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Comparing area and shape distortion on polyhedral-based recursive partitions of the sphere

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Regular grid sampling structures in the plane are a common spatial framework for many studies. Constructing grids with desirable properties such as equality of area and shape is more difficult on a sphere. We studied the distortion characteristics of recursive partitions of the surface of the globe starting with the octahedron and icosahedron polyhedral models. We used five different methods for mapping from the polyhedral model to the surface of the sphere: the Gnomonic projection, Fuller's Dymaxion projection, Snyder's equal area polyhedral projection, direct spherical subdivision, and a recursive polyhedral projection. We increased partition density using both a 4-fold and a 9-fold ratio at each level of recursive subdivision by subdividing to the 8th level with the 4-fold density ratio (65 536 cells per polyhedral face) and to the fifth level with the 9-fold density ratio (59 049 cells per polyhedral face). We measured the area and perimeter of each cell at each level of recursion for each method on each model using each density ratio. From these basic measurements we calculated the range and standard deviation of the area measurement, and the mean, range, and standard deviation of a compactness measurement defined as the ratio of (the ratio of the perimeter to the area of the cell) to (the ratio of the perimeter to the area of a spherical circle with the same area). We looked at these basic measurements and their statistics using graphs of variation with recursion level, sums of squares analyses of variation, histograms of the distributions, maps of the spatial variation, and correlograms. The Snyder projection performed best in area distortion and the Gnomonic projection performed best in compactness distortion. The Fuller projection and the Sphere method had moderate distortion in both area and compactness relative to the worst methods. There was little difference in distortion performance between partitions using the 4-fold density ratio and those using the 9-fold density ratio. Partitions based on the icosahedron performed better for all statistics than those based on the octahedron.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 1998

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