Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 526 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
CLIMATE AND CLIMATOLOGY tt, &t iff al c/ I T. I YJ in a Sub-tropical Climate (Eastern Medi- terranean). known resorts on the Mediterranean coast, and the shorter list for California, bear witness to this fact. North Temperate Zone: West Coasts.—Marine climatic types are carried by the prevailing westerlies on to the western coasts of the continents, giving them mild winters and cool summers, abundant rainfall, and a high degree of cloudiness and relative humidity. North-western Europe is particularly favoured because of the remarkably high temperatures of the North Atlantic Ocean. January means of 400 to 50° in the British Isles and on the northern French coast occur in the same latitudes as those of o° and ro° in the far interior of Asia. In July means 6o° to 7o in the former contrast with 700 to 8o° in the latter districts. The conditions are somewhat similar in North America. Along the western coasts of North America and of Europe the mean annual ranges are under 25°—actually no greater than some of those within the tropics. Irregular cyclonic temperature changes are, however, marked in the temperate zone, while absent in the tropics. The curves for the Scilly Isles and for Thorshavn, Faroe Islands, illustrate the insular type of temperature on the west coasts (fig. ii). The annual march of rainfall, with the marked maximum in the fall and winter which is characteristic of the marine regime, is illustrated in the curve for north-western Europe (fig. 12). On the northern Pacific coast of North America the distribution is similar, and in the southern hemisphere the western coasts of southern South America, Tasmania and New Zealand show the same type. The cloudiness and relative humidity average high on western coasts, with the maximum in the colder season. The west coasts therefore, including the important climatic province of land and southern Chile, have as a whole mild winters, equable temperatures, small ranges, and abundant rainfall, fairly well distributed through the year. The summers are relatively cool. Continental Interiors.—The equable climate of the western coasts changes, gradually or suddenly, into the more extreme climates of the interiors. In Europe, where no high mountain ranges intervene, the transition is gradual; and broad stretches of country have the benefits of the tempering influence of the S. I., Scilly Isles. S, Semipalatinsk. Sa, Sakhalin. P, Prague. K. Kiakta. T, Thorshavn. C, Charkow. B, Blagovyeshchensk. Y, Yakutsk. 10007Hs J. F. M. A. M. J. J. A. S. O. N. D. J. 150 100 50 0 250 200 150 100 50 0 100 50 0 150 100 50 0 J. F. J. M. J A. 5.0. M. A. N. D. J. climate (fig. It)). The winter rains do not bring continuously overcast skies, and a summer month with a mean cloudiness of io% is not excep- ,0 J. F. M. A. M. J. .1. A. S. 0. N. D. J. , tional in the drier parts e a of the sub-tropics. 7 7 With prevailing fair 6 6 skies, even t e m per a- a 5 tures, and moderate rain- 3 fall, the sub-tropical belts 2 2 possess many climatic a © advantages which fit 40 30 20 10 10 200 300 400 70 700 400 300 200 100 0 100 0, 00 00 60 600 50 500 50° J F M A M J J A S0 N D J 0° FIG, II. Atlantic. In North America the change is abrupt, and comes on crossing the lofty 'fvestern mountain barrier. The curves in fig. ii illustrate well the gradually increasing continentality of the climate with increasing distance inland in Eurasia. The continental interiors of the north temperate zone have the greatest extremes in the world. Towards the Arctic circle the winters are extremely severe, and January mean temperatures of -ro° and -20° occur over considerable areas. At the cold pole of north-eastern Siberia a January mean of -6o° is found. Mean minimum temperatures of -40° occur in the area from eastern Russia, over Siberia and down to about latitude 500 N. Over no small part of Siberia minimum temperatures below -70 may be looked for every winter. Thorshavn and Yakutsk are excellent examples of the temperature differences along the same latitude line (see fig. t t). The winter in this interior region is dominated by a marked high pressure. The weather is prevailingly clear and calm. The ground is frozen all the year round below a slight depth over wide areas. The extremely low temperatures are most trying when the steppes are swept by icy storm winds (buran, purga), carrying loose snow, and often resulting in loss of life. In the North American interior the winter cold is somewhat less severe. North American winter weather in middle latitudes is often interrupted by cyclones, which, under the steep poleward temperature gradient then prevailing, cause frequent, marked and sudden changes in wind direction and temperature over the central and eastern United States. Cold waves and warm waves are common, and blizzards resemble the buran or purga of Russia and Siberia. With cold northerly winds, temperatures below freezing are carried far south towards the tropic. The January mean temperatures in the southern portions of the continental interiors average about 500 or 6o°. In summer the northern continental interiors are warm, with July means of 6o° and thereabouts. These temperatures are not much higher than those on the west coasts, but as the northern interior winters are much colder than those on the coasts, the interior ranges are very large. Mean maximum temperatures of 86° occur beyond the Arctic circle in north-eastern Siberia, and beyond latitude 6o° in North America. In spite of the extreme winter cold, agriculture extends remarkably far north in these regions, because of the warm, though short, summers, with favourable rainfall distribution. The summer heat is sufficient to thaw the upper surface of the frozen ground, and vegetation prospers for its short season. At this time great stretches of flat surface become swamps. The southern interiors have torrid heat in summer, temperatures of over 900 being recorded in the south-western United States and in southern Asia. In these districts the diurnal ranges of temperature are very large, often exceeding 40°, and the mean maxima exceed tto°. The winter maximum rainfall of the west coasts becomes a summer maximum in the interiors. The