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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States

Oldenhage, H. H.
Climatology of Wisconsin,   pp. [121]-128 PDF (3.9 MB)

Page [121]

                              By PROF. H. H. OLDENHAGE.
     The climate of a country, or that peculiar state of the atmosphere in
regard to heat and
moisture which prevails in any given place, and which directly affects the
growth of plants and
animals, is determined by the following causes: ist. Distance from the equator.
2d. Distance
from the sea. 3d. Height above the sea. 4th. Prevailing winds; and 5th. Local
such as soil, vegetation, and proximity to lakes and mountains.
     Of these causes, the first, distance from the equator, is by far the
most important, The
warmest climates are necessarily those of tropical regions where the sun's
rays are vertical. But
in proceeding from the equator toward the poles, less and less heat continues
to be received by
the same extent of surface, because the rays fall more and more obliquely,
and the same amount
of heat-rays therefore spread over an increasing breadth of surface; while,
however, with the
increase of obliquity, more and more heat is absorbed by the atmosphere,
as the amount of air
to be penetrated is greater. If the earth's surface were either wholly land
or water, and its
atmosphere motionless, the gradations of climate would run parallel with
the latitudes from the
equator to the poles. But owing to the irregular distribution of land and
water, and the prevail-
ing winds, such an arrangement is impossible, and the determination of the
real climate of a given
region, and its causes, is one of the most difficult problems of science.
     On the second of these causes, distance from the sea, depends the difference
between oce-
anic and continental climates. Water is more slowly heated and cooled than
land; the climates
of the sea and the adjacent land are therefore much more equable and, moist
than those of the
     A decrease of temperature is noticeable in ascending high mountains.
The rate at which
the temperature falls with the height above the sea is a very variable qua'ntity,
and is influenced
by a variety of causes, such as latitude, situation, moisture, or dryness,
hour of the day and season
of the year. As a rough approximation, however, the fall of r° of the
thermometer for every
300 feet is usually adopted.
     Air in contact with any part of the earth's surface, tends to acquire
the temperature of that
surface. Hence, winds from the north are cold; those from the south are warm.
Winds from
the sea are moist, and winds from the land are usually dry. Prevailing winds
are the result of
the relative distribution of atmospheric pressure blowing from places where
the pressure is high-
est, toward places where it is lowest. As climate practically depends on
the temperature and
moisture of the air, and as these again depend on the prevailing winds which
come charged with
the temperature and moisture of the regions they have traversed, it is evident
that charts show-
ing the mean pressure of the atmosphere give us the key to the climates of
the different regions
of the world. The effect of prevailing winds is seen in the moist and equable
climate of West-
ern Europe, especially Great Britain, owing to the warm and moist southwest
winds; and in the
extremes of the eastern part of North America, due to the warm and moist
winds prevailing in
summer and the Arctic blasts of winter.

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