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LABORATORIES. SARDINIA ST., LONDON, W.C.
: THURSDAY, JULY 20, 1905.
the dark and in the sunny season' seems to be of some importance for the solution of the problem. With
reference to the velocity of the wind, it is shown to ARCTIC METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS.
be greater when the sky is overcast than when it is
clear. In the former case, the average velocity is The Norwegian North Polar Expedition, 1893–1896;
5.09 metres per second (11.4 miles per hour), and in Scientific Results. Edited by Fridtjof Nansen.
clear weather only 3.54 metres per second (8 miles per Vol. vi. Published by the Fridtjof Nansen Fund
hour). The greatest velocity recorded appears to be for the Advancement of Science. Pp. xiv +659;
40 miles an hour in February, 1896. 20 plates. (London: Longmans, Green and Co.,
The discussions of the variations of temperature are 1903.) Price 36s. net.
very interesting, but the results drawn from them reIT is a misfortune that meteorological results de garding the periods of the meteorological elements
mand so many figures for their discussion, and must of necessity be less trustworthy than if there had so much space for their exhibition. Vol. vi. of the been a longer series of observations at disposal. It Norwegian North Polar Expedition, dealing with may therefore be premature to draw conclusions as to the climatology of the area through which the Fram the connection between the different observed phenodrifted in its memorable voyage, 1893-6, is a most mena, and between those phenomena and their probinteresting book, but its size and appearance might able causes. The desirability of a longer period, and repel any but the most ardent meteorologist. The the character of the errors that can be introduced by discussion of the observations has been undertaken the comparison of but few values, are shown very by Prof. Mohn, of Christiania, and the arrangement / readily if we attempt to derive the month of lowest is a model of clearness and efficiency. Prof. Mohn temperature from the figures given. The readings superintended the whole meteorological equipment, are centigrade, and show the mean temperature for suggested the plan of work to be carried out during each month :the voyage, and arranged with Captain Scott-Hansen
January February March
April the general management of the meteorological work.
1894 We imagine Prof. Mohn must be gratified with the
- 35872 - 35'57
- 21'31 - 33471 - 37.18
- 28.89 success of his arrangements, and the intelligent 1896 - 37'33
- 18.89 - 18:15 interest which the officers of the expedition have shown in the work. Notwithstanding the severity of
Mean - 35.59 -35.83 - 30*33 - 22 78 the climate, there is hardly a gap in the series of
The great variation of temperature in March, 1896, observations. At sea, the observations were taken at
making it nearly equal to that of April, demonstrates intervals of four hours, but for the greater part of the uncertainty that must accompany any attempt to the time the readings were made every two hours,
derive mean values from short periods. But the dewith a regularity that compels admiration. The
ductions drawn directly from the observations, and result is that we have, with very considerable accuracy,
supported as they are in many instances by similar the climatological elements of a region in the circum
observations made in Arctic latitudes, are not liable polar Arctic Ocean, where the surface of the earth to the same uncertainty. Among these results may during the whole time was of a unique homogeneous be placed the following :-Throughout the dark winter nature, consisting of a level of frozen water, remote
months, when the sky is clear, the lowest temperature from continents and islands, and with an uninter
occurs in the day, the highest during the night. rupted free horizon.
Generally, in the other months, we have the ordinary The wind, particularly with regard to direction and
diurnal period. With the sky overcast, the diurnal velocity, is the first element discussed. To obtain a period, with a minimum in the early morning hours sufficiently long series of observations for investi
and maximum after noon, is very well developed in gation, Prof. Mohn divides the interval into three all the months except January. groups, a dark season when the sun was below the horizon, a sunny season during which the sun was
"The most striking feature," says Prof. Mohn, above the horizon for practically twenty-four hours,
“ seems to me to be the distinct diurnal period of the
ordinary march in the winter and dark season, with and the equinoctial months, during which there was
the sky overcast and relatively higher temperatures. regular day and night. The discussion shows that The inverted period with clear sky in the dark season during the dark season the wind shifts generally seems to be due to the diurnal period of the wind's against the sun. Only during four hours in the direction. The dark-season period with its stronger, twenty-four does the wind veer with the sun, while in
south-easterly winds, is hardly to be accounted for by
the radiation from the sun or sky."! the sunny period the wind veers with the sun, backing about six hours, divided into periods of two hours The forms of cloud, the relative humidity, and the each at three different periods of the day. In the amount and character of precipitation are discussed at equinoctial months the backing and veering are full length, but do not present results of unusual equal, the wind shifting with the sun during the night | importance. With regard to the latter, however, it and morning, and against the sun from 10 a.m. to is not altogether uninteresting to notice that the 10 p.m. The diurnal period of the wind's direction number of days in a year on which rain is probable is a phenomenon which still awaits an explanation, is 49, while snow may be expected on 157 days, and and the different direction of the shift of the wind in some form of moisture will be collected on 180 days.
