1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Climate and Climatology
CLIMATE AND CLIMATOLOGY. The word clima (from Gr. κλίνειν, to lean or incline; whence also the English “clime,” now a poetical term for this or that region of the earth, regarded as characterized by climate), as used by the Greeks, probably referred originally either to the supposed slope of the earth towards the pole, or to the inclination of the earth’s axis. It was an astronomical or a mathematical term, not associated with any idea of physical climate. A change of clima then meant a change of latitude. The latter was gradually seen to mean a change in atmospheric conditions as well as in length of day, and clima thus came to have its present meaning. “Climate” is the average condition of the atmosphere. “Weather” denotes a single occurrence, or event, in the series of conditions which make up climate. The climate of a place is thus in a sense its average weather. Climatology is the study or science of climates.
Relation of Meteorology and Climatology.—Meteorology and climatology are interdependent. It is impossible to distinguish sharply between them. In a strict sense, meteorology deals with the physics of the atmosphere. It considers the various atmospheric phenomena individually, and seeks to determine their physical causes and relations. Its view is largely theoretical. When meteorology (q.v.) is considered in its broadest meaning, climatology is a subdivision of it. Climatology is largely descriptive. It aims at giving a clear picture of the interaction of the various atmospheric phenomena at any place on the earth’s surface. Climatology may almost be defined as geographical meteorology. Its main object is to be of practical service to man. Its method of treatment lays most emphasis on the elements which are most important to life. Climate and crops, climate and industry, climate and health, are subjects of vital interest to man.
The Climatic Elements and their Treatment.—Climatology has to deal with the same groups of atmospheric conditions as those with which meteorology is concerned, viz. temperature (including radiation); moisture (including humidity, precipitation and cloudiness); wind (including storms); pressure; evaporation, and also, but of less importance, the composition and chemical, optical and electrical phenomena of the atmosphere. The characteristics of each of these so-called climatic elements are set forth in a standard series of numerical values, based on careful, systematic, and long-continued meteorological records, corrected and compared by well-known methods. Various forms of graphic presentation are employed to emphasize and simplify the numerical results. In Hann’s Handbuch der Klimatologie, vol i., will be found a general discussion of the methods of presenting the different climatic elements. The most complete guide in the numerical, mathematical and graphic treatment of meteorological data for climatological purposes is Hugo Meyer’s Anleitung zur Bearbeitung meteorologischer Beobachtungen für die Klimatologie (Berlin, 1891).
Climate deals first of all with average conditions, but a satisfactory presentation of a climate must include more than mere averages. It must take account, also, of regular and irregular daily, monthly and annual changes, and of the departures, mean and extreme, from the average conditions which may occur at the same place in the course of time. The mean minimum and maximum temperatures or rainfalls of a month or a season are important data. Further, a determination of the frequency of occurrence of a given condition, or of certain values of that condition, is important, for periods of a day, month or year, as for example the frequency of winds according to direction or velocity; or of different amounts of cloudiness; or of temperature changes of a certain number of degrees; the number of days with and without rain or snow in any month, or year, or with rain of a certain amount, &c. The probability of occurrence of any condition, as of rain in a certain month; or of a temperature of 32°, for example, is also a useful thing to know.
Solar Climate.—Climate, in so far as it is controlled solely by the amount of solar radiation which any place receives by reason of its latitude, is called solar climate. Solar climate alone would prevail if the earth had a homogeneous land surface, and if there were no atmosphere. For under these conditions, without air or ocean currents, the distribution of temperature at any place would depend solely on the amount of energy received from the sun and upon the loss of heat by radiation. And these two factors would have the same value at all points on the same latitude circle.
The relative amounts of insolation received at different latitudes and at different times have been carefully determined. The values all refer to conditions at the upper limit of the earth’s atmosphere, i.e. without the effect of absorption by the atmosphere. The accompanying figure (fig. 1), after Davis, shows the distribution of insolation in both hemispheres at different latitudes and at different times in the year. The latitudes are given at the left margin and the time of year at the right margin. The values of insolation are shown by the vertical distance above the plane of the two margins.
At the equator, where the day is always twelve hours long, there are two maxima of insolation at the equinoxes, when the sun is vertical at noon, and two minima at the solstices when the sun is farthest off the equator. The values do not vary much through the year because the sun is never very far from the zenith, and day and night are always equal. As latitude increases, the angle of insolation becomes more oblique and the intensity decreases, but at the same time the length of day rapidly increases during the summer, and towards the pole of the hemisphere which is having its summer the gain in insolation from the latter cause more than compensates for the loss by the former. The double period of insolation above noted for the equator prevails as far as about lat. 12° N. and S.; at lat. 15° the two maxima have united in one, and the same is true of the minima. At the pole there is one maximum at the summer solstice, and no insolation at all while the sun is below the horizon. On the 21st of June the equator has a day twelve hours long, but the sun does not reach the zenith, and the amount of insolation is therefore less than at the equinox. On the northern tropic, however, the sun is vertical at noon, and the day is more than twelve hours long. Hence the amount of insolation received at this latitude is greater than that received on the equinox at the equator. From the tropic to the pole the sun stands lower and lower at noon, and the value of insolation would steadily decrease with latitude if it were not for the increase in the length of day. Going polewards from the northern tropic on the 21st of June, the value of insolation increases for a time, because, although the sun is lower, the number of hours during which it shines is greater. A maximum value is reached at about lat. 43½° N. The decreasing altitude of the sun then more than compensates for the increasing length of day, and the value of insolation diminishes, a minimum being reached at about lat. 62°. Then the rapidly increasing length of day towards the pole again brings about an increase in the value of insolation, until a maximum is reached at the pole which is greater than the value received at the equator at any time. The length of day is the same on the Arctic circle as at the pole itself, but while the altitude of the sun varies during the day on the former, the altitude at the pole remains 23½° throughout the 24 hours. The result is to give the pole a maximum. On the 21st of June there are therefore two maxima of insolation, one at lat. 43½° and one at the north pole. From lat. 43½° N., insolation decreases to zero on the Antarctic circle, for sunshine falls more and more obliquely, and the day becomes shorter and shorter. Beyond lat. 66½° S. the night lasts 24 hours. On the 21st of December the conditions in southern latitudes are similar to those in the northern hemisphere on the 21st of June, but the southern latitudes have higher values of insolation because the earth is then nearer the sun.
|From Davis’s Elementary Meteorology.|
|Fig. 1.—Distribution of Insolation over the Earth’s Surface.|
At the equinox the days are equal everywhere, but the noon sun is lower and lower with increasing latitude in both hemispheres until the rays are tangent to the earth’s surface at the poles (except for the effect of refraction). Therefore, the values of insolation diminish from a maximum at the equator to a minimum at both poles.
The effect of the earth’s atmosphere is to weaken the sun’s rays. The more nearly vertical the sun, the less the thickness of atmosphere traversed by the rays. The values of insolation at the earth’s surface, after passage through the atmosphere, have been calculated. They vary much with the condition of the air as to dust, clouds, water vapour, &c. As a rule, even when the sky is clear, about one-half of the solar radiation is lost during the day by atmospheric absorption. The great weakening of insolation at the pole, where the sun is very low, is especially noticeable. The following table (after Angot) shows the effect of the earth’s atmosphere (coefficient of transmission 0.7) upon the value of insolation received at sea-level.
Values of Daily Insolation at the Upper Limit of the Earth’s Atmosphere and at Sea-Level.
|Lat.||Upper Limit of Atmosphere.||Earth’s Surface.|
|Equator.||40°.||N. Pole.||Equator.||40°.||N. Pole.|
The following table gives, according to W. Zenker, the relative thickness of the atmosphere at different altitudes of the sun, and also the amount of transmitted insolation:
Relative Distances traversed by Solar Rays through the Atmosphere, and Intensities of Radiation per Unit Areas.
|Altitude of sun||0°||5°||10°||20°||30°||40°||50°||60°||70°||80°||90°|
|Relative lengths of path through the atmosphere||44.7||10.8||5.7||2.92||2.00||1.56||1.31||1.15||1.06||1.02||1.00|
|Intensity of radiation on a surface normal to the rays||0.0||0.15||0.31||0.51||0.62||0.68||0.72||0.75||0.76||0.77||0.78|
|Intensity of radiation on a horizontal surface||0.0||0.01||0.05||0.17||0.31||0.44||0.55||0.65||0.72||0.76||0.78|
Physical Climate.—The distribution of insolation explains many of the large facts of temperature distribution, for example, the decrease of temperature from equator to poles; the double maximum of temperature on and near the equator; the increasing seasonal contrasts with increasing latitude, &c. But the regular distribution of solar climate between equator and poles which would exist on a homogeneous earth, whereby similar conditions prevail along each latitude circle, is very much modified by the unequal distribution of land and water; by differences of altitude; by air and ocean currents, by varying conditions of cloudiness, and so on. Hence the climates met with along the same latitude circle are no longer alike. Solar climate is greatly modified by atmospheric conditions and by the surface features of the earth. The uniform arrangement of solar climatic belts, arranged latitudinally, is interfered with, and what is known as physical climate results. According to the dominant control we have solar, continental and marine, and mountain climates. In the first-named, latitude is the essential; in the second and third, the influence of land or water; in the fourth, the effect of altitude.
