Category Archives: Science stories

“Deception at its finest”….a study in cloud perspective

I am sure that many of you saw this last evening:

4:17 PM. Line of spreading out Altostratus translucidus.
4:17 PM. Line of spreading out Altostratus translucidus.  Many of you might have added, “radiatus” to that cloud name.  “Clearly” it is widening as it passes over.

While I hate to embarrass cloud acolytes, here’s the simultaneous satellite view, courtesy of our Banner University of Arizona Weather Department:

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4:00 PM AST. That line of ice cloud looks pretty straight doesn’t it? Imagine how wide a cloud would have to spread, after seeing that Altostratus photo, to REALLY be radiating, spreading out!

As Einstein wrote, “Things are not always as they seem.”

Q. E. D.

Now, for the snow report

…from the Lake Tahoe area (after all, we made a BIG DEAL out of the incredible NWS, Reno, forecast in the prior blogulation):

0822 AM     HEAVY SNOW       NORTHSTAR               39.28N 120.12W
01/11/2017  M42.0 INCH       PLACER             CA   PUBLIC

NORTHSTAR AT TAHOE REPORTED 42 INCHES OF NEW SNOWFALL IN  THE LAST 24 HOURS. 48 HOUR TOTAL OF 78 INCHES AND A 7 DAY TOTAL OF 122 INCHES1.

1This note passed along to the Arthur by Mark Albright.

Looks like a bite has been taken out of the Cal drought this water year, a drought it was said would take years to end!  Folsom Lake, near “Sacramenta”, Cal,  has risen 30 feet in the past 30 days! Oh, my.

Now for some more of them cloud pictures…

Been holding out as other chores fill up the day:

7:19 AM, Jan 10. Pretty Altocumulus, some Cirrus above.
7:19 AM, Jan 10. Pretty Altocumulus, some Cirrus above.
7:19 AM, Jan 10th. Time seems to be standing still, as we look a a cloudlet spewing heavy virga.
Also 7:19 AM, Jan 10th. Time seems to be standing still, as we look a a cloudlet spewing heavy virga.
7:22 AM, Jan 10th, time moving ahead again. Close up of that Altocumulus with virga. Top must have been turreted, colder maybe a half hour or hour before this photo to have so much ice compared to its brethren.
7:22 AM, Jan 10th, time moving ahead again. Close up of that Altocumulus cloud with virga. Top must have been turreted, colder maybe a half hour or hour before this photo to have so much ice compared to its brethren.  That’s the learning part of this sequence.  Doesn’t look like an artifact from an aircraft because there is droplet cloud at the top, and not just a clear spot, which usually happens when an aircraft makes ice in a “supercooled” droplet cloud.
5:14 PM, Jan 10th. THought this was a neat scene, Cirrus uncinus, the long trail of ice crystals falling behind, the overhead view.
5:14 PM, Jan 10th. THought this was a neat scene, Cirrus uncinus, the long trail of ice crystals falling behind, the overhead view.
12:57 PM, Jan 8th. Makes you want to cry... This Cirrus spissatus is trying so HARD to be a precipitator to the ground, and doesn't know that those bottom ice crystals are evaporating 25,000 feet above it.
12:57 PM, Jan 8th. Makes you want to cry… This Cirrus spissatus is trying so HARD to be a precipitator all the way to the ground, and doesn’t know that those bottom ice crystals are evaporating 25,000 feet above it.

The weather just ahead

U of AZ latest mod output (from 11 PM AST last night) has a substantial rain on the doorstep.  Starts here in Catalina Saturday afternoon with projected totals over half an inch nu mid-day Sunday.  Check it out:

Totals valid at 11 AM AST, Sunday, Jan. 15th.
Totals valid at 11 AM AST, Sunday, Jan. 15th.

HECK, this storm wasn’t even predicted 10=12 days ago!  The major weather change was indicated about the 20th, plus or minus a day.  Those storms, indicated in the NOAA “spaghetti” plots more than 12 days ago, are still in the pipeline after we have a brief “recovery” from the “surprise” storm about to arrive on Saturday!  Yay.

This sequence of storms is so great for the AZ water situation, too, as well as giving it to Cal good again around the 20th as well.  No doubt, as the humans we are, the peoples of Cal  will be complaining about TOO MUCH WATER!

This will lead to apathy about water issues, you can bet on it!  See the well-known “cloud seeding cartoon” about drought and apathy posted so many decades ago in a journal article on cloud seeding by editorial nemesis1, Bernard A. Silverman, J. Appl. Meteor.,
termed the “Hydro-illogic Cycle”:

Published in 1978, but was around in the cloud seeding culture for many years before that. Used without permission. hahaha
Published in 1978, but was around in the cloud seeding culture for many years before that. Used without permission. hahaha  I believe it was drawn by the founder of Atmospherics, Inc., Tom Henderson’s daughter.  Atmospherics, Incorporated performed numerous cloud seeding operations in the US and around the world beginning in the early 1950s.  Yours truly worked for them on several occasions in the  early 1970s as a “radar meteorologist” directing seeding aircraft.  Later, I became a published critic, mostly with Prof. Peter V. Hobbs,  of a number of cloud seeding projects.

The End
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1Nothing yours truly submitted during the era of BAS as Editor of the J. Appl. Meteor. “got in”, including the benchmark paper reporting that our own aircraft was creating ice in clouds at temperatures as high as -8° C.   Three sole-authored papers critical of cloud seeding that I submitted were rejected in 1983 alone!  All or parts of them were published years later.

The paper on our aircraft, submitted originally in 1981, was rejected twice before being accepted and published in 1983. The effect was confirmed in experiments conducted in the Mono Lakes area in 1991, by the president of Atmospherics, Inc. mentioned above! Aircraft produced ice particles at unexpectedly high temperatures is a now well-known phenomenon that researchers have to be aware of when re-sampling the same cloud with an aircraft at below freezing temperatures.

Soap box:  It really is the editor of journals that determines whether you’re going to get in or not. They know, or should know, those who are going to keep you out or not, those with axes to grind, and those who are more objective.  However, let me say this, I like Bernie.  Has a great sense of humor. Below, Bernard A. Silverman.  You can see the twinkle in his eye:

Bernard A. Silverman, publisher of the "Hydro-illogic Cycle" at the Cape Town, SA, WMO award
Bernard A. Silverman, publisher of the journal article containing the  “Hydro-illogic Cycle” cartoon at the Cape Town, SA, 2006 WMO award ceremony for achievements in weather modification.  He acknowledged in that  1978 article that he was a cloud seeding advocate.

Cumulus congestus cloud grows into a Cumulonimbus over Sutherland Heights! 0.45 inches falls in 20 min after transformation!!

Also, I am also posting way below a new (!) not-previously-published. but rather rejected- by-important-scientists-a-long-time-ago-manuscript FYI!

Very exciting! (Hah!)

Its published now, though, isn’t it???!!!

“Online.”

Its about science and how it works, and how it has failed;  examples given.   I put it down toward the bottom of a normal blog because I am shy.

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Clouds from a few days ago, August 26th, now that the “choke point” in uploading photos to Word Press  has been, at least temporarily ameliorated.

Here’s the sequence as a great cloud bottom drifted toward us from Pusch Ridge on the afternoon of the 26th.  If you saw this coming, you should have been clearing channels around the house for excessive water flow.  I forgot to.

