Luke Howard (1833) “The Climate of London”

Luke Howard (1833) The Climate of London. Volume 1

Although Luke Howard is best known for his work on clouds he was also the first to recognise the effect that urban areas have on local climate. Much of his studies on climate, including his description, analysis and observations, are contained in this book, which can reasonably claim to be the first textbook on climatology. The impact of London upon its climate is discovered by Howard when he compares his temperature records against those made by the Royal Society at Somerset House. He concludes that the temperature of the city is not to be considered as that of the climate; it partakes too much of an artificial warmth, induced by its structure, by a crowded population, and the consumption of great quantities of fuel in fires (p.2). His is the first analysis of two related, but distinct issues:

1) the urban ‘contamination’ of meteorological records and,
2) the magnitude and cause of the urban effect.

The 1st edition of CLIMATE was published in two volumes, the first of which appeared in 1818. The second, much expanded, edition was published in 1833 and comprised three volumes. (The latter edition is the basis of this publication.) The first volume is particularly significant as it contains Howard’s descriptions and analysis of meteorological elements (e.g. temperature, pressure, etc.) that make up climate. However, this work is only possible because of the wealth of data he and his family collected over a twenty-five year period, 1806 to 1830. These daily data are compiled in tabular form in the second and third volumes and are supplemented by his notes and other information gathered from a variety of sources.

In this edition, all the figures have been redrawn and the text reformatted. This text was republished by the IAUC and a high quality boxed version of the three volumes forms the LUKE HOWARD PRIZE.