Classification of the Zones by Latitude Circles.—It is customary to classify climates roughly into certain broad belts. These are the climatic zones. The five zones with which we are most familiar are the so-called torrid, the two temperate, and the two frigid zones. The torrid, or better, the tropical zone, naming it by its boundaries, is limited on the north and south by the two tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, the equator dividing the zone into two equal parts. The temperate zones are limited towards the equator by the tropics, and towards the poles by the Arctic and Antarctic circles. The two polar zones are caps covering both polar regions, and bounded on the side towards the equator by the Arctic and Antarctic circles.
These five zones are classified on purely astronomical grounds. They are really zones of solar climate. The tropical zone has the least annual variation of insolation. It has the maximum annual amount of insolation. Its annual range of temperature is very slight. It is the summer zone. Beyond the tropics the contrasts between the seasons rapidly become more marked. The polar zones have the greatest variation in insolation between summer and winter. They also have the minimum amount of insolation for the whole year. They may well be called the winter zones, for their summer is so short and cool that the heat is insufficient for most forms of vegetation, especially for trees. The temperate zones are intermediate between the tropical and the polar in the matter of annual amount and of annual variation of insolation. Temperate conditions do not characterize these zones as a whole. They are rather the seasonal belts of the world.
|From Grundzüge der physischen Erdkunde, by permission of Veit & Co.|
|Fig. 2.—Supan’s Temperature Zones.|
Temperature Zones.—The classification of the zones on the basis of the distribution of sunshine serves very well for purposes of simple description, but a glance at any isothermal chart shows that the isotherms do not coincide with the latitude lines. In fact, in the higher latitudes, the former sometimes follow the meridians more closely than they do the parallels of latitude. Hence it has been suggested that the zones be limited by isotherms rather than by parallels of latitude, and that a closer approach be thus made to the actual conditions of climate. Supan<a name="FnAnchor_1b" id="FnAnchor_1b" href="#Footnote_1b">1</a> (see fig. 2) has suggested limiting the hot belt, which corresponds to, but is slightly greater than, the old torrid zone, by the two mean annual isotherms of 68°—a temperature which approximately coincides with the polar limit of the trade-winds and with the polar limit of palms. The hot belt widens somewhat over the continents, chiefly because of the mobility of the ocean waters, whereby there is a tendency towards an equalization of the temperature between equator and poles in the oceans, while the stable lands acquire a temperature suitable to their own latitude. Furthermore, the unsymmetrical distribution of land in the low latitudes of the northern and southern hemispheres results in an unsymmetrical position of the hot belt with reference to the equator, the belt extending farther north than south of the equator. The polar limits of the temperate zones are fixed by the isotherm of 50° for the warmest month. Summer heat is more important for vegetation than winter cold, and where the warmest month has a temperature below 50°, cereals and forest trees do not grow, and man has to adjust himself to the peculiar climatic conditions in a very special way. The two polar caps are not symmetrical as regards the latitudes which they occupy. The presence of extended land masses in the high northern latitudes carries the temperature of 50° in the warmest month farther poleward there than is the case in the corresponding latitudes occupied by the oceans of the southern hemisphere, which warm less easily and are constantly in motion. Hence the southern cold cap, which has its equatorial limits at about lat. 50° S., is of much greater extent than the northern polar cap. The northern temperate belt, in which the great land areas lie, is much broader than the southern, especially over the continents. These temperature zones emphasize the natural conditions of climate more than is the case in any subdivision by latitude circles, and they bear a fairly close resemblance to the old zonal classification of the Greeks.
Classification of the Zones by Wind Belts.—The heat zones however, emphasize the temperature to the exclusion of such important elements as wind and rainfall. So distinctive are the larger climatic features of the great wind belts of the world, that a classification of climates according to wind systems has been suggested. As the rain-belts of the world are closely associated with these wind systems, a classification of the zones by winds also emphasizes the conditions of rainfall. In such a scheme the tropical zone is bounded on the north and south by the margins of the trade-wind belts, and is therefore larger than the classic torrid zone. This trade-wind zone is somewhat wider on the eastern side of the oceans, and properly includes within its limits the equable marine climates of the eastern margins of the ocean basins, even as far north as latitude 30° or 35°. Most of the eastern coasts of China and of the United States are thus left in the more rigorous and more variable conditions of the north temperate zone. Through the middle of the trade-wind zone extends the sub-equatorial belt, with its migrating calms, rains and monsoons. On the polar margins of the trade-wind zone lie the sub-tropical belts, of alternating trades and westerlies. The temperate zones embrace the latitudes of the stormy westerly winds, having on their equator-ward margins the sub-tropical belts, and being somewhat narrower than the classic temperate zones. Towards the poles there is no obvious limit to the temperate zones, for the prevailing westerlies extend beyond the polar circles. These circles may, however, serve fairly well as boundaries, because of their importance from the point of view of insolation. The polar zones in the wind classification, therefore, remain just as in the older scheme.
Need of a Classification of Climates.—A broad division of the earth’s surface into zones is necessary as a first step in any systematic study of climate, but it is not satisfactory when a more detailed discussion is undertaken. The reaction of the physical features of the earth’s surface upon the atmosphere complicates the climatic conditions found in each of the zones, and makes further subdivision desirable. The usual method is to separate the continental (near sea-level) and the marine. An extreme variety of the continental is the desert; a modified form, the littoral; while altitude is so important a control that mountain and plateau climates are always grouped by themselves.
Marine or Oceanic Climate.—Land and water differ greatly in their behaviour regarding absorption and radiation. The former warms and cools readily, and to a considerable degree; the latter, slowly and but little. The slow changes in temperature of the ocean waters involve a retardation in the times of occurrence of the maxima and minima, and a marine climate, therefore, has a cool spring and a warm autumn, the seasonal changes being but slight. Characteristic, also, of marine climates is a prevailingly higher relative humidity, a larger amount of cloudiness, and a heavier rainfall than is found over continental interiors. All of these features have their explanation in the abundant evaporation from the ocean surfaces. In the middle latitudes the oceans have distinctly rainy winters, while over the continental interiors the colder months have a minimum of precipitation. Ocean air is cleaner and purer than land air, and is generally in more active motion.
Continental Climate.—Continental climate is severe. The annual temperature ranges increase, as a whole, with increasing distance from the oceans. The coldest and warmest months are usually January and July, the times of maximum and minimum temperatures being less retarded than in the case of marine climates. The greater seasonal contrasts in temperature over the continents than over the oceans are furthered by the less cloudiness over the former. Diurnal and annual changes of nearly all the elements of climate are greater over continents than over oceans; and this holds true of irregular as well as of regular variations. Fig. 3 illustrates the annual march of temperature in marine and continental climates. Bagdad, in Asia Minor (Bd.), and Funchal on the island of Madeira (M.) are representative continental and marine stations for a low latitude. Nerchinsk in eastern Siberia (N.) and Valentia in south-western Ireland (V.) are good examples of continental and marine climates of higher latitudes in the northern hemisphere. The data for these and the following curves were taken from Hann’s Lehrbuch der Meteorologie (1901).
|Fig. 3.—Annual March of Air Temperature.|
Influence of Land and Water. (After Angot.)
|M, Madeira.||V, Valentia.|
|Bd, Bagdad.||N, Nerchinsk.|
Owing to the distance from the chief source of supply of water vapour—the oceans—the air over the larger land areas is naturally drier and dustier than that over the oceans. Yet even in the arid continental interiors in summer the absolute vapour content is surprisingly large, and in the hottest months the percentages of relative humidity may reach 20% or 30%. At the low temperatures which prevail in the winter of the higher latitudes the absolute humidity is very low, but, owing to the cold, the air is often damp. Cloudiness, as a rule, decreases inland, and with this lower relative humidity, more abundant sunshine and higher temperature, the evaporating power of a continental climate is much greater than that of the more humid, cloudier and cooler marine climate. Both amount and frequency of rainfall, as a rule, decrease inland, but the conditions are very largely controlled by local topography and by the prevailing winds. Winds average somewhat lower in velocity, and calms are more frequent, over continents than over oceans. The seasonal changes of pressure over the former give rise to systems of inflowing and outflowing, so-called continental, winds, sometimes so well developed as to become true monsoons. The extreme termperature changes which occur over the continents are the more easily borne because of the dryness of the air; because the minimum temperatures of winter occur when there is little or no wind, and because during the warmer hours of the summer there is the most air-movement.
Desert Climate.—An extreme type of continental climate is found in deserts. Desert air is notably free from micro-organisms. The large diurnal temperature ranges of inland regions, which are most marked where there is little or no vegetation, give rise to active convectional currents during the warmer hours of the day. Hence high winds are common by day, while the nights are apt to be calm and relatively cool. Travelling by day is unpleasant under such conditions. Diurnal cumulus clouds, often absent because of the excessive dryness of the air, are replaced by clouds of blowing dust and sand. Many geological phenomena, and special physiographic types of varied kinds, are associated with the peculiar conditions of desert climate. The excessive diurnal ranges of temperature cause rocks to split and break up. Wind-driven sand erodes and polishes the rocks. When the separate fragments become small enough they, in their turn, are transported by the winds and further eroded by friction during their journey. Curious conditions of drainage result from the deficiency in rainfall. Rivers “wither” away, or end in sinks or brackish lakes.
