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Climate is a big issue, but science cannot say what it is.

Has the climate debate turned into a horror scenario because
climate means anything and nothing?

Posted: April 17, 2019,

John Locke: “The achievement of human knowledge is often hampered by the use
of words without fixed signification” British philosopher, 1632-1704.


For years, one can hear it daily. Climate change is the greatest threat facing our world. Few declare the debate as hoax, like U.S. President Donald Trump, others regard it as real, respectively as an issue that affects the whole of humanity, the future of humans depending on it. As long as only the rise of local or global air temperature is viewed, this is certainly correct. But that is rarely the case. Overwhelmingly all refer primarily to a threat by climate change, which is a distinct issue from a rise of air temperatures. Indiscriminating use of both term simultaneously is a fretful failure, leading to misinformation, disguising, and, if intentionally, a gross delusion. In the way science has been using the word climate over the last decades, the general public and politics is misguided since long. The reason is that science has been incapable to demonstrate that they understand what climate is, and able to define the terms they work with. Actually they use a layman term, broadly understood as average weather (for example the summer season in Florida), as greatest threat facing our world by calling it “climate change”. That is irresponsible and in an objective sense delusion. Let’s have a look at the term climate as used by science and climatology.

The misery of the climate discussion already arises with the statement: Weather is not Climate. There are many various around, but topped by a title/sub-title in scientificamerican  (Sept.04,2018) saying: “Don’t Be Fooled: Weather Is Not Climate. But climate affects weather, [respectively]:  Weather is affected by climate”. There is also the following quote:

Summing up the distinction between short-term changes in the weather and long term climate trends ……, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, President of the American Meteorological Society, used nine simple words: “weather is your mood and climate is your personality.”

Nothing is explained with such comments. They cause confusion and are nothing more than babble. That stems from the fact that weather is a physical state of the atmosphere, and climate merely the numerical statistic of numerous aspects of this state. While the former situation exists for a very short moment only, never repeating again, the latter is a huge amount of numbers and can never convert to weather again.  It is therefore horrible when it is said: climate affects weather. How can any statistic influence the physical condition of the atmosphere?

Unfortunately, this is not just a slip-up, but runs through all the definitions that science uses for weather and climate. Since modern climatology claims to be abler to advise the general public and governments on climate change since about the 1980s, their ability to formulate what they are talking about was remote, if existing at all. Let’s start in 1992, before discussing briefly the background of the term: climate.


In 1992, the Rio Conference adopted the UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE, UNFCCC. Although the word climate is included in the title, the convention offers not any explanation at all. Similar shocking is not to realize that if one wants to explain “climate change” that it is a paramount condition to say what the subject of change shall be. This nonsense is topped when saying: “‘Climate change’ means a change of climate…” (More details see Fig. left). According the Dictionary of GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE (1992) by W. John Mauder, (pp. 240):

Climate is the synthesis of the day-to-day weather conditions in a given area. The actual climate is characterized  by long-term statistics  (such  as mean values,  variances,  probabilities of extreme values)  of the  state  of the  atmosphere  in  that  area,  or  of  the  meteorological elements in that area (more Fig. 2). [W.J. Mauder – New Zealand – was for many years Vice- and President of the WMO Commission for Climatology].

This definition is in no way a substitute for the gap left by the UNFCCC. Even the quality of the first sentence can be questioned, as subsequently “actual climate”, and other issues mentioned.

IPCC – Climate

The most proeminent institutions on climate are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the American Meteorological Society (AMC). Today they have both lengthy glossaries with more than 12,000 terms (AMS), or over 52 pages (IPCC) respectively. Remarkable – they are both concerning the term climate. On one hand, they differ extremely from each other. On the other hand, each text on climate is at best a joke as an academically reasonable definition. They are both useless in the field of scientific work, and of such big lack of clarity that they undermine any fair and explanatory communication between the general public and politics.

The IPCC definition starts with the confession that there is no better idea than to repeat the layman expression since ancient times: climate is average weather. (see Fig. 3). At least one would assume that the IPCC Glossary would tell the reader now what is weather, or how average weather is defined, but the Glossary is completely silent on it. The subsequent attempt to describe  climate (more rigorously), as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years, can only be called as naive. What “terms of the mean and variability” shall be used? What are relevant quantities?  The text of the definition lose any ability as a working tool, when the so called ‘classical period’ 30 years is replace by a range ‘from months to thousands or millions of years’. Such a definition is completely useless, which commence with the use of the word weather, which is primarily an individual impression and experience of any person alive, and there are many.