change is gradual in Europe, as was the change in temperature, but more sudden in North America. The curves for central Europe and for northern Asia illustrate these continental summer rains (see fig. 12). The summer maximum becomes more marked with the increasing continental character of the climate. There is also a well-marked decrease in the amount of rainfall inland. In western Europe the rainfall averages 20 to 30 in., with much larger amounts (reaching 8o-too in. and even more) on the bold west coasts, as in the British Isles and Scandinavia, where the moist Atlantic winds are deflected upwards, and also locally on mountain ranges, as on the Alps. There are small rainfalls (below 20 in.) in eastern Scandinavia and on the Iberian peninsula. Eastern Europe has generally less than 20 in., western Siberia about 15 in., and eastern Siberia about to in. In the southern part of the great overgrown continent of Asia an extended region of steppes and deserts, too far from-the sea to receive sufficient precipitation, shut in, furthermore, by mountains, controlled in summer by drying northerly winds, receives less than to in. a year, and in places less than 5 in. In this interior district of Asia population is inevitably small and suffers under a condition of hopeless aridity. The North American interior has more favourable rainfall conditions than Asia, because the former continent is not overgrown. The heavy rainfalls on the western slopes of the Pacific coast mountains correspond, in a general way, with those on the west coast of Europe, although they are heavier (over too in. at a maximum). The close proximity of the mountains to the Pacific, however, involves a much more rapid decrease of rainfall inland than is' the case in Europe, as may be seen by comparing the isohyetal lines' in the two cases. A considerable interior region is left with deficient rainfall (less than to in.) in the south-west. The eastern portion of the continent is freely open to the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, so that moist cyclonic winds have access, and rainfalls of over 20 in. are found everywhere east of the tooth meridian. These conditions are much more favourable than those in eastern Asia. The greater part of the interior of North America has the usual warm-season rains. In the interior basin, between the Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains, the higher plateaus and mountains receive much more rain than the desert lowlands. Forests grow on the higher elevations, while irrigation is necessary for agriculture on the lowlands. The rainfall here comes largely from thunderstorms. In South America the narrow Pacific slope has heavy rainfall (over 8o in.). East of the Andes the plains are dry (mostly less than to in.). The southern part of the continent is very narrow, and is open to the east, as well as more open to the west owing to the decreasing height of the mountains. Hence the rainfall increases somewhat to the south, coming in connexion with passing cyclones. Tas- mania and New Zealand have most rain on their western slopes. In a typical continental climate the winter, except for radiation fogs, is very clear, and the summer the cloudiest season, as is well shown in the accompanying curve for eastern Asia (A, fig. 13). In a more moderate continental climate, such as that of central Europe (E, fig. 13), and much of the United States, the winter is the cloudiest season. In the first case the mean cloudiness is small; in the second there is a good deal of cloud all the year round. East Coasts.—The prevailing winds carry the continental climates of the interiors off over the eastern coasts of the temperate zone lands, and even for some distance on to the adjacent oceans. The east coasts therefore have continental climates, with modifications resulting from the presence of the oceans to leeward, and are necessarily separated from the west coasts, with which they have little in common. On the west coasts of the north temperate lands the isotherms are far apart. On the east coasts they are crowded together. The east coasts share with the interiors large annual and cyclonic ranges of temperature. A glance at. the isothermal maps of the world will show at once how favoured, because of its position to leeward of the warm North Atlantic waters, is western Europe as compared with eastern North America. A similar contrast, less marked, is seen in eastern Asia and western North America. In eastern Asia there is some protection, by the coast mountains, against the extreme cold of the interior, but in North America there is no such barrier, and severe cold winds sweep across the Atlantic coast states, even far to the south. Owing to the prevailing offshore winds, the oceans to leeward have relatively little effect. As already noted, the rainfall increases from the interiors towards the east coasts. In North America the distribution through the year is very uniform, with some tendency to a summer maximum, as in the interior (N.A, fig. 12). In eastern Asia the winters are relatively dry and clear, under i.e. lines drawn on a map to connect all places having an equal rainfall. i ^^MI^^U^^^^IIII^ 9 fMIE^^^^^^^M^i•© 8 ©liar S^=` OM-WI 7 M e 5 4 PrIll P. 'a ^^=^^^i^^M11i 3 2 ^^^M^^1•^^^^M^ ^^^^^^^1^^^^^^ 0 Ftc. I3.-Annual March of Cloudiness: Temperate Zones. E, Central Europe; A, Eastern Asia; M, mountain. 0 J. J. P. M.' A. M. J. J. A. S. O. i0 9 7 4 3 0 found above eternally frozen ground. Direct insolation is very effective in high latitudes. Where the exposure is favourable, snow melts in the sun when the temperature of the air in the shade is far below freezing. Arctic and antarctic zones differ a good deal in the distribution and arrangement of land and water around and in them. The southern zone is surrounded by a wide belt of open sea; the northern, by land areas. The northern is therefore much affected by the conditions of adjacent continental masses. Nevertheless, the general characteristics are apparently much the same over both, so far as is now known, the antarctic differing from the arctic chiefly in having colder summers and in the regularity of its pressure and winds. Both zones have the lowest mean annual temperatures in their respective hemispheres, and hence may properly be called the cold zones. Temperature.