Since climatology has not always had a strong applied content, it is but natural to ask why there is a need for the applied branch of this subject. What justification is there for it, and what demand is there for it?
In fact, there is a need for applied climatology from two quarters. One is an intellectual demand from within the subject itself; the other is a practical demand from society in general since weather and climate are dynamic features of our physical environment and affect all the activities of man to a certain extent.
The ways in which the climatic elements affect every form of economic and social activity are now receiving increasing attention from climatologists. Weather and climate are important factors in determining our day to day and longer term activities and life-styles.
Earlier climatology was simply statistical meteorology analysing weather data using standard techniques for obtaining statistical parameters.
It is since the Second World War that new consciousness arose about the potentialities of climatology as an active subject with immense practical utility for planning almost all human requirements ranging from the development of water resources to the eradication of diseases.
Today, climatology is occupying an important place in such diverse fields as agricultural production, animal husbandry and urban and industrial planning.”
Any subject cannot survive as a purely academic discipline. The subject must be justified, at least in part, in terms of its practical value to the community.
A lot of government money is being spent on undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as on research, so there should be some concrete result from these courses and researches.
Moreover, it would be wasteful to have a subject which could make practical contributions yet did not do so. Imagine the situation if medicine, for example, isolated itself as a purely academic subject and did not make any of its research available for public use.
Now, a number of climatologists have seen applied studies as the ideal outlet for their expertise and have deliberately started promoting the subject i.e. applied climatology.
As stated above, it is the climate which determines the house types. Igloo, the house of Eskimo, is the glaring example of the climatic control on the type of house man builds for himself. Contrary to the house of an Eskimo, the inhabitants of the humid tropics build such houses as are open from all sides to make them airy and well-lighted.
Climate controls the type of crops that man cultivates to meet the requirements of his food. It is well- known to us that different types of crops are grown in different climatic regions.
However, if certain types of crops cannot be grown in unfavourable climates, they have to be imported from other regions where climatic conditions favour their growth. Thus the different climatic conditions on the surface of the earth have been mainly responsible for international trade in food-grains.
There are three basic needs of human beings – food, cloth and shelter. Each one of these is primarily controlled by the elements of weather and climate. Besides these, all the economic and even social activities of man are subject to the influence of weather and climate.
Different types of cultures and civilisations developed in different parts of the world on account of different climatic conditions found over there. Thus it is clear that there is close relationship between climate and human civilisation.
At the same time, it is equally true that different climatic regimes have been mainly responsible for racial differences among human beings. Influence of climate can be easily seen in the physical characteristics of these races found in different parts of the earth.