Category Archives: My life in cloud seeding

The story about a personal sojourn through a field characterized by confirmation bias, vested interests, and skewed literature


I was so excited…

 My trip, and the analysis of the data that came out of it,  was the first published report that something was not right with Prof. Gagin’s cloud reports.  My publication appeared in the Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., Rangno 1988, “Rain from Clouds with Tops Warmer than -10°C in Israel,” hereafter, “R88,” found here).  My manuscript was “communicated” to the Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc. by the director of our airborne research group,  Prof. Peter V. Hobbs, a member of the Royal Society eligible to submit papers to that journal.  (I was not).

Neither Prof. Hobbs nor I believed that my paper refuting the many published descriptions of Israeli clouds by Prof. Gagin could be published in an American Meteorological Society journal.  Too many potential reviewers had heard Prof. Gagin’s presentations on too many occasions, or read his journal papers,  to believe that what he was saying could be so much in error.

R88 was based on rawinsonde-indicated cloud tops when it was raining at the launch site or within an hour and a half, so it was fairly primitive.  Why I had only rawinsonde data and not data from Prof. Gagin’s 5-cm modern radar data as was explained in Chapter 4.

Nevertheless, my “primitive” findings were confirmed several years later in independent airborne studies (e.g., Levin 1992, 1994, preprints; Levin et al. 1996, J. Appl. Meteor.) and on several occasions since then (e.g., Freud et al. 2015).  Spiking football now!

Why Prof. Gagin’s cloud reports were likely in error and how much they deviated from comparable clouds was shown in Rangno and Hobbs 1988, Atmos. Res.

I had experienced cloud seeding “delusionaries” in Colorado during the CRBPP, namely, credentialed “scientists” who believed things that weren’t true and even published things they knew weren’t true (as Grant and Elliott had done in 1974, J. Appl. Meteor.).  I sensed that Prof. Gagin might be one of those.  He and his staff also had a lot to lose if the clouds of Israel weren’t so ripe for seeding as his descriptions painted them.

I reprised my 1988 published findings from my trip to Israel in a University of Washington Atmos. Sci. colloquium in February 1990. I was motivated by the J. Appl. Meteor. memorial issue to Prof. Gagin in October 1989.  Here’s the flyer for that talk, intended to draw interest with some topical humor concerning the Iran-Contra affair that was in progress while I was in Israel in 1986 (unknown to me at the time):

End of life story.  I consider this episode concerning Israeli clouds my greatest, costliest, volunteer science contribution of the several reanalyses that I did on my own time and dime.




The trip to Israel

My self-funded trip to Israel was one of 11 weeks, from January 4th  through March 11th, 1986.  I loved my time in Israel and would go back in a heartbeat any winter to see those beautiful Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds rolling in off the Mediterranean again!

Following my return and for the rest of 1986 I lived off my savings in Seattle to write up an analysis and draft of what I had found.  Despite my resignation, Prof. Hobbs and I retained a civil relationship as I also finished grant work that I said would before resigning (which ended up being Rangno and Hobbs 1988, Atmos. Res., “Criteria for the Onset of Significant Ice Concentrations in Cumulus Clouds.” In this short 1988 paper, it was noted that the reports from Israel concerning the onset of ice in clouds was sharply at odds with similar clouds.  I discussed why that might have been in the paper.

Prof. Hobbs also agreed to look over my drafts and figures of the Israeli cloud investigation as I brought them in to the University of Washington from time to time.  Being who he was, Prof. Hobbs greeted me when I first dropped by the University of Washington upon my return from Israel with, “I doubt you’ll get a paper out of your trip.”  However, I knew exactly what I had to do to pass journal muster because of the rejection of that 1983 paper.  It was also evident that no American Meteorological Society journal was likely to accept a paper like the one I was putting together;  too many potential reviewers had heard at conference or read in journal articles on too many occasions how Prof. Gagin had described Israel’s hard to rain natural clouds.

