Indian Rainfall Statistics


SEVERAL correspondents in the Times and elsewhere have lately complained regarding the class of information furnished by the Government of India with reference to the famine. One of them pointed out that while the Indian official Gazette is filled with tables of food-prices, and other statistics, there seems to be no attempt to deduce the real significance of those figures, nor are any data of comparison offered by which the public might make deductions for themselves. I have just come across a very glaring instance of this. The Indian rainfall having been discussed a good deal this summer in your columns, I heard with some rejoicing that a long list of returns had been given in the Indian Gazette for stations in Madras and Bombay. The returns purport to bear upon the variation of rainfall in tropical India with reference to the cycle of sun-spots. As an old resident in Madras and Hyderabad, I think it would be difficult to produce a series of figures more irrelevant or more misleading with regard to the matter in hand. So far as I understand your articles, it s alleged that of the six famines in Southern India since 1810, five were caused by great droughts at the periods of minimum, sun-spot frequency. It also seems to be alleged by you that the rainfall at Madras itself follows a cycle curiously coincident with the eleven-year cycle of sun-spots. These are two propositions distinct in themselves, and either of them is well worthy of investigation by the Meteorological Reporter to the Government of India.

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Indian Rainfall Statistics. Nature 16, 519–520 (1877).

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