« PreviousContinue »
the 23 Japanese poachers who were arrested on Laysan Island in the act of killing birds was successfully prosecuted, the defendants being fined and imprisoned.
INSECTICIDE ACT. The appropriation for the enforcement of the insecticide act did not become available until March, 1911. During the last four months of the fiscal year several formal and informal opinions on the construction of important sections of the statute were rendered, general guaranties filed under section 9 of the act were examined, and considerable correspondence was had with wholesalers, jobbers, and dealers.
Nine applications for letters patent on inventions of employees of the department, for dedication to the public, were filed in 1910 and a like number in 1911. Of the pending cases 10 applications were allowed in 1911 as against 5 allowed and 1 disallowed in 1910. These inventions cover a wide range, including a plant-trimming machine, a process for wood impregnation, a camera support, a machine for testing the life of typewriter ribbons, devices for marking meats, and a method for constructing macadam roads.
In addition to a compilation of references to the legislative history of acts of Congress enforced by the department, for use in construing any of the provisions of such statutes, and a revision of the Laws Applicable to the Department of Agriculture, embracing a compilation of existing statutes applicable to this department, the Solicitor prepared 442 notices of judgment for publication under the authority of section 4 of the food and drugs act, and prepared 20 circulars embodying decisions of the courts construing statutes intrusted to the department for execution. There is also in preparation a supplement to the annotated edition of the 28-hour law, bringing the original edition up to date.
The foregoing summary of the legal business transacted by the Office of the Solicitor scarcely conveys an adequate idea of the volume and character of the work actually performed. An examination of the reports of the various United States attorneys for the fiscal year 1911, made to the Attorney General, shows that the legal business of this department has increased in volume and importance to a very marked degree during that period. These reports, of course, make no mention of the legal business of the department which is finally disposed of by this office, not being ultimately referred to the United States attorneys.
The work of the Weather Bureau during the year has been carried on along accustomed lines. Its practical operations have consisted in the collection and dissemination of weather information and the issue of forecasts and warnings, and its remaining energies have been devoted to the study of meteorological problems yet unsolved. The routine work has been characterized by extension into new fields wherever opportunity was offered, mainly in the fruit-growing districts of the West, where spring frost warnings have been distributed under a more specialized system. The marine work has been enlarged to include meteorological charts for the Great Lakes and the Indian Ocean, which were formerly not represented in the series of ocean meteorological charts. Studies of conditions in the upper atmosphere, of solar radiation, and of the effect of climate on forests and stream flow constitute the special investigations conducted by the bureau during the year.
STUDIES OF THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE.
Kite flights at the Mount Weather Observatory and sounding-balloon campaigns at Huron, S. Dak., and Fort Omaha, Nebr., during the year completed four consecutive years of kite and balloon records. The results obtained during the year have been highly satisfactory. There were three distinct branches of this investigation: (1) Soundings of the upper air over Mount Weather, Va., by means of kites and captive balloons; (2) soundings of the air at great altitudes by means of free balloons carrying meteorological instruments; and (3) a study of temperature and pressure changes in the lower layers of the air at summit and base stations in the mountains of Colorado.
The exploration of the atmosphere by means of sounding balloons has become an international work. While a matter of general scientific interest, its importance to the Weather Bureau naturally hinges on the expectation that the facts disclosed may eventually be utilized in the improvement of weather forecasts. The discovery of conditions in the upper atmosphere altogether different from those formerly supposed to exist has been described in previous reports. The most important of these discoveries is the existence of a region in which a fall in temperature with increasing altitude ceases to take place. This stratum is encountered between 6 and 7 miles above the earth's surface and continues upward to an indefinite height. It is usually referred to as “the upper inversion.” The most interesting facts regarding the upper inversion have to do with its variations in temperature and the movement of its winds.
Contrary to the order prevailing at the surface of the earth, the lowest temperatures of the upper inversion are found in equatorial regions and the highest in the middle latitudes. Furthermore, its temperature, while practically constant from season to season, varies greatly from place to place and from day to day. European investigations seem to show that the beginning of the upper inversion is found at a lower altitude over cyclonic than over anticyclonic areas, and that it is higher in summer than in winter. Observations in this country coincide with those in Europe as to the winter and summer heights, but are inconclusive respecting the supposed relation of its altitude to areas of differing atmospheric pressure.
Sounding balloon ascensions have added much to our knowledge of the temperature of the atmosphere up to heights of 9 miles, and even higher, but the number of ascensions above that altitude is yet small. The lowest temperature recorded in any of the Weather Bureau's series of observations is –92° F. at Huron, S. Dak., in September, 1910. The vertical distribution of temperature in different sections of cyclones and anticyclones presents at times unusual features, the importance of which will be realized when it is remembered that forecasts of temperature changes are at present based entirely upon prevailing surface temperatures without taking into account the possible modifying effects that unusual temperature conditions above may introduce later.