—At the solstices the two poles receive the largest amounts of insolation which any part of the earth's surface ever receives. It would seem, therefore, that the temperatures at the poles should then be the highest in the world, but as a matter of fact they are nearly or quite the lowest. Temperatures do not follow insolation in this case because much of the latter never reaches the earth's surface; because most of the energy which does reach the surface is expended in melting the snow and ice of the polar areas; and because the water areas are large, and the duration of insolation is short. A set of monthly isothermal charts of the north polar area, based on all available observations, has been prepared by H. Mohn and published in the volume on Meteorology of the Nansen expedition. In the winter months there are three cold poles, in Siberia, in Greenland and at the pole itself. In January the mean temperatures at these three cold poles are -40°, -400 and -40° respectively. The Siberian cold pole becomes a maximum of temperature during the summer, but the Greenland and polar minima remain throughout the year. In July the temperature distribution shows considerable uniformity; the gradients are relatively weak. A large area in the interior of Greenland, and one of about equal extent around the pole, are within the isotherm of 32°. For the year a large area around the pole is enclosed by the isotherm of -40, with an isotherm of the same value in the interior of Greenland, but a local area of -7.6° is noted in Greenland, and one of -11.2° is centred at lat. So° N. and long. 17o° E. The north polar chart of annual range of temperature shows a maximum range of about 12o° in Siberia; of 8o° in North America; of 75.60 at the North Pole, and of 72° in Greenland. The North Pole obviously has a continental climate. The minimum ranges are on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The mean annual isanomalies show that the interior of Greenland has a negative anomaly in all months. The Norwegian sea area is 45° too warm in January and February. Siberia has +ro•8° in summer, and =4e in January. Between Bering Strait and the pole there is a negative anomaly in all months. The influence of the Gulf Stream drift is clearly seen on the chart, as. it is also on that of mean annual ranges. For the North Pole Mohn gives the following results; obtained by graphic methods:- Mean Temperatures at the North Pole. the influence of the cold offshore monsoon, and the summers are warm and rainy. Rainfalls of 40 in. are found on the east coasts of Korea, Kamchatka and Japan, while in North America, which is more open, they reach farther inland. Japan, although occupying an insular position, has a modified continental rather than a marine climate. The winter monsoon, after crossing the water, gives abundant rain on the western coast, while the winter is relatively dry on the lee of the mountains, on the east. Japan has smaller temperature ranges than the mainland. Mountain Climates.—The mountain climates of the temperate zone have the usual characteristics which are. associated with altitude everywhere. If the altitude is sufficiently great the decreased temperature gives mountains a polar climate, with the difference that the summers are relatively cool while the winters are mild owing to inversions of temperature in anticyclonic weather. Hence the annual ranges are smaller than over lowlands. At such times of inversion the mountain-tops often appear as local areas of higher temperature in a general region of colder air over the valleys and lowlands. The increased intensity of insolation aloft is an important factor in giving certain mountain resorts their deserved popularity in winter (e.g. Davos and Meran). Of Meran it has been well said that from December to March the nights are winter, but the days are mild spring. The diurnal ascending air currents of summer usually give mountains their maximum cloudiness and highest relative humidity in the warmer months, while winter is the drier and clearer season. This is shown in curve M, fig. 13. The clouds of winter are low, those of summer are higher. Hence the annual march of cloudiness on mountains is usually the opposite of that on lowlands. Characteristics of the Polar Zones. General.—The temperate zones merge into the polar zones at the Arctic and Antarctic circles, or, if temperature be used as the basis of classification, at the isotherms of 500 for the warmest month, as suggested by Supan. The longer or shorter absence of the sun gives the climate a peculiar character, not found elsewhere. Beyond the isotherm of 500 for the warmest month forest trees and cereals do not grow. In the northern hemisphere this line is well north of the Arctic circle in the continental climate of Asia, and north of it also in north-western North America and in northern Scandinavia, but falls well south in eastern' British America, Labrador and Greenland, and also in the North Pacific Ocean. In the southern hemisphere this isotherm crosses the southern extremity of South America, and runs fairly east and west around the globe there. The conditions of life are necessarily very specialized for the peculiar climatic features which are met with in these zones. There is a minimum of life, but more in the north polar than the south polar zone. Plants are few and lowly. Land animals which depend upon plant food must therefore likewise be few in number. Farming and cattle-raising cease. Population is small and scattered. There are no permanent settlements at all within the Antarctic circle. Life is a constant struggle for existence. Man seeks his food by the chase on land, but chiefly in the sea. He lives along, or near, the sea-coast. The interior lands, away from the sea, are deserted. Gales and snow and cold cause many deaths on land, and, especially during fishing expeditions, at sea. Under such hard conditions of Jan. securing food, famine is a _41.80 _41.80 _31.0 _18.4° likely occurrence. In the arctic climate vegetation must make rapid growth in the short, cool summer. In the highest latitudes the summer temperatures are not high enough to melt snow on a level. Exposure is therefore of the greatest importance. Arctic plants grow and blossom