Different ways to slice the Earth

One interesting feature of the Earth is the asymmetry in land distribution. The northern hemisphere contains about 67% of the Earth’s land, while the southern hemisphere contains 33%.

I was wondering if the distribution of land across the northern and southern hemispheres was unique. To explore this, I randomly generated 100 great circles that each cut the Earth into 2 equal hemispheres.

Map of the Earth with 100 randomly generated great circles.

I then calculated the land area percent fraction for each hemisphere for each of my 100 randomly generated Earth slices. We can look at how common the Earth’s land distribution is compared to other’s that could be achieved.

Histogram showing land area fraction of earth if it were sliced into into 100 randomly generated hemispheres.  There is a clear peak around 33%-67% North-South split with lower frequency toward more 50-50 distributions and nearly none more extreme than 20%-80%.

It’s clear by looking at the graph that the current distribution is actually quite common. Some configurations result in 50-50 northern-southern hemisphere land distribution, but they are less common than the ~70-30 we have on Earth.

Adam J Campbell PhD
Adam J Campbell PhD
Data Science | Geospatial | Data Storytelling

I’m Geospatial Data Analyst interested in data visualization, statistical problem solving, and data storytelling.