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Chasing the Chinook: Knowing the Wind through Science and Bodily Experience

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Abstract:

The North American “Chinook” winds have come in different local and regional variants, but the most geographically widespread have been the dry, dramatically warming westerly winds that occur especially during the winter season from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and eastward onto the nearby Great Plains, in a long zone stretching from Alberta and Montana to Colorado. Similar to the “foehn” winds of the Alps in central Europe (a term that has sometimes been generalized as a generic global term) the Chinook winds are striking as phenomena of both everyday experience and scientific curiosity. Due to their extraordinary warming and snow-melting effects, Chinook winds therefore became the subject of both popular and scientific discussion. This paper will examine the Chinook winds as objects of everyday bodily experience and scientific investigation to understand them in their wider meteorological and climatological context, from the late nineteenth century to the present, emphasizing how both types of knowledge—everyday experiential and cosmopolitan scientific—complemented one another in practice. Ranchers, for example, displayed great interest in the Chinooks as winds that provided relief to cattle on the frigid, snow-covered plains near the Rockies, while weather observers connected to the U.S. Weather Bureau and other scientific networks collected significant data on the occurrence and character of the Chinooks. While my focus will be on how accounts in scientific journals complemented scientific measurement and observation with anecdotal commentary on everyday bodily (including non-human animal) experience, I will use a variety of other sources, including art, literature, and newspaper accounts, to show how these differing forms of knowledge necessarily coexisted. No scientific account could fully capture the materiality of the Chinook winds, and thus I will argue that other forms of knowledge were essential to the understanding of this fascinating natural phenomenon.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170254_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Vetter, Jeremy. "Chasing the Chinook: Knowing the Wind through Science and Bodily Experience" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170254_index.html>

APA Citation:

Vetter, J. "Chasing the Chinook: Knowing the Wind through Science and Bodily Experience" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170254_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: The North American “Chinook” winds have come in different local and regional variants, but the most geographically widespread have been the dry, dramatically warming westerly winds that occur especially during the winter season from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and eastward onto the nearby Great Plains, in a long zone stretching from Alberta and Montana to Colorado. Similar to the “foehn” winds of the Alps in central Europe (a term that has sometimes been generalized as a generic global term) the Chinook winds are striking as phenomena of both everyday experience and scientific curiosity. Due to their extraordinary warming and snow-melting effects, Chinook winds therefore became the subject of both popular and scientific discussion. This paper will examine the Chinook winds as objects of everyday bodily experience and scientific investigation to understand them in their wider meteorological and climatological context, from the late nineteenth century to the present, emphasizing how both types of knowledge—everyday experiential and cosmopolitan scientific—complemented one another in practice. Ranchers, for example, displayed great interest in the Chinooks as winds that provided relief to cattle on the frigid, snow-covered plains near the Rockies, while weather observers connected to the U.S. Weather Bureau and other scientific networks collected significant data on the occurrence and character of the Chinooks. While my focus will be on how accounts in scientific journals complemented scientific measurement and observation with anecdotal commentary on everyday bodily (including non-human animal) experience, I will use a variety of other sources, including art, literature, and newspaper accounts, to show how these differing forms of knowledge necessarily coexisted. No scientific account could fully capture the materiality of the Chinook winds, and thus I will argue that other forms of knowledge were essential to the understanding of this fascinating natural phenomenon.


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