Equally interesting are the facts regarding wind direction and velocity in the upper atmosphere. Observations show that while the lower limit of the upper inversion is not sharply defined, the air motion in the explored part of that region partakes of and is to some extent controlled by that of the lower atmosphere on which it rests. At the same time it also appears that the gyratory motion of the air characteristic of cyclones at the earth's surface and for some distance above does not extend far upward. The general conclusions as to the winds in the upper inversion in their relation to those of the lower layers are that the air currents are from some northerly direction on the east side of anticyclones and from some southerly direction on the west side, and that under practically all other conditions the drift of the air at very high levels is from west to east.
The observations taken at mountain stations in Colorado show that variations in temperature at the summit and base stations are nearly coincident in point of time and that they are generally similarly directed, but that a fall in temperature occasionally sets in on the plains while the temperature on the mountain tops is still rising. At other times the weather conditions on the mountain summits have been controlled by causes that are not operative on the plains to the eastward. These studies have increased our knowledge of the effect of local topography in the warming and cooling of the air that is trapped between the mountain ranges.
Studies in solar radiation have been continued at Washington and at Mount Weather, and were begun at Madison, Wis., during the year. Arrangements are now being made for additional pyrheliometric observations at various points in the region west of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The most striking features of the record for the year were the high value of the radiation in February and March on the front of marked high barometric areas and the low value during the protracted hot wave in May.
It is believed that the determination of the intensity of direct solar radiation, of the quantity of heat received diffusely from the whole sky, and of the rate at which heat is lost at night, will not only be of value to climatologists generally, but will also be utilized by the weather forecaster. A demand has already been made by biologists for accurate data of this nature.
FORECASTS AND WARNINGS.
During the hurricane season of 1910, only two tropical storms of note visited the United States. That of September, 1910, moved from near San Juan, P. R., on the 6th to the Texas coast near the mouth of the Rio Grande on the 14th. Warnings were issued regularly until the storm disappeared. There was no loss of life nor was much damage done, except on the north coast east of San Juan. The hurricane of October was more severe, yet the damage was reduced to the minimum by timely warnings.
Plans are now under consideration for the systematic extension of the field of meteorological observation by means of cooperation between the Weather Bureau and the steamship lines equipped with wireless plying in Atlantic and southern waters, through which it is hoped to be able to locate hurricanes and other severe storms immediately following their inception.
Forecasts of the general character of the weather for a week in advance were issued weekly during the year. These, in the main, have proved reasonably accurate. The weekly forecast issued on August 21, 1910, announcing that a cool wave would pass over the country the latter part of the ensuing week, attracted special attention, and its complete verification called forth widespread and favorable comment.
These comparatively long-range forecasts are based on a study of the atmospheric conditions exhibited on the daily chart of weather observations for the Northern Hemisphere.
Special attention has been given to frost warnings in the spring, principally in the cranberry marshes of Massachusetts, in the citrusfruit districts of Florida, and in a number of the orchard sections of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and California. The plan of operations involves the closest cooperation possible between the Weather Bureau and the growers, through which the latter may be advised specifically as to the probable critical temperature and be in readiness to light smudge fires or adopt other protective measures on short notice.
By informal agreement with the Interior Department, the Weather Bureau was designated to ascertain and publish in the Monthly Weather Review the losses by floods in the United States. A summary of this character indicates that the losses during the year were about $7,700,000, of which more than three-fourths fell upon the farmers. The value of property saved through the warnings of the Weather Bureau was estimated at $1,047,000. The great disproportion between the losses and the value of property saved is due to the fact that three-fourths of the former were on crops that warnings could not have saved.
BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY.
The main lines of work carried on by the Bureau of Animal Industry are as follows: (1) Inspection of animals, meat, and meat food products intended for interstate movement or for export, and of the vessels carrying export live stock; (2) inspection and quarantine of imported animals; (3) control and eradication of contagious and infectious diseases of animals; (4) scientific investigation of such diseases; (5) investigations in the breeding and feeding of live stock and poultry; (6) work relating to the dairy industry; and (7) preparation of literature and diffusion of information on these subjects.
THE MEAT INSPECTION.
The meat inspection comprises the inspection of animals before and after slaughter, the supervision of all the processes of preparing meats and meat food products, the enforcement of sanitation and correct labeling, and the exclusion of harmful preservatives and coloring matters. It is carried on at slaughtering and packing establishments engaged in interstate or export trade.
The work continues to show an increase. Inspection was conducted during the fiscal year at 936 establishments located in 255 cities and towns. There were inspected at slaughter 52,976,948 animals, consisting of 7,781,030 cattle, 2,219,908 calves, 29,916,363 hogs, 13,005,502 sheep, and 54,145 goats. There were condemned for disease or other ynwholesome condition 117,383 entire carcasses and 1,009,672 parts of carcasses, making a combined total of 1,127,055 carcasses and parts that were condemned. The condemnations were as follows: