Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/133

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129
VALUE OF WEATHER OBSERVATIONS

THE VALUE OF NON-INSTRUMENTAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS

HARVARD UNIVERSITY

MUCH emphasis has been laid—and lightly—upon the necessity, in climatological studies, of systematic observations, carefully checked, punctually recorded and extending throughout many years, of properly exposed standard meteorological instruments. Upon such observations the scientific study of the world's climatology must be based. Without them everything remains vague; no real comparison of climates is possible; no detailed investigations of climate in relation to health, to crops, to industry, can be undertaken. Our conviction has become fixed that unless we can keep such a series of standard records, with a considerable and expensive instrumental equipment, it is not worth while to attempt any meteorological observations whatever. This is far from being the case. There is a very considerable series of observations—non-instrumental, unsystematic, irregular, "haphazard" if you will—which any one with ordinary intelligence and with a real interest in weather conditions may undertake. Such a diversion will add greatly to the interest of our humdrum every-day life, and will develop from day to day, in a surprising way, powers of observation which we were unconscious of possessing. Obviously, when such non-instrumental observations can be made at regular hours, at one place, they lead to a more compact and complete result than when they are made at odd times, in different places, as during a journey.

During the past summer, while recovering from a recent illness and therefore not wishing to burden myself with routine instrumental observations, I have found great satisfaction among the New Hampshire hills in working out day after day the local meteorological conditions. I have tried to banish from my mind altogether my previous knowledge of the climate of the region as a whole, and of the meteorological phenomena of mountain districts in particular. Thus, open-minded and unprejudiced, as far as possible, I have gradually worked out the essential elements of a local, non-instrumental climatology—an undertaking which has given me great interest, and I frankly confess has added not a little to my general store of climatological knowledge.

During the excessive heat of the first part of July (1911) it was comforting to note[1] that the maximum temperatures up in the New

  1. A sling thermometer was used in this case.