That I got any Israeli data at all to take home and analyze was to the credit and magnanimous view of my outside cloud inquiry by the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS), Director, Y. L. Tokatly, who gave me pretty much a free reign to examine historical balloon soundings and synoptic maps within their Climate Division.  The Climate Division was headed by Sara Rubin, who was also friendly and extremely helpful.  I was even given a little desk space in the climate division!  I went there every day that there wasn’t a storm to experience, clouds to assess with this experienced eyeball and photograph while traveling all over central and northern Israel on their stupendous bus system.  I had also crated my bicycle to Israel for local travel.

Here is the IMS Headquarters building I worked in and the little desk space they gave me, two of the several officemates I had, and a shot of the IMS map and briefing room.

Zohar Moar (?) working next to my little desk space in the Climate Division office of the IMS.

Ronit Ben-Sara and Geulah Siles in the climate division office.

Forecaster Uri Batz in the IMS map room.

Below these is a list of the bus rides I took on ONE storm day, always sitting behind the driver and looking out the front window, recording drop sizes and nature of the rain  on  the  front  window::

In some interesting cases, such as in the hill region and the Golan Heights, I would get out and walk around in the wind and clouds, the latter often topping a hill region such as Jerusalem.   I had my heaviest clothing, but it really wasn’t enough to keep me warm, and I had no gloves. Temperatures during storms were usually in the low 40s in Jerusalem with winds of 20-30 mph and passing showers.  Once, I could not pull the shutter lever on my Rolliecord film camera to take a cloud photo my fingers were so cold.

This weather, too, really put an edge on those Bible stories.  I could not imagine how miserable it really was for people living here in the winters.  It even snows in Jerusalem from time to time as I saw myself in a January 1986 storm pocked with thunder.   I listened to the IMS weather briefings most mornings, too.  I was in heaven.

First Impressions

What was particularly interesting to me was that I encountered more skepticism about Israeli cloud seeding efforts in the IMS than there seemed to be in the entire world outside of it!

My first meeting with Prof. Gagin:   January 10, 1986

It was an extremely cordial meeting in his office at the Rivat Gam branch of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at the end of a dry week in Israel.  That was followed by a family dinner at his residence where he regaled me with so many interesting stories.  I really thought at that time that he didn’t mind my intrusion into his cloud seeding world, and I began to feel some guilt about it since he was so nice to me!  But I had to persevere in my “task” I thought.

Prof. Gagin took this photo atop the HUJ satellite campus at Rivat Gam during that first meeting. He would not allow me to take his photo.  I also suggested at this time that if I “found something” that perhaps we could co-author a paper.  He deferred.

Not too surprisingly, all the weather forecasters I spoke with in the Israel Meteorological Service in 1986 were well aware that clouds much shallower than Prof. Gagin was describing as seeding targets, that is, those with tops >-10°C rained.  It must have seemed bizarre to them that I had come 7,000 miles to document something they deemed so ordinary!

But where were Tel Aviv University atmospheric scientists in in these matters?  Think how embarrassing it might be to all Israeli scientists to think that a minor foreign science worker had  traveled thousands of miles to inform them about the true nature of their own clouds as they were described in the peer-reviewed literature!

You may have guessed the possible answer to this puzzle about the lack of involvement of other scientists in questioning or overturning Prof. Gagin’s cloud reports.

It turned out that considerable funding from cloud seeding operatives in Israel went to Tel Aviv University (Z. Levin, 1986, private conversation).  He simply could not openly help me, he stated, in our one and only meeting.   He also had trouble believing at that time that my cloud assessment (ice particles onset in Israeli clouds with tops between -5°C and -8°C, and that concentrations of “50-200” per liter were present by the time cloud tops reached -12°C, was correct.  I wrote this same assessment following my 2nd meeting with Prof. Gagin to Professors Roscoe R. Braham, Jr., at North Carolina State University, Gabor Vali, University of Wyoming, Peter V. Hobbs and  Lawrence F. Radke at the University of Washington, and to Dr. S. C. Mossop (of the Hallett-Mossop riming and splintering process).  Why I wrote to them will become clear in the next segment.

January 19, 1986:  My second meeting  with Prof. Gagin

There had been several shower days in Israel when Prof. Gagin and I met for the second time.  He asked me at the very beginning, after handing me a cup of coffee,  “What have you found?”