ANNUAL DISTRIBUTION OF TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE.
SEASONAL DISTRIBUTION OF TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE
Desert plants protect themselves against the attacks of animals by means of thorns, and against evaporation by means of hard surfaces and by a diminished leaf surface. The life of man in the desert is likewise strikingly controlled by the climatic peculiarities of strong sunshine, of heat, and of dust.
Coast or Littoral Climate.—Between the pure marine and the pure continental types the coasts furnish almost every grade of transition. Prevailing winds are here important controls. When these blow from the ocean, the climates are marine in character, but when they are off-shore, a somewhat modified type of continental climate prevails, even up to the immediate sea-coast. Hence the former have a smaller range of temperature; their summers are more moderate and their winters milder; extreme temperatures are rare; the air is damp, and there is much cloud. All these marine features diminish with increasing distance from the ocean, especially when there are mountain ranges near the coast. In the tropics, windward coasts are usually well supplied with rainfall, and the temperatures are modified by sea breezes. Leeward coasts in the trade-wind belts offer special conditions. Here the deserts often reach the sea, as on the western coasts of South America, Africa and Australia. Cold ocean currents, with prevailing winds along-shore rather than on-shore, are here hostile to rainfall, although the lower air is often damp, and fog and cloud are not uncommon.
Monsoon Climate.—Exceptions to the general rule of rainier eastern coasts in trade-wind latitudes are found in the monsoon regions, as in India, for example, where the western coast of the peninsula is abundantly watered by the wet south-west monsoon. As monsoons often sweep over large districts, not only coast but interior, a separate group of monsoon climates is desirable. In India there are really three seasons—one cold, during the winter monsoon; one hot, in the transition season; and one wet, during the summer monsoon. Little precipitation occurs in winter, and that chiefly in the northern provinces. In low latitudes, monsoon and non-monsoon climates differ but little, for summer monsoons and regular trade-winds may both give rains, and wind direction has slight effect upon temperature.
The winter monsoon is off-shore and the summer monsoon on-shore under typical conditions, as in India. But exceptional cases are found where the opposite is true. In higher latitudes the seasonal changes of the winds, although not truly monsoonal, involve differences in temperature and in other climatic elements. The only well-developed monsoons on the coast of the continents of higher latitudes are those of eastern Asia. These are off-shore during the winter, giving dry, clear and cold weather; while the on-shore movement in summer gives cool, damp and cloudy weather.
Mountain and Plateau Climate.—Both by reason of their actual height and because of their obstructive effects, mountains influence climate similarly in all the zones. Mountains as contrasted with lowlands are characterized by a decrease in pressure, temperature and absolute humidity; an increased intensity of insolation and radiation; usually a greater frequency of, and up to a certain altitude more, precipitation. At an altitude of 16,000 ft., more or less, pressure is reduced to about one-half of its sea-level value. The highest human habitations are found under these conditions. On high mountains and plateaus the pressure is lower in winter than in summer, owing to the fact that the atmosphere is compressed to lower levels in the winter and is expanded upwards in summer.
The intensity of insolation and of radiation both increase aloft in the cleaner, purer, drier and thinner air of mountain climates. The great intensity of the sun’s rays attracts the attention of mountain-climbers at great altitudes. The vertical decrease of temperature, which is also much affected by local conditions, is especially rapid during the warmer months and hours; mountains are then cooler than lowlands. The inversions of temperature characteristic of the colder months, and of the night, give mountains the advantage of a higher temperature then—a fact of importance in connexion with the use of mountains as winter resorts. At such times the cold air flows down the mountain sides and collects in the valleys below, being replaced by warmer air aloft. Hence diurnal and annual ranges of temperature on the mountain tops of middle and higher latitudes are lessened, and the climate in this respect resembles a marine condition. The times of occurrence of the maximum and minimum temperature are also much influenced by local conditions. Elevated enclosed valleys, with strong sunshine, often resemble continental conditions of large temperature range, and plateaus, as compared with mountains at the same altitude, have relatively higher temperatures and larger temperature ranges. Altitude tempers the heat of the low latitudes. High mountain peaks, even on the equator, can remain snow-covered all the year round.
No general law governs the variations of relative humidity with altitude, but on the mountains of Europe the winter is the driest season, and the summer the dampest. At well-exposed stations there is a rapid increase in the vapour content soon after noon, especially in summer. The same is true of cloudiness, which is often greater on mountains than at lower levels, and is usually at a maximum in summer, while the opposite is true of the lowlands in the temperate latitudes. One of the great advantages of the higher Alpine valleys in winter is their small amount of cloud. This, combined with their low wind velocity and strong insolation, makes them desirable winter health resorts. Latitude, altitude, topography and winds are the determining factors in controlling the cloudiness on mountains. In the rare, often dry, air of mountains and plateaus evaporation is rapid, the skin dries and cracks, and thirst is increased.
Rainfall usually increases with increasing altitude up to a certain point, beyond which, owing to the loss of water vapour, this increase stops. The zone of maximum rainfall averages about 6000 to 7000 ft. in altitude, more or less, in intermediate latitudes, being lower in winter and higher in summer. Mountains usually have a rainy and a drier side; the contrast between the two is greatest when a prevailing damp wind crosses the mountain, or when one slope faces seaward and the other landward. Mountains often provoke rainfall, and local “islands,” or better, “lakes,” of heavier precipitation result.
Mountains resemble marine climates in having higher wind velocities than continental lowlands. Mountain summits have a nocturnal maximum of wind velocity, while plateaus usually have a diurnal maximum. Mountains both modify the general, and give rise to local winds. Among the latter the well-known mountain and valley winds are often of considerable hygienic importance in their control of the diurnal period of humidity, cloudiness and rainfall, the ascending wind of daytime tending to give clouds and rain aloft, while the opposite conditions prevail at night.
Supan’s Climatic Provinces.—The broad classification of climates into the three general groups of marine, continental and mountain, with the subordinate divisions of desert, littoral and monsoon, is convenient for purposes of summarizing the interaction of the climatic elements under the controls of land, water and altitude. But in any detailed study some scheme of classification is needed in which similar climates in different parts of the world are grouped together, and in which their geographic distribution receives particular consideration. An almost infinite number of classifications might be proposed; or we may take as the basis of subdivision either the special conditions of one climatic element, or similar conditions of a combination of two or more elements. Or we may take a botanical or a zoological basis. Of the various classifications which have been suggested, that of Supan gives a very rational, simple and satisfactory scheme of grouping. In this scheme there are thirty-five so-called climatic provinces. It emphasizes the essentials of each climate, and serves to impress these essentials upon the mind by means of a compact, well-considered verbal summary in the case of each province described. Obviously, no classification of climates which is at all complete can approach the simplicity of the ordinary classification of the zones.
The Characteristics of the Torrid Zone.
General: Climate and Weather.—The dominant characteristic of the torrid zone is the simplicity and uniformity of its climatic features. The tropics lack the proverbial uncertainty and changeableness of the weather of higher latitudes. Weather and climate are essentially synonymous terms. Periodic phenomena, depending upon the daily and annual march of the sun, are dominant. Non-periodic weather changes are wholly subordinate. In special regions only, and at special seasons, is the regular sequence of weather temporarily interrupted by an occasional tropical cyclone. These cyclones, although comparatively infrequent, are notable features of the climate of the areas in which they occur, generally bringing very heavy rains. The devastation produced by one of these storms often affects the economic condition of the people in the district of its occurrence for many years.
Temperature.—The mean temperature is high, and very uniform over the whole zone. There is little variation during the year. The mean annual isotherm of 68° is a rational limit at the polar margins of the zone, and the mean annual isotherm of 80° encloses the greater portion of the land areas, as well as much of the tropical oceans. The warmest latitude circle for the year is not the equator, but latitude 10° N. The highest mean annual temperatures, shown by the isotherm of 85°, are in Central Africa, in India, the north of Australia and Central America, but, with the exception of the first, these areas are small. The temperatures average highest where there is little rain. In June, July and August there are large districts in the south of Asia and north of Africa with temperatures over 90°.
Over nearly all of the zone the mean annual range of temperature is less than 10°, and over much of it, especially on the oceans, it is less than 5°. Even near the margins of the zone the ranges are less than 25°, as at Calcutta, Hong-Kong, Río de Janeiro and Khartum. The mean daily range is usually larger than the mean annual. It has been well said that “night is the winter of the tropics.” Over an area covering parts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans from Arabia to the Caroline Islands and from Zanzibar to New Guinea, as well as on the Guiana coast, the minimum temperatures do not normally fall below 68°. Towards the margins of the zone, however, the minima on the continents fall to or even below 32°. Maxima of 115° and even over 120° occur over the deserts of northern Africa. A district where the mean maxima exceed 113° extends from the western Sahara to north-western India, and over Central Australia. Near the equator the maxima are therefore not as high as those in many so-called “temperate” climates. The tropical oceans show remarkably small variations in temperature. The “Challenger” results on the equator showed a daily range of hardly 0.7° in the surface water temperature, and P. G. Schott determined the annual range as 4.1° on the equator, 4.3° at latitude 10°, and 6.5° at latitude 20°.
