Introducing a new series: Horton’s Index

By Daniel Collins 14/04/2010


After much mulling, distilling and filtering, Crikey Creek is introducing another new series: Horton’s Index.

Many readers will know the name Horton. Not the one who heard a who, but Robert E. Horton – hydrologist extraordinaire. Horton was instrumental in the 20th century quantitative revolution in hydrology. He even got his name attached to one of the water cycle’s cogs – Hortonian overland flow.

Many readers, I’d like to think, also know of a certain Index – Harper’s Index. This index is a monthly index of ironic and often-pointedly political factoids, with numbers as the punch-lines. They can be funny, surprising and blunt. Numbers are good that way. No doubt that’s why Peter Gleick, water resources expert at the Pacific Institute, chose as a theme to his blog “Water by Numbers”.

With the above in mind, the all-new Horton’s Index will present water-related factoids, touching on the science and the society.

Percentage of the Earth’s surface area covered by water: 71

Total mass in metric tons of the Earth’s hydrosphere: 1,400,000,000,000,000,000

Mass in metric tons of the Earth: 5,980,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Ratio of Earth’s mass to its hydrosphere: 4,300,000

Nominal upper range for the mass in metric tons of one gulp of a blue whale: 70

Equivalent number of regular Big Gulp drinks from 7-Eleven: 70,000

Number of votes tallied in an online Greenpeace poll during 2007 to name a humpback whale in the South Pacific: 152,000

Percentage that favoured the name “Mr. Splashy Pants”: 79