Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/655

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ied. During the period named, comprising twenty-six months, there were sixty-three instances of low barometer, corresponding to eighteen different storms.

Each of these instances of low pressure appears to have moved eastward, and can be traced to the Atlantic coast. All occurred in the six colder months of the year, and were most numerous in January. Their origin appears to have been northwestward of Portland, and probably over the Pacific Ocean.

Simultaneously with low barometer at Portland, there occurred high barometer eastward from that city, at an average distance of about fifteen hundred miles. The areas of low barometer advancing eastward crossed the continent in an average period of five days. The path traversed, however, was not a direct one. The low pressure areas were developed as far north as latitude 50°; but in the middle of the continent the centres of low pressure were in latitude 40°, whence the direction was north of east, reaching the coast in latitude 45°.

From observations, which include those made in a previous paper, it appears that areas of low pressure are not only preceded, but are followed, by areas of high barometer. These conditions, each succeeding the other, traverse the continent with wonderful uniformity. Mountain-ranges from 6,000 to 10,000 feet high do not arrest, and but slightly modify, the eastward movement of these great atmospheric waves.

The high barometer following the areas of low pressure in their progress is usually attended by winds of great violence, from the north and northwest, attaining in some cases a velocity of from thirty to fifty-seven miles an hour. Extreme cold occurred too in many instances, the mercury falling in one case to -36° Fahr.

A fact of great interest presented by Prof. Loomis in a former paper is more fully illustrated in the present one; it is this, that while the air continually flows inward and spirally upward in a storm-area, or area of low barometer, it as continually flows outward at great elevations to areas of high barometer, where it descends to the earth's surface. Here it resumes its motion inward toward the storm-centre, gathering vapor in its progress, to be condensed into rain. It is seen from this that a constant vertical circulation occurs. The tables and charts presented by Prof. Loomis, showing these facts, are elaborate and conclusive. The direction of the movement of the upper air is determined by that of the clouds which float in it.

"The clouds," says Prof. Loomis, "were in all cases seen to be moving away from the low centre outward, toward an area of high pressure, where the air descends to the earth; here it again moves inward, and finally upward, in the gyrations of the storm."

 

Death to the English Sparrow.—The right of the European house-sparrow to settle in the United States is hotly contested in the American Naturalist, by Dr. Elliott Coues, who regards that bird as an unmitigated nuisance. The author makes no secret of his aversion for the sparrow and his contempt for the sparrow's friends. The former is a "wretched interloper" that "does not do any appreciable good; does a very obvious amount of damage; and has no place in the natural economy of this country." The sparrow's friends are divided into five categories, viz.: 1. The silly ones (though Dr. Coues by a circumlocution avoids the use of this plain language, it is clear to see that he means it). This class is composed chiefly of "children, women, and old fogies." 2. Those who were instrumental in getting the birds here. 3. Quasi-ornithologists. 4. The clacqueurs of the quasis. 5. A very few intelligent and scientific persons. Having thus cleared the ground, Dr. Coues presents the specific articles of his indictment of the sparrow. In substance they are: 1. That the sparrows neglect entirely or perform very insufficiently the business they were imported to do, videlicet destroying worms and insects. 2. That they do "attack, harass, fight against, dispossess, drive away, and sometimes actually kill, various of our native birds which are much more insectivorous by nature than themselves." 3. That they commit great depredations in the kitchen-garden, orchard, and grain-field. 4. In this specification the author delicately alludes to certain evidences of a lack of moral restraint