The Atmospheric Environment

The Atmospheric Environment

The Atmospheric Environment

The Atmospheric Environment

Excerpt

Throughout his history, man has found it necessary to adapt to his atmospheric environment. His diet, his raiment and shelter, his production methods, and even the color of his skin were the adaptive mechanisms. Farmers and mariners developed considerable intuition with respect to those changes in the transient states of the climate which we call the weather. Many cultures, including the Hebrew, thought weather and climate to be governed by supernatural forces and sought to influence them through appeals to divine intervention. The ancient Greeks began the development of what we would now call scientific theories. The word climate comes from the Greek word klima, which means inclination. The Greeks thought that the primary influence on climate was the inclination of the sun, and they divided up the world into zones on that basis.

In 1845 Alexander von Humboldt gave a general definition of climate that reflected a broadened, modern point of view and is therefore still useful. He referred to climate as "designating in its general sense all changes in the atmosphere which sensibly affect our organs: the temperature, the humidity, the changes in barometric pressure, the calms or the effect of the different winds, the electrical field, the purity of the atmosphere or its contamination with more or less gaseous exhalations; finally the degree of the usual transparence and clearness of the sky which is not only important for the increased heat radiation of the soil but also for the well-being and moods of humans. . . ."

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