Letter | Published:

Visible Wind


IN reference to the report published in NATURE of May 2, of the Royal Meteorological Society's “Celebrations,” including the interesting address by Prof. E. van Everdingen on “Clouds and Forecasting Weather,” may I be allowed to remind international meteorologists that in 1906, by official sanction in Great Britain, the status of “wind waves” was raised from that of a purely theoretical deduction to that of a normally observable natural phenomenon. “Wind waves” operating in the free and cloudless air are recognisable as such from among other sources of deformation of the definition of telescopic images. They are most adequately observable by means of a telescopic image of the sun projected for the purpose into a darkened room. Their approximately horizontal progressive wave-motions describe prevailing conditions of atmospheric stratification, wind directions, and turbulence above the place of observation always ahead of and generally many hours ahead of any visible formation of associated clouds. Thus the main objects of cloud-observation are obtainable by means of yet earlier observations of winds, up to all heights of known cloud formation, in any brief moment of sunshine, with the utmost ease and expedition. But Ruskin is aptly quoted by the writer of the report to the effect that “the meteorologist is impotent if alone.”

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