Back in 1987 the WMO Bulletin published the following definition (Fig. 4):

Climate is the statistical probability of the occurrence of various states of the atmosphere over a given region during a given calendar period;

Weather is the state of the atmosphere over one given region during one given period (minute, hour, day, month, season, year, decade, etc.).         

                     See: Conclusions (p.295); by W. J. GIBBS, October 1987, WMO Bulletin, Vol. 36, Page 290-295,

From the many ambiguities the text has, the most obvious is that ‘weather’ shall also comprise the state of the atmosphere over years and decades. What demonstrates better than anything else that the author did not understand what he was talking about? See the Fig. 5, 6, & 7.

The First IPCC Report, June 1990, didn’t made any use of the WMO publication five years earlier, but in the Introduction (p. vii) merely said:

___A simple definition of climate is the average weather.  
___A description of climate over a period (which may typically be from a few years to a few centuries) involves the averages of appropriate components of the weather over that period, together with the statistical variations of those components.
___The driving force for weather and climate is energy from the Sun.

Although there is frequently a reference to weather, the Introduction (as presumably the entire Report, total pages 365) offers nothing, as the current IPCC Glossary. In the published edition by J.T. Houghton et al, 1990, Cambridge University Press the cited text is on page xxxv & xxxvi.

Almost 30 years later, nothing has changed for better. A layman term was abused to scare the public than, while no effort was spared to increase the pressure ever since.

For more, see the following discussion about AMS definition on climate and weather.

AMS – Climate & Weather

The AMS Glossary offers a different approach. The definition begins with the sentence: “climate is the slowly varying aspects of the atmosphere–hydrosphere–land surface system”, see full text Fig. 8.  It is all the Glossary tells about the meaning of climate. It is virtually impossible to make any sense out of it. A definition of ‘nature’ could go equally. All that this boils down to is ‘the interactions of the natural system’,
see: Letter to the Editor, NATURE 1992,  Vol. 360, p. 292

The subsequent sentence no longer refers to climate, but to the ‘climate system’ a term “typically characterized in terms of suitable averages over periods of a month or more”, which is separately defined as:

climate system
The system, consisting of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere, determining the earth’s climate as the result of mutual interactions and responses to external influences (forcing).
Physical, chemical, and biological processes are involved in the interactions among the components of the climate system.

Also the next about 70 words contribute little to make the term a reliable asset. The only interesting aspect is, that the AMS climate definition back off using such terms as ‘average weather’, ‘statistical description’,  or ‘relevant quantities’, but explains nothing, and says practically the same as the explanation of the ‘climate system’.

But different from IPCC the AMS Glossary defines weather (Fig. 9).  Interesting that the first paragraph confirms what was already said above, that weather is “primarily an individual impression and experience”, namely:

WEATHER is „The state of the atmosphere, mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities.”

But the definition runs afoul and inconsistently immediately when the next two sentences state:

As distinguished from climate, weather consists of the short-term (minutes to days) variations in the atmosphere.
        Question: Where is the 1st and 2nd sentence compatible?

Popularly, weather is thought of in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind.
Question: What has this distraction (popularly) to do in a scientific definition? On the other hand, it
confirms that also “weather” is primarily a layman term.

How inconsequently also the AMS weather definition has been drafted comes to light if it describes that

The “present weather” table consists of 100 possible conditions, with 10 possibilities for “past weather”; both are encoded numerically.  

This shows evidently that also AMS has no definition of weather, but uses the word as it fits best. Five conditions here, 12 conditions there and thereon called climate. But weather is weather and cannot consist one time of 100 conditions, and if convenient for making a case consist of 3 conditions. Not surprisingly “future weather” is not mentioned.

Climate is a layman term – A short background

The concept of climate can be found in Greece in fifth century BC. To Hippocrates of Kos (~460 – ~370 BC) it comprised airs, waters, places associates season, prevailing winds, and the quality of the air and water with the physical condition of people. The earliest notions of ‘klimat’ were linked to sun inclination, and latitude. Over 2000 years the term climate is a solid public domain. Like weather, the word reflects a general impression. People not necessarily like to talk about climate and weather, but need to find out, which issues are needed to have an informative conversation, e.g. temperature, sun shine, rain, wind, etc. In countries with quickly changing weather conditions, as in Western Europe, the talks on weather are more intensive and lengthy, as in the Sahara with little changes. It is more abstract when merely seasonal conditions for a holiday abroad, for example in Morocco in May is of interest, commonly called climate.

