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Article

Chinese Meteorology During World War II  

Fang-yu Liu

Meteorology and military activities in China were closely interrelated during World War II. When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, the Nationalist government, under ferocious assault by the Japanese military, withdrew deep into the Chinese interior. Meteorological research organizations and the air force also relocated to Sichuan, the latter setting up weather stations in the southwest and the northwest and reorganizing the armed forces’ meteorological intelligence system while the former made use of the resulting meteorological data to research various weather phenomena in western China, thereby shifting the focus of meteorology in China away from the coastal regions. However, by the start of World War II, aviation had already become an important means of waging war, and high-altitude weather data was highly sought after as military intelligence. Consequently, after instigating the war, Japan extended its meteorological stations in northwest China, engaged in high-altitude surveying and observation, and created an information system between the Japanese home territory and colonies. Japanese analysis of the resulting weather data maintained the safety of flight routes and was used for formulating military strategy. The Chinese government, in contrast, having recently relocated and with a weak air force, lacked the power to expand research on aeronautical meteorology during the initial phase of the war. It was not until after becoming allied with the United States in December 1941 that the government was able, with American technical support, to begin expanding meteorological observation posts and conducting high-altitude surveying and observation. Moreover, the inauguration of flights over the aerial supply route known as the Hump resulted in the discovery of the jet stream over the towering mountain ranges of southwestern China. World War II opened up the Chinese interior for meteorological research and, as a result of military applications, brought about greater understanding of high-altitude meteorology.

Article

Aetna, Latin didactic poem by unknown poet, 1st half of 1st cent. CE  

Liba Taub

Aetna, of unknown authorship, is an example of Latin didactic poetry. It aims to explain the volcanic activity of Mt. Etna (see Aetna (1)). The poem, included in the so-called Appendix Vergiliana, is ascribed to Virgil in our earliest manuscripts and included amongst his juvenilia by the Vita Donati, where, however, doubt is expressed about its authenticity. Few, if any, would now maintain this ascription or any of the other attributions that have been suggested. The poem predates the eruption of Vesuvius in 79ce, for it describes the volcanic activity of the Naples region as extinct. It is generally agreed to postdate Lucretius, and it likely alludes to Virgil and M. Manilius. Because of its resemblances to Seneca’s Natural Questions, and because Seneca himself shows no knowledge of the poem, a late-Neronian or Vespasianic date is perhaps probable, but an earlier date cannot be ruled out.Ancient authors tended to focus on particular examples of volcanic activity instead of generalizing about a broader category. Nevertheless, the devotion of an entire work to Aetna seems to have been unprecedented. The Aetna poet offers an explanation of the volcano as a purely natural phenomenon.

Article

The Role of the American Meteorological Society in Climate Science  

Keith L. Seitter

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) is one of the premier international scientific societies covering the atmospheric and related sciences and has been for over 100 years. Throughout its history, the AMS has organized scientific meetings and conferences that have supported the discussion and debate of topics in climate science (as well as other topics in the atmospheric and related sciences) and has used its publications to disseminate the scientific results of those working in climate science. AMS publications have been especially important in providing information to the entire scientific community on major global research programs. Since 1995, AMS has collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to publish an annual “State of the Climate” report that chronicles Earth’s changing climate, and since 2011, the AMS has published an annual series that assesses extreme events from a climate perspective. The position of the AMS on scientific and policy issues is provided by periodic statements issued by the AMS, and many AMS statements have addressed issues related to climate, including the human influence on climate change. While the official AMS position on climate change has been consistent with the scientific consensus, the AMS has provided a platform for challenges to the consensus, as long as those challenges meet an adequate threshold of scientific rigor, which fosters debate that advances the science further. The AMS also works to reduce the politicization of climate science and has consistently maintained a strong position on the integrity of science. Throughout, the AMS has served as a trusted resource for policymakers and the public on climate science and aspects of global change.