Hail fell on only 5 days throughout the whole period. EUROPEAN AND ASIATIC GEESE. Rain can fall only from May to October, and July | The Geese of Europe and Asia. By Sergius has the greatest number of rainy days, also it is the Alpheraky. Pp. viii + 198; 24 plates. (London : month which gives rise to the greatest amount of fog. 1. Rowland Ward, Ltd., 1903.) Price 31. 35. net. Very considerable care was taken to determine the
AT the present day most works on ornithology of temperature of the Polar ice, but, naturally, much | A a general character are of little permanent value difficulty was experienced in recovering the thermo
because the broad outlines of the northern fauna have meters from the bore-holes, in which they might be
already been adequately dealt with. What we want, frozen fast, while during the summer, the viscous ice
and what we so seldom see, are complete life-histories would close round them, requiring the thermometers
of separate groups of birds, adequately illustrated and to be dug out. Neither is it easy to remove the
described by ornithologists who are both well sources of error from the observations, especially from
acquainted with them in the field and are capable the effects of brine contained in the ice, which was
of summarising their labours in an accurate scientific apt to fill the bottom of the holes even during the
account. To do this a very large series of birds coldest season, whilst during the summer all the holes
must be collected, examined and digested, and this were filled with briny or saline water, the salinity of
means years of travelling and study with little which decreased inversely as the temperature. This
monetary reward as the result. Nevertheless, the brine percolated from a different level to that in which
works of such men are of great and permanent value, the thermometer was placed. In the winter time the
although their costly nature must ever be a constant temperature of the ice increased from the surface
drawback to the producer. No good form of colour downward, and therefore the brine at the bottom of
printing is cheap, and as this is a sine qua non in the hole was probably of too low a temperature. On
works of this kind, the results can only pass into the the other hand, in the summer time, the ice near the
hands of a public “ fit but few." surface was warmer than that lower down, and the
The latest of these monographs is that of " The brine would be less saline, and consequently lighter in
Geese of Europe and Asia,” by Mr. S. Alpheraky, the upper layers than in the deeper, so that in the summer time the temperature reading would again
and the Russian naturalist is to be congratulated in be too low. The result drawn from the observations is
giving us the first detailed account of this interesting that the surface of the ice, in all months with the
and, we may say literally, confusing group of birds. single exception of June, is warmer than the air. The
It is an admirable treatise, full of research in field difference is greatest in December, amounting to
and museum, and the work of one who has carefully
studied the subject from all points of view. There 16° F. The surface of the ice, being covered, except
are twenty-four coloured plates by Mr. F. W. during a short time in summer, with snow, is pro
Frohawk, which are unfortunately only moderately tected from cooling by radiation upwards, and receives heat from the underlying warmer layers.
successful. Twenty-one of these represent the
This, no doubt, is the main factor in the explanation, though
different kinds of geese described by the author, and
for the most part the lithography is weak and hard, other causes are suggested by Prof. Mohn. The book contains also an account of the meteor
and evidently does not do justice to the artist's careful ological observations made during the sledge expedi
work; whilst the three plates representing the bills tion to Franz Josef Land in 1895-6. From this
of four various kinds are excellent, and will be of account we can quote only one remark, which illus
the greatest use both to sportsmen and naturalists in trates the determination of the leader of the expedi
the determination of species. The frontispiece to the tion to secure an unbroken series of observations.
work represents the assemblage of white-fronted and
red-breasted geese on a sandspit, and is from the “We had no lantern for the reading of the thermo
brush of Dr. Sushkin. The idea of movement exhibit. meter, and I tried in vain to construct one, which
ing the various attitudes into which these birds throw would not burn more oil than we could afford to use. But our eyes of course became gradually trained to
themselves is very fairly represented, but the technical see in the dark, and even in mid-winter, with no work of painting and the drawing of some of the moonlight, there was so much light reflected from wings, as well as the general composition, leave the snow that the column of the darkly coloured much to be desired. It seems a thousand pities that Metaxylol was dimly visible, and also the figures of chromolithography is a dying art, and that no firm the thermometer scale, but not the division marks.”
| in Europe is capable of turning out first-class work Dr. Nansen therefore apologises for the absence | except W. Greve, of Berlin. For all we know, these of the decimal reading, which is missing about the
drawings by Dr. Sushkin and Mr. Frohawk may time of new moon. The interest of the book is neces have been soft and truthful representations of nature, sarily largely centred in the fact that the crew of the
but here we only see hard and black lines such as Fram laboured so diligently and so well to overcome nature never shows. the difficulties that were imposed upon them by the Mr. Alpheraky is evidently a keen sportsman as situation in which they were placed. To go up to the
well as a good naturalist, and he rightly holds a crow's nest to take additional readings of the instru- high view of the remarkable intelligence of this class ments in dark, wintry weather seems to have been
of birds. a source of positive enjoyment to those who took part “Geese," he says, “afford one of the most ditficult in these observations.
kinds of fowling. However cunning man may be, he finds it extremely difficult to over-reach these wary To the oologist, too, the table and descriptions to be birds, and in some places one may see them in found on pp. 185-190, furnished by Mr. G. F. Göbel, hundreds of thousands for several weeks at a stretch
are of the most exact and comprehensive nature, and without the possibility of securing a single specimen. This is especially the case in thickly populated
the book is one that every working naturalist or wildregions, where the geese already know that danger
fowler should possess in his library, for it is by far may threaten them."
the best work that has as yet appeared on this interesting family of birds.