During the last several century philosophers, writers and researchers used the term climate as well. For example the German naturalist and geographer A. von Humboldt (1769 –1859) defined climate as “all the changes in the atmosphere that perceptibly affect our organs”.  But none could be called a climatologist, as that term came into use only well after World War II.  At best the term ‘climate’ existed in the layman’s way. The preface of the book by V. Conrad (1946): Methods in Climatology.  Harvard University Press; pages 228, states in the first and last paragraph (p. vii):

Climate influences the surface of the earth, and this conversely, in its conditions. This intimate mutual connection makes climatology and climatography appear as parts of geography, because they are essentially necessary to describe the surface of the earth and its changes. These ideas find their expression in the fact that generally the colleges and universities, climatology as a whole is treated in the geographical departments. Perhaps the dependent role of climatology may be attributed also to the fact that geographers have so greatly furthered this science.

The general introduction presents climatology as a world science, and its international organization. The number of observations in the meteorological register makes the necessity of statistical methods evident.

Until the end of the 1940s, only the number of observations and statistical methods were of interest. Prominent meteorologist confirmed few decades later, that the term climate was rarely used

H.H. Lamp (Nature, Vol. 223, 1969): Only thirty years ago climatology was generally regarded as the mere dry-as-dust bookkeeping end of meteorology.
Definitions of climate and climatology have varied. That (still widely) definition of climate as “average weather” must surely be regarded as quite inadequate. Climate comprises the totality of weather experienced at a given place. 

Kenneth Hare, (Bulletin American Meteorological Society, Vol. 60, 1979); This is obviously the decade in which climate is coming into its own. You hardly heard the word professionally in the 1940s. It was a layman’s word. Climatologists were the halt and the lame. And as for the climatologists in public service, in the British service you actually, had to be medically disabled in order to get into the climatological division! Climatology was a menial occupation that came on the pecking scale somewhat below the advertising profession. It was clearly not the age of climate.

Meanwhile efforts are made to present climate and climatology as a long standing interest of science, at least for the last 150 years. For example Roger G. Barry (in Int. J. Climatol., Vol. 33, 2013), is saying: “The term climate has a 600-year history, but only came into widespread use about 150 years ago. The crux with such a statement is, that the entire assessment is based on the layman term: “climate is average weather”, which is “surely quite inadequate” as H.H. Lamp observed back in 1969 (see above).  But still in 2019 IPCC rely on it (Fig. 3), and AMS evade this point by talking instead of the ‘climate system’, see discussion above and Fig. 4.

What should be the conclusion? A science which is not able to define in a clear and understandable manner, what they are talking about, does not deserve being recognized as a competent academic discipline.

The use of words that are of ’emotional importance’ to the public must be clear, reasonable, and comprehensible. Otherwise, there is a danger that it may come to an objective deception. The debate on climate change does not meet John Locke (1632-1704) requirement of using only terms with “fixed signification”.

Is there a solution? Yes, by recognizing that the ocean is the base of the weather,
while sticking to the fact that any statistic always remains a statistic

If one regards the words weather and climate primarily as an individual impression and experience of any person, respectively of emotional importance to the public, one should leave it in the public domain. Furthermore it seems most unlikely, that the terms can reasonably define in an academic manner, which would require a wording that does not mix-up with any layman understanding.  But if the term Climate shall be used, not the weather but the oceans must be the centerpiece of the definition.