Unloaded 0.45 inches at this site. 1.69 inches up on there on ol’ lady Lemmon. We sure needed this dump! Below, one of the great cloud bottoms of our time, that of a Cumulus congestus cloud, filled, as we say here, with rainy portent (maybe hail, too):

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1:44 PM, August 26th. Note just a tinge of shading on the right side. First drops, the biggest ones, or even hail stones are just coming out.
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1:48 PM. Cloud beginning to bust open with rain now; updraft collapsing over there. Now its a Cumulonimbus.
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1:53 PM. Nice shafting over there, but will the  cloud base overhead now split open  over us?
1:54 PM. Looks really good almost overhead toward Saddlebrooke! Just don't unload after you go by!
1:54 PM. Looks really good almost overhead toward Saddlebrooke! Just don’t unload after you go by!  Note scruff of lower cloud (called, “pannus”) caused the the outflows of storms to the SW of Catalina.  Not long enough really to be a “arcus” cloud, but clouds like this are almost always associated with a shift in the winds that helps build clouds overhead by acting like a micro-cold front, the rain-cooled air lifting the warmer, humid air ahead of it, and some of that warmer air being cooled to its condensation point producing these lower shelves of cloud.
Attachment 3
2:07 PM. The height of the storm, the visibility down to a hundred yards or two is all. This particular intense period hardly lasted a couple of minutes before it let up noticeably.

 

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Pedagogical or possibly, pedantic (boring) module

Update alert for the posting of new (!) not-published rejected items by this Arthur:

The Cloud Seeding Literature and the Journal Barriers Against Faulty Claims:  Closing the Gaps

(the original title, submitted first in 1997), final rejection in 1999 (Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.)

The reviewers, Harold O., Danny R., and someone named “Anonymous Reviewer B”, guessed as, “”B”, for “Bernie S.”

Those in the cloud seeding culture don’t need the names spelled out.  Harold O. is part of the “old guard” cloud seeding culture, while Danny R. is part of the new cloud seeding guard, one that has gone on to be a science superstar since his early work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the leader of the Israeli cloud seeding experiments.   He  did some work there on the clouds of the Mediterranean and satellite interpretations of them (available in Hebrew only the last time I checked).

While Danny R was there during the time of the reporting of the benchmark Israeli 2 randomized experiment by the leader of the experiment  (1976-1986) he himself was not involved in those (ultimately flawed) analyses.  Later, he participated in the unraveling of the 2nd experiment with Israeli statistician, K. Ruben Gabriel in 1990, J. Appl. Meteor.  Half of the 2nd experiment’s results had been previously omitted, an omission which produced an apparent, unambiguous “confirmatory” success of the Israeli 1 experiment, for the short of it.

The 1990 development in Israel, in essence a retraction of what everyone thought was an unambiguous cloud seeding success, plus the fall of the equally important, earlier benchmark randomized experiments in Colorado, at one time also claimed to have proved cloud seeding by the National Academy of Sciences (Malone et al 1973),  were the primary reasons for composing the piece being posted today.  You may also know that your very own Catalina  “cloud-maven” was in Israel in 1986 for 11 weeks, in doubt of those “hard-to-rain” clouds that were being described by the leader of those experiments, resulting in “Rain from Clouds with Tops Warmer than -10° C in Israel”, (1988, Quart J. Roy. Meteor. Soc.).  This was to some degree the first crack in those experiments.  (Of course, I would say that!)

How could such glowing,  but ultimately critically flawed journal papers appear ultimately involving hundreds of journal pages?  What went wrong with peer reviews?

I attempt in this piece to describe in this piece how science is supposed to work, and these pretty amazing chapters of science in cloud seeding,  and offered some possible solutions.

At one time, Prof. Peter V. Hobbs, named to write up a status piece on Clouds-Climate for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 2003 or so, was going to use the “rise and fall” of the Colorado and Israeli experiments  in this piece I have just posted.  He was going  to demonstrate how we scientists can think we have proved something,  but upon closer inspection, find that we have not proved at all!

Peter Hobbs was concerned that the then many unknowns about clouds were not being treated properly in climate models (being parameterized too crudely), and therefore those parameterizations of clouds in climate models could  lead to erroneous conclusions concerning the amount of global warming that might be ahead.

In his take on this MS, and that “rise and fall” section in particular, Peter, who was not one to dole out compliments very often said of it, “This is pretty good.”  Peter had not reviewed it beforehand.

Ultimately, Peter contracted pancreatic cancer and was unable to submit his status summary to the WMO.

Some recent clouds I have known; updating “not pubbed” list

7:21 PM, August 13th. A sky so full of portent that evening after a clear day. This our last chance for rain for quite awhile, but Sutherland Heights and Catalina whiffed on this incoming complex of thunderstorms.
7:21 PM, August 13th.
A sky so full of portent that evening after a clear day. This our last chance for rain for quite awhile, but Sutherland Heights and Catalina whiffed on this incoming complex of thunderstorms.  But, we had a fabulous light show from a cell that developed almost overhead, pf Sutherland Heights as dark fell, but a little to the SE, dumping heavy rains in the Romero Canyon/Pusch Ridge area.
7:16 PM. A very dramatic looking shelf cloud spread across and otherwise completely clear sky that evening providing a great sunset photo op.
7:16 PM., August 13th.    A very dramatic looking shelf cloud (Stratocumulus) spread across and otherwise completely clear sky that evening providing a great sunset photo op.  Northerly winds of 25-35 mph and a temperature drop of about 10 degrees accompanied this scene.
6:57 PM. The churning, roiling motion of this turret was remarkable, almost like time-lapse there was so much of it. That easily seen churning was evidence of how unstable the atmosphere was this day, unusually cool for summer at 20, 000 feet or so leading to a strong drop in temperature from the 100 F or so here. which results in the warm air that clouds represent being more buoyant than usual, a hotter than usual hot air balloon, if you will, one that goes up faster.
6:57 PM. The churning, roiling motion of this turret was remarkable, almost like time-lapse there was so much of it. That easily seen churning was evidence of how unstable the atmosphere was on this day.  It was unusually cool for summer at 20, 000 feet or so  above us. leading to a strong drop in temperature from the 100 F or so at the ground.   So, as the warmer air that clouds represent relative to their surroundings, made them more buoyant than usual as they climbed upward;  a hotter than usual hot air balloon, if you will, one that goes up faster.  Stronger updrafts are thought to lead to more lightning compared with Cumulonimbus clouds having weak updrafts.
3:57 PM, August 13th. Even slender clouds could shoot up and reach the "glaciation level", and sent long plumes of ice out. The long trail of ice shows how much the wind increased with height at the top of this cloud. As that evening's storm approached, all of the anvils from the many Cumulonimbus clouds were mostly kept from view so that you couldn't see them.
3:57 PM, August 13th. Even slender clouds could shoot up and reach the “glaciation level” where the tops became comprised of only ice crystals,  and sent long plumes of ice out from the parent cloud. The long trail of ice shows how much the wind increased with height at the top of this cloud. As that evening’s storm approached, all of the anvils from the many Cumulonimbus clouds that were approaching were mostly kept from view so that you couldn’t see them.  This cloud also poses a naming enigma.  Its got an ice plume, a very little rain fell out on the left side where Pusch Ridge begins, but no shaft is visible.  It can hardly be called just a “Cumulus” cloud, and yet the more accurate label, “Cumulonimbus” with all of its attributes, makes one a little uncomfortable due to the lack of a visible shaft.

