Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/703

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

storm of wind at all. In partial confirmation of this view, Professor Mohn, of Christiania, points to the accidental condensation of moisture caused by the contact of a mass of damp air with the surface of an extensive snow-field as a possible cause of a storm. About the sixty-first parallel of latitude the glacier region of Justedal stretches for several miles along the coast of Norway, and this has occasionally been known to exert an influence in increasing the intensity of an existing cyclone, and even in some instances has appeared as the center of a newly formed depression.

These gentlemen, moreover, rely greatly on the fact that the rain area which accompanies every cyclonic system is roughly oval in shape, with its longer axis extending in the direction in which the system is advancing, and that by far the greatest amount of rain falls in front of the storm. They do not, however, explain the fact that very heavy rain frequently occurs on the northern side of a depression, where the wind is easterly, and that this circumstance does not indicate a northward motion of the system.

The most serious objection to this theory is, however, that first stated, that not only do the heaviest rains not come with the severest storms, but that frequently they are observed in times of nearly absolute calm.

2. The second theory to which I shall refer is the mechanical one, most strongly urged by Mr. Meldrum, of the Mauritius, whose investigations into the weather over the Indian Ocean have led him to the belief that every cyclone is generated in the intervening space between two oppositely flowing currents of air, of which the easterly moving stream, speaking in the most general terms, lies on the polar side of the westerly wind. Such a disposition of the currents would be that which would naturally arise were the cyclone once formed.

This view is called seriously in question by Messrs. Blanford and Eliot in their discussion of recent cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, which they have been able to study from very early stages, and in which they fail to see evidence of the preexistence of two, and only two, determinate currents.

Another serious objection to this theory is that it does not assign a vera causa sufficient to give the first impetus to the barometrical fall and the rotatory movement of the air.

3. A third theory of the origin of these storms is that which is strongly urged by M. Faye, in Paris, and is to the effect that, as interfering currents in rivers give rise to vortices which extend from the surface downward into the water, so all our water-spouts, trombes, and even the largest tropical hurricanes must be all formed in the upper regions of the atmosphere, and extend downward to the earth: the force which gives them their onward motion being supplied by the upper currents.

It is sufficient to say that this theory has not met with acceptance