with great rapidity and luxuriance where the exposure is favourable, and where the water from the melting snow can run off. The soil then dries quickly, and can be effectively warmed. Protection against cold winds is another important factor in the growth of vegetation. Over great stretches of the northern plains the surface only is thawed out in the warmer months, and swamps, mosses and lichens are28.4° 30.2° 26.6° 8.6 -11•20 -27.4° -36.4° -8.9° It appears that the region about the North Pole is the coldest, place in the northern hemisphere for the mean of the year, and that the interior ice desert of Greenland, together with the inner polar area, are together the coldest parts of the northern hemisphere in July. In January, however, Verkhoyansk, in north-eastern Siberia, just within the Arctic circle, has a mean temperature of about -6o°, while the inner polar area and the northern interior of Greenland have only-40°°. Thus far no minima as' low as those of north=eastern Siberia have been recorded in the Arctic. For the Antarctic our knowledge is still very fragmentary, 8.6° Feb. Mar. Nov. Dec. Year. Oct. Aug. Sept. Apr. June. July. May. and relates chiefly to the summer months. Hann has determined the mean temperatures of the higher southern latitudes as follows -1 Mean Temperatures of High Southern Latitudes. S. Lat. 50° 6o° 70° 8o° Mean Annual 41.9 28.4 11.3 -.3.6 January . . . 46.9 37.8 30.6 20.3 July . . . 37.2 k8.3 -8•o -24.7 From lat. 7o° S. polewards, J. Hann finds that the southern hemisphere is colder than the northern. Antarctic summers are decidedly cold. The mean annual temperatures experienced have been in the vicinity of so°, and the minima of an ordinary antarctic winter go down to -40° and below, but so far no minima of the severest Siberian intensity have been noted. The maxima have varied between 350 and 5o°. The temperatures at the South Pole itself furnish an interesting subject for speculation. It is likely that near the South Pole will prove to be the coldest point on the earth's surface for the year, as the distribution of insolation would imply, and as the conditions of land and ice and snow there would suggest. The lowest winter and summer temperatures in the southern hemisphere will almost certainly be found in the immediate vicinity of the pole. It must not be supposed that the isotherms in the antarctic region run parallel with the latitude lines. They bend polewards and equatorwards at different meridians, although much less so than in the Arctic. The annual march of temperature in the north polar zone, for which we have the best comparable data, is peculiar in having a much-retarded minimum in February or even in March—the result of the long, cold winter. The temperature rises rapidly towards summer, and reaches a maximum in July. Autumn is warmer than spring. The continents do not penetrate far enough into the arctic zone to develop a pure continental climate in the highest latitudes. Verkhoyansk, in lat. 67° 6' N., furnishes an excellent example of an exaggerated continental type for the margin of the zone, with an annual range of 120°. One-third as large a range is found on Novaya Zemlya. Polar climate as a whole has large annual and small diurnal ranges, but sudden changes of wind may cause marked irregular temperature changes within twenty-four hours, especially in winter. The smaller ranges are associated with greater cloudiness, and vice versa. The mean diurnal variability is very small in summer, and reaches its maximum in winter, about 7° in February, according to Mohn. Pressure and Winds.—Owing to the more symmetrical distribution of land and water in the southern than in the northern polar area, the pressures and winds have a simpler arrangement in the former, and may be first considered. The rapid southward decrease of pressure, which is so marked a feature of the higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere on the isobaric charts of the world, does not continue all the way to the South Pole. Nor do the prevailing westerly winds, constituting the " circumpolar whirl," which are so well developed over the southern portions of the southern hemisphere oceans, blow all the way home to the South Pole. The steep poleward pressure gradients of these southern oceans end in a trough of low pressure, girdling the earth at about the Antarctic circle. From here the pressure increases again towards the South Pole, where a permanent inner polar anticyclonic area is found, with outflowing winds deflected by the earth's rotation into easterly and south-easterly directions. These easterly winds have been observed by the recent expeditions which have penetrated far enough south to cross the low-pressure trough. The limits between the prevailing westerlies and the outflowing winds from the pole (" easterlies ") vary with the longitude and migrate with the seasons. The change in passing from one wind system to the other is easily observed. This south polar anticyclone, with its` surrounding low-pressure girdle, migrates with the season, the centre apparently shifting polewards in summer and towards the eastern hemisphere in winter. The outflowing winds from the polar anticyclones sweep down across the inland ice. Under certain topographic 1 Nature, lxxi. (Jan: 5, 1905), p. 221. conditions, descending across mountain ranges, as in the case of the Admiralty Range in Victoria Land, these winds may develop high velocity and take on typical f ohn characteristics, raising the temperature to an unusually high degree. Fohn winds are also known on both coasts of Greenland, when a passing cyclonic depression draws the air down from the icy interior. These Greenland fShn winds are important climatic elements, for they blow down warm and dry, raising the temperature even 30° or 400 above the winter mean, and melting the snow. In the Arctic area the wind systems are less clearly defined and the pressure distribution is much less regular, on account of the irregular distribution of land and water. The isobaric charts published in the report of the Nansen expedition show that the North Atlantic low-pressure area is more or less well developed in all months. Except in June, when it lies over southern Greenland, this tongue-shaped trough of low pressure lies in Davis