it on hold for a while.

Instead:



This is Blobworld. It's an Earthlike planet (*cough*) with an axial tilt of about 25 degrees. Before the next stage of the tutorial, you'll want something a bit like this for your own world.

There are two layers on this image at the moment: the main background map and the lines of latitude. The background map shows land, sea, and mountain ranges. The latitude layer marks lines of latitude in increments of 10 degrees, plus the equator, tropics and polar circles.

There are two copies of the map. That's because I'll need summer and winter maps, and I prefer to see them both at once. You can have them in separate image files if you prefer. For the moment though, they should be identical.


GIMP Summary:

Map Layer:
Bucket Fill tool (seas)
Paint tool (continents and mountain ranges)

Latitude Lines layer:
Filters\Render\Pattern\Grid (latitude lines)
Paths tool (equator/tropics/polar circles lines)

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:34 pm 
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Atmospheric Cells II

Cell Boundaries and Pressure

At the boundaries between cells bands of high or low pressure form. Low pressure bands form where air is rising; on Earth, or any comparable three-cell system, at the equator (the ITCZ Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone) and at the Polar Front (boundary between the polar and Ferrel cells). Storms and generally unpredictable weather are associated with these low-pressure bands. High pressure bands form at boundaries where air is falling (e.g. the Ferrel/Hadley cell border). These areas are associated with stable weather and very low precipitation - moisture in these areas tends to manifest as fog. More on this later - for now, we'll just work out where the damn things are.



Seasonal Migration of Cell Boundaries

When the circulation of air is driven by solar heating, the most important seasonal migration is that of the hot equatorial zone that forms the border between the two air circulation hemispheres - the thermal equator, which in turn forms the ICTZ low pressure belt. Over land (or high specific heat capacity areas) this band tends to follow the sun's zenith, or the latitude at which the sun may be directly overhead. This may sound like it's leading to some complicated trigonometry, but it isn't - broadly, the sun will be overhead at 0 degrees latitude during the equinoxes, at a latitude equal to the planet's axial inclination at the solstices, and move smoothly from one stage to the next (equinox [0 lat] -> summer solstice [max lat] -> equinox [0 lat] -> winter solstice [min lat], and so on). Over oceans (or low specific heat capacity areas) the movement will be much less pronounced, due to the less variable temperature.

On Blobworld, the ITCZ would lie about along the black line during north hemisphere summer (top) and winter (bottom):



In the northern hemisphere summer (top map) the ICTZ moves north - slightly over the oceans, more so over land, and at its greatest, approaching the boundary of the tropics, where there is the largest landmass nearby. In the northern hemisphere winter (bottom map) it moves south - the effect is less pronounced because the landmasses in the southern hemisphere are smaller and the ocean area is greater.

As long as the areas of least heating remain about at the poles, the boundaries of other cells are pushed up or pulled down proportionally in latitude. Proportionally is the key word here - regardless of anything else, a cell will occupy the same proportion of latitude (say, a third), between the ICTZ and the pole. The moving ICTZ causes the specific latitudes and absolute sizes of the cells to expand and contract, but not these proportions. The presence or absence of land also does not significantly affect these boundaries [confirmation needed]. On Blobworld:



In the northern hemisphere summer (top), the Ferrel/Hadley cell borders (orange), and thier associated wind and rain patterns, are pushed up in latitude, as are the Polar/Ferrel boundaries (purple). Broadly, in the northern hemisphere this means that only a small area is affected by polar winds and the warm/stable Ferrel/Hadley border weather pattern reaches higher latitudes, as does the rains of the ICTZ - all part of what forms "summer" conditions. In the southern hemisphere the situation is reversed - a larger area under the polar cell, the Ferrel/Hadley high pressure systems moving further towards the equator, and the stormy ICTZ moving away from outer tropical areas and taking the rains with it - all part of the "winter" pattern. In the second map, the basics are reversed, with a "summer" southern hemisphere and a "winter" northern one.


