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Meteorological Notes

Nature volume 23, pages 183184 | Download Citation



FROM an able and temperately-worded article in the New York Nation on the Signal-Service Succession, it is plain that meteorology is in a critical position in the United States at the present moment. The whole question of the future of meteorology in that country practically turns on the sort of man who is to be appointed to succeed the late lamented Gen. Myer. As regards the bearing of the question on the promotion of the great financial, commercial, and educational concerns of the country, the writer of the article well puts it when he states that “it depends altogether on the future management of the office whether its activity shall be confined to a lifeless routine without any attempt to make new discoveries or introduce improved methods, or whether it shall be animated by that progressive spirit which will not be satisfied until every man within reach can be informed of coming meteorological changes as long in advance as it is possible for them to be foreseen.” To accomplish this end much more is needed than a most diligent discharge of the daily duties of the office, such as will put the public in possession of forecasts drawn up on the lines that have hitherto been followed in forecasting the weather. It was an essential feature of General Myer's procedure that in framing the forecasts in the office he confined himself simply to making the best use of what was already known of meteorology. But whilst this continued the practice of his office, he had the genius to see that if the system of forecasting weather is to make way it is absolutely indispensable to strike out entirely new lines of observation with the view of arriving at some positive knowledge of the great movements of the atmosphere and their determining causes. Hence his great scheme of International Meteorology, by which was secured one daily observation at the same physical instant, where possible, over the globe, and the regular publication of the monthly results in the U.S. Weather Maps, with which our readers are familiar. These admirable maps, together with the Weather Maps of the States themselves, published at intervals of eight hours through a period of ten years, now furnish a mass of material the value of which it is not possible to overestimate; and the adequate discussion of which, it may be very safely said, is the next great step to be taken by meteorology. This step it is in the power of the United States to take, and whether it be taken or not depends almost wholly on the character of the man who may be called to fill the place so suddenly left vacant by General Myer's premature decease. What, above all, is imperatively required, is a sympathy with science and workers in science, so strong and so decided that he will, without fail, enlist in the service of his country some of the best intellects who will give their time and their energies to work out the great problem of weather prognosis.

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