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periods. In consequence of this variation, and also in cousequence of the covering up of the bottom of the sea by the detritus of the land, the surfaces of equal temperature within the earth are continually changing their form, and exposing thick beds near the exterior to alterations of temperature. The expansion and contraction of these strata may form rents and veins, produce earthquakes, determine volcanic eruptions, elevate continents, and, possibly, raise mountain chains."
The numerous vents for the internal heat formed by volcanoes, hot springs, and the emission of steam, so frequent in volcanic regions, no doubt maintain the tranquillity of the interior fluid mass, which seems to be perfectly inert unless when put in motion by unequal pressure.
But, to whatever cause the increasing heat of the earth and the subterranean fires may ultimately be referred, it is certain that, except in some local instances, they have no sensible effect on the temperature of its surface. It may therefore be concluded that the heat of the earth, above the zone of uniform temperature, is entirely owing to the sun.
The power of the solar rays depends much upon the manner in which they fall, as we readily perceive from the different climates on our globe. Although the sun is about three millions of miles nearer to the earth in winter than in summer, his rays strike the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere so obliquely that it absorbs a much greater quantity of heat than when they are more direct (N. 217). Indeed it is so great that, when the sun has an altitude of 30°, one half of his heat is absorbed by the atmosphere, and it increases very rapidly as he sinks towards the horizon. However, that heat is not lost : it is most beneficial to the earth, being really the heat which supplies the greatest part of that which is radiated into space during the absence of the sun. Professor Dove has shown, by taking at all seasons the mean of the temperatures of points on the earth's surface diametrically opposite to each other, that the average temperature of the whole earth's surface in June, when we are farthest from the sun, considerably exceeds that in December, when we are nearest to him, owing to the excess of water in the southern hemisphere, and that of land in the northern, which gives a general insular climate to the former, and a continental climate to the latter.
The observations of the north polar navigators, and those of
Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope, show that the direct heating influence of the solar rays is greatest at the equator, and that it diminishes gradually as the latitude increases. At the equator the maximum is 4830, while in Europe it has never exceeded 2940.
M. Pouillet has estimated with singular ingenuity, from a series of observations made by himself, that the whole quantity of heat which the earth receives annually from the sun is such as would be sufficient to melt a stratum of ice covering the whole globe 46 feet deep. Part of this heat is radiated back into space; but by far the greater part descends into the earth during the summer, towards the zone of uniform temperature, whence it returns to the surface in the course of the winter, and tempers the cold of the ground and the atmosphere in its passage to the ethereal regions, where it is lost, or rather where it combines with the radiation from the other bodies of the universe in main
taining the temperature of space. The sun's power being greatest between the tropics, the heat sinks deeper there than elsewhere, and the depth gradually diminishes towards the poles; but the heat is also transmitted laterally from the warmer to the colder strata north and south of the equator, and aids in tempering the severity of the polar regions.
The mean heat of the earth, above the stratum of constant temperature, is determined from that of springs; and, if the spring be on elevated ground, the temperature is reduced by computation to what it would be at the level of the sea, assuming that the heat of the soil varies according to the same law as the heat of the atmosphere, which is about 1° of Fahrenheit's thermometer for every 333.7 feet. From a comparison of the temperature of numerous springs with that of the air, Sir David Brewster concludes that there is a particular line passing nearly through Berlin, at which the temperature of springs and that of the atmosphere coincide; that in approaching the arctic circle the temperature of springs is always higher than that of the air, while, proceeding towards the equator, it is lower.
Since the warmth of the superficial strata of the earth decreases from the equator to the poles, there are many places in both hemispheres where the ground has the same mean temperature. If lines were drawn through all those points in the upper strata of the globe which have the same mean annual tempera
ture, they would be nearly parallel to the equator between the tropics, and would become more and more irregular and sinuous towards the poles. These are called isogeothermal lines. A variety of local circumstances disturb their parallelism, even between the tropics.
The temperature of the ground at the equator is lower on the coasts and islands than in the interior of continents; the warmest part is in the interior of Africa; but it is obviously affected by the nature of the soil, especially if it be volcanic.
Much has been done to ascertain the manner in which heat is distributed over the surface of our planet, and the variations of climate, which, in a general view, mean every change of the atmosphere, such as of temperature, humidity, variations of barometric pressure, purity of air, the serenity of the heavens, the effects of winds, and electric tension. Temperature depends upon the property which all bodies possess, more or less, of perpetually absorbing and emitting or radiating heat. When the interchange is equal, the temperature of a body remains the same; but, when the radiation exceeds the absorption, it becomes colder, and vice versa. In order to determine the distribution of heat over the surface of the earth, it is necessary to find a standard by which the temperature in different latitudes may be compared. For that purpose it is requisite to ascertain, by experiment, the mean temperature of the day, of the month, and of the year, at as many places as possible throughout the earth. The annual average temperature may be found by adding the mean temperatures of all the months in the year, and dividing the sum by twelve. The average of ten or fifteen years will give it approximately; for, although the temperature in any place may be subject to very great variations, yet it never deviates more than a few degrees from its mean state, which consequently offers a good standard of comparison. As a standard, however, much greater accuracy is required.
