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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/462

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

on grasses, estimated that an acre of grass emits into the atmosphere 6.400 quarts of water in twenty-four hours.

It is evident, therefore, that vegetation tends powerfully to cool the atmosphere during a summer day, and this effect increases in proportion to the increase of the temperature. The influence of trees heavily leaved, in a district where there is no other vegetation, in moderating and equalizing the temperature, can not be overestimated. The amount of superficial surface exposed by the foliage of a single tree is immense. For example, "the Washington elm, of Cambridge, Mass., a tree of moderate size, was estimated several years since to produce a crop of seven million leaves, exposing a surface of two hundred thousand square feet, or about five acres of foliage."

Trees regulate the humidity of the air by the process of absorption and transpiration. They absorb the moisture contained in the air, and again return to the air, in the form of vapor, the water which they have absorbed from the earth and the air. The flow of sap in trees for the most part ceases at night, the stimulus of light and heat being necessary to the function of absorption and evaporation. During the heated portions of the day, therefore, when there is the most need of agencies to equalize both temperature and humidity, trees perform their peculiar functions most actively. Moisture is rapidly absorbed from the air by the leaves, and from the earth by the roots, and is again all returned to the air and earth by transpiration or exudation. The effect of this process upon temperature and humidity is thus stated by Marsh: "The evaporation of the juices of the plant by whatever process effected, takes up atmospheric heat and produces refrigeration. This effect is not less real, though much less sensible in the forest than in meadow and pasture land, and it can not be doubted that the local temperature is considerably affected by it. But the evaporation that cools the air diffuses through it, at the same time, a medium which powerfully resists the escape of heat from the earth by radiation. Visible vapor or clouds, it is well known, prevent frosts by obstructing radiation, or rather by reflecting back again the heat radiated by the earth, just as any mechanical screen would do. On the other hand, clouds intercept the rays of the sun also, and hinder its heat from reaching the earth." Again, he says, upon the whole, their general effect "seems to be to mitigate extremes of atmospheric heat and cold, moisture and drought. They serve as equalizers of temperature and humidity."

Again, let us notice the effects of trees upon malarial emanations. The power of trees, when in leaf, to render harmless the poisonous emanations from the earth has long been an established fact. Man may live in close proximity to marshes from which arise