Already back in 1984 J. D. Woods explained the role of the ocean in the planetary system (excerpts):

Approximately 80% of solar energy intercepted by our planet enters the atmosphere over the oceans. About 50% of this energy flux reaches the bottom of the atmosphere after 25% has been reflected by, and 19% absorbed in the atmosphere. Neglecting atmosphere bias between continental and ocean regions, the oceans receive 40%, and the continents 10% of the intercepted energy. …The ocean is the principal initial receipiet of energy entering the planetary climate system….
Almost all of this radiative flux into the ocean is absorbed in the top 100 m. (cont,//)  [in The Global Climate, Cambridge (Uni.Press), 1984, p. 142.]¸ see also Fig. 10

The ultimate source in the planetary scenario is water, of which is only a very small percentage in the atmosphere. At any moment, the atmosphere contains only the amount of water, which would cover the entire surface of the Earth (land and ocean) with as little rain as one inch (2,5 cm) only. The water volume of the ocean is 1000 times bigger, and has only a mean temperature of about +4° Celsius. The huge stability of the oceans over long periods of time is amazing, but even minor change in current status of the ocean, will  make the rising air temperature discussion  any greenhouse discussion looking much too narrow. It is high time that any definition in this respect needs to acknowledge that the current and future planetary weather system depends on the oceans, or briefly: Oceans Govern Climate.

Author: Dr. Arnd Bernaerts

Further reading:

“Conditions for the protection of the global climate”,
1992, p.53 presented at GKSS Research Center Geesthacht

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A Surprising Surge at Vavilov Ice Cap by Adam Voiland

The Arctic has still many secrets, one is the warming that started 1918

Post: April 08, 2019, with reprint from NASA Earth Observatory (below)

Today the NASA Earth Observatory published an image-of-the-day the Vaviloc Ice Cap on an island in the Kara Sea.  That is high in the North, at 79°30′N 97°00′E, and well in the Arctic region.  Adam Voiland provided an interesting text citing two scientists and their considerations concerning the possible demise of this ice cap (full text below). But is it of any help?

No! Instead of elaborating on the sea water conditions in the Kara Sea during the last 100 years, the speculation simply goes by saying: “It may be that they can respond more quickly to warming climate or changes at their bases than we have thought.”  That hardly more informative as a recent statement which tries to explain the arctic warming in the 1920s says: “Needless to say, a necessary condition for the Arctic warming event to happen depends on the change in the larger scale atmospheric circulation”[ Lennart Bengtsson, Vladimir A. Semenov, Ola M. Johannessen, The Early Twentieth-Century Warming in the Arctic—A Possible Mechanism, Journal of Climate, October 2004, page 4045-4057] More HERE.

Since Fridjof Nansen FRAM expedition 1893-96 (Fig. 1) it is know that the cold sea surface layer in the area was thinning. That remained a slow process until the end of the Great War (1914-1918). Since winter 1918 the temperatures in the European sector of the Arctic “exploded”, lasting until World War II started in September 1939. A few Figures indicate the extreme increase in the Arctic region from the North Atlantic to the Kara Sea clearly, see Fig. 2-5. Merely talking about a “warming climate” or a “larger scale atmospheric circulation” is not enough. More than 100 years Artic research seems incapable to realize, that climate research in the Arctic has to start with sound information from the sea surface to the sea bottom. For more information see the book at:

Reprint from NASA Earth Observatory
Image of the Day for April 8, 2019

Including the Figures A-C

An outlet glacier in the Russian High Arctic has scientists rethinking how rapidly glaciers in cold, dry areas can move. Text by Adam Voiland

Glaciologists generally classify glaciers into two major types. In temperate areas, where summers are relatively warm and plenty of snow falls, warm-based glaciers dominate. This type slides easily, often slipping a few kilometers each year because water lubricates the ground and the base of the glacier. In contrast, cold-based glaciers dominate in polar deserts—the cold, high-latitude areas that receive little snow or rain. This type of ice generally stays fixed in place, rarely moving more than a few meters per year.

When a cold-based glacier in the Russian High Arctic began sliding at a breakneck pace in 2013, University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Michael Willis was mystified. After moving quite slowly for decades, the outlet glacier of Vavilov Ice Cap began sliding dozens of times faster than is typical. The ice moved fast enough for the fan-shaped edge of the glacier to protrude from an ice cap on October Revolution Island and spread widely across the Kara Sea.

“The fact that an apparently stable, cold-based glacier suddenly went from moving 20 meters per year to 20 meters per day was extremely unusual, perhaps unprecedented,” said Willis. “The numbers here are simply nuts. Before this happened, as far as I knew, cold-based glaciers simply didn’t do that…couldn’t do that.”

Landsat satellites have been collecting imagery of the glacier for decades. A time-lapse video, which begins with imagery acquired in 1985, showed the terminus creeping forward between 2000 and 2013, but at a modest pace—just enough for a tongue of ice to begin pushing into the Kara Sea. After 2013, the glacier sprang forward, accelerating rapidly. By 2018, the glacier’s ice shelf (where the tongue stretches over the water) had more than doubled. Meanwhile on land, the ice had thinned noticeably, particularly around the edges. (Note that in the images above, the blue areas in the Kara Sea are sea ice, not glacial ice.)