strait, to the south-west or west of Iceland, and over the Norwegian Sea. In winter it greatly extends its limits farther east into the inner Arctic Ocean, to the north of Russia and Siberia. The Pacific minimum of pressure is found south of Bering Strait and in Alaska. Between these two regions of lower pressure . the divide extends from North America to eastern Siberia. This divide has been called by Supan the " Arktische Wind-scheide." The pressure gradients are steepest in winter. At the pole itself pressure seems to be highest in April and lowest from June to September. The annual range is only about 0.20 in. The prevailing westerlies, which in the high southern latitudes are so symmetrically developed, are interfered with to such an extent by the varying pressure controls over the northern continents and oceans in summer and winter that they are often hardly recognizable on the wind maps. The isobaric and wind charts show that on the whole the winds blow out from the inner polar basin, especially in winter and spring. Rain and Snow.—Rainfall on the whole decreases steadily from equator to poles. The amount of precipitation must of necessity be comparatively slight in the polar zones, chiefly because of the small capacity of the air for water vapour at the low temperatures there prevailing; partly also because of the decrease, or absence, of local convectional storms and thunder-showers. Locally, under exceptional conditions, as in the case of the western coast of Norway, the rainfall is a good deal heavier. Even cyclonic storms cannot yield much precipitation. The extended snow and ice fields tend to give an exaggerated idea of the actual amount of precipitation. It must be remembered, however, that evaporation is slow at low temperatures, and melting is not excessive. Hence the polar store of fallen snow is well preserved: interior snowfields, ice sheets and glaciers ars produced. The commonest form of precipitation is naturally snow, the summer limit of which, in the northern hemisphere, is near the Arctic circle, with the exception of Norway. So far as exploration has yet gone into the highest latitudes, rain falls in summer, and it is doubtful whether there are places where all the precipitation falls as snow. The snow of the polar regions is characteristically fine and dry. At low polar temperatures flakes of snow are not found, but precipitation is in the form of ice spicules. The finest glittering ice needles often fill the air, even on clear days, and in calm weather, and gradually descending to the surface, slowly add to the depth of snow on the ground. Dry snow is also blown from the snowfields on windy days, interfering with the transparency of the air. Humidity, Cloudiness and Fog.—The absolute humidity must be low in polar latitudes, especially in winter, on account of the low temperatures. Relative humidity varies greatly, and very low readings have often been recorded. Cloudiness seems to decrease somewhat towards the inner polar areas, after passing the belt of high cloudiness in the higher latitudes of the temperate zones. In the marine climates of high latitudes the summer, which is the calmest season, has the maximum cloudiness; the winter, with more active wind movement, is clearer. The curve here given illustrates these conditions (fig. 14). The summer maximum is largely due to fogs, which are produced where warm, damp air is chilled by coming in contact with ice. They are also formed over open waters, as among the Faeroe Islands, for example, and open water spaces, in the midst of an ice-covered sea, are commonly detected at a distance by means of the " steam fog " which rises from them. Fogs are less J, F. M. A. M. J. .1. s. S. O. N. D. J. 10 common in winter, when t B they occur as radiation fogs, of no great thick- e'—~/ ness. The small winter s 5 cloudiness, which is re- 4 ported also from the ant- s Q = arctic zone, corresponds i i with the low absolute 0 humidity and small pre- Polar Latitudes (marine type). and islands bathed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream drift usually have a higher cloudiness in winter than in summer. The place of fog is in winter taken by the fine snow crystals, which often darken the air like fog when strong winds raise the dry snow from the surfaces on which it is lying. Cumulus cloud forms are rare, even in summer, and it is doubtful whether the cloud occurs at all in its typical development. Stratus is probably the commonest cloud of high latitudes, often covering the sky for days without a break. Cirrus cloud forms probably' decrease polewards. Cyclones and Weather.—The prevailing westerlies continue up into the margins of the polar zones. Many of their cyclonic storms also continue on to the polar zones, giving sudden and irregular pressure and weather changes. The inner polar areas seem to be beyond the reach of frequent and violent cyclonic disturbance. Calms are more common; the weather is quieter and fairer; precipitation is less. Most of the observations thus far obtained from the Antarctic come from this marginal zone of great cyclonic activity, violent winds, and wet, disagreeable, inhospitable weather, and therefore do not show the features of the actual south polar climate. During the three years of the " Fram's " drift depressions passed on all sides of her, with a preponderance on the west. The direction of progression averaged nearly due east, and the hourly velocity 27 to 34 m., which is about that in the United States. For the higher latitudes, most of the cyclones must pass by on the equatorial side of the observer, giving " backing" winds in the northern hemisphere. The main cyclonic tracks are such that the wind characteristically backs in Iceland, and still more so in Jan Mayen and on the eastern coast of Greenland, these districts lying on the north and west of the path of progression. Frightful winter storms occasionally occur along the east coast of Greenland and off Spitsbergen. For much of the year in the polar zones the diurnal control is weak or absent. The successive spells of stormy or of fine weather are wholly cyclonically controlled. Extraordinary records of storm and gale have been brought back from the far south and the far north. Wind direction and temperature vary in relation