 

The End (of the cloud discussion)

New “not pubbed” item:

I’ve added RViewpoint_10-24-06_submitted date Aug 31, 2006_final, something that’s been sitting around for years!   Spent a lot of time writing it, but ultimately deemed it a hopeless task that it would be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteor.  Soc. under then current leadership in the weather modification domain of that journal, and ultimately never bothered to submit it.  I was sick of the conflict, for one thing.   Haven’t read this piece in years, either, but just wanted to do SOMETHING with it so here it is on this blog.

A longer piece, “Cloud Seeding and the Journal Barriers to Faulty Claims:  Closing the Gaps“, also worked on again in spare time at home, for about two years, with the final rejection in 1999 under pretty much the same Bulletin editorial leadership.  In this MS, I had a chance to get in, but the specific reviewer whose demands the Editor said I had to meet, insisted that I indicate in the manuscript that the lead scientists in the faulty published reports I wrote about “did the best they could under the circumstances” in the  two early benchmark experiments, those in Colorado and Israel.  I knew from direct personal experience that wasn’t true;  I couldn’t write such a bogus statement that might have made the difference in “getting in.”  So two years of on and off effort went down the drain.  Sometime soon I will add this second futile effort to the “not pubbed” list!  I have a number of those…..  It didn’t help either that the two leading scientists whose work I questioned were also the two most beloved scientists in this field.

As with all but one of these pubs (Hobbs and Rangno 1978) in the domain of weather modification, they were done at home, outside of grant funding work while I was at the University of Washington in the Cloud and Aerosol Research Group.  And, as I sometimes alert audiences to, working at home on stuff year after year. thousands of hours involved,  could be considered a “crackpot alert”.  Well, I think of myself as a “good crackpot.”  haha.

Hurricane force winds strike the Sutherland Heights!

If you don’t believe me, and slept through it during the power outages when it was COMPLETELY dark last night, here is a MEASUREMENT of the event from a private weather station,  The arrow points to the event, 58 knots, which is about 67 mph.  This is the greatest wind measured by the PWA in seven years, here and a few down there on Wilds.  The measured (here, the max one-minute speed) wind is, of course, LESS than the actual greatest 1s or 2s puff, likely well over 67 mph.  Unless you have a fancy ultrasonic  anemometer, too much inertia in the cheaper ones to get those instantaneous puffs.

NEW:  Got to 100 mph on Mt. Sara Lemmon before tower on which an ultrasonic anemometer was installed blew away.

Hope your trees are intact:

WInd measurement from Davis Vantage Pro Personal Weather Station located right here somewhere in Sutherland Heights.
WInd measurement over the past 24 h from a Davis Vantage Pro Personal Weather Station located somewhere in Sutherland Heights.  (Remember in Israel, that popular top 40 radio station that said, “Braodcasting from SOMEWHERE in the Medeterranean” and every one knew it was that ship located a half mile or so offshore of Tel Aviv.  Played Springstein, that kind of thing for all to hear.

 

Only 0.17 inches tipped by the Davis Vantage Pro, but with wind blowing as it was, you KNOW that’s going to be substantially low.  We really can’t measure rain that accurately in any thing but perfectly calm conditions.  The more accurate measurements are made if your gauge is sheltered by vegetation that is about the height of the gauge top right near the gauge, but then increases like the inside of a bowl as you gradually move away from it in all directions.  No trees, please, too close!  Preferably your gauge is on the ground not up somewhere, too, which would exaggerate the losses from wind.

Now, I will go outside and measure the rain in two ground mounted gauges, one a NWS-style 8-inch gauge, and the little toy 4-inch gauge from CoCoRahs, that national group that wants your measurements! Sign up now.  Here are the other totals:

NWS gauge, 0.22 inches

CoCoRahs gauge, blew over, no total!  Dammitall!  Wasn’t as protected in the weeds as I thought.  That total “likely” was around 0.24 or 0.25 inches.  CMP had privately predicted, 0.28 inches for this storm, whilst a major forecast professor from CSU who lives in Catalina predicted an INCH1!

Brutal out there, too. Temp only 43° F, still windy.

The weather way ahead

Sorry to say no rain for Catalinaland in our latest computer forecasts through the middle of February as the Big Niño hyped so much here and elsewhere is turning out to be  big poop so far.

Cal rains only great in the far north of the State during January, and in the northern Sierras.

Sucked in by the Big Niño thoughts here, CMP  was predicting quite the mayhem in Cal during the last 15-16 days of January, and 25-30 inches at some locations during that time here is a table for that period from CoCoRahs.  Note Shelter Cove, near the King Range, has the most.  Totals are sorted in descending order, Jan 13-31.

CoCo Jan 13-Jan 31 Cal rain

 
No doubt your curiosity was piqued and peaked by seeing how much rain could fall on you if you lived in Shelter Cove, on the Lost Coast of California. Well, here’s what its like there. Has an AP, too!

IMG_3339
A view of Shelter Cove, showing airport and control tower. Yep, you can fly right in!
IMG_3340
Another view of Shelter Cove. King Range is in the distance. NO DOUBT, rainfall up there WAS more than 25 inches if about 22 fell at Shelter Cove!

May try to get some more of that Cal precip since Jan 13, finding a modicum o direct verification of that huge amount of rain prediction.

No Mavericks surf competition yet, though larger waves have been battering the Cal coast over the past two-three weeks.  Below, surf for today.

Cal big surf Jan 31

DSC_2500
4:04 PM. Nice lenticular, devolving into flocculated Altocumulus downwind. The cells the form downwind from the smooth upwind edge are likely due to the latent heat released when condensation occurs, causing weak up and downdrafts to develop father downwind.
5:58 PM. Dusty sunset, and once again I point out that this would be a great name for a western singer. No worrisome dark spotting on sun.
5:58 PM. Dusty sunset. No worrisome dark spotting on sun.

The End

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1Maybe the “Ivory Tower” has not only protected him from the hiccups of the “real world” due to tenure and that kind of thing, but also from discerning what real weather will be like.  hahaha.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Recall CMP was NOT tenured, but just a “staff” meteorologist with a “light” at the end of the funding grant tunnel, year after year for about 30 years.  So, I am pretty mad about “tenure”.  Hahahaha, just kidding maybe.

“Tenure” was a recent subject of a Science Mag editorial (“Wither (wither) Tenure“), too; costs everybody, especially students, a LOT of money, it was said.

Too, often young bright researchers are blocked by senior professors having tenure and making large amounts of money that hang on well past their productive years.

Cloud Maven Person:  Resigned from the U of WA Cloud and Aerosol Research Group due to feeling he wasn’t earning his high “Research Scientist III” pay anymore, brain dimming, though there was a pile of money that he could have continued on with.  Title of resignation letter:  “Time to Go”.  This free-ed up monies for staff folks that remained in our group, too.

Com’on decrepit tenured faculty, give up!  Resign now!

PS:  My friend tenured fac is STILL active, gives talks/presentations around the world still, even though he’s quite a geezer now, as is CMP.