The Seasons.—In a true tropical climate the seasons are not classified according to temperature, but depend on rainfall and the prevailing winds. The life of animals and plants in the tropics, and of man himself, is regulated very largely, in some cases almost wholly, by rainfall. Although the tropical rainy season is characteristically associated with a vertical sun, that season is not necessarily the hottest time of the year. It often goes by the name of winter for this reason. Towards the margins of the zone, with increasing annual ranges of temperature, seasons in the extra-tropical sense gradually appear.
Physiological Effects of Heat and Humidity.—Tropical heat is associated with high relative humidity except over deserts and in dry seasons. The air is therefore muggy and oppressive. The high temperatures are disagreeable and hard to bear. The “hot-house air” has an enervating effect. Energetic physical and mental action are often difficult or even impossible. The tonic effect of a cold winter is lacking. The most humid districts in the tropics are the least desirable for persons from higher latitudes; the driest are the healthiest. The most energetic natives are the desert-dwellers. The monotonously enervating heat of the humid tropics makes man sensitive to slight temperature changes. The intensity of direct insolation, as well as of radiation from the earth’s surface, may produce heat prostration and sunstroke. “Beware of the sun” is a good rule in the tropics.
Pressure.—The uniform temperature distribution in the tropics involves uniform pressure distribution. Pressure gradients are weak. The annual fluctuations are slight, even on the continents. The diurnal variation of the barometer is so regular and so marked that, as von Humboldt said, the time of day can be told within about twenty minutes if the reading of the barometer be known.
Winds and Rainfall.—Along the barometric equator, where the pressure gradients are weakest, is the equatorial belt of calms, variable winds and rains—the doldrums. This belt offers exceptionally favourable conditions for abundant rainfall, and is one of the rainiest regions of the world, averaging probably about 100 in. Here the sky is prevailingly cloudy; the air is hot and oppressive; heavy showers and thunderstorms are frequent, chiefly in the afternoon and evening. Here are the dense tropical forests of the Amazon and of equatorial Africa. This belt of calms and rains shifts north and south of the equator after the sun. In striking contrast are the easterly trade winds, blowing between the tropical high pressure belts and the equatorial belt of low pressure. Of great regularity, and contributing largely to the uniformity of tropical climates, the trades have long been favourite sailing routes because of the steadiness of the wind, the infrequency of storms, the brightness of the skies and the freshness of the air. The trades are subject to many variations. Their northern and southern margins shift north and south after the sun; at certain seasons they are interrupted, often over wide areas near their equatorward margins, by the migrating belt of equatorial rains and by monsoons; near lands they are often interfered with by land and sea breezes; in certain regions they are invaded by violent cyclonic storms. The trades, except where they blow on to windward coasts or over mountains, are drying winds. They cause the deserts of northern Africa and of the adjacent portions of Asia; of Australia, South Africa and southern South America. The monsoons on the southern and eastern coasts of Asia are the best known winds of their class. In the northern summer the south-west monsoon, warm and sultry, blows over the latitudes from about 10° N. to and beyond the northern tropic, between Africa and the Philippines, giving rains over India, the East Indian archipelago and the eastern coasts of China. In winter, the north-east monsoon, the normal cold-season outflow from Asia combined with the north-east trade, and generally cool and dry, covers the same district, extending as far north as latitude 30°. Crossing the equator, these winds reach northern Australia and the western islands of the South Pacific as a north-west rainy monsoon, while this region in the opposite season has the normal south-east trade. Other monsoons are found in the Gulf of Guinea and in equatorial Africa. Wherever they occur, they control the seasonal changes.
Tropical rains are in the main summer rains, coming when the normal trade gives way to the equatorial belt of rains, or when the summer monsoon sets in. There are, however, many cases of a rainy season when the sun is low,on windward coasts in the trades. Tropical rains come usually in the form of heavy downpours and with a well-marked diurnal period, the maximum varying with the locality between noon and midnight. Local influences are, however, very important, and in many places night rainfall maxima are found.
Land and Sea Breezes.—The sea breeze is an important climatic feature on many tropical coasts. With its regular occurrence, and its cool, clean air, it serves to make many districts habitable for white settlers, and has deservedly won the name of “the doctor.” On not a few coasts, the sea breeze is a true prevailing wind. The location of dwellings is often determined by the exposure of a site to the sea breeze.
Thunderstorms.—Local thunderstorms are frequent in the humid portions of the tropics. They have a marked diurnal periodicity, find their best opportunity in the equatorial belt of weak pressure gradients and high temperature, and are commonly associated with the rainy season, being most common at the beginning and end of the regular rains. In many places, thunderstorms occur daily throughout their season, with extraordinary regularity and great intensity.
Cloudiness.—Taken as a whole, the tropics are not favoured with such clear skies as is often supposed. Cloudiness varies about as does the rainfall. The maximum is in the equatorial belt of calms and rains, where the sky is always more or less cloudy. The minimum is in the trade latitudes, where fair skies as a whole prevail. The equatorial cloud belt moves north and south after the sun. Wholly clear days are very rare in the tropics generally, especially near the equator, and during the rainy season heavy clouds usually cover the sky. Wholly overcast, dull days, such as are common in the winter of the temperate zone, occur frequently only on tropical coasts in the vicinity of cold ocean currents, as on the coast of Peru and on parts of the west coast of Africa.
Intensity of Sky-Light and Twilight.—The light from tropical skies by day is trying, and the intense insolation, together with the reflection from the ground, increases the general dazzling glare under a tropical sun. During much of the time smoke from forest and prairie fires (in the dry season), dust (in deserts), and water-vapour give the sky a pale whitish appearance. In the heart of the trade-wind belts at sea the sky is of a deeper blue. Twilight within the tropics is shorter than in higher latitudes, but the coming on of night is less sudden than is generally assumed.
|Fig. 4.—Annual march of temperature: equatorial type. A, Africa,|
interior; B, Batavia; J, Jaluit, Marshall Islands.
Climatic Subdivisions.—The rational basis for a classification of the larger climatic provinces of the torrid zone is found in the general wind systems, and in their control over rainfall. Following this scheme there are: (1) the equatorial belt; (2) the trade-wind belts; (3) the monsoon belts. In each of these subdivisions there are modifications due to marine and continental influences. In general, both seasonal and diurnal phenomena are more marked in continental interiors than on the oceans, islands and windward coasts. Further, the effect of altitude is so important that another group should be added to include (4) mountain climates.
1. The Equatorial Belt.—Within a few degrees of the equator, and when not interfered with by other controls, the annual curve of temperature has two maxima following the two zenithal positions of the sun, and two minima at about the time of the solstices. This equatorial type of annual march of temperature is illustrated in the three curves for the interior of Africa, Batavia and Jaluit (fig. 4). The greatest range is shown in the curve for the interior of Africa; the curve for Batavia illustrates insular conditions with less range, and the oceanic type for Jaluit, Marshall Islands, gives the least range. This double maximum is not a universal phenomenon, there being many cases where but a single maximum occurs.
Fig. 5.—Annual march of rainfall in the
|S.A, South Africa.||M, Mexico.|
|Q, Quito.||H, Hilo.|
|S.P., São Paulo.||P.D., Port Darwin.|
As the belt of rains swings back and forth across the equator after the sun, there should be two rainy seasons with the sun vertical, and two dry seasons when the sun is farthest from the zenith, and while the trades blow. These conditions prevail on the equator, and as far north and south of the equator (about 10°–12°) as sufficient time elapses between the two zenithal positions of the sun for the two rainy seasons to be distinguished from one another. In this belt, under normal conditions, there is therefore no dry season of any considerable duration. The double rainy season is clearly seen in equatorial Africa and in parts of equatorial South America. The maxima lag somewhat behind the vertical sun, coming in April and November, and are unsymmetrically developed, the first maximum being the principal one. The minima are also unsymmetrically developed, and the so-called “dry seasons” are seldom wholly rainless. This rainfall type with double maxima and minima has been called the equatorial type, and is illustrated in the following curves for South Africa and Quito (fig. 5). The monthly rainfalls are given in thousandths of the annual mean. The mean annual rainfall at Quito is 42.12 in. These double rainy and dry seasons are easily modified by other conditions, as by the monsoons of the Indo-Australian area, so that there is no rigid belt of equatorial rains extending around the world. In South America, east of the Andes, the distinction between rainy and dry seasons is often much confused. In this equatorial belt the cloudiness is high throughout the year, averaging .7 to .8, with a relatively small annual period. The curve following, E (fig. 6), is fairly typical, but the annual period varies greatly under local controls.
Fig. 6.—Annual march of cloudiness in the tropics.
