University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

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
(1880)

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


Page 127


CLIMATOLOGY OF. WISCONSIN.
wind blows again, usually more violently than before, accompanied by rain
or snow, which is.now
generally of short duration. The sky clears, and the stormis suddenly succeeded
by a tempera-
ture io or 2o degrees below the mean. Most of the rain.and snow falls with
the east winds, or
before the center passes a given point. The path of these storms is from
west to east, or nearly
so, and only seldom in other directions. These autumn, winter, and spring
rains are generally
first noticed on the western plains, but may originate at any point along
their path, and move
eastward with an average velocity of about 2o miles an hour in summer and
30 miles in winter,
but sometimes attaining a velocity of over 50 miles, doing great damage on
the. lakes. In pre-
dicting these storms, the signal service of the army is of incalculable practical
benefit, as well
as in collecting data for scientific conclusions.
     A subject of the greatest importance. to every inhabitant of Wisconsin
is the, influence of
forests on climate and the effects of disrobing a county of its trees. The
general influence of
forests in modifying the extremes of temperature, retarding evaporation and
the increased
humidity of the air, has already been mentioned. That clearing the land of
trees increases the
temperature of the ground in summer, is so readily noticed that it is scarcely
necessary to men-
tion it; while in winter the sensible cold is never so extreme in woods as
on an open surface
exposed to the full force of the winds. " The lumbermen in Canada and
the northern United
States labor in the woods without inconvenience; when the mercury stands
many degrees below
zero, while in the open grounds, with, only a moderate breeze, the same temperature
is almost
insupportable."   "In the state of Michigan it has been found that
the winters have greatly
increased in severity within the last forty years, and that this increased
severity seems to move
along even-paced with the destruction of the forests. Thirty years ago the
peach was one of the
most abundant fruits of that State; at that time frost, injurious to corn
at any time. from May to
October, was a thing unknown. Now the peach is an uncertain crop, and frost
often injures the
corn." The precise influence of forests on temperature may not at present
admit of definite solu-
tion, yet the mechanical screen which they furnish to the soil. often far
to the leeward of them,
is sufficiently established, and this alone is enough to encourage extensive
planting wherever this
protection is wanting.
    With regard to the quantity of rain-fall, "we can not positively
affirm that the total annual
quantity of rain is even locally diminished or increased by the destruction
of the woods, though
both theoretical considerations and the balance of testimony strongly favor
the opinion that more
rain falls in wooded than in open countries. One important conclusion, at
least, upon the
meteorological influence of forests is certain and undisputed: the proposition,
namely, that,
within their own limits, and near their own borders, they maintain a more
uniform degree of
humidity in the atmosphere than is observed in cleared grounds.  Scarcely
less can it be
questioned that they tend to promote the frequency of showers, and, if:they
do not augment the
amount of precipitation, they probably equalize its distribution through
the different seasons."
    There is abundant and undoubted evidence that the amount of water existing
on the surface
in lakes-and rivers, in many parts of the world, is constantly diminishing.
In Germany, observa-
tions of the Rhine, Oder, Danube, and the Elbe, in the latter case going
back for a period of 142
years, demonstrate beyond doubt, that each of these rivers has much decreased
in volume, and
'there is reason to fear that they will eventually disappear from the list
of navigable rivers.
    "The 'Blue-Grass' region of Kentucky, once the pride- of the West,
has now districts of
such barren and arid nature that their, stock farmers are moving toward the
Cumberland mount-
ains, because the creeks and old springs dried up, and their wells became
too low to furnish
water for their cattle." In our own stat e"'such has been the change
in the flow of the Milwau-
127


Go up to Top of Page