This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
As we recently noted, among the silliest of questions is that raised by some of the leading newspapers, Of what use are expeditions to the North Pole? No one knows of what use to humanity any new fact may be. One cannot go into any unknown region, or enter any unknown field of research without stumbling on some new fact. What use we make of this new fact we cannot tell till we get it. As regards Arctic research theprobabilities in favor of useful facts are greater than we might expect from any other part of the world. Our climate depends wholly on these Arctic wastes. Did they not exist, the Northern United States might be but a desert waste. The heated moisture of the tropics is forced to rise by the pressure of the heavier cold waves from the Arctics, and the condensation of the moisture by the meeting of the warm and cold currents gives us our rains and snows. It is of immense importance, especially to us as cultivators to know all about the weather. We all know how great has been the advantage to us of even the daily prognostications ; how much more should we be benefited if we could see for a week or a month ahead. We do know now the main principles of climate, and the great relation which these ice fields bear to it.
There is nothing improbable in that when we shall know more of them in detail we shall be able to get this exact knowledge. Even this present season, with its mild winter so far, was clearly foreseen when earlier it came to our knowledge from some of the Arctic expeditions, that the great ice fields had pressed much further westerly than usual. The natural consequence of this must be that the warmer atmosphere of the Gulf Stream would also press further west than usual, following the retreat of the ice, and necessarily modify the usual severity of winter.
It is just in this direction that we have to collect the exact facts on which to build a true science in meteorology.
The signal officer well sets forth in this report the value of this Arctic knowledge. He says:
" The study of the weather in Europe and America cannot be successfully prosecuted without a daily map of the whole northern hemisphere, and the great blank space of the Arctic region upon our simultaneous international chart has long been a subject of regret to meteorologists. I was, therefore, pleased to have an opportunity, with your permission, to carry out the promises of my predecessor, and to co-operate with the International Committee on Polar Research, which has during the past two years organized a system of stations in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
"These stations will conduct simultaneous hourly or bi hourly observations in meteorology, magnetism, and tides, and special observations on gravity, auroras, earth currents, earthquakes, etc. The general object is to accomplish by observations made in concert at numerous stations, such additions to our knowledge as cannot be acquired by isolated or desultory traveling parties. No special attempt will be made at geographical exploration, and neither expedition is in any sense an attempt to reach the North Pole. The single object kept in view is to elucidate the phenomena of the weather and the magnetic needle, as they occur in America and Europe, by means of observations taken in the region where the most remarkable disturbances seem to have their origin".