Article

The History of Synoptic Meteorology in the Age of Numerical Weather Forecasting  

Kristine C. Harper

Despite some early attempts in the 19th century, national weather services did not regularly create forecasts for public consumption until the early 20th century, and many of those were based on a handful of surface observations of dubious quality. With the invention of the balloon-borne radiosonde in the 1930s, upper-air observations became more common, and knowledge of upper-level processes was melded into forecasting practice. World War II brought its own challenges and opportunities, expanding the number of trained meteorologists worldwide, establishing many new observing stations in tropical and high-latitude locations, and opening the possibility of using radar to identify short-range severe weather. But the big change was the development of digital electronic computers, and with them the opportunity to calculate the weather. The first efforts were marginal at best, but international teams in the United States and Sweden continued their efforts, and by the late 1950s, midatmospheric prognosis charts were being transmitted to forecast offices, which would prepare the final local forecasts. Unfortunately for the synoptic forecasters in the field offices, the new objective numerical weather prediction (NWP) products were not comparable to the old subjective forecast charts that they had used for years. The resulting push and pull between the atmospheric modelers and the synoptic meteorologists ultimately changed both groups: the atmospheric modelers used forecaster feedback to upgrade the models, and the synoptic meteorologists learned to use the objective forecasts. The anticipated improvements in weather forecasting, however, did not follow immediately. As the decades passed, computing power increased and the introduction of satellites with multiple specialized sensors, purpose-built weather radar, and other remote sensing devices increased the availability of ground and upper-air data. As a result, more variables and the physics that defined them were added to NWP models, and the resulting products changed the way synoptic meteorologists made their forecasts, even if they did not change their feel for the atmosphere. Those changes continued into the 21st century, fueling the desire for specialized forecasts from multiple interest groups and the public’s desire for accurate, up-to-the-minute weather forecasts that extend up to 2 weeks into the future.

Article

A History of Institutional Meteorology in the Philippines, 1865–1972  

Kerby C. Alvarez

Meteorology, as a science that has colonial roots, was cleverly devised to advance and increase the capabilities of colonies to be more beneficial for the state and the public. Its character as a public science was a by-product of a profusion of necessities—commercial demands , disaster mitigation mechanism, and scholarly pursuits. The Philippine experience in the development of meteorology is reflected in the institutional progress of the Observatorio Meteorológico de Manila (OMM) and the Philippine Weather Bureau (PWB). Originating as an atmospheric observation facility of the Jesuit professors at a burgeoning secondary school in Manila in 1865, it was absorbed and expanded by various state regimes in the Philippines for governmental programs and activities. The OMM’s and PWB’s scientific activities offered a form of public engagement and service under the pretext of various state projects instigated by the Spanish, American, and Japanese regimes, as well as the postwar-era Filipino governments. Essentially, these regimes used meteorological science to harness the benefits of modern weather forecasting to serve imperial programs in various fields—from trade, shipping, and agriculture to civilizational and war efforts. In congruence with the period of birth and formation of the Philippine nation, the institutional development of meteorological science accorded further intricacies to an already convoluted national narrative. The project of a state bureaucracy with proactive Filipino presence and participation coincided with the development of meteorology as a primordial agent of scientific development.

Article

History and Importance of Mountain Observatories in Alpine Climate  

Elke Ludewig

Mountain observatories have played an important role in developing scientific research since the 18th century. These alpine observatories have been used by numerous scientists who have carried out a wide range of investigations, and have thus been able to establish significant meteorological findings. They were established to better understand atmospheric properties, such as dynamics, and are now used for climate and environmental science in addition to astronomy. The data measured at mountain observatories provide information on the climatic conditions of certain alpine regions and show that even more high-altitude stations are needed to better understand climatic and environmental changes in the 21st century.