Willis and his colleagues are still piecing together what triggered such a dramatic surge. They suspect that marine sediments immediately offshore are unusually slippery, perhaps containing clay. Also, water must have somehow found its way under the land-based part of the glacier, reducing friction and priming the ice to slide. Observations from several satellites suggests that the northern and southern edges of the glacial tongue are grounded on the sea bottom, while the middle is probably floating, another factor that has made it easier for ice to push forward at a rapid rate.

The sudden surge raises questions about the future of Vavilov Ice Cap. Though the glacier’s pace slowed somewhat in 2018, it has sped up again in 2019. “If this continues, we could be witnessing the demise of this ice cap,” said Willis. “Already, Vavilov has thinned enough that snow has stopped accumulating on its upper reaches, and it is a small ice cap in the first place.”

Hundreds of cold-based glaciers line the coasts of Greenland, Antarctica, and islands in the high Arctic. Together they cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land. The events at Vavilov suggest that these glaciers may be less stable and resilient and more capable of collapsing and affecting sea level.

“This event has forced us to rethink how cold-based glaciers work,” Willis said. “It may be that they can respond more quickly to warming climate or changes at their bases than we have thought.”

NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin and Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and topographic information from the ArcticDEM Project at the Polar Geospatial Center, University of Minnesota. Story by Adam Voiland.

References & Resources

Cooperative Institute for Research In Environmental Sciences (2018, September 18) Unprecedented Ice Loss in Russian Ice Cap. Accessed April 5, 2019. Willis, M. et al, (2018) Massive Destabilization of an Arctic Ice Cap. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 502 (15), 146-155.

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After last winter 2019, who will explain U.S.A. record winter 1939/40

Contributed war in Europe reduced air moisture
and subsequently extreme winter condition?

Posting: April 01, 2019

Cold winter spells in the U.S.A. and Canada are very common. This year was no exception. Before looking back to winter 1939/40, the first war winter in World War II, a brief review of the last winter in North America.

In late January 2019, a severe cold wave, caused by a weakened jet stream around the Arctic polar vortex, hit the Midwestern United States and Eastern Canada. It came after a winter storm brought up to 13 inches (33 cm) of snow in some regions from January 27–29, and brought the coldest temperatures in over 20 years to most locations in the affected region, including some all-time record lows. In early February, the polar vortex moved west, and became locked over Western Canada and the Western United States. As a result, February 2019 was among the coldest and snowiest on record in these regions. In early March, the cold once again shifted east, breaking records in many areas. In mid-March, the cold wave finally retreated, but combined with above-average temperatures, precipitation, and a deep snowpack, widespread flooding ensued in the Central US. (Source  Wikipedia, 1st April 2019)

While meteorology will manage to run sufficient forecasts throughout the winter, one wonders that they have not explained what happened in autumn and winter 1939/40:

Record wetness month September 1939 in Arizona (see Fig.)

Record driest month in November 1939 in 9 States (see Fig.)

Record warmest month in December 1939 in 3 States (see Fig.)

Record coldest month in January 1940 in in 7 States (see Fig. 1

That was not a natural occurrence. In autumn, there was war in East Asia, and in Europe. Globally the northern Hemisphere was affected. At first, it rained more than in average. With less moisture in the air, subsequently came the cold. In Europe, it was the coldest for one century. In the South-East of the United States the coldest ever observed. The extraordinary conditions almost eight decades, should not be forgotten, but serve as reminder that events than were anthropogenic influenced. Even the smallest percentage contributed by human activities to the weather pattern in winter 1939/40 needs to be understood and discussed in the general debate on climate change. To serve this purpose, it follows an excerpt from the Book: “Failure of Meteorology”.

NOTE: Text and Figures are not necessarily identical, but shortened, altered or changed.


Did the war show an effect in the U.S. in autumn 1939 and January 1940?

