The great climate anomaly in World War I is still not understood.

A.F. More at al. fail to explain what they call “a 1914–1918 climate anomaly unmatched in 100 years”! – AGU “GeoHealth” Sept.2020 –

Posted: 26th September 2020

Who would oppose when every scientific effort is made to help contain a pandemic? Not even if he comes from the American Geophysical Union (AGU). A few days ago she presented the article by A. f. More et al. in the network, which reads:

The Impact of a SixYear Climate Anomaly on
the “Spanish Flu” Pandemic and WWI
GeoHealth  RESEARCH ARTICLE 10.1029/2020GH000277

The issues addressed are clearly recognizable: a) a significant climate change during the First World War and b) a pandemic called the “Spanish Flue”.  As key-points are named:

  • Novel, highresolution climate record from Europe shows strong influx of marine air in a 1914–1918 climate anomaly unmatched in 100 years

  • Independent precipitation, temperature, and historical records corroborate the timing and extent of the anomaly

  • Historical and epidemiological records indicate that this climate anomaly affected the mortality in WWI as well as the “Spanishflu” pandemic.

Obviously, the authors (in total eight) attempt to link a five-year climate change and a pandemic with “tens of millions of victims “.  Whether that is scientifically well founded and makes sense, and is helpful to for a better understanding of the current COROA 19 pandemic is solely their responsibility. On the other hand the aspect, what happened to the weather during the six war years, raises our interest greatly.

The essays highlight a climate anomaly from 1914 -1918, but fails to explain it.

Rarely, if ever, has a scientific essay in a climate change matter been fixed to a precise time period of six years, by saying:  Here we present a new, high resolution climate proxy record from the high Alpine Monte Rosa (4,450 m a.m.s.l.) Colle Gnifetti (CG) glacier in the heart of Europe, indicating abnormally high influxes of North Atlantic marine air in the years 1914–1919. 

 This statement is a very decisive statement, because it forces war activities and weather extremes to be brought into context and analyzed. Did one condition the other? But the paper is completely silent on any consideration, what may have caused the great weather anomalies during the very limited time period from 1914 to 1918,  mentioning merely in very broad terms: “The environmental and especially climatic conditions in which the pandemic developed have received less attention in the scientific literature, even though historical accounts universally describe abnormally high precipitation and cold temperatures”, or by  references to a few subsequent observations for example: During the battles of Verdun (1916–1917), the Somme (1916), the ChemindesDames (1917), and the Third Battle of YpresPasschendaele (1917) (Barbante et al., 2004; Hussey, 1997).”

The collection of meteorological data was by far not less during the war, and sufficient enough to do a much more in-depth research. The lack of ability and willingness is presumably strongest correlated to the inability of climatologist to ask and investigate the role of naval war activities from 1914 to 1918 on individual weather conditions in particular, and ‘unmatched climate anomaly’ in Europe from 1914 to 1918. That even short-term naval activities of one or few days have an impact on weather is analyzed in the following two papers:

Unexpected fog and mist at the Battle of Jutland, May 31st, 1916

After D-Day a heavy summer storm, unnoticed and unexplained for 75 years

 The naval war in WWI lasted not only days but more than half a decade. That a leading scientific society, consisting of over 62,000 members from 144 countries (Wikipedia ), and founded in 1919, intended to promote geophysics, has missed to understand, that “oceans make climate”, and warfare shaped the weather across the war areas and beyond during WWI and thereafter (see references at text end), is a hard to understand this failure.

Naval warfare caused the climate anomaly from 1914 -1918, but science ignores it.

 Half decade warfare tells uncountable stories. Naval war either, but the question on the impact is confined to human activities over and in the sea, and the causes on the weather and climate. “Water is the driving force of all nature”, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) told the world long ago. And in the world of geophysics all sea water exceeds the water in the atmosphere in a ratio of 1000: 1. The effect of a naval war in action requires a great deal of very detailed investigations. There is none for that. Neither in correlation to the 1st World War, nor concerning the more dramatic naval warfare during WWII in the period from 1939 to 1945. But there are numerous weather phenomena that are very likely to be associated with war at sea. Science has so far shown itself neither capable nor willing to recognize and intensively investigate this.

Here after are shown a few examples from WWI :

Evidently Sea Ice generated in the Baltic Sea by Naval Warfare

The Baltic Sea was an extensive scope for all sort of naval activities from August 1914 until the Russian October Revolution 1917. The sea ice cover increased with the length and intensity, but diminished since winter 1917/18, when the naval war in the Baltic Sea ceased due to the Russian October Revolution. Had fighting continued, had this sea got another record cold year? After winter 1941 C.J. Oestman starts his lengthy ice report “Isvintern 1940-41”:
“Very rarely are two severe ice winters directly followed one after the other – since 1870 when regular ice observations started in Sweden. Except for the last two winters, these are -1939/40 and 1940/41 the only other cases are 1915/16 and 1916/17.

Ship operation impact on SST and Winter Air Temperature

Fact is that the war winters prior 1919 had been very cold in Europe. At the top stands the winter 1916/17. For Great Britain it was the third coldest on record. In all sea areas around the UK naval warfare activities was enormous. How did the sea water temperature in the English Channel contributed?
The Royal Navy had to do a lot of surveillance, mine sweeping and war activities in the English Channel. For example in September 1916 a flotilla of about 570 anti-submarine vessels were on hunt for three U-Boats operating for about one week. The operation of such a flotilla is presumably reflected in the record of sea water temperature (SST) taken in the English Channel for the year 1916-1917 (see image). This suggests the conclusion that a cooling of the English Channel water by naval activities will inevitably support cold winter conditions in Great Britain and Europe.

 Extreme weather conditions in Great Britain
and Svalbard

The third example is an observation made by a scientist from Kew Observatory near London in 1942: “Since comparable records began in 1871, the only other winters as snowy as the recent three (1939-1942), were those of the last war, namely 1915/16, 1916/17, and 1917/18.” (Drummond, 1942)

 Svalbard and the extreme dop in Temperatures during WWI

The few examples combined with observations during WWII can be regarded a conclusive evidence between war activities at sea and exceptional weather conditions. Both World Wars offer many more. It is high time to discuss climatic changer matters in the light of these two brief periods, as discussed in two books in detail:



AGU and any of their authors as: A. f. More et al., have to realize that WWI & WWII have a lot to offer to understand better how weather and climate works, and that it is irresponsible to ignore human activities at sea, whether in time of peace or war.

Author: Dr. Arnd Bernaerts

Author: admin

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