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The Royal Institution of Cornwall


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  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

The annual meting of the institution above was held at it’s museum, Truro, at noon on Friday, 25 November 1853,

It is quite interesting to read their musings on the climate of the Scilly Isles as reported in the Royal Cornwall Gazette

Climate of Scilly, &c. — Dr. Barham said, as the paper just read was partly on meteorological subjects, he might be allowed to refer to rather singular event, in the meteorological department since this Society's last meeting. The amount of rain in the last quarter of 1852, as Mr. Edmonds observed, was quite unprecedented. In the month of November alone 11 or 12 inches of rain fell; probably the largest amount in a similar period since observations had been instituted here. The two months October and December were not quite so rainy; but still they were also very much above the average.

In the spring of this year there was the unusual occurrence of a very late severe Frost, — one more severe than we had had for many years at that period of the year. To those two occurrences, the very heavy rains and then a sharp frost, he was disposed to attribute the abundance of fruit this year. He thought that if the rain had not been followed by severe cold, there would have been a very early growth, and then that sort of nipping in April or May to which trees that begun to bad very early in the year were constantly subject.

But this year, in consequence of continued frost, the trees had a thorough rest; and though the period of summer was comparatively short and there was no excessive heat, still we had a tolerable harvest generally, and a very large produce of fruit.— Dr. Barham went on to say that since the last meeting of this Institution, he had had placed in his hand's, through the kindness of Mr. Augustus Smith, some observations made in the Scilly Islands during the last 12 or 13 years., kept and registered in the form now exhibited, and apparently with great care and regularity. Unfortunately the thermometers ware not self-registering instrument..

The observations that had been made, with thermometer and barometer, were on the wind and state of the weather at the hours of 3 and 9 a.m., and at 3 and 9 p.m. Taking 3 a.m. to be very near the period when the lowest temperature occurs, he thought he might make use of these observations as equivalent to the use of a self-registering instrument.

His attention was called to the climate of Scilly a few year, ago— he believed in 1842 — when observation, were simultaneously made with self- registering instruments for about 15 month.. Regular observations were then made by a gentleman resident at Scilly and these were the only accurate observations on the climate of Scilly that he had been able to find. At that time, patting those observations together, and comparing the climate of Scilly and of the shores of Mount's Bay with that of ether parts of England, he found a very remarkable difference of temperature. The elevation of temperature in the Scilly Islands throughout the year they could not at that time account for, either by the simple fact of their being islands, or by the little difference of latitude. In particular, the temperature at night was very much higher than that at Penzance.

The results of those observations were laid down in a chart (which Dr. Barham exhibited) which would show how remarkable that temperature was, and bow much the temperature of Scilly rose above that at Truro, Exeter, Greenwich, and other places; the lowest night temperature at Scilly running nearly equal to the higher day temperature at Truro and Exeter and other places. These circumstances induced him to wish to get a more extended series of observations from the Scilly Islands ; but he had given up the wish as hopeless, when Mr. Augustus Smith, with whom he had had some conversation on the subject, fancied same observations had been made at St. Agnes light-house, and on inquiry he found that this was the case; and the Trinity Board bad very kindly put them into his (Dr. Barbara's) hands.

He had not had time thoroughly to investigate the matter; but he believed the result of those observations would fully bear out what might have been anticipated from his more limited observations.—Dr. Barham here exhibited tables for each month in three years, 1850, 51, and 52, of the lowest night temperature, and of the mean lowest night temperature at Guernsey ,Scilly, Truro, Exeter, and Greenwich ; observing with reference to Guernsey, that it was so considerably warmer than Jersey, although nearly adjacent, that .Mr. Glaisher, who was charged with that department of the Meteorological Society ,had , in his Quarterly Reports, placed those two islands under different climates. Guernsey was the warmest climate they bad in reference to the district under consideration, except Scilly, which, in every instance of comparison, showed a temperature considerably higher than that of Guernsey.

He intended to draw out the results for the whole 13 years ; but taking the present tables as a fair specimen, be had no doubt that the temperature of the Scilly Islands was very remarkably high, from some exceptional cause. That cause he believed to be, what Mr. Whitley had dwelt on to -some extent — the current of hot water from the Gulf stream coming up to Scilly, a. had been repeatedly proved by substances washed ashore which had been found to have come from the Gulf of Florida.

The temperature of Scilly was also remarkably equable ; the days were not comparatively hot ; indeed, ho found that sometimes at 3 a.m. the temperature was higher than at 9 a.m ; but of coarse that was not generally the case. There was, however, very much less difference between the temperature of day and of night than elsewhere ; and that variance was also less in between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. There was a uniformly high temperature. He thought this fact was so marked with reference to climate that, whether they considered it with regard to particular kinds of disease, or to the growth of certain plants, the climate of Scilly was well worthy attention ; and the inquiry into the results he had referred to was well deserving the consideration of this Institution. He had a strong impression that the climate of Scilly would be found a very desirable one to be resorted to by particular classes of invalids, and that it was also suited to the naturalising of various delicate plants. — in reply to Mr. R. W. Fox, Dr. Barham said that, in regard to temperature, Falmouth differed but slightly from Truro. At Penzance there had been of late years a great want of observations. Some years since, observations were conducted regularly by the Geological Society ; and, at that time the difference of climate between Penzance and Scilly was observed to be very trifling.

Sir C. Lemon said that a great number of Cactus plants given him by Mr. Smith, from Scilly, would not grow at Carclew. Dr. Barham added that, finding the elevation of night temperature to be so very striking, he had asked Mr. Smith to look, himself, at the instruments used there and to the mode in which they were exposed, and the way in which the entries were made. He supposed the Trinity Beard, seeing the importance of the subject, had taken measures for that purpose; bat, to make sure, Mr. Smith would take an opportunity of looking at the instruments.


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