Article

The Atmosphere of Uranus  

Leigh N. Fletcher

Uranus provides a unique laboratory to test current understanding of planetary atmospheres under extreme conditions. Multi-spectral observations from Voyager, ground-based observatories, and space telescopes have revealed a delicately banded atmosphere punctuated by storms, waves, and dark vortices, evolving slowly under the seasonal influence of Uranus’s extreme axial tilt. Condensables like methane and hydrogen sulphide play a crucial role in shaping circulation, clouds, and storm phenomena via latent heat release through condensation, strong equator-to-pole gradients suggestive of equatorial upwelling and polar subsidence, and the formation of stabilizing layers that may decouple different circulation and convective regimes as a function of depth. Phase transitions in the watery depths may also decouple Uranus’s atmosphere from motions within the interior. Weak vertical mixing and low atmospheric temperatures associated with Uranus’s negligible internal heat means that stratospheric methane photochemistry occurs in a unique high-pressure regime, decoupled from the influx of external oxygen. The low homopause also allows for the formation of an extensive ionosphere. Finally, the atmosphere provides a window on the bulk composition of Uranus—the ice-to-rock ratio, supersolar elemental and isotopic enrichments inferred from remote sensing, and future in situ measurements—providing key insights into its formation and subsequent migration. As a cold, hydrogen-dominated, intermediate-sized, slowly rotating, and chemically enriched world, Uranus could be the closest and best example of atmospheric processes on a class of worlds that may dominate the census of planets beyond our own solar system. Future missions to the Uranian system must carry a suite of instrumentation capable of advancing knowledge of the time-variable circulation, composition, meteorology, chemistry, and clouds on this enigmatic “ice giant.”

Article

History of the Sciences in Argentina: From Paleontologists to Psychiatrists, 1850s to 1910s  

Carlos S. Dimas

Following independence in the early 19th century Argentina went through decades of internal political and social turmoil. During this time the sciences traversed a dormant period and operated at the amateur level, such as through collectors and hobbyists. Beginning in the 1850s and continuing through the 1860s, many of Argentina’s internal problems eroded. The newly consolidated state undertook a process of extending its influence throughout the nation and fostering a closer and collaborative association with the nation’s interior to foster national unity. Under the banner of ‘civilization, order, and progress’, ruling liberal elites looked for ways to herald social and economic development. The sciences, through practice and institutionalized places, played a critical role for the state. By the beginning of the 20th century, the state had invested in scientific ventures into Patagonia and other areas of the nation to collect and catalogue materials, such as fossils and plants, and had supported the construction of museums to display scientific collections to the public as a means to develop a national identity. Beyond museums and naturalists, the state financed the maturation of the medical sciences to respond to the waves of epidemic diseases that assaulted the nation and the numerous regional endemic diseases that elites presented as evidence of underdevelopment, such as malaria in the northwest and recurrent cholera and smallpox outbreaks throughout the nation. Fields such as meteorology and engineering provided the physical infrastructure to further integrate the nation, through railroads, the standardization of national time, and a space for local Argentine scientific actors to establish national and international careers. With the increased professionalization of numerous scientific fields, the bond between the state and scientists matured. Many used this as a platform to enter into politics, such as Eduardo Wilde, hygienist and Minister of the Interior. Others provided their services to the state to form public policy, as happened for example with the work of psychiatrists, criminologists, engineers, and hygienists. Collectively, these fields demonstrated that the sciences witnessed significant growth into the first quarter of the 20th century.

Article

wind  

Liba Taub

In classical times, wind was in some cases understood to be a god, or as being under the influence of a god; it was understood by some to be a phenomenon liable to prediction and/or explanation as a natural (often regarded as seismic) phenomenon. Wind was important for navigation, agriculture and town planning, as well as managing health and disease.Wind, and both its beneficial and destructive powers, features importantly in the earliest Greek texts. Individual winds are themselves gods, or associated with gods. The epic poets offer names for several specific winds: Boreas (the north wind; Op. 505–518), Notus (south), and Zephyrus (west) are described by Hesiod as sons of Astraeus and Eos (Theog. 378–380; see also 869–880), while a fourth wind, Eurus, also features in the Homeric poems (Od. 5.295); other, unnamed winds are also mentioned. Such conceptions of wind pervaded Graeco-Roman popular culture. Aristotle refers to painters’ depictions of wind (Mete.