.

Weather “stagecoach” full of storm presents set to arrive on Friday

Don’t really need me anymore.  Everyone’s on top of this ” incoming” now, set to begin in the area overnight on Thursday, the one you’ve  been reading about here since maybe last October I think.  So, feeling sad today, also because it looks like its going to be a bit too warm for snow, which I think I mentioned about a dozen times. Maybe I will take it out on you by boring you with a science story, one about ice in clouds…but one featuring such stalwarts as Sir Basil Mason, Stan Mossop, John Hallett, Pete Hobbs, Alexei Korolev, and others.  Interested now?

But first, a few nice cloud shots from yesterday so you don’t get too mad at me for boring you first:

2:07 PM.  CIrrostratus fibratus (has detail, not just an amorphous veil).
2:07 PM. CIrrostratus fibratus (has detail, not just an amorphous veil).
4:21 PM.  Cirrus spissatus patches and dog, Zuma (named after the acclaimed dramatic series, Baywatch, which took place at Zuma Beach, also where the author, whilst not storm chasing spent a LOT of time.
4:21 PM. Two dense patches of Cirrus spissatus patches and dog, Zuma (named after the acclaimed dramatic series, Baywatch, which took place at Zuma Beach;  also where the author, whilst not storm chasing,  spent a LOT of time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:22 PM.  Cross section of a Cirrus uncinus (hooked at the top).  This shows how the ice crystals forming at the top first get heavy enough to fall out, but if encountering drier air, start to evaporate, slow in fallspeed, and as in this case, form a flat layer of tiny crystals at the bottom of the head of Cirrus uncinus.  Likely a little moist again at that bottom location so the tiny guys don't away very fast.
5:22 PM. Cross section of a Cirrus uncinus (hooked at the top). This shows how the ice crystals forming at the top first get heavy enough to fall out, but if encountering drier air, start to evaporate, slow in fallspeed, and as in this case, form a flat layer of tiny crystals at the bottom of the head of Cirrus uncinus. Likely a little moist again at that bottom location so the tiny guys don’t away very fast.
5:29 PM.  Sunset in Cirrus (spissatus and others).
5:29 PM. Sunset in Cirrus (spissatus and others).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud ice science story

(drink some coffee, maybe take an extra swig of an “energy drink” if venturing forward)

Kind of takes the fun out of it when other people are saying what you want to say by yourself, lilke today’s forecast for Friday’s storm.  Kind of like being second when you publish “new” results behind other researchers who “got in” a little a head of you (like Korolev et al.-with Hallett!) did in 2004 reporting the FIRST image of a shattered frozen drop they said.

Drop shattering during freezing; what about it?

It was thought not to happen in natural clouds after that embarrassing episode back in the 1960s when the Great Knighted, Sir B. J. Mason1 and his student, Swinbank (1960), reported drops exploded with they froze.  Liquid centers tried to get out of the ice shell as the drop froze from outside in, as you would expect, but then blew up when the freezing water expanded inside the shell.  Looked pretty good.

There was only one thing wrong, their findings weren’t valid for real clouds.

They put too much CO2 in their cloud chamber (that’s right, the very SAME stuff that’s supposed to make the earth warmer and warmer year after year but has been sitting around lately, about 15 years actually, not doing anything) and that CO2 in the experiments turned out to make the outer ice shell real weak, and also the CO2 came out of solution in the water in the liquid center to make matters worse by expressing gas through the shell.  I wonder how many people have done that?

This was found out by researchers in my very own group before I got there, Jim Dye and Peter Hobbs, a few years later.  When real air was used, the drops didn’t explode.  So, down that hypothesis went that exploding drops caused a lot of ice to form in natural clouds.

End of story?  Nope.

Later, Hobbs with grad student, Abdul Alkezweeny, repeated the experiments with freezing drops, but this time instead them just sitting there, had them rotate as they froze and they DID shatter some, but not a lot!  This was back in 1968.

But no one was reporting images of shattered drops.

In those days,  there was a HUGE amount of unexplained ice in clouds.  Cloud chambers on the ground and in aircraft, found that little ice formed until the air IN THE CHAMBER was at least as cold as -20 C (-4 F), but instrumented aircraft repeatedly found tremendous amounts of ice in clouds that had never been colder than -10 C (14 F).  Hence, an enigma.

But the explanation that a few drops exploded, sending out thousands of ice shards never gained any ground because there was never any observational evidence that it happened.  Instead, an Australian researcher, originally from South Africa, Stanly C. Mossop, with John Hallett, discovered in 1974 that a bar moving through a cloud chamber between -2.5 C and -8 C, caused ice splinters to eject from SOME of the little drops hitting the bar and freezing on it.  But the drops had to be at least 24 microns in diameter, fairly large for cloud droplets, or nothing happened.  Also, if they moved the bar too fast or too slow, nothing happened.  So, there were a lot of criteria involved in this process, temperature range, drop sizes, speed.

So, the Hallett-Mossop riming-splintering hypothesis was born.  They assumed the bar, moving at the fall speeds of soft hail, showed what soft hail did inside clouds:  multiply ice content!

It was an exciting time to see that the mystery of all that ice in clouds at higher temperatures was finally explained, not needing, shattered drops or anything else.

But there were some problems.  In the early days, it was thought that this process, to raise the ice concentrations in clouds much, would take as long as 1-2 hours because it was a “cascade” process.  The few first splinters had to grow to sizes there they fell fast enough to bump into drops and cause ice splinters to eject.  Well, that wasn’t right.  Natural clouds formed ice MUCH faster than that, as you here in Arizona know so well.

The experiments continued and it was found that shattering helped this process (assuming it occured, but even more important was the freezing of drizzle and raindrops.  When those froze, they became instant rimers, splintering objects, and so the time for a cloud, but one having drizzle and raindrops in it, and in the right temperature zone, just between -2.5 and -8 C, was cut down to minutes, something like 10-20, to get ice concentrations from about 1 per cubic meter, to tens of thousands per cubic meter, a real rain cloud.

Except for a single image of a drop half by a researcher using a cloud camera with a glider in the 1970s, no one had reported a shattered drop.  Then along come Korolev et al. (with the great Hallett!) in 2004 reporting shattered drop images in a Canadian frontal band using an advanced cloud camera.  They wrote that it was the FIRST images ever reported of shattered drops.  Rangno and Hobbs (2005) also reported images of shattered drops in clouds around the Marshall Islands, thinking at the time that they were going to be first in line, and then discovered the Korolev et al. report.  It was a sad day to find that reference, as a researcher that was thinking about the glorious days ahead, the keynote addresses to important conferences, that would result from being first in line with something and then other people would always have to reference you.

As Ecclesiastes wrote, their is hardly anything new under the sun if you’re slow going about it.

Published another paper on shattered drops back in ’08.  But, found they didn’t SEEM to be making a big contribution to the ice content in clouds, less than 10%.  You can go here to see that I didn’t make that part up. That was kind of sad finding, too.  You want what you find to be HUGE, and it wasn’t so huge as I hoped.

So, riming and splintering remains our best, most accepted explanation for the great amounts of ice in clouds that aren’t so cold, though the author and Hobbs, have mostly found it wasn’t powerful enough to account for the speed of ice development.  Only the author’s friends, Stith et al (2004),  have reported a lot of ice that couldn’t be explained by the riming-splintering mechanism as have  R&H over the years.