J. G. M. By this we know that the writer has toiled and suffered many disappointments. In certain British waters where for three seasons Brent geese were
THE ELECTRIC FURNACE. abundant we never obtained more than one good shot Le Four Électrique : son Origine, ses Transformations with the punt gun in a season. This was generally et ses Applications. By. Adolphe Minet. Ter Fasciat the commencement, when the birds arrived in late cule. Pp. 76. (Paris : Librairie Scientifique, October. After this date we could only “look” and A. Hermann, 1905.) Price 5 francs. ** long." Other species are equally cunning.
THE application of electric heating to various The key to genera, species, and subspecies with nietallurgical and other industries has of late which the author furnishes us is an excellent com
been making very rapid progress. The time seems, pilation, although he does not make clear the differ
therefore, to be well chosen for examining the various ence between species and subspecies. For instance, it
stages of development which the electric furnace has appears that full specific rank is accorded to Branta passed through. bernicia, Branta bernicla glaucogaster, and Branta
Branta M. Minet has taken great pains to collect together bernicia nigricans, the three varieties of the Brent goose as much as possible of the available information, and which visit our shores. If those which are furnished
which are furnished has certainly succeeded in producing an interesting with trinomial names are intended to be subspecies, study. Chronologically, he divides his subject into and it is a very doubtful point if they deserve even this three periods :-(1) laboratory furnaces (1808-1886); distinction, the author should say so in his table. ' (2) industrial furnaces (1886–1890); (3) development of Personally we do not think that there is any reason the industrial applications of the electric furnace from for separating these three well marked varieties. We 1890 to the present day. The furnaces themselves have killed all three from one flock, and visitors to are classified in nine groups, according to the function the northern breeding-places of these birds have also of the current and the method of its application. found all three, as well as intermediate forms, breed- | Any historical treatment of such a subject as this, ing together on the same ground. If such splitting which expects to be generally recognised as authoriwere to come into general use, endless new subspecies tative, demands very great care and judgment in its must be created amongst the goldfinches, crows, preparation. The present review certainly promises skuas, &c., and many other birds we could mention |
ace the slight local peculiarities of which afford small has yet received. points of distinction. Neither is the author consistent It is, however, not so clear that the author has in this respect, for he refuses to recognise “two geo succeeded in accentuating just those developments graphical races, much less two species,” of grey which have been of the greatest influence to the geese living in eastern and western areas, and also the general progress. There are no doubt difficulties in American and European forms of the white-fronted deciding between two such different claims as those goose as distinct. With regard to the bean goose, of a brilliant invention and of a painstaking scientific Mr. Alpheraky recognises three distinct races, investigation. The successful historian must, howA. segetum, the common bean goose, A. arvensis, ever, accurately estimate the value of each and decide which possesses white feathers at the base of the bill, on the relative merit according to the influence and the eastern bean goose, A. serrirostris, a bird | exerted by each upon subsequent development. described by Swinhoe, which is larger, dis- The classification of electric furnace processes is tinguished by its more massive bill. Another species complicated, not only by the large number of separate closely allied to the last named, namely, A. mentalis, cases which have to be considered, but more especially but which was first described by Przewalski in 1876, by the very different purposes for which the electric seems to be of very doubtful rank, and may be only current is applied. In the first place it is necessary a large form of the Siberian bean goose.
to distinguish between the purely electrothermal and In this excellent monograph the author gives us the electrolytic functions of the current. The latter all we wish to know about the difference of sexes, case embraces all such electrolytic methods as are gradual growth from nestling upwards, plumage carried out at a moderately high temperature. Here variation, moulting, local names, chase, and colour the electric current serves the double function of mainof the soft parts, the latter, perhaps, the most im- taining the necessary temperature and separating by portant point of all in the determination of species. electrolytic decomposition one or more of the conMany excellent outline figures of the bills are also stituents of the materials treated in the furnace. given, so that the reader has no difficulty in recog During recent years the most extensive developnising the differences of the various races even if he ments in electric furnace work have centred around feels inclined, as he must sometimes do, to question the production and application of extremely high the necessity of specific separation.
temperatures. The direct results of the scientific and