Article

Viennese School of Climatology  

Christa Hammerl

Vienna was a metropolis in the middle of the Danube monarchy of Austria-Hungary and under the rule (1848–1916) of Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830–1916) the city experienced rapid growth and an unprecedented flowering of culture, the arts, architecture and science. The capital of the monarchy, an intellectual melting pot, was a city of distinguished personalities who formed the Second Viennese School of music, the Austrian School of economic thought and many more doctrines, including the ideas of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Vienna clearly reflected the zeitgeist of the fin de siècle in its economic, scientific, and cultural heyday. At the end of the 19th century, meteorology and climatology became recognized scientific disciplines, and dynamical meteorology developed during the first quarter of the 20th century. The fact that imperial Austria took a leading position in these developments mostly owes to the work of renowned scientists of the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, ZAMG) in Vienna. The institute was founded in 1851, and the astronomer Karl Kreil (1798–1862) became the first director. One of Kreil’s goals was to ensure that both the central meteorological station and the growing number of new meteorological stations across the entire territory of the Austrian Empire were equipped with all the appropriate instruments. Another important goal was the processing of the existing observations to publish in the institute’s yearbooks. In truth, that was the starting signal for all further scientific developments, including that of the Viennese School of Climatology. During the first decade of the 1900s, Julius Hann (1839–1921), the third director of the ZAMG, was already being acknowledged as a renowned meteorologist and climatologist. He was a pioneer in gathering and synthesizing global climatological and meteorological data, and his Handbook of Climatology (Handbuch der Klimatologie; Hann, 1883 [Hann, J. (1883). Handbuch der Klimatologie. Stuttgart, Germany: J. Engelhorn]) and Textbook of Meteorology (Hann, 1901 [Hann, J. (1901). Lehrbuch der Meteorologie. Leipzig, Germany: C. H. Tauchnitz]) were standard setters (Davies, 2001 [Davies, H. C. (2001). Vienna and the founding of dynamical meteorology. In C. Hammerl, W. Lenhardt, R. Steinacker, & P. Steinhauser (Eds.), Die Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik 1851–2001: 150 Jahre Meteorologie und Geophysik in Österreich (pp. 301–312). Graz, Austria: Leykam Buchverlagsgesellschaft]). In Hann’s era, one began to speak of a “Viennese or Austrian school.” Heinrich Ficker, who later became director of the institute, defined its distinguishing characteristic as a school that did not simply adhere to one direction but promoted each direction, every peculiar talent, and the ideas that a meteorologist with necessary characteristics was always present at key turning points in meteorological research.

Article

Russian Meteorological Investigations in China in the 19th Century  

Tatiana Feklova

The history of the Russian Magneto-Meteorological Observatory (RMMO) in Beijing has not been extensively researched. Sources for this information are Russian (the Russian State Historical Archive, Saint Petersburg Branch of the Archive of the Academy of Sciences, Russian National Library) and Chinese (the First Historical Archive of Beijing, the Library of the Shanghai Zikavey Observatory) archives. These archival materials can be scientifically and methodologically analyzed. At the beginning of the 18th century, the Russian Orthodox Mission (ROM) was founded in the territory of Beijing. Existing until 1955, the ROM performed an important role in the development of Russian–Chinese relations. Russian scientists could only work in Beijing through the ROM due to China’s policy of fierce self-isolation. The ROM became the center of Chinese academic studies and the first training school for Russian sinologists. From its very beginning, it was considered not only a church or diplomatic mission but a research center in close cooperation with the Russian Academy of Sciences. In this context, the RMMO made important weather investigations in China and the Far East in the 19th century. The RMMO, as well as its branch stations in China and Mongolia, part of a scientific network, represented an important link between Europe and Asia and was probably the largest geographical scientific network in the world at that time.

Article

History of the Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus  

Irina Danilovich, Raisa Auchynikava, and Victoria Slonosky

The first weather observations within the modern territory of Belarus go back to ancient times and are found as mentions of weather conditions in chronicles. Hydrometeorology in those times was not a defined science but connected to the everyday needs of people in different regions. In the period from 1000 to 1800, there were first efforts to document outstanding weather conditions and phenomena. They are stored in chronicles, books, and reports. The first instrumental observations started in the early 1800s. They have varying observing practices and periods of observations. The hydrometeorological network saw the active expansion of observations in the following century, but the network was destroyed at the beginning of the civil war (1917–1922). Five years later, hydrometeorological activity resumed, and the foundation of meteorological services of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was initiated. The next years saw a complicated Belarusian hydrometeorological service formation and reorganization. The meteorological bureau was formed in 1924, and this year is considered the official date of the Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus foundation, despite multiple changes in title and functions during its course. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945) people’s courage and efforts were directed to saving the existing network of hydrometeorological observations and providing weather services for military purposes. The postwar period was characterized by the implementation of new methods of weather forecasting and new forms of hydrometeorological information. Later decades were marked by the invention and implementation of new observational equipment. The Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus in this period was a testing ground within the Soviet Union for the development of meteorological tools and devices. The current Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus is described as an efficient, modern-equipped, and constantly developing weather service.