I unloaded a boatload of findings contrary to his cloud reports.  Suffice it to say, our meeting did not go well after that.  In a sense, I was Professor Gagin’s nightmare; an under-credentialed worker coming to “his house” to expose faulty cloud reports.  But, with his radars and aircraft, how could he possibly not have known that his reports were faulty?

I had also felt true drizzle falling in Jerusalem in the early morning hours during the very first storm.  Drizzle tiny (<500 um in diameter) drops that are close together was something that was not supposed to occur in Israel due to the polluted nature of the clouds reported by Prof. Gagin.   I certainly did not expect to see it, and when I stuck my hand out of my apartment window, I yelled, “drizzle?” to no one in particular.

Then, when I came down from Jerusalem on a bus that morning to the coastal plain, I was amazed by shallow, glaciating clouds (modest Cumulonimbus clouds) rolling in from the Mediterranean Sea.  Namely, in less than three hours of the first storm, I had seen all I needed to know that Prof. Gagin’s clouds reports had described non-existent clouds.

In this 2nd meeting, I had brought with me an IMS sounding from Bet Dagan when rain was falling lightly throughout the hill region of Israel that had a cloud top, marked by a sharp inversion and strong drying,  at -5°C.  Professor Gagin was non-plussed by the sounding, stating that balloon soundings are unreliable for the purpose of assessing cloud top temperatures.

Prof. Gagin Had Heard Enough.

He informed me how offended he was by my visit to check his cloud reports.  He asked me, “Who do you think you are, the Messiah, come to expose the liars?” He immediately then asked, “Did Hobbs send you?”

Peter Hobbs had not sent me5! !

I was reeling at that point in my meeting with Prof. Gagin, almost speechless even though I knew something like this, being bawled out,  might happen.   However, I did cough up an admonition: “Don’t be like Lew Grant,” referring to Grant’s stubbornness in accepting new information.  Prof. Gagin replied, “I don’t appreciate the comparison.”  This is the first time I have mentioned this quote.  Prof. Grant deemed Abe Gagin a good friend and wrote a testimonial on his behalf when Prof. Gagin died.  I would be willing to bet that Prof. Gagin later deeply regretted uttering that about Grant.

Before many more words were spoken, Prof. Gagin was escorting me out of his office and telling me not to come back; “Do your own thing,” he said.  I went back to my apartment and wandered down King David boulevard in Jerusalem in kind of a haze.

For me, to “do your own thing” was continuing to gather historical data at the IMS on fair weather days and travel around eye-balling and photographing clouds and rain on storm days.  I decided I needed to alert my former colleagues at the University of Washington and other scientists in this field about what had happened and what my so-called, “findings” were.  I wrote to five leading scientists of the day, Prof. Peter V. Hobbs and Prof. Larry Radke at the University of Washington, the leaders of my former group, to Professor Roscoe R. Braham, Jr., at North Carolina State University, Professor Gabor Vali, at the University of Wyoming, and to Dr. S. C. Mossop at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Organization in Australia.  All wrote back except Hobbs and Radke who were on a field project in North Carolina.

All that replied supported what I was doing.  Vali described my investigation as “spectacular,” and Mossop stated that I was a “genius for discovering sometimes unwelcome results.”  Mossop was alluding also to my discovery of that an aircraft can create ice in clouds at temperatures around -10°C (Rangno and Hobbs 1983, J. Appl. Meteor.) a paper that had little credibility until confirmed in trials eight and 18 years later, it was that unexpected.

I  felt an obligation to tell ASAP what had happened with Prof. Gagin to IMS Director, Y. L. Tokatly, in case he might wish to revoke my visitor privileges.  He did not!  He replied that it was just a difference of opinion, and I could continue to visit the IMS and gather data!  How magnanimous was that?

February 3rd, 1986:  My Third and Last Meeting with Prof. Gagin Takes Place at His Ben Gurion AP Radar.