At greater distances from the equator than about 10° or 12° the sun is still vertical twice a year within the tropics, but the interval between these two dates is so short that the two rainy seasons merge into one, in summer, and there is also but one dry season, in winter. This is the so-called tropical type of rainfall, and is found where the trade belts are encroached upon by the equatorial rains during the migration of these rains into each hemisphere. It is illustrated in the curves for São Paulo, Brazil, and for the city of Mexico (fig. 5). The mean annual rainfall at São Paulo is 54.13 in. and at Mexico 22.99 in. The districts of tropical rains of this type lie along the equatorial margins of the torrid zone, outside of the latitudes of the equatorial type of rainfall. The rainy season becomes shorter with increasing distance from the equator. The weather of the opposite seasons is strongly contrasted. The single dry season lasts longer than either dry season in the equatorial belt, reaching eight months in typical cases, with the wet season lasting four months. The lowlands often become dry and parched during the long dry trade-wind season (winter) and vegetation withers away, while grass and flowers grow in great abundance and all life takes on new activity during the time when the equatorial rainy belt with its calms, variable winds and heavy rains is over them (summer). The Sudan lies between the Sahara and the equatorial forests of Africa. It receives rains, and its vegetation grows actively, when the doldrum belt is north of the equator (May-August). But when the trades blow (December-March) the ground is parched and dusty. The Venezuelan llanos have a dry season in the northern winter, when the trade blows. The rains come in May-October. The campos of Brazil, south of the equator, have their rains in October-April, and are dry the remainder of the year. The Nile overflow results from the rainfall on the mountains of Abyssinia during the northward migration of the belt of equatorial rains.
|Fig. 7.—Annual march of temperature:|
tropical type. W, Wadi Halfa; A, Alice
Springs; H, Honolulu; J, Jamestown, St
Helena; N, Nagpur.
The so-called tropical type of temperature variation, with one maximum and one minimum, is illustrated in the accompanying curves for Wadi Halfa, in upper Egypt; Alice Springs, Australia; Nagpur, India; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Jamestown, St Helena (fig. 7). The effect of the rainy season is often shown in a displacement of the time of maximum temperature to an earlier month than the usual one.
2. Trade-Wind Belts.—The trade belts near sea-level are characterized by fair weather, steady winds, infrequent light rains or even an almost complete absence of rain, very regular, although slight, annual and diurnal ranges of temperature, and a constancy and regularity of weather. The climate of the ocean areas in the trade-wind belts is indeed the simplest and most equable in the world, the greatest extremes over these oceans being found to leeward of the larger lands. On the lowlands swept over by the trades, beyond the polar limits of the equatorial rain belt (roughly between lats. 20° and 30°), are most of the great deserts of the world. These deserts extend directly to the water’s edge on the leeward western coasts of Australia, South Africa and South America.
The ranges and extremes of temperature are much greater over the continental interiors than over the oceans of the trade-wind belts. Minima of 32° or less occur during clear, quiet nights, and daily ranges of over 50° are common. The midsummer mean temperature rises above 90°, with noon maxima of 110° or more in the non-cloudy, dry air of a desert day. The days, with high, dry winds, carrying dust and sand, with extreme heat, accentuated by the absence of vegetation, are disagreeable, but the calmer nights, with active radiation under clear skies, are much more comfortable. The nocturnal temperatures are even not seldom too low for comfort in the cooler season, when thin sheets of ice may form.
While the trades are drying winds as long as they blow strongly over the oceans, or over lowlands, they readily become rainy if they are cooled by ascent over a mountain or highland. Hence the windward (eastern) sides of mountains or bold coasts in the trade-wind belts are well watered, while the leeward sides, or interiors, are dry. Mountainous islands in the trades, like the Hawaiian islands, many of the East and West Indies, the Philippines, Borneo, Ceylon, Madagascar, Teneriffe, &c., show marked differences of this sort. The eastern coasts of Guiana, Central America, south-eastern Brazil, south-eastern Africa, and eastern Australia are well watered, while the interiors are dry. The eastern highland of Australia constitutes a more effective barrier than that in South Africa; hence the Australian interior has a more extended desert. South America in the south-east trade belt is not well enclosed on the east, and the most arid portion is an interior district close to the eastern base of the Andes where the land is low. Even far inland the Andes again provoke precipitation along their eastern base, and the narrow Pacific coastal strip, to leeward of the Andes, is a very pronounced desert from near the equator to about lat. 30° S. The cold ocean waters, with prevailing southerly (drying) winds alongshore, are additional factors causing this aridity. Highlands in the trade belts are therefore moist on their windward slopes, and become oases of luxuriant plant growth, while close at hand, on the leeward sides, dry savannas or deserts may be found. The damp, rainy and forested windward side of Central America was from the earliest days of European occupation left to the natives, while the centre of civilization was naturally established on the more open and sunny south-western side.
The rainfall associated with the conditions just described is known as the trade type. These rains have a maximum in winter, when the trades are most active. In cases where the trade blows steadily throughout the year against mountains or bold coasts, as on the Atlantic coast of Central America, there is no real dry season. The curve for Hilo (mean annual rainfall 145.24 in.) on the windward side of the Hawaiian Islands, shows typical conditions (see fig. 5). The trade type of rainfall is often much complicated by the combination with it of the tropical type and of the monsoon type. In the Malay archipelago there are also complications of equatorial and trade rains; likewise in the West Indies.
3. Monsoon Belts.—In a typical monsoon region the rains follow the vertical sun, and therefore have a simple annual period much like that of the tropical type above described. This monsoon type of rainfall is well illustrated in the curve for Port Darwin (mean annual rainfall 62.72 in.), in Australia (see fig. 5). This summer monsoon rainfall results from the inflow of a body of warm, moist air from the sea upon a land area; there is a consequent retardation of the velocity of the air currents, as the result of friction, and an ascent of the air, the rainfall being particularly heavy where the winds have to climb over high lands. In India, the precipitation is heaviest at the head of the Bay of Bengal (where Cherrapunji, at the height of 4455 ft. in the Khasi Hills, has a mean annual rainfall of between 400 and 500 in.), along the southern base of the Himalayas (60 to 160 in.), on the bold western coast of the peninsula (80 to 120 in. and over), and on the mountains of Burma, (up to 160 in.). In the rain-shadow of the Western Ghats, the Deccan often suffers from drought and famine unless the monsoon rains are abundant and well distributed. The prevailing direction of the rainy monsoon wind in India is south-west; on the Pacific coast of Asia, it is south-east. This monsoon district is very large, including the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and adjoining continental areas; the Pacific coast of China, the Yellow and Japan seas, and numerous islands from Borneo to Sakhalin on the north and to the Ladrone Islands on the east. A typical temperature curve for a monsoon district is that for Nagpur, in the Indian Deccan (fig. 7), and a typical monsoon cloudiness curve is given in fig. 6, the maximum coming near the time of the vertical sun, in the rainy season, and the minimum in the dry season.
In the Australian monsoon region, which reaches across New Guinea and the Sunda Islands, and west of Australia, in the Indian Ocean, over latitudes 0°-10° S., the monsoon rains come with north-west winds in the period between November and March or April.
The general rule that eastern coasts in the tropics are the rainiest finds exceptions in the case of the rainy western coasts in India and other districts with similar monsoon rains. On the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, for example, there is a small rainy monsoon area during the summer; heavy rains fall on the seaward slopes of the Cameroon Mountains. Gorée, lat. 15° N., on the coast of Senegambia, gives a fine example of a rainy (summer) and a dry (winter) monsoon. Numerous combinations of equatorial, trade and monsoon rainfalls are found, often creating great complexity. The islands of the East Indian archipelago furnish many examples of such curious complications.
4. Mountain Climate.—In the torrid zone altitude is chiefly important because of its effect in tempering the heat of the lowlands, especially at night. If tropical mountains are high enough, they carry snow all the year round, even on the equator, and the zones of vegetation may range from the densest tropical forest at their base to the snow on their summits. The highlands and mountains within the tropics are thus often sharply contrasted with the lowlands, and offer more agreeable and more healthy conditions for white settlement. They are thus often sought by residents from colder latitudes as the most attractive resorts. In India, the hill stations are crowded during the hot months by civilian and military officials. The climate of many tropical plateaus and mountains has the reputation of being a “perpetual spring.” Thus on the interior plateau of the tropical Cordilleras of South America, and on the plateaus of tropical Africa, the heat is tempered by the altitude, while the lowlands and coasts are very hot. The rainfall on tropical mountains and highlands often differs considerably in amount from that on the lowlands, and other features common to mountain climates the world over are also noted.
The Characteristics of the Temperate Zones.
General.—As a whole, the “temperate zones” are temperate only in that their mean temperatures and their physiological effects are intermediate between those of the tropics and those of the polar zones. A marked changeableness of the weather is a striking characteristic of these zones. Apparently irregular and haphazard, these continual weather changes, although they are essentially non-periodic, nevertheless run through a fairly systematic series. Climate and weather are by no means synonymous over most of the extra-tropical latitudes.
Temperature.—The mean annual temperatures at the margins of the north temperate zone differ by more than 70°. The ranges between the mean temperatures of hottest and coldest months reach 120° at their maximum in north-eastern Siberia, and 80° in North America. A January mean of –60° and a July mean of 95°, and maxima of over 120° and minima of –90°, occur in the same zone. Such great ranges characterize the extreme land climates. Under the influence of the oceans, the windward coasts have much smaller ranges. The annual ranges in middle and higher latitudes exceed the diurnal, the conditions of much of the torrid zone thus being exactly reversed. Over much of the oceans of the temperate zones the annual range is less than 10°. In the south temperate zone there are no extreme ranges, the maxima, slightly over 30°, being near the margin of the zone in the interior of South America, South Africa and Australia. In these same localities the diurnal ranges rival those of the north temperate zone.
