Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/651

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
633
ICEBERGS AND FOG IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC.

In following track No. 4, on eastern passages 56 and 63, six hours and forty minutes of fog was encountered between 40° and 60° longitude, and on the western passages 56, 63, and 64, nine hours and fifty-one minutes between the same meridians. This fog, on these five passages, was found always very near the 48th meridian; the mean temperature of the surface-water, while the weather continued foggy, being 53° Fahr. in the early part of July, and 65° in the latter part of the same month; falling in a few moments from, and rising as rapidly to, 89° in the former and 78° in the latter instance. This belt of cold water, and of fog, which was entirely avoided on route No. 5 in 1882, is described in Maury's "Physical Geography of the Sea." In writing of the Gulf Stream and climates of the ocean, he says: "Navigators have often been struck with the great and sudden changes in temperature of the waters hereabout; . . . this 'bend' is the great receptacle of the icebergs which drift down from the north; covering frequently an area of hundreds of miles in extent, its waters differ as much as 20°, 25°, and in rare cases as much as 30° in temperature from those about it. Its shape and place are variable. Sometimes it is like a peninsula, or tongue of cold water, projected far down into the waters of the Gulf Stream." In May, 1881, on track No. 4, the width of this "tongue" was about fifty miles, and on the following passage in June less than thirty miles. On the latter passage I was enabled to predict its position with such certainty that I struck it inside of half an hour of the time expected. All the fog experienced on track No. 4 between the 40th and 60th meridians has been met with in this immediate vicinity. With the limited number of observations, taken only on one ship, it would no doubt be premature to give an opinion as to the fixed locality of this tongue of the Arctic current; but I can nevertheless confidently affirm that between 40° and 60° longitude, the tables below, with the observations of the temperature of the surface water, show, beyond dispute, that by an additional hundred miles of distance, the chances of meeting fog in the spring and summer months are almost, if not entirely, avoided. Whether it is worth the loss, from the additional distance, to escape fog and very nearly all the ice, is a question for each to decide for himself.

The following table shows the hours of fog and distance sailed on the voyages described above:

Track No. 1.—43° latitude, 50° longitude, to Fastnet on the Great Circle.
No. 2.—42° latitude, 50° longitude, to Fastnet on the Great Circle.
No. 3.—41° latitude, 50° longitude, to Fastnet on the Great Circle.
No. 4.—41° latitude, 50° longitude, to 42° latitude, 45° longitude, thence to Fastnet on Great Circle.
No. 5, East.—40° 30" latitude, 50° longitude, to 41° latitude, 47° longitude, thence to Fastnet on Great Circle.
No. 5, West.—Fastnet to 41° latitude, 47° longitude, thence to 40° latitude, 50° longitude, thence to Cape Henlopen.