Applied climatology

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Origins and Evolution

Since classical times, writers have commented on the variability of climate and the resulting consequences for human affairs. Sometimes the variations have offered advantages to humans but, more often, the historical record tells of unforeseen climate-related disasters such as famine, flood, or disease, as documented by H. H. Lamb (1982). Because climate interacts so directly with vital human concerns such as agriculture, water resources, energy, and transport, there has always been a need to apply climatic knowledge for practical purposes. The importance of climate for agricultural production in the United States was recognized early and the Weather Bureau was attached to the Department of Agriculture in 1891, followed shortly by subsequent publication of some pioneering reports on agricultural climatology, e.g., Hilgard (1892) and Mell (1893). However, these initiatives were soon eclipsed by the rise of weather forecasting. As a result, it wa