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ENLARGED SERIES.—NO- 10.—VOL. FOR 1841. 4 O

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649

Climate And Soil Of The Falkland Islands.By Lieut. B. J. Suli

van, R.N.

The following observations on the climate of the Falkland Islands were made during the six months from October to March.

We arrived at Berkley Sound on the 15th of October, at the close of a week's severe gales and bad weather, which we partly felt the two previous daysoff the island; the wind being southerly brought heavy showers of hail and sleet, during which the thermometer fell to 34°, its highest range being about 38°; the barometer ranging from 29-70 to 30-10.

From the 15th to the 25th the weather was beautifully fine and clear; the wind very variable, but generally from the north-west,occasionally as it drew to the eastward it brought a slight drizzling rain, but that only happened two or three times. The thermometer ranged between 40° and 50°, and the barometer from 30-10 to 30-35. On the 25th it blew a fresh gale from the north-east with rain, the barometer, which had been falling for two days, being down to 29-55; in the evening it fell calm, and remained so during the night, the barometer still continued to fall, and on the morning of the 26th it blew slightly from the north-east again; with thick rain, but during the middle of the day and the evening, it was calm; during the night a breeze sprung up from south-west; and on the morning of the 27th it blew a hard gale, the barometer, which had fallen to 29-18 beginning to rise. The gale continued throughout the 28th, 29th, and 30th, but remained quite moderate during the nights, which, with few exceptions, is the case with all the gales at these islands. The squalls of wind accompanied by hail and sleet were very frequent, the thermometer ranging from 39° to 45°. On the 31st the weather was again beautifully fine, the barometer having risen to 30-00, and the thermometer during the day being as high as 53°.

During the sixteen last days of October, there were eleven perfectly fine days, without a strong breeze, and scarcely a shower of rain; it blew a fresh gale from the north-east for one day, and the remaining four days a strong gale from the south-west, but the nights were all fine. The north-east wind was accompanied with drizzling rain, and the south-west wind with showers of hail and sleet.

From the 1st to the 13th of November we had continued fine weather, without a gale or a single rainy day, the barometer for several days being above 30-00, and once as high as 30-36: it fell to 29-60 on one day, but without bringing more than a fresh northerly breeze. The wind generally drew round to the eastward in the afternoon, and brought a little mist, and (if it remained easterly any time) drizzling rain; but directly it drew to the north-west it became beautifully fine; the southerly wind brought a few slight showers of sleet.

On the 13th there was a decided change, and from that day to the end of the month, we had very bad weather; the gales were very frequent, and generally commenced at north-east, drawing round and blowing hard from the north-west, and then to south-west, some of the squalls from the south-west being furious; the nights were nearly all fine and very clear, the gale generally freshening again after sunrise, and dying away at sunset.

ENLARGED 8ERIES.—NO. 10.—VOL. FOR 1841. 4 O

During the month of November there were twenty days of moderate weather, and ten days on which it blew a gale of wind, four days of of which were very heavy: with the exception of a few slight showers, there were only seven days on which rain fell, and not one day's continued rain during the month. On the two last days of the month, the southerly wind drew to the south-east, and was accompanied by heavy showers of sleet and snow, which entirely covered the ground at night, and did not thaw till the middle of the day, and that only on the low land. On the hills at the height of about 800 feet it remained throughout the day ; the sun between the showers was sometimes very powerful, the thermometer being as high as 60°. The barometer during the latter part of the month, was much lower than before, being from 29-20 to 29-80, hut seldom above 29-50. The change of weather was similar to the commencement of winter in England, and it was difficult to suppose that the summer was coming on.