If you have a reasonably Earthlike world, especially if it has an Earthlike axial tilt, you probably have all the information you need to add these cell boundaries/pressure bands to your maps. If you have a more exotic axial tilt, you might want to stay tuned for the next section, in which I explore their effects.


GIMP Summary:

New layer - Cell boundaries
Paths tool

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:30 pm 
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Propoably total bollocks, but I tried.



What if Blobworld had a more extreme axial tilt, say 45 degrees? Then something a little like this would happen:




At midwinter, the cold winter pole, pointed away from the sun, will have been in constant darkness for many months. Things will get steadily warmer as you go south until you hit the sun's zenith point (or rather, just below it, somewhere in the perma-daylight area). From there things get a bit more complicated, as a balance between decreasing sun angle (cooling) and increasing time in sunlight (heating) starts to come into play. The summer pole, in constant sunlight for months, will become very hot, forming a polar hotspot.

The larger the planet's axial inclination, the closer the summer polar hotspot and the hot area formed by the sun's zenith point will be, until eventually the two merge (on worlds with an axial inclination of over about 50 degrees(?)).

Here's a (very) rough idea of what the map of cell boundaries on a 40-45 degree blobworld might look like:



Black marks the heat equator (rising air), red marks boundaries with falling air, and light blue mark boundaries with rising air.
Between these summer and winter extremes is something looking more like the ideal three-cell system. From there (equinoxes), the cell boundaries migrate up and down towards the pole closest to the sun - as summer comes in, the polar cell of the hot pole shrinks and disappears. Moving into autumn the pole cools again, the polar cell reforms, and becomes increasingly dominant as the hemisphere cools.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:07 pm 
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Pressure

The combination of continents and cell boundaries forms the framework for working out the prevailing winds at different times of year. First, you'll need a map of the areas of high and low pressure.

High pressure systems can be found:

At cell boundaries with falling air
Over land in winter (caused by land cooling)

And low pressure ones:

At cell boundaries with rising air
Over land in summer (caused by land heating)

Land pressure tends to override the expectation at cell boundaries - part of the reason why they tend to bend around land areas. Continental areas break up high/low pressure bands entirely with their interior pressure systems.


GIMP - Making a Pressure Map

Make a new layer, called "pressure", and move it to the top if necessary. Fill it with 50% grey (#7f7f7f), then turn the transparency to about 50%. Make sure you can see your continent map and cell boundaries through it.

Using the brush tool, blob on areas of white (high pressure) over the winter hemisphere continents, and black (low pressure) over the summer hemisphere ones. Land at either pole will be cold and therefore slightly high pressure, unless your planet experiences hot/cold poles as described above.

Over the oceans, put low pressure areas (black) around the cell boundaries where air is rising, and high pressure ones (white) where air is falling.

Using a smaller brush, go over the pressure bands to join up areas of the same colour.

You should end up with something like this:



Not very impressive. Next, apply a blur - exactly how much will depend on the size of your image and how much detail you want to keep from your original, but it should leave a smooth gradient between the dark and light areas. I used a 150 gaussian blur. Apply colors\auto\normalise to the layer.

There are several directions you can go from here.

TIP: Make a copy of your pressure layer before going on. That way you can experiment with different looks without losing your original.

Adding a Colour Gradient
Select your max pressure colour (I'm using red) as the background colour, and your min pressure colour (light blue) as the foreground colour. Apply colors\map\gradient map. Simple as that!


Layer1 - pressure map with colour
Layer2 - continent outline


Posterizing
Posterize reduces the number of colours used - it will turn the smooth gradient you got from the blur into solid blocks of colour. Experiment with different levels of posterization - fewer levels will give an easy to read, but less detailed map, while more levels will give a more detailed look.


Layer1 - pressure map with colour, posterised
Layer2 - continent outline


Isobars
An isobar map can be made by posterizing then applying filters\edge detect\edge.


