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.