S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Tripp, Mr William Blomefield (meteorology, physical geography)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

William B. Tripp, an associate member of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers, was curator of the botanic garden at King William's Town for some time during the early eighteen-eighties. He made meteorological observations there and from 1882 to 1884 supplied his data to the Meteorological Commission of the Cape of Good Hope.

During the next few years he published several papers, some of which dealt with rainfall records. "Rainfall in South Africa" (Meteorological Magazine, 1885) included a map of mean annual rainfall for the Cape Colony, based on the Report of the Meteorological Commission for 1883. This was followed by "Rainfall of South Africa, 1842-1886" (Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 1888), in which the rainfall of the colony was discussed in more detail, including the effect of topography. Shifting his attention to another continent he wrote "South American rainfall south of the tropics" (Scottish Meteorological Magazine, 1889). In "Rainfall of the globe; comparative chronological account of some of the principal records" (Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 1890) he listed rainfall records from all over the world, including that of the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope. His analysis of possible periodic changes in rainfall yielded no evidence for a correlation between rainfall and the eleven year sunspot cycle.

Other papers by Tripp dealt with the relation between river flow and rainfall over the catchment area. The first of these, "The river Buffalo, its watershed and flow, in connection with the rainfall", appeared in the Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society (1881-1883, Vol. 3, pp. 15-19), though he was not a member of the society. "The river Buffalo", probably the same paper, was also published in the Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers (1884-1885). In this paper he compared the total flow at the King William's Town dam from June 1880 to March 1883 to the rainfall. He later followed a similar approach in "Levels of the river Vaal at Kimberley, South Africa; with remarks on the rainfall over the drainage area" (Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 1892), in which he correlated river levels with rainfall in the catchment area over the period 1885-1890. A third papar by him on hydrology dealt with "South African rivers south of the Orange and Vaal..." (Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1886-1887).

Tripp also produced a short, general paper on the physical geography of the country: "South Africa: its physical configuration and rainfall; with notes on its geology, diamond and coal fields, and forests, and two maps showing contours and mean annual rainfall" (Scottish Geographical Magazine, 1886).

List of sources:
Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Meteorological Commission, 1882-1884.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

South African Philosophical Society. Transactions, 1881-1883, Vol. 3.

Venter, R.J. Bibliography of regional meteorological literature. Vol. 1. Southern Africa, 1486-1948. Pretoria: Weather Bureau, 1949.

Compiled by: C. Plug