Friday, October 25, 2019

Old School Snow Studies

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the October 1919 issue of Monthly Weather Review, which included a whole slew of short articles on snow and its impacts.  Lovers of snow and history can check it out at

Included is a map of the average annual snowfall of the United States, 1895–1914 by C. F. Brooks based on observations from 2,000 stations.  My view is it's a pretty good synthesis, especially over the eastern 2/3 of the U.S.  The "natural advantages" of the Cottonwood Canyons, remain undiscovered.

Source: Ward (1919)
There's also an article on a "improved form of snow sampler," which is basically a snow coring tube similar to those still in use today.

Source: Kadel (1919)
At the time, Monthly Weather Review often included abstract reprints from other journals.  The issue includes this synopsis of the snow climate of the European Alps by M. E. Benevent.
"The region naturally falls into two main subdivisions — the North-Alps, whose precipitation is controlled by oceanic influence, and the Southern Alps, controlled by Mediterranean influence.  
Well, that's a start. 

I wonder how scientists will look back on today's atmospheric research in 2119?  I suspect that most of our work, while enabling the progression of science to where it will be in 2119, will be subsumed by newer and better studies that build upon the knowledge we create today.  Scientists will look back and see the value, but only a small percentage of papers published today will have significant value.  If you think about it, that is actually a very optimistic view of the future of atmospheric research.  


  1. How was data from early stations collected and aggregated? Pretty incredible that they could come up with these sort of detailed maps using data entirely collected by hand!

    1. I have no idea. It is likely that it was collected and aggregated by mail. I seem to recall perusing old daily climate reports that are available online from this era. It would have been a major undertaking. The analysis itself (i.e., drawing the contours), would have been pretty easy compared to the data collection and aggregation.