But it would be so great if others confirmed the Stith et al findings.

The End for now.

 

———————-

1Wiki doesn’t do a very good job, and doesn’t even list his outstanding updated, Physics of Clouds text published in 1972, the “bible” of cloud physics in those days!  Unbelievable.

2Riming: Think of what happens to an airframe in a liquid drop cloud at below freezing temperatures.  HELL, here’s a photo by the author from the author-occupied Lear Jet 35 flying in supercooled clouds over Saudi Arabia, 2006,  The weapon-looking things under the wings image precipitation particles like raindrops and snowflakes using laser beams with light sensitive diodes at the other end, one that when shadowed, give you a two dimensional image of what went through the laser beam.

ann DSCN1223 rime icing
8:01 AM, December 16, 2006.

 

11:02 AM, December 10th, 2006.  Had to land at Hail, a small, pretty town north of Riyad to pick up some supplies, ones for the randomized cloud seeding experiment underway.  It was interesting that we could carry these boxes labeled "Explosive" to the Lear Jet without any notice.   Hmmmm.
11:02 AM, December 10th, 2006. Had to land at Hail, a small, pretty town north of Riyadh to pick up some supplies, ones for the randomized cloud seeding experiment underway. It was interesting that we could carry these boxes labeled “Explosive” to the Lear Jet without any notice. Hmmmm.  They were there because that’s where another NCAR radar was besides the one at Riyadh, and a plane might have to land to continue seeding if it ran out of the seeding flares like the ones inside these boxes.

 

 

Not blogcastin’ today; but an old science story “filler” from the Middle East!

Lettin’ the past few weather blogcasts about a good chance of snow here in Catalina during the Christmas season ride the old stagecoach into town.  Doesn’t seem to be any need to change it…  In the meantime this.

A science story for you, while we kill time waiting for some snow

You’ve probably read about snow in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Middle East.  I saw it snow in Jerusalem when I there for 11 winter weeks, January through the middle of March, 1986, on a self-funded cloud investigation. Its not terribly uncommon to see snow in Jerusalem, believe it or not.

I was single in 1986, so I could do stuff like that, quit my job at the University of Washington for awhile (2 years), with no need to ask a spouse, “Honey, do you mind if I quit my job today and spend the equivalent of $40,000 going to Israel to look at clouds for a couple of months, and then spend a year without income working on a publication about ’em?”

Not gonna happen.

I had just sold a house in Durango, Colorado, so had some money to waste;  I could be a “gentleman scientist” as in the old days of science before WWII and Vanevar Bush and the onset of big government funding for science, and maybe what some would call the beginning of “careerist” science, that followed WWII and the beginning of the Cold War to propel us forward.

So off I went in early January 1986 to see the clouds of Israel.

Jerusalem was often a city in the clouds during storms; it was so COLD and windy during them, unbelievably so considering what we think of there from Bible stories.  I was outside a lot, experiencing the weather and rain, and on one occasion I remember I couldn’t pull the shutter on my old Rolleicord medium format camera, my fingers were so cold.

The three wisemen/magi came in the winter, didn’t they?  They don’t seem to have enough clothes on in the Nativity scenes that I have seen, given what the weather can do in the winter there.  Below, Jerusalem in the clouds, with 20-30 mph wind, at about 40 F:

I_TALK_001
Part of the new construction of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Might have been a hospital wing. Note leaning cypress or juniper trees.

 

Looking down King David Blvd, Jerusalem,  during a storm.
January 12, 1986.   Looking down King David Blvd, Jerusalem, during a storm.
January 21st, sunset over the Med, from the beach fronting Tel Aviv.
January 21st, 1986:  sunset over the Med, from the beach fronting Tel Aviv.

I really loved it in Israel. The Israel national weather service (IMS, Y. L. Tokatly, Director) was great to me, letting me have a little research area in their offices after I just showed up on their doorstep, unannounced.  Later, in a display of incredible scientific idealism, when the Director learned that the key scientist and I had a falling out about the clouds of Israel after my second week there, he allowed me to continue to use their historical records and my little space in their offices, terming what happened between that researcher and myself, as “merely a scientific dispute.”

Oh, my; where has that pure idealism fled to in the global warming wars?

But I loved the clouds there in Israel the most as they rolled in off the Mediterranean, borne on the cold winds of continental Europe, then boiled upward from flat little guys that they started out as by the warm waters of the Mediterranean into big Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds, the latter often spewing lightning, by the time those clouds and cold air got to Israel.  It is a gigantic lake-effect situation there in the Mediterranean, the kind that is produced by the warmer waters of the Great Lakes as Arctic air traverses it, such as the storm buried folks in New York recently.  Over over the Mediterranean, the air has a chance to really warm up after leaving Europe due to its low to mid 60s late fall and wintertime water temperature.

January 15, 1986.  Cumulonimbus marches ashore north of Tel Aviv.
January 15, 1986. Cumulonimbus calvus marches ashore north of Tel Aviv.
February 9, 1986.  Skies open up near Nahariyya, in extreme northern Israel.
February 9, 1986. Skies open up near Nahariya, along the extreme northern Israeli coast near the Lebonese border.
January 12, 1986.  An epiphany moment as the first storm in daylight hours occurred during my visit.
January 12, 1986. A moment of “cloud ice” epiphany as the first storm in daylight hours occurred during my visit.  I knew with the first two hours of this storm that my hunch about those clouds was right.  BTW, showers like these can roll into Israel,  and into Lebanon for that matter, for days on end, termed “rainy spells” in that region.  Cold air troughs aloft like to “nest” in that region in the wintertime, enhancing the clouds there, and stimulating the “Cypress Low” pressure area at the surface in the eastern Med.

The short of this is, and I COULD write a book, “go long”, was that I questioned,  from afar mind you, after I plotted  balloon sounding of temperature and moisture from Lebanon and Israel when it was raining, whether the clouds being described by a leading scientist in Israel were correct. In fact, from these plots, I was rather sure they weren’t.  But it would, as I knew, be real heresy to conclude that in those days.

Of course, questioning findings goes on all the time in science. Its what makes it better.

A short paper was submitted to the J. of Applied Meteorology in 1983 reporting this discrepancy, and some other problems.  It was rejected by three of four reviewers, one being the leading scientist mentioned above. I really was of the opinion I would “get in.” so was disappointed, but not undaunted in the least! Should have taken more than ONE day, July 4th, 1983, to write it, coming into the University of Washington at 6:30 AM, I was so excited to get it off!

I knew what those balloon soundings were telling me, and so after the paper was rejected, it began to occur to me to GO to Israel and see the clouds for myself.   After all, by this time (1983) I had been punching clouds with cloud measuring instruments at the University of Washington for about seven years, and had a good idea of what was in them just from their visual (external) appearances.  And I was starting to build a list of papers on reanalyzing and commenting on cloud seeding experiments, getting some notice.

So I reasoned that even if I just looked at the clouds of Israel, I would know whether the many journal and conference reports about those Israeli clouds were in error.

Error? What would that be, you ask?  Some background, if anyone is still reading.