If climate depended solely upon the heat of the sun, all places having the same latitude would have the same mean annual temperature. The motion of the sun in the ecliptic, indeed, occasions perpetual variations in the length of the day, and in the direction of the rays with regard to the earth; yet, as the cause is periodic, the mean annual temperature from the sun's motion alone must be constant in each parallel of latitude; for it is
evident that the accumulation of heat in the long days of summer, which is but little diminished by radiation during the short nights, is balanced by the small quantity of heat received during the short days in winter, and its radiation in the long, frosty, and clear nights. In fact, if the globe were everywhere on a level with the surface of the sea, and of uniform substance, so as to absorb and radiate heat equally, the mean heat of the sun would be regularly distributed over its surface in zones of equal annual temperature parallel to the equator, from which it would decrease to each pole as the square of the cosine of the latitude; and its quantity would only depend upon the altitude of the sun and atmospheric currents. The distribution of heat, however, in the same parallel, is very irregular in all latitudes except between the tropics, where the isothermal lines, or the lines passing through places of equal mean annual temperature, are more nearly parallel to the equator. The causes of disturbance are very numerous; but such as have the greatest influence, according to M. de Humboldt, to whom we are indebted for the greater part of what is known on the subject, are the elevation of the continents, the distribution of land and water over the surface of the globe exposing different absorbing and radiating powers; the variations in the surface of the land, as forests, sandy deserts, verdant plains, rocks, &c.; mountain-chains covered with masses of snow, which diminish the temperature; the reverberation of the sun's rays in the valleys, which increases it; and the interchange of currents, both of air and water, which mitigates the rigour of climates; the warm currents from the equator softening the severity of the polar frosts, and the cold currents from the poles tempering the intense heat of the equatorial regions. To these may be added cultivation, though its influence extends over but a small portion of the globe, only a fourth part of the land being inhabited.
Temperature decreases with the height above the level of the sea, as well as with the latitude. The air in the higher regions of the atmosphere is much cooler than that below, because the warm air expands as it rises, by which its capacity for heat is increased, a great proportion becomes latent or absorbed, and less of it sensible. A portion of air at the surface of the earth whose temperature is 70° of Fahrenheit, if carried to the height of two miles and a half, would expand so much that its temperature
would be reduced 50°; and in the ethereal regions the temperature is 239° below the zero point of Fahrenheit.
The height at which snow lies perpetually decreases from the equator to the poles, and is higher in summer than in winter; but it varies from many circumstances. Snow rarely falls when the cold is intense and the atmosphere dry. Extensive forests produce moisture by their evaporation; and high table-lands, on the contrary, dry and warm the air, because the air at great elevations is too rare to absorb much of the sun's heat. In the Cordilleras of the Andes, plains of only twenty-five square leagues from their extent raise the temperature as much as 30 or 4° above what is found at the same altitude on the rapid declivity of a mountain, consequently the line of perpetual snow varies according as one or other of these causes prevails. Aspect in general has also a great influence; yet the line of perpetual snow is much higher on the northern than on the southern side of the Himalaya, partly because the air is nearly deprived of its moisture by precipitation before it arrives at the northern side of the mountains. On the whole, it appears that the mean height between the tropics at which the snow lies perpetually is about 15,207 feet above the level of the sea; whereas snow does not cover the ground continually at the level of the ocean till near the north pole. In the southern hemisphere, however, the cold is greater than in the northern. In Sandwich Land, between the 54th and 58th degrees of latitude, perpetual snow and ice extend to the sea-level; and in the island of S. Georgia, in the 53rd degree of south latitude, which corresponds with the latitude of the central counties of England, perpetual snow descends even to the level of the ocean. It has been shown that this excess of cold in the southern hemisphere cannot be attributed to the winter being longer than ours by 7 days. It is probably owing to the open sea surrounding the south pole, which permits the icebergs to descend to a lower latitude by 10° than they do in the northern hemisphere, on account of the numerous obstructions opposed to them by the islands and continents about the north pole. Icebergs from the Arctic seas seldom float farther to the south than the Azores; whereas those that come from the south pole descend to as low a latitude as that of the Cape of Good Hope.
The influence of mountain-chains does not wholly depend upon the line of perpetual congelation. They attract and condense