The north-eastern Atlantic and north-western Europe are about 35° too warm for their latitude in January, while north-eastern Siberia is 30° too cold. The lands north of Hudson Bay are 25° too cold, and the waters of the Alaskan Bay 20° too warm. In July, and in the southern hemisphere, the anomalies are small. The lands which are the centre of civilization in Europe average too warm for their latitudes. The diurnal variability of temperature is greater in the north temperate zone than elsewhere in the world, and the same month may differ greatly in its character in different years. The annual temperature curve has one maximum and one minimum. In the continental type the times of maximum and minimum are about one month behind the dates of maximum and minimum insolation. In the marine type the retardation may amount to nearly two months. Coasts and islands have a tendency to a cool spring and warm autumn; continents, to similar temperatures in both spring and fall.
Pressure and Winds.—The prevailing winds are the “westerlies,” which are much less regular than the trades. They vary greatly in velocity in different regions and in different seasons, and are stronger in winter than in summer. They are much interfered with, especially in the higher northern latitudes, by seasonal changes of temperature and pressure over the continents, whereby the latter establish, more or less successfully, a system of obliquely outflowing winds in winter and of obliquely inflowing winds in summer. In summer, when the lands have low pressure, the northern oceans are dominated by great oval areas of high pressure, with outflowing spiral eddies, while in winter, when the northern lands have high pressure, the northern portions of the oceans develop cyclonic systems of inflowing winds over their warm waters. All these great continental and oceanic systems of spiralling winds are important climatic controls.
The westerlies are also much confused and interrupted by storms, whence their designation of stormy westerlies. So common are such interruptions that the prevailing westerly wind direction is often difficult to discern without careful observation. Cyclonic storms are most numerous and best developed in winter. Although greatly interfered with near sea-level by continental changes of pressure, by cyclonic and anticyclonic whirls, and by local inequalities of the surface, the eastward movement of the atmosphere remains very constant aloft. The south temperate zone being chiefly water, the westerlies are but little disturbed there by continental effects. Between latitudes 40° and 60° S. the “brave west winds” blow with a constancy and velocity found in the northern hemisphere only on the oceans, and then in a modified form. Storms, frequent and severe, characterize these southern hemisphere westerlies, and easterly wind directions are temporarily noted during their passage. Voyages to the west around Cape Horn against head gales, and in cold wet weather, are much dreaded. South of Africa and Australia, also, the westerlies are remarkably steady and strong. The winter in these latitudes is stormier than the summer, but the seasonal difference is less than north of the equator.
Rainfall.—Rainfall is fairly abundant over the oceans and also over a considerable part of the lands (30-80 in. and more). It comes chiefly in connexion with the usual cyclonic storms, or in thunderstorms. So great are the differences, geographic and periodic, in rainfall produced by differences in temperature, topography, cyclonic conditions, &c., that only the most general rules can be laid down. The equatorward margin of the temperate zone rains is clearly defined on the west coasts, at the points where the coast deserts are replaced by belts of light or moderate rainfall. Bold west coasts, on the polar side of lat. 40°, are very rainy (100 in. and more a year in the most favourable situations). The hearts of the continents, far from the sea, and especially when well enclosed by mountains, or when blown over by cool ocean winds which warm while crossing the land, have light rainfall (less than 10–20 in.). East coasts are wetter than interiors, but drier than west coasts. Winter is the season of maximum rainfall over oceans, islands and west coasts, for the westerlies are then most active, cyclonic storms are most numerous and best developed, and the cold lands chill the inflowing damp air. At this season, however, the low temperatures, high pressures, and tendency to outflowing winds over the continents are unfavourable to rainfall, and the interior land areas as a rule then have their minimum. The warmer months bring the maximum rainfall over the continents. Conditions are then favourable for inflowing damp winds from the adjacent oceans; there is the best opportunity for convection; thunder-showers readily develop on the hot afternoons; the capacity of the air for water vapour is greatest. The marine type of rainfall, with a winter maximum, extends in over the western borders of the continents, and is also found in the winter rainfall of the sub-tropical belts. Rainfalls are heaviest along the tracks of most frequent cyclonic storms.
For continental stations the typical daily march of rainfall shows a chief maximum in the afternoon, and a secondary maximum in the night or early morning. The chief minimum comes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Coast stations generally have a night maximum and a minimum between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Humidity and Cloudiness.—S. A. Arrhenius gives the mean cloudiness for different latitudes as follows:—
|70° N.||60°||50°||40°||30°||20°||10°||Eq.||10°||20°||30°||40°||50°||60° S.|
The higher latitudes of the temperate zones thus have a mean cloudiness which equals and even exceeds that of the equatorial belt. The amounts are greater over the oceans and coasts than inland. The belts of minimum cloudiness are at about lat. 30° N. and S. Over the continental interiors the cloudiest season is summer, but the amount is never very large. Otherwise, winter is generally the cloudiest season and with a fairly high mean annual amount.
The absolute humidity as a whole decreases as the temperature falls. The relative humidity averages 90%, more or less, over the oceans, and is high under the clouds and rain of cyclonic storms, but depends, on land, upon the wind direction, winds from an ocean or from a lower latitude being damper, and those from a continent or from a colder latitude being drier.
Seasons.—Seasons in the temperate zones are classified according to temperature; not, as in the tropics, by rainfall. The four seasons are important characteristics, especially of the middle latitudes of the north temperate zone. Towards the equatorial margins of the zones the difference in temperature between summer and winter becomes smaller, and the transition seasons weaken and even disappear. At the polar margins the change from winter to summer, and vice versa, is so sudden that there also the transition seasons disappear.
These seasonal changes are of the greatest importance in the life of man. The monotonous heat of the tropics and the continued cold of the polar zones are both depressing. Their tendency is to operate against man’s highest development. The seasonal changes of the temperate zones stimulate man to activity. They develop him, physically and mentally. They encourage higher civilization. A cold, stormy winter necessitates forethought in the preparation during the summer of clothing, food and shelter. Development must result from such conditions. In the warm, moist tropics life is too easy; in the cold polar zones it is too hard. Near the poles, the growing season is too short; in the moist tropics it is so long that there is little inducement to labour at any special time. The regularity, and the need, of outdoor work during a part of the year are important factors in the development of man in the temperate zones.
Weather.—An extreme changeableness of the weather, depending on the succession of cyclones and anticyclones, is another characteristic. For most of the year, and most of the zone, settled weather is unknown. The changes are most rapid in the northern portion of the north temperate zone, especially on the continents, where the cyclones travel fastest. The nature of these changes depends on the degree of development, the velocity of progression, the track, and other conditions of the disturbance which produces them. The particular weather types resulting from this control give the climates their distinctive character.
The types vary with the season and with the geographical position. They result from a combination, more or less irregular, of periodic diurnal elements, under the regular control of the sun; and of non-periodic cyclonic and anticyclonic elements. In summer, on land, when the Cyclonic element is weakest and the solar control is the strongest, the dominant types are associated with the regular changes from day to night. Daytime cumulus clouds; diurnal variation in wind velocity; afternoon thunderstorms, with considerable regularity, characterize the warmest months over the continents and present an analogy with tropical conditions. Cyclonic and anticyclonic spells of hotter or cooler, rainy or dry, weather, with varying winds differing in the temperatures and the moisture which they bring, serve to break the regularity of the diurnal types. In winter the non-periodic, cyclonic control is strongest. The irregular changes from clear to cloudy, from warmer to colder, from dry air to snow or rain, extend over large areas, and show little diurnal control. Spring and fall are transition seasons, and have transition weather types. The south temperate zone oceans have a constancy of non-periodic cyclonic weather changes through the year which is only faintly imitated over the oceans of the northern hemisphere. Winter types differ little from summer. The diurnal control is never very strong. Stormy weather prevails throughout the year although the weather changes are more frequent and stronger in the colder months.
Climatic Subdivisions.—There are fundamental differences between the north and south temperate zones. The latter zone is sufficiently individual to be given a place by itself. The marginal sub-tropical belts must also be considered as a separate group by themselves. The north temperate zone as a whole includes large areas of land, stretching over many degrees of latitude, as well as of water. Hence it embraces so remarkable a diversity of climates that no single district can be taken as typical of the whole. The simplest and most rational scheme for a classification of these climates is based on the fundamental differences which depend upon land and water, upon the prevailing winds, and upon altitude. Thus there are the ocean areas and the land areas. The latter are then subdivided into western (windward) and eastern (leeward) coasts, and interiors. Mountain climates remain as a separate group.
