The Ayrshire Climate - why does it rain so much?
The climate of Ayrshire is similar to that of other districts situated on the western coast of Britain. The wind blows from the west, and south west, for more than two third parts of the year, and the rains from these quarters are frequent, often copious, and sometimes of long duration..
The discoveries of modern chemistry, have shewn, that, besides oxigen gas and azotic gas, which form its essential constituents, the atmosphere contains a quantity of hydrogen gas, some carbonic acid gas, a considerable proportion of electrical fluid, and various effluvia. It is also known, that, this heterogeneous mass is continually undergoing changes of a local and mechanical, as well as chemical nature. But the causes from which these proceed, and the laws by which they are governed, remain to be ascertained. We can perceive the air, aqueous moisture, and the electric spark, changing their positions: we find the atmosphere at times overburdened with moisture, while at other times “the earth appears like iron, and the heavens like brass”..
Of all the ingredients, of which the heterogenous mass of the atmosphere is composed, we are as yet the least acquainted with the electric fluid; though it is probably the main bond of union, between the atmosphere and the immense quantities of water exhaled from the surface of the earth, kept suspended for some time in the air, and afterwards restored to the earth, in snow or rain..
Until more correct knowledge of these mysterious processes of nature shall be obtained, it will not be easy to determine whether the more copious rains of the western shores (if the diversity is as great as we have been led to believe) proceed from the vast extent of the Atlantic Ocean, or from other causes.
As moss has a greater tendency than any other soil to attract rain as well as to furnish the moisture from which it is produced; and as that species of earth abounds more in the west, than the eastern parts of the island, perhaps the more copious rains may proceed, at least in part, from that substance. It is true that rain, in cold or temperate climates, increases moss, as well as that moss attracts the rain, and furnishes the moisture from which it is formed; and as moss is not a primitive earth, but a recent production, it becomes difficult to say whether the moss is the cause or the effect of the rains.
The rugged surface of the western shores has a tendency to promote ventilation, attract the electric fluid, break the clouds and occasion rains; which, in such a temperature, and in such altitudes, engender cold; and these, in their turn, lead to the formation of moss-earth, which, when once begun, encreases the cold, and attracts more rain..
Moss takes in a larger quantity of moisture and retains more cold than any other soil or earth. The frost in moss will often carry horses and carts, when the plough is at work in the neighbouring fields, and huge bodies of the frosty congelations may frequently, after a hard winter, be found in many mosses in the month of June..
It is also well known that every spungy substance attracts and assimilates moisture from the atmosphere, much more powerfully, that any earth or substance which is dry. The cold in the moss-earth condenses, and the moisture it contains, attracts aereal fluids. Hence, rain and dews, fall more copiously on or near moss ground when it is wet and more sparingly in time of drought, than upon a dry soil..
The best remedy now to be found for that evil, is to bring as many as possible of these mosses under cultivation, and to render those which remain, unimproved, as dry on the surface as it is possible to make them.
"A General View of THE AGRICULTURE of the COUNTY OF AYR" (1811) by William Aiton