The clouds being described in Israel by researchers there, ones operating a cloud seeding program, were supposed to get real thick and cold before they rained. That meant the clouds weren’t very efficient and could to be seeded with a substance called silver iodide (AgI) to make it rain sooner, before they got so thick and cold.  The AgI would introduce ice, needed to start the rain process going, at higher temperatures than the natural clouds rained at, thus  seeded clouds would rain before having to be so thick and cold.

This meant that more would rain when seeded compared to not seeded clouds because not just the taller ones in Israel would rain.   More clouds raining would, of course,  add hours of rain to storms on seeded days, it was posited, and the researchers evaluating their second randomized experiment reported those very results:  seeding, on randomly drawn days, had increased the hours of rain compared to randomly drawn control days. And these increases in rain on the seeded days were statistically significant, as they had been in a first randomized experiment.

So, in not ONE but two randomized cloud seeding experiments in Israel, statistically significant results had been obtained on seeded days, and the scientists reporting these results also had what appeared to be a solid cloud foundation for having obtained more rain by seeding;  the natural clouds just had to be too thick to rain, but they fixed that by seeding with AgI.  It all made sense.

It doesn’t get better than this for scientific proof, the so-called “gold standard” of science;  statistically significant results in two randomized experiments and a solid physical reason why it happened.  Due to these attributes, these experiments in Israel were accepted as “proof” of seeding effects  by our highest scientific panels, such as the National Academy of Sciences, and every expert in the cloud seeding domain.  For a time…..

Representative of this status is a 1982 article in Science magazine;  “Cloud seeding:  One success in 35 years”  That success was the two Israeli experiments en toto.

From the outside, my trip to Israel in 1986 to investigate the clouds would have seemed ludicrous.   Why bother; too many peer-reviewed publications documenting the attributes of those clouds, and also in a number of conference papers as well.

Could they all be wrong?

Yep1.

The End, more or less.

Below, an “action shot”:

Yours truly atop the Riviera Hotel, Tel Aviv.
Yours truly atop the Riviera Hotel, Tel Aviv, January 1986, readying for clouds and storms to blow in from the Med.

——————————————-some final commentary that sort got out of hand after more coffee———–

1The short ending.  That answer is not in question anymore.  Did that leading researcher allow me to go to either of his two radars to see how thick the clouds were when they were raining?

Nope.

So my publication on those clouds (1988, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Met. Society) had to make inferences about cloud top temperatures based on primitive balloon sounding data.  But the results in that paper,  that shallow clouds were raining and had MUCH higher cloud top temperatures than had been reported to that time, were confirmed by independent researchers, the best kind, using aircraft and modern instrumentation a few years later.

Spiking fubball now!  (Can’t seem to lose that sense of irreverence, even when serious.)

Some final, “human” notes about this chapter of science:

This same leading researcher, in 1972 (published in 1974 in Weather and Climate Modification, Wilmot Hess, Ed, Wiley-Interscience) wrote what may be the BEST, most circumspect review of his experiments, as his second experiment was underway!  It is recommended reading for anyone in this field.

So, “something” happened later on when he got his radars to monitor cloud tops and likely learned there was a problem.  And you can imagine, I was his nightmare, a smart-ass with a building publication record critical of cloud seeding coming to Israel to question his cloud reports. Ideally, no problem.  As scientists “ideally” we want to be the first to know that our results are in error.  We care only about truth.  (Right.)  Ufortunately, our humanity sometimes gets in the way.

The leader of the Israeli experiments died only a year after my visit at the age of 54, aware at that time (1987) that the paper on clouds of Israel was going to be published in the QJ (Prof. Peter Hobbs, the Director of my group,  had communicated this news to him after we got word from the QJ that year.)   So….we can speculate.

But our meetings were cordial at all times;  he was a great story teller, and there was no shouting, even when he firmly asked me to leave his office and never come back (2nd visit when I was telling him about my “findings”, which included a mention of drizzle, something his clouds were never supposed to do).

In fact, I felt bad for him, and still do, knowing the position I was putting him in, how this might end when other researchers began asking more questions about his cloud reports and eventually they would have to be overturned.   At one point, on top of the old Hebrew University of Jerusalem, during our first very cordial meeting, I said, “Maybe we can co-author something if I find anything.”  Coming from a “newby” like me, I am sure, as cordial as he was, he would have liked to have pushed me off the roof.

Some day I will post the whole technical thing on this experiment, and another one that was its mirror image in the Colorado Rockies. That future post (Cloud Seeding and the Journal Barriers to Faulty Claims:  Closing the Gaps) will be piled high with references   But this is already too much for now.

Creepy Stratus fractus

Well, that cloud WAS “creeping” toward us after suddenly appearing on Pusch Ridge at dawn…  Looky here:

7:14 AM.  It thinks we're not looking.
7:14 AM. It thinks we’re not looking.
7:25 AM.  In only three minutes, a spurt toward Cartalina, hugging the mountains where its safe.
7:25 AM. In only three minutes, a spurt toward Cartalina, hugging the mountains where its safe.
7:44 AM.  I wasn't watching for awhile, and suddenly, there it was across from me!
7:44 AM. I wasn’t watching for awhile, and suddenly, there it was across from me!
8:00 AM.  By this time it was just sitting, pretending it was something innocuous, but I knew better.
8:00 AM. By this time it was just sitting, pretending it was something innocuous, but I knew better.
1:44 PM.   By afternoon, it was gone... Or was it?  You see, creepy Stratus fractus is afraid of the sun, writhes and evaporates when sunlight hits it, or it just warms up a little.  It is truly cold blooded.
1:44 PM. By afternoon, it was gone… Or is it? You see, creepy Stratus fractus is afraid of the sun, twist and writhes in a death throe, evaporating right before your eyes when the sun comes out, or the weak light from the sun, as yesterday, warms the air up a little.  Stratus fractus is truly cold blooded and only strong light will make it go away!  The end.  Below, some apropos music and commentary…

 

———–

With Halloween only 10 and half months away, I thought I would “get in the mood” and make up a little creepy-ness for the little kids who read this blog. Hi, kids! Hope you didn’t get too scared reading this. “Uncle Artie” is sorry if you did get scared.

What you saw in that sequence of Stratus fractus movement is also demonstrative of what often happens to smog layers funneling out of the Tucson area toward Mark Albright’s house in Continental Ranch, Marana. Here’s an example of creepy morning smog (smoke and other aerosol junk), partitioned to the lowest layers near the ground by a radiation inversion, a temperature reversal that develops at night that results in a temperature rise as you go up. In the afternoons, after the sun has done its work for awhile, the temperature DECLINES as you go up and the smog molecules are dispersed over greater and greater depths. Got it?