South Temperate Zone.—Because of the large ocean surface, the whole meteorological régime in the south temperate zone is more uniform than in the northern. The south temperate zone may properly be called “temperate.” Its temperature changes are small; its prevailing winds are stronger and steadier than in the northern hemisphere; its seasons are more uniform; its weather is prevailingly stormier, more changeable, and more under cyclonic control. The uniformity of the climatic conditions over the far southern oceans is monotonously unattractive. The continental areas are small, and develop to a limited degree only the more marked seasonal and diurnal changes which are characteristic of lands in general. The summers are less stormy than the winters, but even the summer temperatures are not high. Such an area as that of New Zealand, with its mild climate and fairly regular rains, is really at the margins of the zone, and has much more favourable conditions than the islands farther south. These islands, in the heart of this zone, have dull, cheerless and inhospitable climates. The zone enjoys a good reputation for healthfulness, which fact has been ascribed chiefly to the strong and active air movement, the relatively drier air than in corresponding northern latitudes, and the cool summers. It must be remembered, also, that the lands are mostly in the sub-tropical belt, which possesses peculiar climatic advantages, as will be seen.
Sub-tropical Belts: Mediterranean Climates.—At the tropical margins of the temperate zones are the so-called sub-tropical belts. Their rainfall regime is alternately that of the westerlies and of the trades. They are thus associated, now with the temperate and now with the torrid zones. In winter the equatorward migration of the great pressure and wind systems brings these latitudes under the control of the westerlies, whose frequent irregular storms give a moderate winter precipitation. These winter rains are not steady and continuous, but are separated by spells of fine sunny weather. The amounts vary greatly In summer, when the trades are extended polewards by the outflowing equatorward winds on the eastern side of the ocean anticyclones, mild, dry and nearly continuous fair weather prevails, with general northerly winds.
The sub-tropical belts of winter rains and dry summers are not very clearly defined. They are mainly limited to the western coasts of the continents, and to the islands off these coasts in latitudes between about 28° and 40°. The sub-tropical belt is exceptionally wide in the old world, and reaches far inland there, embracing the countries bordering on the Mediterranean in southern Europe and northern Africa, and then extending eastward across the Dalmatian coast and the southern part of the Balkan peninsula into Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia north of the tropic, Persia and the adjacent lands. The fact that the Mediterranean countries are so generally included has led to the use of the name “Mediterranean climate.” Owing to the great irregularity of topography and outline, the Mediterranean province embraces many varieties of climate, but the dominant characteristics are the mild temperatures, except on the higher elevations, and the sub-tropical rains.
On the west coasts of the two Americas the sub-tropical belt of winter rains is clearly seen in California and in northern Chile, on the west of the coast mountain ranges. Between the region which has rain throughout the year from the stormy westerlies, and the districts which are permanently arid under the trades, there is an indefinite belt over which rains fall in winter. In southern Africa, which is controlled by the high pressure areas of the South Atlantic and south Indian oceans, the south-western coastal belt has winter rains, decreasing to the north, while the east coast and adjoining interior have summer rains, from the south-east trade. Southern Australia is climatically similar to South Africa. In summer the trades give rainfall on the eastern coast, decreasing inland. In winter the westerlies give moderate rains, chiefly on the south-western coast.
|Fig. 8.—Annual March of Rainfall: Sub-tropical Type.|
W.A, Western Australia: M, Malta.
The sub-tropical climates follow the tropical high pressure belts across the oceans, but they do not retain their distinctive character far inland from the west coasts of the continents (except in the Mediterranean case), nor on the east coasts. On the latter, summer monsoons and the occurrence of general summer rains interfere, as in eastern Asia and in Florida.
Strictly winter rains are typical of the coasts and islands of this belt. The more continental areas have a tendency to spring and autumn rains. The rainy and dry seasons are most marked at the equatorward margins of the belt. With increasing latitude, the rain is more evenly distributed through the year, the summer becoming more and more rainy until, in the continental interiors of the higher latitudes, the summer becomes the season of maximum rainfall. The monthly distribution of rainfall in two sub-tropical regions is shown in the accompanying curves for Malta and for Western Australia (fig. 8). In Alexandria the dry season lasts nearly eight months; in Palestine, from six to seven months; in Greece, about four months. The sub-tropical rains are peculiarly well developed on the eastern coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
The winter rains which migrate equatorward are separated by the Sahara from the equatorial rains which migrate poleward. An unusually extended migration of either of these rain belts may bring them close together, leaving but a small part, if any, of the intervening desert actually rainless. The Arabian desert occupies a somewhat similar position. Large variations in the annual rainfall may be expected towards the equatorial margins of the sub-tropical belts.
The main features of the sub-tropical rains east of the Atlantic are repeated on the Pacific coasts of the two Americas. In North America the rainfall decreases from Alaska, Washington and northern Oregon southwards to lower California, and the length of the summer dry season increases. At San Diego, six months (May-October) have each less than 5% of the annual precipitation, and four of these have 1%. The southern extremity of Chile, from about latitude 38°S. southward, has heavy rainfall throughout the year from the westerlies, with a winter maximum. Northern Chile is persistently dry. Between these two there are winter rains and dry summers. Neither Africa nor Australia extends far enough south to show the different members of this system well. New Zealand is almost wholly in the prevailing westerly belt. Northern India is unique in having summer monsoon rains and also winter rains, the latter from weak cyclonic storms which correspond with the sub-tropical winter rains.
|Fig. 9.—Annual March of Temperature for selected|
Sub-tropical Stations. C, Cordoba; A, Auckland;
Ba, Bermuda; Bd, Bagdad.
From the position of the sub-tropical belts to leeward of the oceans, and at the equatorial margins of the temperate zones, it follows that their temperatures are not extreme. Further, the protection afforded by mountain ranges, as by the Alps in Europe and the Sierra Nevada in the United States, is an important factor in keeping out extremes of winter cold. The annual march and ranges of temperature depend upon position with reference to continental or marine influences. This is seen in the accompanying data and curves for Bagdad, Cordoba (Argentina), Bermuda and Auckland (fig. 9). The Mediterranean basin is particularly favoured in winter, not only in the protection against cold afforded by the mountains but also in the high temperature of the sea itself. The southern Alpine valleys and the Riviera are well situated, having good protection and a southern exposure. The coldest month usually has a mean temperature well above 32°. Mean minimum temperatures of about, and somewhat below, freezing occur in the northern portion of the district, and in the more continental localities minima a good deal lower have been observed. Mean maximum temperatures of about 95° occur in northern Italy, and of still higher degrees in the southern portions. Somewhat similar conditions obtain in the sub-tropical district of North America. Under the control of passing cyclonic storm areas, hot or cold winds, which often owe some of their special characteristics to the topography, bring into the sub-tropical belts, from higher or lower latitudes, unseasonably high or low temperatures. These winds have been given special names (mistral, sirocco, bora, &c.).
These belts are among the least cloudy districts in the world. The accompanying curve, giving an average for ten stations shows the small annual amount of cloud, the winter maximum and the marked summer minimum, in a typical sub-tropical climate (fig. 10). The winter rains do not bring continuously overcast skies, and a summer month with a mean cloudiness of 10% is not exceptional in the drier parts of the sub-tropics.
|Fig. 10.—Annual March of Cloudiness in a Sub-tropical Climate (Eastern Mediterranean).|
|Fig. 11.—Annual March of Temperature for Selected Stations in the Temperate Zones.|
|S. I., Scilly Isles.||B, Blagovyeshchensk.|
|P, Prague.||Sa, Sakhalin.|
|C, Charkow.||T, Thorshavn.|
|S, Semipalatinsk.||Y, Yakutsk.|
With prevailing fair skies, even temperatures, and moderate rainfall, the sub-tropical belts possess many climatic advantages which fit them for health resorts. The long list of well-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 40° to 50° in the British Isles and on the northern French coast occur in the same latitudes as those of 0° and 10° in the far interior of Asia. In July means 60° to 70° in the former contrast with 70° to 80° 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, Faröe Islands, illustrate the insular type of temperature on the west coasts (fig. 11). 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.
|Fig. 12.—Annual March of Rainfall: Temperate Zone. C.E. Central Europe; A. Northern Asia; N.A. Atlantic coast of North America; N.W.E. North-west Europe.|
The west coasts therefore, including the important climatic province of western Europe, and the coast provinces of north-western North America, New Zealand 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 Atlantic. In North America the change is abrupt, and comes on crossing the lofty western mountain barrier. The curves in fig. 11 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 –10° and –20° occur over considerable areas. At the cold pole of north-eastern Siberia a January mean of –60° is found. Mean minimum temperatures of –40° occur in the area from eastern Russia, over Siberia and down to about latitude 50° 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. 11). 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 50° or 60°. In summer the northern continental interiors are warm, with July means of 60° 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 60° 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 90° 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 110°.
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 80–100 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 10 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 10 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 100 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 10 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 100th 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 80 in.). East of the Andes the plains are dry (mostly less than 10 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. Tasmania and New Zealand have most rain on their western slopes.
|Fig. 13.—Annual March of Cloudiness:|
Temperate Zones. E, Central Europe;
A, Eastern Asia; M, mountain.
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 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 50° 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 50° 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 securing food, famine is a 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 are 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 –49°, –40° 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 –4°, 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. 80° N. and long. 170° E.
The north polar chart of annual range of temperature shows a maximum range of about 120° in Siberia; of 80° in North America; of 75.6° 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 +10.8° in summer, and –45° 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.
