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CLIMATE AND CLIMATOLOGY

These winter rains are not steady and continuous, but are separated by spells of fine sunny weather. The amounts vary greatly[1] 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.

EB1911 - Climate Fig. 8.—Annual March of Rainfall, Sub-tropics.jpg
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.

 EB1911 - Climate Fig. 9.—Annual March of Temperature, Sub-tropics.jpg
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

  1. Approximately Lisbon has 28.60 in.; Madrid, 16.50; Algiers, 28.15; Nice, 33.00; Rome, 29.90; Ragusa, 63.90.