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A Plot of Cities Where Warm-season Grasses Grow, and more

cities plotted by sunshine, temperature, and rainfall

I made the bubble plot above to see how the differences in temperature and sunlight and rainfall between cities would appear if plotted this way. The data are from climatological normals provided by national meteorological services and the World Meteorological Organization, collected in some cases from the climate section of a city's page on Wikipedia.

I made this plot for a few reasons. I saw a job posting for a superintendent position in Asia saying that experience working in a Florida-type climate would be desired, and I wanted to plot a few cities this way to see how cities in Asia compared with Florida. Someone also asked me if I thought it was more difficult to manage warm-season grasses in Singapore or in Florida, and I thought that a plot such as this might make my answer more clear. And I also notice as I travel that a grass that grows so well in Honolulu, for example, may not grow well at all in Bangkok. There are clear differences in suitability of grasses for different growing environments. And as I work with some new software, I saw a tutorial to make this type of bubble plot on the FlowingData website and I wanted to try it for myself.

City_by_sun_edit-1 When plotted this way with mean annual temperature on one axis and hours of sunshine on another axis (the area of the circle for each city is proportional to annual rainfall), one can see that the cities in Asia tend to have a higher annual temperature, have less annual sunshine than the cities plotted from the USA, and have substantially more precipitation. A quick look at the bubble plot shows that Singapore, for example, has about 60% the sunshine of Miami while receiving almost twice the rainfall. 

This doesn't tell the whole story about which grasses perform best in a certain area. We can also consider the winter temperatures, the summer temperatures, the timing of rainfall and dry seasons, etc., but simply plotting by temperature and sunshine tells us a lot. 

Turfgrass managers in Southeast Asia know that zoysiagrass (Zoysia matrella) and broadleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus) thrive in this climate while bermudagrass maintained as a turfgrass struggles. This type of plot helps us to understand why. At the Marukatayawan Palace in Thailand, we see that zoysia grows in the sun and broadleaf carpetgrass covers the shaded areas under the trees.


These native grasses thrive when maintained as turfgrass in this region, while grasses such as bermudagrass which have a higher light requirement cannot compete with zoysia even in full sun. Why is that? Because even in full sun, there is still relatively little sunshine in Southeast Asia compared with Florida.

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