  1. Overview on the foreplay of a cold US January 1940

    The fact that the first signs of a real winter emerged at Christmas time 1939 (NYT, Dec. 23, 1939) was presumably not worth a doctor’s thesis at any time. Neither that the winter earnestly came in early January 1940, with a frigid wave that gripped most of the United States (NYT, Jan. 6, 1940).  Icy north-westerly winds swept over New York with force, on January 6, causing temperatures to drop to an average of 10 degrees Fahrenheit below normal. Frigid waves even touched northern parts of Florida (NYT, Jan. 07, 1940).

   But the information by Dr. James Kimball, published in ‘The New York Times’ on January 7th, 1940, that November 1939 had been unusually dry, should have been investigated by science, or in a doctoral thesis, why that had happened, and whether military activities in China and Europe, and the increase of condensation nuclei had anything to do with it. The less humidity there is in the atmosphere, the more easily it can be replaced by colder air. If the amount of water in the atmosphere is less than average, the ‘vacuum’ thus created, needs to be filled by air. The fact that the Northern Hemisphere was in such a state towards the end of the year 1939 is very likely and science could have found out why long ago. The USA had been recorded as very dry in November and early December, which made it easy for Arctic air to travel south to filling up the gap. But it all started two months earlier.

  1. A special September in California

   In September 1939 the sun state had to cope with a number of weather caprioles. The unanswered question until today is what role an El Niño event had in that place at that time, and the contribution of war activities in China and Europe, due to the excessive release of condensation nuclei. Much too extraordinary and seldom was the situation that caused high precipitation during September with 370% above normal in California (Alabama, 119%; Arizona, 335%; Nevada 327%; Utah 261%).

   California experienced an eight-day-long heat wave since about September 16th before a tropical storm, formerly a hurricane, hit Southern California, at San Pedro early on the 25th with winds of severe gale force. The up to 11 Beaufortstrong winds were the only tropical storm to make landfall in California in the twentieth century. The air pressure went down to 971 mb, and the excessive rain caused heavy flooding, e.g. September records in Los Angeles (5.24 inches in 24 hours) and at Mount Wilson, 295mm/11.60inches). It was the heaviest September rain in Los Angeles’ weather history and it broke the worst heat wave in Weather Bureau records, as measured by intensity and duration. (NYT, Sept.26,1939).

   The scientific disinterest in investigating whether the exceptional conditions had been a reflex action in the atmosphere that reached North America from the French-German, or the Polish-German front in Europe, e.g. from thousands of planes in the air, from shelling and burning down Polish villages and Warsaw, or even from fighting in China is stunning. That El Niño had a stake in the issue will be hard to prove, as the air temperatures at the equatorial Pacific was neutral, if not in La Niña condition (see: Fig. below), and global temperature maps for Sept./Oct./Nov.1939, HERE). Further details: Chapter F (here: ). 

  1. The driest November on record

   Except for a few States in the east (see above), the fall season was extremely dry over large areas. For all the areas east of the Rocky Mountains it was the driest fall on record (Martin, 1939). For about 9 States it is the all-time record[3], TM5, and the dryness must have severely affected southern Canada as well. Time magazine titled on December 25th, 1939: “WEATHER: Driest Fall”, and reported “the driest fall on record, a severe case of spotted drought affecting 97,000,000 U.S.acres.”[4] About 16 States had less than 33% of their normal November precipitation.  

[3] Source: NOAA/NCDC,;


  1. What else was curious in late 1939?

             The 1930s were famous for the ‘Dust Bowl’, during which severe dust storms caused agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands. In some areas this phenomenon lasted until fall of 1939, when regular rainfall finally returned to the region.

   After extreme amounts of precipitation in September and dryness in November (see above) December came along with another curiosity. The overall monthly temperature record was considerably above average (TM5). In three States the all-time record had been observed. In the east, a change was already expected for the beginning of the holiday season: “White Christmas is likely for city” (NYT, Dec. 23, 1939). It took a few days longer for winter to come. On the 28th, it was time to report: “A biting northerly, driving grey, snow-laden clouds before it, brought to New York yesterday the coldest day of the winter. Shortly before 10 A.M. the mercury dropped to 11.9°F above zero”(11°C), (NYT, Dec. 28). Soon in 1940 the “Winds sweep the city as cold grips the U.S. ”, with “a mark of 11°F below (-24°C) in Indiana (NYT, Jan. 07, 1940. An exceptionally cold January 1940 had reached the United States , as shown in Figure 1 (above)

   Further north, in Canada, the situation was partly reverse, as Brooks (1940) explained in a paper only few months later:

 “Paradoxically, most of eastern Canada north of latitude 48° was above normal, with temperatures ranging up to more than 25°F above normal north of latitude 58° and 18°F above normal in the interior of Alaska. Missouri was actually as cold as the Hudson Bay region for the month”.