Article

History of Typhoon Science  

Aitor Anduaga

A typhoon is a highly organized storm system that develops from initial cyclone eddies and matures by sucking up from the warm tropical oceans large quantities of water vapor that condense at higher altitudes. This latent heat of condensation is the prime source of energy supply that strengthens the typhoon as it progresses across the Pacific Ocean. A typhoon differs from other tropical cyclones only on the basis of location. While hurricanes form in the Atlantic Ocean and eastern North Pacific Ocean, typhoons develop in the western North Pacific around the Philippines, Japan, and China. Because of their violent histories with strong winds and torrential rains and their impact on society, the countries that ring the North Pacific basin—China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan—all often felt the need for producing typhoon forecasts and establishing storm warning services. Typhoon accounts in the pre-instrumental era were normally limited to descriptions of damage and incidences, and subsequent studies were hampered by the impossibility of solving the equations governing the weather, as they are distinctly nonlinear. The world’s first typhoon forecast was made in 1879 by Fr. Federico Faura, who was a Jesuit scientist from the Manila Observatory. His brethren from the Zikawei Jesuit Observatory, Fr. Marc Dechevrens, first reconstructed the trajectory of a typhoon in 1879, a study that marked the beginning of an era. The Jesuits and other Europeans like William Doberck studied typhoons as a research topic, and their achievements are regarded as products of colonial meteorology. Between the First and Second World Wars, there were important contributions to typhoon science by meteorologists in the Philippines (Ch. Deppermann, M. Selga, and J. Coronas), China (E. Gherzi), and Japan (T. Okada, and Y. Horiguti). The polar front theory developed by the Bergen School in Norway played an important role in creating the large-scale setting for tropical cyclones. Deppermann became the greatest exponent of the polar front theory and air-masses analysis in the Far East and Southeast Asia. From the end of WWII, it became evident that more effective typhoon forecasts were needed to meet military demands. In Hawaii, a joint Navy and Air Force center for typhoon analysis and forecasting was established in 1959—the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Its goals were to publish annual typhoon summaries and conduct research into tropical cyclone forecasting and detection. Other centers had previously specialized in issuing typhoon warnings and analysis. Thus, research and operational forecasting went hand in hand not only in the American JTWC but also in China (the Hong Kong Observatory, the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau), Japan (the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center), and the Philippines (Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration [PAGASA]). These efforts produced more precise scientific knowledge about the formation, structure, and movement of typhoons. In the 1970s and the 1980s, three new tools for research—three-dimensional numerical cloud models, Doppler radar, and geosynchronous satellite imagery—provided a new observational and dynamical perspective on tropical cyclones. The development of modern computing systems has offered the possibility of making numerical weather forecast models and simulations of tropical cyclones. However, typhoons are not mechanical artifacts, and forecasting their track and intensity remains an uncertain science.

Article

Atmospheric Circulation on Venus  

Masaru Yamamoto

Venus is a slowly rotating planet with a thick atmosphere (~9.2 MPa at the surface). Ground- and satellite-based observations have shown atmospheric superrotation (atmospheric rotation much faster than solid surface rotation), global-scale cloud patterns (e.g., Y-shaped and bow-shaped structures), and polar vortices (polar hot dipole and fine structures). The Venusian atmospheric circulation, controlled by the planet’s radiative forcing and astronomical parameters, is quite different from the earth’s. As the meteorological data have been stored, understanding of the atmospheric circulation has been gradually enriched with the help of theories of geophysical fluid dynamics and meteorology. In the cloud layer far from the surface (49–70 km altitude), superrotational flows (east-to-west zonal winds) exceeding 100 m/s and meridional (equator-to-pole) flows have been observed along with planetary-scale brightness variations unique to Venus. The fully developed superrotation, which is ~60 times faster than the planetary rotation, is maintained by meridional circulation and waves. For the planetary-scale variations, slow-traveling waves with stationary and solar-locked structures and fast-traveling waves with phase velocities of around the superroational wind speeds are dominant in the cloud layer. Thermal tides, Rossby waves, Kelvin waves, and gravity waves play important roles in mechanisms for maintaining fast atmospheric rotation. In the lower atmosphere below the cloud layer, the atmospheric circulation is still unknown because of the lack of global observations. In addition to the limited observations, the atmospheric modeling contributes to deep understanding of the atmospheric circulation system. Recent general circulation models have well simulated the dynamical and thermal structures of Venus’s atmosphere, though there remain outstanding issues.

