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