to the position of the cyclone. During the long dreary winter night the temperature falls to very low readings. Snowstorms and gales alternate at irregular short intervals with calmer spells of more extreme cold and clearer skies. The periods of greatest cold in winter are calm. A wind from any direction will bring a rise in temperature. This probably results from the fact that the cold is the result of local radiation, and a wind interferes with these conditions by importing higher temperatures, or by mixing upper and lower strata. During the long summer days the temperature rises well above the winter mean, and under favourable conditions certain phenomena, such as the diurnal variation in wind velocity, for example,, give evidence of the diurnal control. But the irregular cyclonic weather changes continue, in a modified form. There is no really warm season. Snow still falls frequently. The summer is essentially only a modified winter, especially in the Antarctic. In summer clear spells are relatively warm, and winds bringlower temperatures. In spite of its lack of high temperatures, the northern polar summer, near the margins of the zone, has many attractive qualities in its clean, pure, crisp, dry air, free from dust and impurities; its strong insolation; its slight precipitation. Twilight and Optical Phenomena.—The monotony and darkness of the polar night are decreased a good deal by the long twilight. Light from moon and stars, and from the aurora, also relieves the darkness. Optical phenomena of great variety, beauty and complexity are common. Solar and lunar haloes, and coronae, and mock suns and moons are often seen. Auroras seem to be less common and less brilliant in the Antarctic than in the Arctic. Sunset and sunrise colours within the polar zones are described as being extraordinarily brilliant and impressive. Physiological Effects.—The north polar summer, as has been pointed out, in spite of its drawbacks, is in some respects a pleasant and healthful season. But the polar night is monotonous, depressing, repelling. Sir W. E. Parry said that it would be difficult to conceive of two things which are more alike than two polar winters. An everlasting uniform snow covering; rigidity; lifelessness; silence—except for the howl of the gale or the cracking of the ice. Small wonder that the polar night has sometimes unbalanced men's minds. The first effects are often a strong desire for sleep, and indifference. Later effects have been sleeplessness and nervousness, tending in extreme cases to insanity; anaemia, digestive troubles. Extraordinarily low winter temperatures are easily borne if the air be dry and still. Zero weather seems pleasantly refreshing if clear and calm, But high relative humidity and wind—even a light breeze—give the same degree of cold a penetrating feeling of chill which may be unbearable. Large temperature ranges are endured without danger in the polar winter when the air is dry. When exposed to direct insolation the skin burns and blisters; the lips swell and crack. Thirst has been much complained of by polar explorers, and is due to the active evaporation from the warm body into the dry, relatively cold air. There is no doubt that polar air is singularly free from micro-organisms—a fact which is due chiefly to lack of communication with other parts of the world. Hence many diseases which are common in temperate zones, " colds " among them, are rare. Changes of Climate. Popular Belief in Climatic Change.—Belief in a change in the climate of one's place of residence, within a few generations, and even within the memory of living men, is widespread. Evidence is constantly being brought forward of apparent climatic variations of greater or less amount which are now taking place. Thus we have many accounts of a gradual desiccation which seems to have been going on over a large region in Central Asia during historical times. In northern Africa certain ancient historical records have been taken by different writers to indicate a general decrease of rainfall during the last 3000 or more years. In his crossing of the Sahara between Algeria and the Niger, E. F. Gautier found evidence of a former large population. A gradual desiccation of the region is therefore believed to have taken place, but to-day the equatorial rain belt seems to be again advancing farther north, giving an increased rainfall. Farther south, several lakes have been reported as decreasing in size, e.g. Chad and Victoria; and wells and springs a$ running dry. In the Lake Chad district A. J. B. Chevalier reports the discovery of vegetable and animal remains which indicate an invasion of the Sudan by a Saharan climate. It is often held that a steady decrease in rainfall has taken place over Greece, Syria and other eastern Mediterranean lands, resulting in a gradual and inevitable deterioration and decay of their people. What Meteorological Records show.—As concerns the popular impression regarding change of climate, it is clear at the start that no definite answer can be given on the basis of tradition or of general impression. The only answer of real value must be based on the records of accurate instruments, properly exposed and carefully read. When such instrumental records are carefully examined, from the time when they were first kept, which in a few cases goes back about 15o years, there'is found no 'good evidence of any progressive change in temperature, or in the amount of rain and snow. 'Even when the most accurate instrumental records are available, care must be taken to interpret them correctly. Thus, if a rainfall or snowfall record of several years at some station indicates an apparent increase or decrease in the amount of precipitation, it does not necessarily follow that this means a permanent, progressive change in climate, which is to continue indefinitely. It may simply mean that there have been a few years of somewhat more precipitation, and that a period of somewhat less precipitation is to follow. Value of Evidence concerning Changes of Climate.