7:32 AM, December 2, 2013. Maybe you remember this morning.  Smog stays down there until the sun comes up, and then slowly creepy-creeps toward Catalina and our foothills as the wind changes direction and comes toward us in the late morning and afternoon.  Happens during stagnant weather patterns, not much going on.
7:32 AM, December 2, 2013. Maybe you remember this morning. Smog stays down there until the sun comes up, and then slowly creepy-creeps toward Catalina and our foothills as the wind changes direction and comes toward us in the late morning and afternoon. Happens during stagnant weather patterns, not much going on. Fortunately, the heating by the sun disperses this goop into a greater depth so the smog seems less obtrusive, less visible, though its still there.  BTW, the second arrow pretty much point’s to Mark’s winter home in Continental Ranch.  Mark is a research meteorologist/climatologist at the University of Washington who got his feelings hurt when he corrected exaggerations of snowpack losses in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest and people in his own department got mad at him for correcting those claims; happened back in 2005 or so. But, of course, it still goes on.  Mark and his colleagues were proved right in the ensuing years of mountainous snows in the Cascades.  Of course, a hundred years from now, well, that might be another story.  Tune in later, maybe around 2050 to 2100. It is interesting that when me and Peter Hobbs was correcting cloud seeding claims found in the peer-reviewed literature, ones made by people in OTHER universities, the people in MY department loved me for doing so!

Now, where was I after that big caption….?

Oh, yeah, the weather on deck

Sunday marathoners, achtung!

Looking more like a dry day now on Marathon Day, Sunday, though a cold front will have gone by just before it starts.  Looks like measurable precip will be partitioned to the north of Oracle on Sunday, but it will likely be cloudy with Stratocumulus clouds as the day starts, but those should gradually disperse into scattered to broken Cumulus clouds with virga by mid-day, some of those deeper Cu could produce a cold one; i. e., a sprinkle.

Jet core (at 500 mb, 18,000 feet or so) is well north of TUS as Sunday starts, and its really hard to get precip here until the core passes, which on Sunday will be later in the day.  But then, the cold front has long gone, and the tendency for precip with the jet core has diminished (subsiding air behind the front is moving in then) to just scattered deeper Cumulus clouds having some ice-forming potential.  Deeper clouds are stymied on the right side of the jet (looking downwind) overall in the Southwest in the wintertime by warmer air aloft and stable layers, the kind that produce lenticular clouds.

Below, what”m trying to say in words, is shown in this 500 mb forecast from IPS Meteostar with the wind velocities on it:

Winds at about 18,000 feet above sea level forecast for Sunday morning at 5 AM AST.  No rain is also predicted by this latest WRF-GFS model run on Sunday in the TUS area.
Winds at about 18,000 feet above sea level forecast for Sunday morning at 5 AM AST. No rain is also predicted by this latest WRF-GFS model run on Sunday in the TUS area.

 

Since this is an analysis from a model output, one inherently containing error, there is that inherent bit of uncertainty.  So, you, as a weatherfolkperson,  imagine what can go the best (the most rainful error), and the worst, and make outlier predictions. Potential rain here in Catalina on Sunday:  max, a tenth (everything goes right); bottom, zero (or trace), in this case, as predicted by this model.

Way ahead

I will leave you with this.  I think its looking more promising for storms later in the month.   I think you’ll see what I mean:

Valid at 5 PM AST, December 20th.
Valid at 5 PM AST, December 20th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End

PS:  Lots of low temperature records falling in the West these days.

Yesterday’s drizzle

Some rare drizzle precip1 fell yesterday.  Suggests clouds were pretty “clean”, that is,  didn’t have much aerosol loading and the concentrations of droplets in them was low (likely less than 100 cm-3) Also likely, in view of the recent strong winds, some of the aerosols in those clouds might have been large dust particles2 rather than those due to just “smog” and other tiny natural aerosols.  Large dust particles can not only influence the development of ice at higher temperatures than normal (above -10 C), but is also known to aid the formation of rain due to cloud drops bumping into each other and sticking together; collisions and coalescence because large dust particles can accelerate this process by forming large initial drops at the bottom of the cloud where drops first condense. Here, drops are nearly always too small to bump together and join up unless clouds are deep, like our summer ones,  and ice is going to form anyway.

So, yesterday, was a bit of a novelty.  Some photos and story telling:

SONY DSC
1:34 PM. Drizzling from Stratocumulus!

 

SONY DSC
1:35 PM. Drizzling here. Hope you noticed and wrote it down.  I remember how excited I was in 1986 when I was in Jerusalem and it drizzled!  I did not expect to see drizzle there, and I remember how I screamed out, “DRIZZLE?” after putting my hand out the window of the modest hotel I was in.  In those days, the cloud drops were reported to be too small by researchers there to form drizzle in them.  Yes, Mr. Cloud Maven person was the first person in the world to report in a journal article3 that it DRIZZLED in Israel! One of the great things about blogging is that you can write ALL of the things that you like to read about yourself, and this one is no exception.  I am really enjoying today, reliving past efforts and accomplishments since there don’t seem to be too many ahead….
The late Jack Russell, engineer, listening to Art tell another cloud investigation story.
The late Jack Russell, flight engineer, listening to Art tell another cloud investigation story.

 

2:43 PM.
2:43 PM.  Cumulus humilis field over Saddlebrooke.
3:06 PM.  Drizzle precip just a memory.  These clouds too shallow to rain.
3:06 PM. Drizzle precip just a memory. These clouds too shallow to rain via collisions, and too warm to form ice.

 

Looking ahead….

Mods paint dry weather for the next 15 days, and so yesterday’s disappointing “trace” (don’t recall here that Mr. Cloud Maven person had predicted at least 0.02 inches!) may be it for October.  Phooey.

———————-

1Drizzle: Fine (size range, 200-500 microns in diameter drops) close together, that nearly float in the air.  Very difficult to bicycle in drizzle even with a cap or big hat.   Fallspeeds, just a few mph.  Smaller sizes can’t make it out of the cloud, or evaporate within a few feet almost if they do.  Even true drizzle occurrences, you can’t be too far below the base of the clouds or those tiny drops won’t make it down to you.

2What is a “large” dust particle in a cloud?  Oh, 1-10 microns in diameter, real rocks compared with the other stuff normally in them.  So’s you get a drop that’s already pretty large as soon as condensation takes places.  And, if the updrafts are weak at the bottom, then only them big ones might be activated, keeping the whole cloud’s droplet concentrations low!  Happens even in places in the middle of huge land masses where in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, we saw this happen on a dusty, moist day in shallow Stratocumulus clouds.  They developed some drizzle drops. I was with the National Center for Atmos. Research on a field project then.

31988:  Rain from Clouds with Tops Warmer than -10 C in Israel (Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc.)

Cirrus at 40,000; a science story about a death prediction

Here they are:

6:44 PM.  Some Cirrus spissatus floated over late yesterday.  When its unusually warm, Cirrus are often unusually high such as yesterday's.
6:44 PM. Some Cirrus spissatus (thicker blobs) floated over late yesterday. When its unusually warm, Cirrus are often unusually high altitude such as yesterday’s.

Still no rain in the two week model “headlights”…and believe me I look for it.

A science story

While we’re waiting for “weather”, I thought I would partially bore you with another science story.

I am supposed to be dead by now, well, within 5-10 years after 2003 due to the development of a rare disease called pseudomyxoma peritonei, resulting from a tumor called, mucinous cystadenoma. Actually, I feel so good today at 71 years of age, doing more weight at the gymnasium than I ever have in the past 16 years on some machines, I tell friends that it must be a pre-death “bloom.”

But back in August of 2003, I left work with an incredible gut pain and ended up in the ER at the University of Washington’s hospital, never having finished that afternoon cup of coffee. After a day or so of monitoring, the doc there, Mika Sinanen, “went in” with his team.   It wasn’t presenting as a classic appendicitis.  He found a tumor exiting the appendix. He had never seen this before, and didn’t know what it was.