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 –60°, 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, and relates chiefly to the summer months. Hann has determined the mean temperatures of the higher southern latitudes as follows:—
|Mean Temperatures of High Southern Latitudes.|
From lat. 70° 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 10°, 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 35° and 50°.
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 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 föhn characteristics, raising the temperature to an unusually high degree. Föhn winds are also known on both coasts of Greenland, when a passing cyclonic depression draws the air down from the icy interior. These Greenland föhn winds are important climatic elements, for they blow down warm and dry, raising the temperature even 30° or 40° 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 are 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 common in winter, when they occur as radiation fogs, of no great thickness. The small winter cloudiness, which is reported also from the antarctic zone, corresponds with the low absolute humidity and small precipitation. The coasts 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.
|Fig. 14.—Annual March of Cloudiness|
in Polar Latitudes (marine type).
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 Spitzbergen.
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 bring lower 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 as 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 150 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 been satisfactory. 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. Köppen 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 1.3° in the tropics and a little less than 1° in the extra-tropics. More recently Nordmann (for the years 1870–1900) has continued Köppen’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. Poëy 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. Brückner’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 Brückner cycle, after Professor Brückner 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 12%, or, excluding exceptional districts, 24%. Regions whose normal rainfall is small are most affected. The following table shows the dates and characters of Brückner’s periods:—
Interesting confirmation of Brückner’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. Brückner 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 Brückner 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. Brückner 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 taken place: periods of glacial invasion, as well as periods of more 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 understood. 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 of one, or two, or even three oscillations. A snapshot view of these oscillations 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 oscillations of climate are limited in time, but occur over wide areas.
Literature.—Scientific climatology is based upon numerical results, obtained by systematic, long continued, accurate meteorological observations. The essential part of its literature is therefore found in the collections of data published by the various meteorological services. The only comprehensive text-book of climatology is the Handbuch der Klimatologie of Professor Julius Hann, of the university of Vienna (Stuttgart, 1897). This is the standard book on the subject, and upon it is based much of the present article, and of other recent discussions of climate. The first volume deals with general climatology, and has been translated into English (London and New York, 1903). Reference should be made to this book for further details than are here given. The second and third volumes are devoted to the climates of the different countries of the world. Woeikof’s Die Klimate der Erde (Jena, 1887) is also a valuable reference book. The standard meteorological journal of the world, the Meteorologische Zeitschrift (Braunschweig, monthly), is indispensable to any one who wishes to keep in touch with the latest publications. The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (London), Symons’s Monthly Meteorological Magazine (London), and the Monthly Weather Review (Washington, D.C.) are also valuable. The newest and most complete collection of charts is that in the Atlas of Meteorology (London, 1899), in which also there is an excellent working bibliography. For the titles of more recent publications reference may be made to the International Catalogue of Scientific Literature (Meteorology). (R. De C. W.)
Climate in the Treatment of Disease.—The most important qualities of the atmosphere in relation to health are (i.) the chemical composition, (ii.) the solids floating in it, (iii.) the mean and extreme temperatures, (iv.) the degree of humidity, (v.) the diathermancy, (vi.) the intensity of light, (vii.) the electrical conditions, (viii.) the density and pressure, and (ix.) the prevailing winds. Generally speaking, the relative purity of the air—i.e. absence of septic solid particles—is an important consideration; while cold acts as a stimulant and tonic, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled in the twenty-four hours. Different individuals, however, react both to heat and cold very differently. At health resorts, where the temperature may vary between 55° and 70° F., strong individuals gradually lose strength and begin to suffer from various degrees of lassitude; whereas a delicate person under the same conditions gains vigour both of mind and body, puts on weight, and is less liable to disease. And a corresponding intensity of cold acts in the reverse manner in each case. Thus a health resort with a moderate degree of heat is very valuable for delicate or elderly people, and those who are temporarily weakened by illness. Cold, however, when combined with wind and damp must be specially avoided by the aged, the delicate, and those prone to gouty and rheumatic affections. The moisture of the atmosphere controls the distribution of warmth on the earth, and is closely bound up with the prevailing winds, temperature, light and pressure. In dry air the evaporation from both skin and lungs is increased, especially if the sunshine be plentiful and the altitude high. In warm moist air strength is lost and there is a distinct tendency to intestinal troubles. In moist cold air perspiration is checked, and rheumatic and joint affections are very common. The main differences between mountain air and that of the plains depend on the former being more rarefied, colder, of a lower absolute humidity, and offering less resistance to the sun’s rays. As the altitude is raised, circulation and respiration are quickened, probably as an effort on the part of the organism to compensate for the diminished supply of oxygen, and somewhat more gradually the number of red blood corpuscles increases, this increase persisting for a considerable time after a return to lower ground. In addition to these changes there is a distinct tendency to diminished proteid metabolism, resulting in an increase of weight owing to the storage of proteid in the tissues. Thus children and young people whose development is not yet complete are especially likely to benefit by the impetus given to growth and the blood-forming organs, and the therapeutic value in their case rarely fails. For older people, however, the benefit depends on whether their organs of circulation and respiration are sufficiently vigorous to respond to the increased demands on them. For anaemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, pleural thickening, deficient expansion of the lungs, neurasthenia, and the debility following fevers and malaria, mountain air is invaluable. But where there is valvular disease of the heart, or rapidly advancing disease of the lungs, it is to be avoided. Light, especially direct sunlight, is of primary importance, the lack of it tending to depression and dyspeptic troubles. Probably its germicidal power accounts for the aseptic character of the air of the Alps, the desert and other places.
Sir Hermann Weber has defined a “good” climate as that in which all the organs and tissues of the body are kept evenly at work in alternation with rest. Thus a climate with constant moderate variations in its principal factors is the best for the maintenance of health. But the best climate for an invalid depends on the particular weakness from which he may suffer. Pulmonary tuberculosis stands first in the importance of the effects of climate. The continuous supply of pure fresh air is the main desideratum, a cool climate being greatly superior to a tropical one. Exposure to strong winds is harmful, since it increases the tendency to cough and thus leads to loss of body temperature, which is in its turn made up at the expense of increased metabolism. A high altitude, from the purity and stimulating properties of the air, is of value to many mild or very early cases, but where the disease is extensive, where the heart is irritable, or where there is any tendency to insomnia, high altitudes are contra-indicated, and no such patient should be sent higher than some 1500 ft. Where the disease is of long standing, with much expectoration, or accompanied by albuminuria, the patient appears to do best in a humid atmosphere but little above the sea-level. The climate of Egypt is especially suitable for cases complicated with bronchitis or bronchiectasis, but is contra-indicated where there is attendant diarrhoea. Madeira and the Canaries are useful when emphysema is present or where there is much irritability of constitution. Bronchitis in young people is best treated by high altitudes, but in older patients by a moist mild climate, except where much expectoration is present.
The influence of atmospheric conditions on the functions of the nose is very marked. Within the ordinary ranges of humidity and temperature the nasal mucous membrane completely saturates the air with aqueous vapour before it reaches the pharynx. In cold and dry mountain climates there is a very free nasal secretion, far beyond what is needed for the saturation of the air; and at low levels the reverse action takes place, the nose becoming “stuffy.” The mechanism on which this depends is found in the erectile tissue, and anything favouring the engorgement of the veins, such as weak heart action, chronic bronchitis or kidney troubles, &c., leads to a corresponding turgidity of the nose and sinuses. In addition to barometric and other influences, it has been found that light produces collapse of this tissue, smoke having a similar effect. On this latter effect probably depends the fact that many asthmatics are better in a city like London than elsewhere, the smoke relieving the turgescence of the inferior turbinals of the nose. In the treatment of pathological nasal conditions, all cases of obstruction from whatsoever cause are best in a dry atmosphere, and where there is atrophy and a deficient flow of mucus in a moist atmosphere. If the mucous membrane is irritable a dry sheltered spot on a sandy soil and in the neighbourhood of pine trees is by far the best.
Scrofulous children, namely, those in whom the resistance to micro-organisms and their products is low, pre-eminently require sea air, and had better be educated at some seaside place. Where the child is very delicate, with small power of reaction, the winter should be passed on some mild coast resort. Gouty and rheumatic affections require a dry soil and warm dry climate, cold and moist winds being especially injurious.
For heart affections high altitudes are to be avoided, though some physicians make an exception of mitral cases where the compensation is good. Moderate elevations of 500 to 1500 ft. are preferable to the sea-level.
In diseases of the kidneys, a warm dry climate, by stimulating the action of the skin, lessens the work to be done by these organs, and thus is the most beneficial. Extremes of heat and cold and elevated regions are all to be avoided.
- W. M. Davis, Elementary Meteorology (Boston, 1894), pp. 334-335.
- A. Supan, Grundzüge der physischen Erdkunde (Leipzig, 1896), 88-89. Also Atlas of Meteorology, Pl. 1.
- Approximately Lisbon has 28.60 in.; Madrid, 16.50; Algiers, 28.15; Nice, 33.00; Rome, 29.90; Ragusa, 63.90.
- i.e. lines drawn on a map to connect all places having an equal rainfall.
- Nature, lxxi. (Jan. 5, 1905), p. 221.