The month of December was far more severe than even November; during the three first days the frequent showers of sleet and snow made it very cold; the thermometer being as low as 38", and seldom above 45°. The hills were entirely covered with snow for four days, and on the low land it did not thaw for many hours after the sun rose. From the officers of the Sparrow I learnt that they had not more severe weather, during the previous winter; at the settlement they had it even worse than it was with us; the snow being so thick as to require sweeping away from the doors of the houses; this must be owing to its situation in the centre of several ranges of hills: more rain also falls there than on the low land to the southward of the high range; but much less rain falls than is generally supposed, for I think I have never known less in any part of the world, except the plains of Patagonia. During the whole month it only rained on seven days, and not one day would have been considered in England a rainy day; but there were only eleven days on which it did not blow a gale of wind, and few of those eleven days were without a strong breeze; out of the twenty days of gales, three or four were very furious, and equalled a winter's storm in England; but nearly every night was beautifully fine. The northeast winds were much more frequent than I expected, and we had two fresh gales from that quarter, accompanied by thick rain, but they drew round to the north-west in a few hours. Directly the wind draws to the north-west the weather becomes very fine, and the atmosphere particularly clear. As the gales go to the south-west they bring showers of rain and sleet, and sometimes heavy hail showers; hut the sun is generally so bright and clear between these showers that every thing dries as fast as it gets wet: with the north-west winds the dryness of the air is extraordinary, so much so that sails perfectly wet would often dry within an hour, and that early in the morning before the sun had any power. The mornings were often very heavy and gloomy, but directly the sun was a little above the horizon, and the breeze sprung up, it became beautifully clear, unless the wind was from the eastward of north.

The month of January was very little finer than December: it blew a gale of wind sixteen days out of the thirty-one, and a strong breeze on eight of the remaining ones, leaving only seven days of moderate weather, but with only one or two exceptions the nights were all beautifully fine. Only one gale was very heavy, but several others were strong ones. There were only two days with continued rain with a north-east wind, but even those were partly fine; on nine other days it rained occasionally, generally in heavy showers, some of which wer? hail; the showery weather occurred when it blew hard from south-west. The prevailing winds were westerly and south-westerly, but on the fine days it generally went round the compass, and finished in the afternoon with a light breeze from the eastward. The general range of the thermometer was from 50° to 60°, but on one or two occasions it fell to 44°, and rose to 65°, and once or twice as high as 67°, which was the highest we ever had it; but when out of the wind the sun felt very powerful, and numerous small streams and ponds were dried up. With the exception of the frequent gales, I think it would be impossible to find a more beautiful climate than we experienced this summer. I had not the slightest idea that such dry weather could have been met with at the Falklands, and I think it might even have proved too dry for crops, if the land was in cultivation, as the wet from every shower was instantly dried up, and did not appear to moisten the gronnd at all, and on several occasions I walked three or four miles without finding any water, or any appearance of moisture; but there were many small water courses which were dry, though by the marks of the cattle they must have been constant streams during the winter. The barometer during the month generally ranged from 29-30 to 29-70, and never once rose above 30-00, though it twice fell below 29-00, the lowest being 28-94, but on neither of these occasions did the gale which followed, blow as hard as it had often done when the barometer was not near so low; it never blew strong from the north-east during the month of January, the gales commenced at north-west and drew round to south-west, but not suddenly;—occasionally the wind died away from north-west in the evening, and commenced blowing from the south-west the next morning.

The month of February commenced with a week's heavy gales, which did not as usual die away at night, but continued blowing from the south-west almost without intermission; they were accompanied by heavy showers of rain and hail, between which the sun was very bright, and in hollows sheltered from the wind its rays were very powerful. This gale seemed very different from those that we usually experienced, the barometer was down to 29-27 when it commenced at south, without having blown strong from the north-west. The barometer did not as usual rise rapidly as it freshened from the south, but fluctuated between 29-30 and 29-45 during the two days it blew hardest, after which, as it became more moderate, it rose as high as 29-75, but again fell on the seventh day, after which, we had a fresh gale from north-west; on the 15th, 20th, and 25th, we had very heavy gales, the two latter from the north-west, and they did not as usual end in a gale from southwest. Neither of these gales were preceded by any great fall of the barometer, more particularly that on the 20th, for several days previous it had been between 30-00 and 30-20, and it only fell to 29-80; after it commenced blowing hard on the 25th, the barometer which had previously stood at 29-70, fell to 29-50, but again rose as the gale

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