Later, while in his office, the pathologist came back with the report on it.  It was a “mucinous cystadenoma”, not cancerous.  But SInanen wasn’t as excited as I thought he should be that it wasn’t cancer.   He told me to meet with the University Hospital’s surgical oncologist.

A few days later I was informed by that oncologist that I would likely experience a series of abdominal operations over the coming years due to the development of the disease called, pseudomyxoma peritonei, in which a mucinous jelly like growth attaches to organs in the gut.   There is no cure I was told; portions of the gut are removed, the doc said, until no more can be removed and you die of “blockage.”  It didn’t sound good.

Keep in mind the date of this event, August 2003.

Now the science part.

In September of 2002 a farmer from west Texas was upset over a cloud seeding program his county was going to undertake and had decided to write to all of the universities having atmospheric science programs about the status of cloud seeding. Was it proven? And would it work in the summer clouds of west Texas?

He eventually reached me at the University of Washington. I had published critiques and reanalyses of cloud seeding experiments in peer-reviewed journals, usually with the Director of our Cloud and Aerosol Group, Peter V. Hobbs, as a co-author, over the preceeding 25 years. In the farmer’s note, he said that he had contacted over 130 universities, and that my name had come up often. I cherish that e-mail even today, an indication that your peers had noticed your work.

I should mention that all of this reananlysis work was self-initiated, and except for one paper, they were done off and on on my own time with no funding whatsoever over a period of about 25 years. I sometimes partially joke about this aspect in introductions of talks on this subject by describing all this self-funded work as a “crackpot alert”. But I was trying to be a good crackpot.

I sent this farmer the fairest objective one-page note on cloud seeding I could, one that I thought my peers would also agree with. Its our job as scientists, even if with think they are still faulty reports out there, we have to cite them until they are officially overturned. I wrote to the this farmer that cloud seeding had not been proven in those types of clouds (summer Cumulonimbus ones) in ways that we in the science community would find convincing. That is, proven through randomized experiments, double blind ones, and in which the results had been replicated. That’s the gold standard for all science. I did point out, as I must as a scientist, that there were “promising results” using hygroscopic methods of seeding of such clouds. That was about it.

Implementing a commercial cloud seeding project creates jobs (don’t forget, the author has participated in these), and it looks good for sponsoring organizations, like state and county governments, to try to do something about droughts. Makes constituents happy even if most academic scientists question such a practice absent proper evidence.

Within 24 h of sending that note, I received this e-mail from Texas:

“You will die in 11 months from a fast-growing tumor, you f…… rascal.”

It was pretty odd since it had a timeline, and that 11 months was odd, and I thought use of the word “rascal” didn’t fit the preceding expletive. Another expletive would have fit better.  There was no way to connect this e-mail to the note I sent that farmer, but the timing made it clear it had something to do with it.

Well, EXACTLY 11 months after that note I was on my way to the hospital leaving a half a cup of coffee on my desk at the U of WA due to an odd tumor exiting my appendix. And, by golly, I WAS going to die, but in 5-10 years!

I will never forget that day the surgical oncologist at the U of Washington hospital told me that. The disease never showed.

I always wanted to write to that e-mail address from where the threat originated (a phony one) and say,
“Hah-hah (emulating “Nelson” on The Simpsons); it was a SLOW growing tumor!”

——————————–

One final note.

Scientists don’t like it when you’re reanalyzing their work, naturally. The very first review I saw of my first paper reanalyzing a randomized cloud seeding experiment was so bad, and had a personal attack that I did not have the credentials to reanalyze that experiment1 it made a fellow, cartoon-drawing graduate student in our group, Tom Matejka, laugh.  He then came up with the image below of how that reviewer must have seen me. His drawing was so perfect a depiction, I loved it.  The paper, “A reanalysis of the Wolf Creek Pass cloud seeding experiment”, was the lead article in the May 1979 issue of the Journal of Applied Meteorology.seeding cartoon of art

I have also included a photo of Tom, one of my favorite grad students passing through our Cloud and Aerosol Group at Washington. You can see the playfulness in his face.

Tom Matejka, circa 1979.
Tom Matejka, circa 1979.

—————–

1True, actually; I had no credentials in that domain at that time.

Miriam’s sunset

At least former hurricane Miriam gave us a nice sunset of mostly layer ice clouds (Cirrostratus; Altostratus (where thicker).  Note portion of halo, upper center, above pointy-top cedar tree on the horizon.  Looks a broken streak of droplet clouds (Cirrocumulus) just below that  bit of halo.

Today’s overcast of Altocumulus and Stratocumulus, also associated with Miriam, develops some light rain to the south of us now.  Wasn’t supposed to get here (from U of AZ model yesterday), but, there it is, SLOWLY heading this way.  Will it make it? Don’t think so. If it does, it won’t be much, a trace?  Dang.

Next rain here, sometime in October….  None now shown for the next 15 days.  Maybe summer stats later today or tomorrow.  (Correction, updated at 1:05 PM local based on the US WRF-GFS model run at 5 AM:  

the almost “usual” rain has shown up, 324 h from now, that is, Thursday afternoon, October 11th.  Below is the precip for the 12 h ending at 5 PM that day.  Also, as “usual”, don’t count on it, but its not impossible either.  There a tiny heavier rain blob over Catalina or so.

 

Didn’t get to a rain stat presentation yet due to being absorbed by former company team’s activities in SEA last evening where, at the conclusion of the match, there was a display of sport’s anarchy.  The attendees of this event, in some kind of euphoric riot, lost control of themselves, climbed out of their seats and advanced onto the floor of the stadium where only the athletes and their entourages are supposed to be.

Two curious friends were at that game, my friend Nate, who got a big check (250 K$!) from Al Gore at the Whitehouse a few years ago due to being a science star, and my other friend Keith, who made a LOT of money photographing the explosion of Mt. St. Helen’s in 1980 because he was where he shouldn’t have been went it went off.   Keith then quit the Ph. D. program in the geophysics grad school at the U of WA and started a company, Remote Measurements,  due to all the money he made from that poster of the explosion.

Nate and Keith now share season tickets now to the Husky football games, as Nate and I once did, which I think proves something about fans of college fubball.

What does it prove?

Maybe its that you can like college fubball and still get a big check from Al Gore (who later went on from being Vice-president to a star in the movies).

Or, it just proves that you don’t have to be THAT bright to be a success in science (hahahahah-its just long, hard hours, not brillance, that counts).

And, it may prove that college fubball fans are sometimes not be who we think they are.  Feeling defensive here about being so absorbed last evening, so let us not forget that the writer was thanked by the People of Earth with a small monetary prize, a “scroll”,  AND…a trophy (!) for his and Peter Hobbs’ body of work in the domain of weather modification, all these goodies being presented in Capetown, SA, in 2006.  So, there, IQ feels better now.

As a joke on that that latter thought, my friend and grad school officemate, Ricky, from Harvard U. no less, and I used to throw a  football around at lunchtime on the lawn in front of the 7-story department of Atmos. Sci.  Building at the U of WA.  Before we went out the door to play catch, I warned Ricky that his perceived IQ would drop by 30 points when people look down and see him tossing a football, and, forget dating any of the women in the Department…  :}  Just kidding!

The End.