Friday, June 7, 2013

Flashback to 1910 - the Indian Monsoon and ENSO

Sou | 1:36 AM One comment so far. Add a comment

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Saturday 8 October 1910

 (W. G. P.) 


Although no comprehensive law of periodicity has yet achieved acceptance, there is no doubt as to the periodic change of climate within given areas, and it can usually be seen that in some way long and short periods are superposed. A recent report of the Indian Meteorological Department gives some interesting data. Since 1894 the monsoon in north-west India has shown a marked weakness. This is a matter of vital importance, inasmuch as it is upon the monsoon that the rainfall depends. Careful examination shows a tendency during the past 30 years (a) for rainfall to increase to a maximum between 1892 and 1894; (b) for it to sink to a minimum in 1889. Similarly in the Nile there was a rise to a maximum in 1892-4, followed by a rapid fall in 1899, from which time until 1906 deficiency prevailed, while in 1908 there was a great improvement. The work of the Solar Physics Observatories shows how deep-seated are the causes of these variations. Thus it is proved that when in any year the pressure over South America is in excess that over India is deficient, and conversely the monsoon rainfall in India tends to be abundant when pressure is high over the Argentine.

Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker

Source: Indian Meteorological Dept.
Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker, CSI, FRS, (14 June 1868 – 4 November 1958) was a British physicist and statistician of the 20th century. He is best known for his groundbreaking description of the Southern Oscillation, a major phenomenon of global climate, and for greatly advancing the study of climate in general.

He was born in Rochdale, Lancashire on 14 June 1868, the fourth of seven children of Thomas Walker and Charlotte Haslehurst. He attended Whitgift School and St Paul's School, gained a degree in Metallurgy from Imperial College London and attended Trinity College, Cambridge where he was Senior Wrangler in 1889.[1][2]

Walker was an established applied mathematician at Cambridge University when he become director-general of observatories in India in 1904.[2] While there, he studied the characteristics of the Indian Ocean monsoon, the failure of whose rains had brought severe famine to the country in 1899. Analyzing vast amounts of weather data from India and lands beyond, over the next fifteen years he published the first descriptions of the great seesaw oscillation of atmospheric pressure between the Indian and Pacific Ocean, and its correlation to temperature and rainfall patterns across much of the Earth's tropical regions, including India. He is also worked (sic) with the Indian Meteorological Department especially in linking the monsoon with Southern Oscillation phenomenon. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Star of India in 1911.[2]

Source and more information in Wikipedia.

A nice paper on Sir Gilbert was written by Richard W. Katz for the journal Statistical Science.  Both the Walker Circulation and the Yule-Walker Equations are named for him.

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