—The body of facts which has been adduced as evidence of progressive changes of climate within historical times is not yet sufficiently large and complete to warrant any general correlation and study of these facts as a whole. But there are certain considerations which should be borne in mind in dealing with this evidence before any conclusions are reached. In the first place, changes in the distribution of certain fruits and cereals, and in the dates of the harvest, have often been accepted as undoubted evidence of changes in climate. Such a conclusion is by no means inevitable, for many changes in the districts of cultivation of various crops have naturally resulted from the fact that these same crops are in time found to be more profitably grown, or more easily prepared for market, in another locality. In France, C. A. Angot has made a careful compilation of the dates of the vintage from the 14th, century down to the present time, and finds no support for the view so commonly held there that the climate has changed for the worse. At the present time, the average date of the grape harvest in Aubonne is exactly the same as at the close of the 16th century. After a careful study of the conditions of the date tree, from the 4th century, B.C., D. Eginitis concludes that the climate of the eastern portion of the Mediterranean basin has not changed appreciably during twenty-three centuries. Secondly, a good many of the reports by explorers from little-known regions are contradictory. This shows the need of caution in jumping at conclusions of climatic change. An increased use of water for irrigation may cause the level of water in a lake to fall. Periodic oscillations, giving higher and then lower water, do not indicate progressive change in one direction. Many writers have seen a law in what was really a chance coincidence. Thirdly, where a progressive desiccation seems to have taken place, it is often a question whether less rain is actually falling, or whether the inhabitants have less capacity and less energy than formerly. Is the change from a once cultivated area to a barren expanse the result of decreasing rainfall, or of the emigration of the former inhabitants to other lands? The difference between a country formerly well irrigated and fertile, and a present-day sandy, inhospitable waste may be the result of a former compulsion of the people, by a strong governing power, to till the soil and to irrigate, while now, without that compulsion, no attempt is made to keep up the work. A region of deficient rainfall, once thickly settled and prosperous, may readily become an apparently hopeless desert, even without the intervention of war and pestilence, if man allows the climate to master him. In many cases the reports of increasing dryness really concern only the decrease in the water supply from rivers and springs, and it is well known that a change in the cultivation of the soil, or in the extent of the forests, may bring about marked changes in the flow of springs and rivers without any essential change in the actual amount of rainfall. Lastly, a region whose normal rainfall is at best barely sufficient for man's needs may be abandoned by its inhabitants during a few years of deficient precipitation, and not again occupied even when, a few years later, normal or excessive rainfall occurs. Periodic Oscillations of Climate: Sun-spot Period.—The discovery of a distinct eleven-year periodicity in the magnetic phenomena of the earth naturally led to investigations of similar periods in meteorology. The literature on this subject has assumed large proportions. The results, however, have not beensatisfactory. The problem' is difficult and obscure. Fluctuations in temperature and rainfall, occurring in an eleven-year period, have been made out for certain stations but the variations are slight, and it is not yet clear that they are sufficiently marked, uniform and persistent over large areas to make practical application of the periodicity in forecasting possible. In some cases the relation to sun-spot periodicity is open to debate; in others, the results are contradictory. W. P. Koppen has brought forward evidence of a sun-spot period in the mean annual temperature, especially in the tropics, the maximum temperatures coming in the years of sun-spot minima. The whole amplitude of the variation in the mean annual temperatures, from sun-spot minimum to sun-spot maximum, is, however, only 1.30 in the tropics and a little less than 1° in the extra-tropics. More recently Nordmann (for the years 1870-1goo) has continued Koppen's investigation. In 1872 C. Meldrum, then Director of the Meteorological Observatory at Mauritius, first called attention to a sun-spot periodicity in rainfall and in the frequency of tropical cyclones in the South Indian Ocean. The latter are most numerous in years of sun-spot maxima, and decrease in frequency with the approach of sun-spot minima. Poey found later a similar relation in the case of the West Indian hurricanes. Meldrum's conclusions regarding rainfall were that, with few exceptions, there is more rain in years of sun-spot maxima. S. A. Hill found it to be true of the Indian summer monsoon rains that there seems to be an excess in the first half of the cycle, after the sun-spot maximum. The winter rains of northern India, however, show the opposite relation; the minimum following, or coinciding with, the sun-spot maximum. Particular attention has been paid to the sun-spot cycle of rainfall in India, because of the close relation between famines and the summer monsoon rainfall in that country. Sir Norman Lockyer and Dr W. J. S. Lockyer have recently studied the variations of rainfall in the region surrounding the Indian Ocean in the light of solar changes in temperature. They find that India has two pulses of rainfall, one near the maximum and the other near the minimum of the sun-spot period. The famines of the last fifty years have occurred in the intervals between these two pulses, and these writers believe that if as much had been known in 1836 as is now known, the probability of famines at all the subsequent dates might have been foreseen. Relations between the sun-spot period and various other meteorological phenomena than temperature, rainfall and tropical cyclones have been made the subject of numerous investigations, but on the whole the results are still too uncertain to be of any but a theoretical value. Some promising conclusions seem, however, to have been reached in regard to pressure variations, and their control over other climatic elements. Bruckner's 35 - Year Cycle.