Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lewis and Clark slip through climatic window to the West

14.09.2004


They hadn’t planned it, but Meriwether Lewis and William Clark picked a fine time for a road trip when they set out to find a water route across the American Northwest two centuries ago.



Leading a small group of explorers, known as the Corps of Discovery, Lewis and Clark experienced favorable climatic conditions from 1804 to 1806 in search of an inland "Northwest Passage," according to a Georgia State University professor.

The timing of the trip was crucial because had the pair embarked just a few years earlier or later, the results of the journey – and subsequent U.S. expansion into the West – might have altered the historical outcome.


"Although the Corps of Discovery did have a few weather setbacks, such as a wet winter at Ft. Clatsop and some deep snowpack on their return trip, overall they traveled across the new frontier at an opportunistic time – four years after and two years before a major drought," says Georgia State University geography professor Paul A. Knapp. "Had the expedition encountered such a drought, their journey might have been significantly different."

"The Corps of Discovery suffered tremendously from want of food and a balanced diet," says Knapp. Even during an ideal climatic window, food was sometimes painfully scarce – and nowhere was the problem more acute than when crossing the Lolo Trail in the fall of 1805. According to the travelers’ journal entries, some days the group ate little, if anything. Drought conditions would only have made things worse. Wild game, the group’s daily staple, would have been harder to find, as would berries and roots, he says.

Likewise, rivers and streams would have been shallower during a drought, slowing travel along some routes. Lewis and Clark paddled, pulled and poled their canoes up rivers, the principal means of hauling supplies to the Continental Divide, says Knapp. An already daunting task, low water levels would have made the voyage much more difficult.

Had drought conditions prevailed, the Corps might not have crossed the Lolo Trail as soon as they did. Instead, the explorers would have been forced to spend fall, winter and spring east of the Columbia River drainage, Knapp says.

"As it was, they had a difficult time crossing the trail near the end of the crossing season. Had there been a drought, they most likely would not have arrived at the Pacific Ocean in the fall of 1805. Rather, they would have wintered east of the Columbia River drainage, taxing their supplies and increasing their chances of misfortune," Knapp says.

"I’m not sure we will ever fully know what would have happened had the expedition traveled during an intense drought, but we do know that they traveled during a climatic period that favored their success," he says.

Knapp’s research on the climatic conditions of the Lewis and Clark expedition is featured in the September issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The AMS is the nation’s leading professional society for scientists in the atmospheric and related sciences.

Paul A. Knapp | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gsu.edu
http://www.ametsoc.org/ams

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A better way to measure the stiffness of cancer cells

01.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Exploring the mysteries of supercooled water

01.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Research team of the HAW Hamburg reanimated ancestral microbe from the depth of the earth

01.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>