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經濟學人: 冬季的天氣--雪(2)

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Monster snowstorms interest Mr Wood, too, such as the great white hurricane of 1888, during which hundreds of people in the north-eastern United States died of hypothermia. Paralysing winter storms were disasters for cities like New York and Philadelphia, which initiated their own local “arms race against nature”, experimenting with crude ploughs to clear streets and with substances from cinders to grape extract and salt to de-ice them. Snow also spurred the development of subway systems that burrowed beyond the reach of winter weather.

伍德先生也對巨大的暴風雪產生了興趣,比如1888年的白色颶風,當時美國東北部有數百人死於體温過低。對於紐約和費城這樣的城市來説,冬季風暴是能引發癱瘓的災難,當地為此發起了“與自然的軍備競賽”。人們試驗用粗糙的犁清理街道,用煤渣、葡萄提取物和鹽等物質除冰。降雪還刺激了地鐵系統的發展,政府在冬季天氣影響不到的地方挖掘地鐵系統。

The atmospheric forces that created such blizzards remained unknown until Ooishi Wasaburo, another Japanese scientist, discovered chaotic eddies in the upper atmosphere, now known as the jet stream, in the 1920s. When the frigid jet stream bumps hard against humid air generated by the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, meteorological mayhem results. Given the complexity of the atmosphere—and the spotty nature of the available data on it—snow forecasting will always remain an inexact science, Mr Wood contends.

人們對於造成如此巨大的暴風雪的大氣力量一直未知,直到另一位日本科學家大石和三郎於20世紀20年代發現了高層大氣中的混亂漩渦(現在稱為急流)。寒冷的急流猛烈撞擊大西洋灣流產生的潮濕空氣會引發氣象災害。伍德認為,鑑於大氣的複雜性和大氣現有數據的不確定性,降雪預測將永遠是一門不精確的科學。

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His scattershot chapters touch on the impact of erratic snowfall on the water crisis in California and on winter fun everywhere. He offers some frustratingly disjointed speculation about how climate change will alter future snowfalls. The short answer is that there will probably be more snow in places where humidity increases, and less where temperatures become too high to sustain it.

伍德書中的零散章節談到了不穩定的降雪對加州水危機以及各地冬季樂趣的影響。針對氣候變化將如何改變未來的降雪,他提出了一些令人沮喪的不連貫的推測。簡而言之,在濕度增加的地方可能會有更多的降雪,在温度過高而無法維持太多濕氣的地方,降雪量可能會減少。

And he reflects, if briefly, on snow’s delights and peculiar allure. Why do people either love it or hate it? Many long for it, Mr Wood proposes, because of the splendid isolation that it enforces. As with the pandemic, a white-out can be overwhelming. It can also direct attention inward, and help people return to themselves.

而且,即使雪很短暫,伍德也還是思考了雪的樂趣和獨特的魅力。為什麼人們對雪有愛有恨?伍德先生認為,許多人熱愛雪是因為雪能夠讓他們與世隔絕。就像新冠疫情一樣,暴風雪可能勢不可擋。雪還可以讓人們專注內心,幫助人們迴歸自我。

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pandemic [pæn'demik]

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adj. 全國流行的 n. (全國或全世界範圍流行的)疾

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humidity [hju:'miditi]

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n. 濕度,濕氣

 
atmospheric [.ætməs'ferik]

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adj. 大氣的,大氣層的,製造氣氛的

 
overwhelming ['əuvə'welmiŋ]

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adj. 勢不可擋的,壓倒的

 
unknown ['ʌn'nəun]

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adj. 未知的,不出名的

 
complexity [kəm'pleksiti]

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n. 複雜,複雜性,複雜的事物

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disjointed [dis'dʒɔintid]

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adj. 脱節的,雜亂的 動詞disjoint的過去式和

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available [ə'veiləbl]

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adj. 可用的,可得到的,有用的,有效的

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inexact [.inig'zækt]

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adj. 不精確的,不準確的

 
hurricane ['hʌrikən]

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n. 颶風,颶風般猛烈的東西
adj.

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