Article

meteorology  

Liba Taub

Greco-Roman meteorology included the study of what we today consider to be atmospheric, astronomical, and seismological phenomena; wind, rain, comets, and earthquakes were subjects of meteorological study, as were many other phenomena. For the most part, those authors and texts that treated meteorology were not concerned with weather prediction but rather with explaining phenomena. Various philosophers, including the Presocratics, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Epicurus, as well as other philosophically-minded authors such as Lucretius and Seneca, approached the topic from the standpoint of their own interests, including ethics as well as physics. The traditional gods were not wholly absent from philosophical accounts, but they were not thought responsible for weather. Various authors and texts addressed weather prediction, providing lists of weather signs. Ancient Greco-Roman meteorology and weather prediction were both characterized by conservatism and a valorization of tradition, but nevertheless permitted a degree of innovation and originality.

“Meteorology” strictly means “the study of things aloft,” but the term was widely used in antiquity to cover the study of what might now be called meteorological phenomena, as well as comets (today treated as astronomical) and phenomena on and within the earth itself, such as tides and earthquakes (the latter now described as “seismological”). The Homeric and Hesiodic poems describe meteorological phenomena as linked to gods, often as epiphanies. The long-lived authority of the poets on meteorological topics is attested by many quotations and allusions in the writings of later authors, even in prose works on meteorology. Notwithstanding this, later Greek and Roman thinkers offered explanations of meteorological phenomena with no mention of gods.

Article

Effects of Meteorological and Air Pollutant Factors on the Deaths from COVID-19 in Chinese Cities: A Spatial Panel Data Analysis  

Faysal Mansouri and Zouheir Mighri

Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Its human-to-human transmission was confirmed on January 20, 2020 and rapidly escalated into a global pandemic. Coronavirus exponential spread has caused overwhelming challenges to global public health and left households and businesses counting huge economic losses. These unprecedented global circumstances have forced policymakers to work under bilevel pressure: implement successful containment strategies and in the meantime get society and the economy to a new normal path—in other words, a trade-off between successful containment strategy and optimal reopening strategy. As the pandemic evolves, a growing public and academic debate has taken place on the likelihood of the influence of meteorological factors as well as pollution elements on COVID-19 cycle. This potential association between meteorological factors and COVID-19 spread inevitably shapes containment strategies and social and economic reopening policy options. An important growing literature has investigated this relationship using various statistical tools and approaches. Indeed, several researchers have attempted to provide evidence of statistical correlation between meteorological conditions as well as and air pollution factors and COVID-19 reported deaths? Several studies have analyzed the association between meteorological factors and the spread of COVID-19 in local, regional, and global frameworks. A particular focus has been made on the identification of factors that might have impact on COVID-19 mortality rate as well as on the acceleration of diffusion of infection, for various countries including China.

Article

climate  

Ruben Post

The climate of the Mediterranean is defined by hot summers and mild, wet winters; high inter-annual variability; and strong seasonal winds. These characteristics impacted numerous aspects of life in the classical world, most notably agriculture and seafaring. The Greeks displayed a strong interest in climatic patterns beginning with Hesiod, and between the Archaic and Roman periods, Graeco-Roman intellectuals developed increasingly complex theories and models to explain them. Natural philosophers also posited that climatic conditions determined human characteristics, such as intelligence and behaviour.The dramatic increase of interest in and evidence for pre-modern climate change in the 21st century has revolutionised our understanding of climatic shifts in antiquity. While the scope and nature of ancient climatic developments are disputed, some major trends and their possible societal impacts have emerged as topics of interest, most notably the late Bronze Age–Iron Age climatic downturn, the “Roman Climatic Optimum,” and the “Late Antique Little Ice Age.”agricultureclimate changedeterminismgeographyhistory of environmentmeteorologynatural philosophyseafaringwindThe Mediterranean ClimateThe climate of the Mediterranean is generally characterised by dry, hot summers; rainy, mildly cool winters; relatively short transitional periods between these seasons in spring and autumn; and a high degree of interannual variability in precipitation.