Layer1 - pressure map with colour
Layer2 - isobar map (recoloured to black and transparent)
Layer2 - continent outline

_________________
"It is quite certain, in particular, that I have always been insane." ~ Aleister Crowley

"Save us all from arrogant men/And all the causes they're for/I won't be righteous again/I'm not that sure any more." ~ Shades of Grey, Billy Joel


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:52 pm 
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Prevailing Winds

Winds flow from high pressure areas to low pressure ones, with some deflection from the coriolis effect. The coriolis effect will cause winds to spiral out of high pressure zones (clockwise in the northern hemisphere, anticlockwise in the southern) and into low pressure zones (anticlockwise in the northern hemisphere, clockwise in the southern).


GIMP - Working out the prevailing winds from your pressure map

This method will give you a rough picture of the direction of the prevailing winds.

On a new layer ("grid"), add a grid to your map. In GIMP, you can do this easily with filters\render\pattern\grid. The smaller the squares the more detail you'll pick up, but there'll be more work to do.

Working on a new layer ("winds"), pick a square, and work out the rough direction (N, NW, W, SW, S, SE, E, S) of the pressure gradient, from high to low. Then, to simulate deflection from coriolis, rotate it one place clockwise in the northern hemisphere (above the rotational equator), or one place anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere, and put an arrow pointing in that direction in the square. So, if the pressure gradient goes north, the wind direction will be NE (in the northern hemisphere) or NW (in the southern hemisphere).

Repeat the process for every square until you've got the winds for your whole map. The large scale spiralling from high pressure zones to low pressure ones will build up naturally.

To keep the time I spend making example maps down, I've used a larger grid than I would recommend. The equator also runs right through the middle of one row of squares - try to avoid this.


Pressure, grid and wind directions


Wind directions, latitudes and continents


Wind Speeds

Wind speeds are generally driven by more local, small-scale factors than we're dealing with here, but generally the greater the pressure variation in an area, the faster the winds will be. I would not trust the method I gave above to produce anything like an accurate enough picture of relative pressure for trustworthy wind speeds (though if you really want to you can get around it with the old conworlder's gambit "this abstraction is in fact an accurate representation, because unknown anomalies/magic/I said so"). However, you can assume that the fastest winds will be where a high pressure system and a low pressure one are close together, and that areas with very uniform pressure will be generally calm.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:22 am 
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The best conditions for hurricanes to form/intensify:

- Warm sea surface temperatures (this is why hurricanes form in the tropics, and why climatologists predict increases in hurricane frequency and intensity under global warming conditions)
- A wide east-west swath of generally unbroken ocean (again, in the tropics. This also provides a useful tip if you don't want many hurricanes - avoid large oceanic east-west swaths in the tropics.
- You don't want the wind to be too fast aloft, or to have too much shear. Shear kills off hurricanes, and high winds will push them fast enough they won't have a chance to intensify enough before reaching land. (This is why hurricanes typically form in the summer and autumn - the jet stream is far enough poleward that it doesn't interfere.)
- I think it helps if there's a large desert just to the east of the ocean, especially if the ITCZ runs right over it in summer. The heating up of the desert provides nice buoyant air, as well as dust particles that make perfect cloud condensation nuclei.

The Atlantic is a breeding ground for hurricanes because it basically has all of these.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:20 am 
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Simply awesome. I'm doing this for my conworld, since I finally decided on coming up with a geography I like, and your guide is just turning out to be awesome. This should be a website :D

So I guess I'll be cheating here, because my conworld will end up with quite a simpler climatology than earth; just one cell per hemisphere, mainly because the rotation speed is half that of earth [though there might be three, I have no idea where the cut speed is], and since my axial tilt is 1,3° or something, there's not gonna be any winter or summer either.

Anyways, dude, this is awesome, keep it up pretty please :D

EDIT: nah, it will have three cells; just one is too boring, besides, it doesn't spin THAT slow... day lasts around 40 hours.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:33 pm 
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Oh, I see what you mean now. Thanks for clarifying.


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