Page:Climatic Cycles and Tree-Growth - 1919.djvu/104

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CLIMATIC CYCLES AND TREE-GROWTH.

slower-moving latitudes on each side would present much mechanical disturbance and favor the formation of local vortices. Such a process as this would be accompanied by the increased radiation in sunspot maximum which has been observed. If this hypothesis has a basis of fact, it is probable that the increased radiation at that time would come from the sun's equator, where there are no spots. Increased rotational movement of the equatorial zone at the sunspot maximum should be susceptible of observation by spectroscopic means. The meaning of the slow movement of this spot-forming zone toward the equator, as sunspot maximum changes to minimum, is not clear under this hypothesis; nor does one see why the secondary spot described by Hale (1919) should have its definite location following the principal spot, nor why the magnetic polarity of spots changed near the last sunspot minimum. These phenomena, recently observed by Hale and his collaborators, point toward causes within the sun.

Length of the sunspot period. — For many years Newcomb's figure of 11.13 years has been commonly quoted. However, recently some of the best authorities say frankly that it may be anywhere from 11 years to nearly 12 years. Schuster (1898-1906) discussed analytically the best known sunspot numbers, those since 1750. This has been followed by the work of Kimura (1913), and especially Turner (1913) and Michelson (1913). In general, the analyses by Schuster and Kimura, and by Turner in his earlier papers, produce a large number of possible periods of small amplitude. Michelson, however, goes to the other extreme. "Indeed," he says, "it would seem that with the exception of the 11-year period and possibly a very long period (of the order of 100 years) the many periods found by previous investigators are illusory." Turner in his hypothesis referred to above reduces the number to a few, which supply a basis for his reasoning. Michelson had favored a period of about 11.4 years and Turner says that only this 11.4-year period is sensible at the present time.

Tree-growth and solar activity. — The correlation shown in this chapter suggests a possible use of the annual rings of trees in the study of solar activity. There are two lines which such a study might take. An intensive line already mentioned includes the search for wet-climate trees showing the solar rhythm in their growth and the determination of the conditions under which they produce this curve. An extensive line of study is obviously possible also in reconstructing, as far as possible, a history of the sunspot cycle from very old trees. The yellow pines of Arizona give evidence that 500 years ago the cycle was operating very much as now. The sequoias, if correctly interpreted, already carry the history back over 3,000 years, and beyond that fossil trees may stretch the time covered in part at least into millions of years.