Article

Zhu Kezhen 竺可楨 (1890–1974)  

Iwo Amelung

Zhu Kezhen (1890–1974), also known as Chu Coching, was a Harvard-educated meteorologist who worked in the field of climate sciences in China from 1918 to 1974. He was highly regarded under vastly different political regimes. His concerns regarding the development of observatory networks, educational practices, and the establishment of research topics reflect the development of the field in China, which only began at the very end of the 19th century. Zhu Kezhen was influenced by the meteorological and climate knowledge imparted to him by his academic teachers in the United States and appropriated Ellsworth Huntington’s ideas on climate determinism, which shaped some of his fundamental concerns. One of his main achievements was to make use of a wide array of observational and other data in order to contribute to the “localization” of climate science. In fact, employing data culled from traditional sources and making use of and expanding the phenological knowledge of traditional Chinese rural society allowed him to approach climate science in a way that was not easily possible in the West. Zhu’s research into historical climate change in China embodied many aspects of his approach to the localization of science in China, but changes in the international scientific network (from an American-European to a Soviet-dominated network) and the political turmoil in the People’s Republic of China greatly impaired his work. Zhu’s research remains highly influential and has exerted considerable influence on environmental and climate history.

Article

Meteorological History and Historical Climate of China  

Jie Fei

The Chinese meteorological records could be traced back to the oracle-bone inscriptions of the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 bc–c. 1046 bc). For the past 3,000 years, continuous meteorological records are available in official histories, chronicles, local gazetteers, diaries, and other historical materials. Ever since the Qin Dynasty (221–207 bc), precipitation reports to the central government were officially organized; however, only those of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912 ad) are extant, and they have been widely used to reconstruct precipitation variability. Modern meteorological knowledge began to be introduced in China during the late Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 ad). Modern meteorological observation possibly began in the 17th century, whereas continuous meteorological observation records go back to the mid-19th century. Previous researches have reconstructed the chronologies of the temperature change in China during the past 2,000 years, and the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age were identified. With regard to precipitation variability, yearly charts of dryness/wetness in China for the past 500 years were produced. Several chronologies of dust storm, plum rain (Meiyu), and typhoon were also established. Large volcanic eruptions resulted in short scale abrupt cooling in China during the past 2,000 years. Climatic change was significantly related to the war occurrences and dynastic cycles in historical China.

Article

The “Arid Sertões” and the Climate Issue in the 19th-Century Brazilian Empire  

Gabriel Pereira de Oliveira

Brazil is the fifth-largest country on the planet, and about 90 percent of its territory is located within the tropics. This makes Brazil the largest tropical country and the most biodiverse on Earth. Especially since its process of state building in the 19th century, the image of the Brazilian nation has been intensely associated with the ideal of an exuberant and sumptuous nature, a land of fertility and abundance, like the Amazon rainforest. However, within this gigantic and diverse territory, there were many areas that differed from that nation ideal, like the semi-arid zone located mainly in the countryside of the region that from the middle of the 20th century became known as the Brazilian Northeast. Integrating this semi-arid zone - that is considered the largest tropical dry forest in South America - into the nation project headed by the Imperial Court in Rio de Janeiro was an important challenge in the construction of Brazil in the 19th century. The climate issue was a decisive key to guiding this process. Although the famous drought in 1877 still frequently appears as the starting point for the importance of the political debate on the semi-arid climate in Brazil, the relations between climate and power in this territory were made earlier. Since the beginnings of the Brazilian Empire in the 1820s, for example, policies to deal with these climatic phenomena were decisive to articulate the power between local elites and the empire. These policies were transformed from occasional succors like groceries especially to water reservoirs after the 1840s. Handling the rainless climate would be crucial to uphold the imperial order in that semi-arid territory. The empire sought to have control not only over the people but also over the weather. However, this relationship between the empire and the “arid hinterland” took shape within the political and environmental Brazilian puzzle at that time, rather than a mere imposition from the court.