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A System of Meteorological Observations in the China Seas


    IN a recent article in NATURE we referred to the proposal to establish an observatory at Hongkong under the superintendence of Major Palmer, R.E., and expressed a hope that Mr. Hart, of the Chinese Maritime Customs, would be successful in his efforts for the establishment of a number of meteorological stations along the coast of China. The China seas, on account of their numerous currents and destructive, typhoons, are especially dangerous to shipping, and the value, in a material sense, of a thorough and accurate series of observations of this kind can hardly be overrated. Moved by these considerations, the Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce, the most numerous and influential foreign mercantile body in the Far East, has taken the matter in band, and at a recent meeting, reported in the Celestial Empire, discussed “the feasibility of organising a system of meteorological reports from the China coast and the interior, with the view of improving the knowledge of the origin and direction of storms, and warning mariners of their approach.” The Chamber wisely consulted the Reverend Father Dechevrens, director of the Jesuits' Observatory at Siccawei, not far from Shanghai, who recommended that the object of the system should be twofold:—(1) To give shipmasters a sufficient knowledge of the meteorology of Chinese and Japanese waters to enable them at all times, and especially at critical moments, to recognise the best routes to follow in order to reach their destinations as speedily as possible, and emerge with credit from storms which they have been unable to avoid; and (2) to give vessels about to leave the port notice of the winds and weather they will probably meet during the subsequent twenty-four hours. The Siccawei Observatory will be able to accomplish both these ends, provided it receives the co-operation of the various shipmasters resorting to the coast of China. It is recommended that every vessel should be provided with a register in which at stated intervals during the day the conditions of the barometer and thermometer, the direction and force of the wind, and the quantity of rain are accurately recorded. In addition to these the various lighthouse keepers and officers at Custom stations along the coast should keep a similar register. The director of the observatory will have in these numerous observations a basis on which to work, and his investigations and the result will be made public as widely as possible.

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