—Of more importance than the results thus far reached for the sun-spot period are those which clearly establish a somewhat longer period of slight fluctuations or oscillations of climate, known as the Bruckner cycle, after Professor Bruckner of Bern, who has made a careful investigation of the whole subject of climatic changes and finds evidence of a 35-year periodicity in temperature and rainfall. In a cycle whose average length is 35 years, there comes a series of years which are somewhat cooler and also more rainy, and then a series of years which are somewhat warmer and drier. The interval in some cases is twenty years; in others it is fifty. The average interval between two cool and moist, or warm and dry, periods is about 35 years. The mean amplitude of the temperature fluctuation, based on large numbers of data, is a little less than 2°. The fluctuations in rainfall are more marked in interiors than on coasts. The general mean amplitude is r 2 %, or, excluding exceptional districts, 24 %. Regions whose normal rainfall is small are most affected. The following table shows the dates and characters of Bruckner's periods: Warm 1746-1755 1791-1805 1821-1835 1851-1870 Dry . 1756-1770 1781-1805 1826-184o 1856-187o Cold . 1i31-1745 1756-1790 1806-1820 1836-1850 1871-1885 Wet 1736-1755 1771-1780 1806-1825 1841-1855 1871-1885 Interesting confirmation of Bruckner's 35-year period has been found by E. Richter in the variations of the Swiss glaciers, but as these glaciers differ in length, they do not all advance and retreat at the same time. The advance is seen during the cold and damp periods. Bruckner has found certain districts in which the phases and epochs of the climatic cycle are exactly reversed. These exceptional districts are almost altogether limited to marine climates. There is thus a sort of compensation between oceans and continents. The rainier periods on the continents are accompanied by relatively low pressures, while the pressures are high and the period dry over the oceans and vice versa. The cold and rainy periods are also marked by a decrease in all pressure differences. It is obvious that changes in the general distribution of atmospheric pressures, over extended areas, are closely associated with fluctuations in temperature and rainfall. These changes in pressure distribution must in some way be associated with changes in the general circulation of the atmosphere, and these again must depend upon some external controlling cause or causes. W. J. S. Lockyer has called attention to the fact that there seems to be a periodicity of about 35 years in solar activity, and that this corresponds with the Bruckner period. It is clear that the existence of a 35-year period will account for many of the views that have been advanced in favour of a progressive change of climate. A succession of a few years wetter or drier than the normal is likely to lead to the conclusion that the change is permanent. Accurate observations extending over as many years as possible, and discussed without prejudice, are necessary before any conclusions are drawn. Observations for one station during the wetter part of a cycle should not be compared with observations for another station during the drier part of the same, or of another cycle. There are evidences of longer climatic cycles than eleven or 35 years. Bruckner calls attention to the fact that sometimes two of his periods seem to merge into one. E. Richter shows much the same thing for the Alpine glaciers. Evidence of considerable climatic changes since the last glacial period is not lacking. But as yet nothing sufficiently definite to warrant general conclusions has been brought forward. Geological Changes in Climate.—Changes of climate in the geological past are known with absolute certainty to have takers place: periods of glacial invasion, as well as periods of mote genial conditions. The evidence, and the causes of these changes have been discussed and re-discussed, by writers almost without number, and from all points of view. Changes in the intensity of insolation; in the sun itself; in the conditions of the earth's atmosphere; in the astronomical relations of earth and sun; in the distribution of land and water; in the position of the earth's axis; in the altitude of the land; in the presence of volcanic dust; now cosmic, now terrestrial conditions—have been suggested, combated, put forward again. None of these hypotheses has prevailed in preference to others. No actual proof of the correctness of this or that theory has been brought forward. No general agreement has been reached. Conclusion.—Without denying the possibility, or even the probability, of the establishment of the fact of secular changes, there is as yet no sufficient warrant for believing in considerable permanent changes over large areas. Dufour, after a thorough study of all . available evidence, has concluded that a change of climate has not been proved. There are periodic oscillations of slight amount. A 35-year period is fairly well established, but is nevertheless of considerable irregularity, and cannot as yet be practically applied in forecasting. Longer periods are suggested, but not made out. As to causes, variations in solar activity are naturally receiving attention, and the results thus far are promising. But climate is a great complex, and complete and satisfactory explanations of all the facts will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to reach. At present, indeed, the facts which call for explanation are still in most cases but poorly determined, and the processes at work are insufficiently under-stood. Climate is not absolutely a constant. The pendulum swings to the right and to the left. And its swing is as far to the right as to the left. Each generation lives through a part ofone, or two, or even three oscillations. A snapshot view of these osculations makes them seem permanent. As Supan has well said, it was formerly believed that climate changes locally, but progressively and permanently. It is now believed that osculations of climate are limited in time, but occur over wide areas.
End of Article: CLIMATE AND

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.