Nowadays this constellation brings the question of an interrelation with El Niño conditions into play, which is done in Chapter F (here: ).

  1. Natural variation?

          The Timing: The ‘timing’ between excessive rain in Europe and the dry months in the United States is a perfect indication of the relationship between both events. Any ‘interchange’ between dry and wet air takes its time. A dry or humid air body can exist from up to several days to a few weeks. An ‘air body’ needs a couple of weeks to circle the Northern Hemisphere. Scherhag (1951), analysed a disruption in the circulation of air in the winter of 1940, and states with regard to air movements that there must have been a subsequent air-body-transfer (“Massentransport”) from the Southern Hemisphere towards the Arctic, which means, that ‘dry air’ from Europe could have circled the globe for some time before a ‘humidity gap’ could be refilled. This also confirms that there was a ‘humidity gap’ in the first place. If the ‘dry-out’ had not been caused by military activities, what else could have caused it?

          Record Warmest vs. Record Coldest: The fact that temperatures in December 1939 (see TM5) had been widely above normal, versus the observation that in the south-east of the U.S. recorded values were much below normal with eight States experiencing the coldest January on record should be enough reason to ask why, and to consider whether it had something to do with war activities elsewhere.

         The Regions Covered: January 1940 was cold in all Northern Hemisphere regions, viz. North America, Northern Europe and Northern Asia. This is a strong indication that there was too little humidity in the air (as proven in the case of the USA – above), giving arctic air a free path to penetrate deep into southern regions.

          Difference between the winters in the USA and Europe: a further piece of evidence is the fact that the severity of the winter in the United States was over by the end of January 1940 (Brooks, 1940), whereas extreme winter conditions prevailing in Northern Europe during February 1940 show that a number of countries, e.g. Holland, Northern Germany and Southern Scandinavia, experienced their coldest winter for more than a 100 years. According to TM4 (page 45) the south-east USA and Europe were likewise again cold during March and April 1940.

          Lower air circulation: according to R. Scherhag (1951) the winter of 1939/40 was the result of a comprehensive general disruption of the atmospheric circulation, which could be regarded as a ‘prototype’ for a weakened circulation. Less humidity in the atmosphere and lower temperatures in seas and oceans, due to naval warfare in the waters of Northern Europe , inevitably caused disruptions in atmospheric air movements.

  1. Is it possible to establish a connection with the war?

   At this stage of the investigation, it is too early to give a definitive answer. Actually, this section only highlighted the aspect of rain and humidity, and gave a brief overview of the situation in the United States in autumn 1939 and January 1940. However, as long as there is not a more convincing explanation of what had caused the numerous observed deviations from the statistical  mean in fall of 1939, the war in China and Europe is a serious option, and it is a more convincing work thesis rather than talking about meaningless “natural variations”. Anyway, timing is perfect, and far and wide, no other identifiable cause can be seen, at least not for the conditions in Europe .  

  1. The findings until now can be summarized as follows:

   A number of indications show that the war in Europe and in China may have significantly influenced winter weather conditions over long distances. In this case, North America had a severely cold January in 1940. Most likely, it had been supported by a lack of usual rain in the United States during the months of October to December 1939, in the first place due to generating condensation nuclei by military activities in Asia, in Poland and along the Western Front in Europe. The obvious “rain forcing” in autumn 1939 that caused low humidity in the atmosphere, made it easy for arctic air to forcefully travel down to the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The timing of ‘dry air’ and the invasion of polar air over all NH continents suggest that this was not a mere natural variation. The drier the air properties at lower latitudes are, the easier arctic air can spread southwards. The lower maritime influence is (warm moist air), the more continental conditions will prevail (cold dry air). The Northern Hemisphere felt it with full force in January 1940.  A severe winter, the coldest in one hundred years in countries bordering the most war-affected seas in Northern Europe, did not come ‘just out of the blue’, but it was a combination of too dry air circling the hemisphere and naval operations in the marine environment of Europe.

Further reading:

C4. The sky cries because of the war?
War, Rain, Dry, Cold!

 a.       Why talk about rain? An Introduction

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