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- Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 140/157 -


These observations were taken by burying a brass tube two feet six inches to three feet deep, in exposed soil, and sinking in it, by a string or tied to a slip of wood, a thermometer whose bulb was well padded with wool: this, after a few hours' rest, indicates the temperature of the soil. Such a tube and thermometer I usually caused to be sunk wherever I halted, if even for one night, except during the height of the rains, which are so heavy that they communicate to the earth a temperature considerably above that of the air.

The results proved that the temperature of the soil at Dorjiling varies with that of the month, from 46 degrees to 62.2 degrees, but is hardly affected by the diurnal variation, except in extreme cases. In summer, throughout the rains, May to October, the temperature is that of the month, which is imparted by the rain to the depth of eleven feet during heavy continued falls (of six to twelve inches a day), on which occasions I have seen the buried thermometer indicating a temperature above the mean of the month. Again, in the winter months, December and January, it stands 5 degrees above the monthly mean; in November and February 4 degrees to 5 degrees; in March a few degrees below the mean temperature of the month, and in October above it; April and May being sunny, it stands above their mean; June to September a little below the mean temperature of each respectively.

The temperature of the soil is affected by:--1. The exposure of the surface; 2. The nature of the soil; 3. Its permeability by rain, and the presence of underground springs; 4. The sun's declination; 5. The elevation above the sea, and consequently the heating power of the sun's rays: and 6, The amount of cloud and sunshine.

The appended observations, though taken at sixty-seven places, are far from being sufficient to supply data for the exact estimation of the effects of the sun on the soil at any elevation or locality; they, however, indicate with tolerable certainty the main features of this phenomenon, and these are in entire conformity with more ample series obtained elsewhere. The result, which at first sight appears the most anomalous, is, that the mean temperature of the soil, at two or three feet depth, is almost throughout the year in India above that of the surrounding atmosphere. This has been also ascertained to be the case in England by several observers, and the carefully conducted observations of Mr. Robert Thompson at the Horticultural Society's Gardens at Chiswick, show that the temperature of the soil at that place is, on the mean of six years, at the depth of one foot, 1 degree above that of the air, and at two feet 1.5 degrees. During the winter months the soil is considerably (l degree to 3 degrees) warmer than the air, and during summer the soil is a fraction of a degree cooler than the air.

In India, the sun's declination being greater, these effects are much exaggerated, the soil on the plains being in winter sometimes 9 degrees hotter than the air; and at considerable elevations in the Himalaya very much more than that; in summer also, the temperature of the soil seldom falls below that of the air, except where copious rain-falls communicate a low temperature, or where forests interfere with the sun's rays.

At considerable elevations these effects are so greatly increased, that it is extremely probable that at certain localities the mean temperature of the soil may be even 10 degrees warmer than that of the air; thus, at Jongri, elevation 13,194 feet, the soil in January was 34.5 degrees, or 19.2 degrees above the mean temperature of the month, immediately before the ground became covered with snow for the remainder of the winter; during the three succeeding months, therefore, the temperature of the soil probably does not fall below that of the snow, whilst the mean temperature of the air in January may be estimated at about 20 degrees, February 22 degrees, March 30 degrees, and April 35 degrees. If, again, we assume the temperature of the soil of Jongri to be that of other Sikkim localities between 10,000 and 14,000 feet, we may assume the soil to be warmer by 10 degrees in July (see Tungu observations), by 8 degrees or 9 degrees in September (see Yeumtong); by l0 degrees in October (see Tungu); and by 7 degrees to l0 degrees in November (see Wallanchoon and Nanki). These temperatures, however, vary extremely according to exposure and amount of sunshine; and I should expect that the greatest differences would be found in the sunny climate of Tibet, where the sun's heat is most powerful. Were nocturnal or terrestrial radiation as constant and powerful as solar, the effects of the latter would be neutralised; but such is not the case at any elevation in Sikkim.

This accumulated heat in the upper strata of soil must have a very powerful effect upon vegetation, preventing the delicate rootlets of shrubs from becoming frozen, and preserving vitality in the more fleshy, roots, such as those of the large rhubarbs and small orchids, whose spongy cellular tissues would no doubt be ruptured by severe frosts. To the burrowing rodents, the hares, marmots, and rats, which abound at 15,000 to 17,000 feet in Tibet, this phenomenon is even more conspicuously important; for were the soil in winter to acquire the mean temperature of the air, it would take very long to heat after the melting of the snow, and indeed the latter phenomenon would be greatly retarded. The rapid development of vegetation after the disappearance of the snow, is no doubt also proximately due to the heat of the soil, quite as much as to the increased strength of the sun's direct rays in lofty regions.

I have given in the column following that containing the temperature of the sunk thermometer, first the extreme temperatures of the air recorded during the time the instrument was sunk; and in the next following, the mean temperature of the air during the same period, so far as I could ascertain it from my own observations.

SERIES I.--_Soane Valley_ --------------------------------------------------------------------- Locality Muddunpore Date Feb. 11 to 12 Elevation 440 feet Depth 3 ft. 4 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 71.5 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 62.0 to 77.5 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 67.0 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. +4.5 ----------------------------------------------------- Locality Nourunga Date Feb. 12 to 13 Elevation 340 feet Depth 3 ft. 8 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 71.7 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 57.0 to 71.5 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 67.3 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. 3.4 ----------------------------------------------------- Locality Baroon Date Feb. 13 to 14 Elevation 345 feet Depth 2 ft. 4 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 68.5 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 53.5 to 76.0 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 67.6 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. 1.9 ----------------------------------------------------- Locality Tilotho Date Feb. 15 to 16 Elevation 395 feet Depth 4 ft. 6 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 76.5 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 58.5 to 80.0 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 67.8 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. 8.7 ----------------------------------------------------- Locality Akbarpore Date Feb. 17 to 19 Elevation 400 feet Depth (2 therm.) 4 ft. 6 in. 5 ft. 6 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 76.0 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 56.9 to 79.5 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 68.0 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. 8.0 -----------------------------------------------------

SERIES II.--_Himalaya of East Nepal and Sikkim._ ------------------------------------------------------------------- Locality Base of Tonglo Date May 19 Elevation 3,000 feet Depth 2 ft. 0 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 78.0 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 67.5 to 67.0 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Locality Simsibong Date May 20 Elevation 7,000 feet Depth 2 ft. 0 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 61.7 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 59.0 to 59.5 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Locality Tonglo saddle Date May 21 to 22 Elevation 10,008 feet Depth 2 ft. 6 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 50.7* Extreme Temperature of Air observed 47.5 to 57.5 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 52.5 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. -1.8 ------------------------------------------------------------------- Locality Tonglo summit Date May 23 Elevation 10,079 feet Depth 2 ft. 6 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 49.7 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 47.5 to 53.2 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 52.5 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. -1.8 ------------------------------------------------------------------- Locality Simonbong Date May 24 Elevation 5,000 feet Depth 2 ft. 6 in. Temp. of sunk Therm. 69.7 Extreme Temperature of Air observed 51.2 to 55.5 Approximate Mean Temp. of Air deduced 52.5 Diff. between Air and sunk Therm. -1.8 ------------------------------------------------------------------- Locality Nanki


Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 140/157

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