A third meeting was arranged, despite what had happened in our 2nd meeting, after I learned that Prof. Gagin and his cloud seeding group had their own radar located on the outskirts of Ben Gurion AP.   I did not even know that Prof. Gagin had his own radar at that point until informed of the “private radar” by an Israeli air traffic control person when I was looking for pilot reports of cloud tops!  I had to call Prof. Gagin, as hard as that would be, and ask him about visiting it.  A third meeting was arranged.  Prof. Gagin was cooperative.

But what about that radar, located on the outskirts of Ben Gurion Airport?  That radar would surely prove that Prof. Gagin was right and I was wrong; that rawin soundings indicating high cloud top temperatures of precipitating clouds were, indeed, unreliable as Prof. Gagin asserted.

I bicycled from my Riviera Hotel in Tel Aviv to this meeting.  The sky was overcast in deep Altostratus (a mostly ice cloud) underlain by Altocumulus opacus clouds.  A storm was approaching, but it would be hours before rain arrived.  Below, a vertical look at those clouds from the site of the Ben Gurion radar as I was leaving.

The main thing I wanted to ask Prof. Gagin in our third meeting was whether I could go to this radar during storms and see cloud top heights.   He said “no,” giving “airport security” as the reason.  He repeated to me  how (understandably) offended he was by my visit to Israel to check his cloud reports.

But, “airport security?” I had just bicycled to his radar on the outskirts of Ben Gurion; no problem!  Later, a grad student at Tel Aviv U. in Professor Zev Levin’s group,  Graham Feingold, would erupt over the “airport security”  claim as a lie, as it clearly seemed to to be at the time.

Prof. Gagin further assured me in this meeting at his radar that radar top measurements would only confirm his reports (that is, if I could only view those top heights on his radar!)

I also informed Prof. Gagin that due to his behavior in our 2nd meeting that I had asked several scientists around the world to intervene with him on my behalf.  He asked me who I had written to and I told him (those listed earlier).

How crazy was this episode?  

A minor, but well-known cloud seeding critic, as I was at that time, could be easily convinced that he was wrong by examining Prof. Gagin’s  radar top height measurements.  But he was denied the opportunity to be proved wrong!

Learning about private flying in Israel and then getting a pilot to be on “standby” for cloud sampling

Late in February,  I learned that there was a robust private aircraft touring business in Israel.  I had assumed, based on the reports of Professors Mason, Hobbs, and Vali,  that research groups weren’t able to get in, that flying around in Israel to sample clouds couldn’t be done due to security issues.  But then, how could there be a strong tourist flying program?

I then went to one of the aircraft touring sites at Sade Dov Airport near Tel Aviv, and found that I could get a single engine aircraft and pilot, Yoash Kushnir, who would sample the tippy tops of clouds along the coastline of Israel with me along.  He said it would cost $250 an hour and I was willing to spend about $500 to do give it a try.   His aircraft had a ceiling of about 14 kft as I recall,  just “high enough” to sample cloud tops that would average >-10°C.  Tippy tops is not the best place to find much ice.  Higher concentrations of ice are found lower down when ice is developing, as a rule, unless the top has completely glaciated.

The pilot I had on standby, incidentally, was angry that it was believed outside of Israel that you couldn’t fly research in Israel and sample clouds.  It was a presumption I had, too, because the University of Wyoming and the British teams were not able to get in to sample Israeli clouds.  This pilot regularly flew tourists to view ruins at Masada and other historical sites in Israel.

While Prof. Levin felt he could not openly support my efforts due to funding issues, he did provide me with a graduate student, Graham Feingold, who was willing to go along on a flight.  He  would act as a witness to what was found in those “tippy tops.”  I had planned to use the “black glove” technique used decades earlier in sampling clouds for the presence of ice.  You literally stick a black-gloved hand (or a black stick) out of the window of the aircraft and look for what hits.

You can only imagine how crazy these people thought I was!  Years later I learned that I had been described by Graham, who was to become my friend, as, “that cowboy from America.”

No flight ever took place as the weather dried out by the time l learned I could hire an aircraft to sample cloud tops.  Ironically, the only rain after having Yoash Kushnir on standby fell briefly from clouds whose tops were near the freezing level, and likely, if I had flown that morning, no ice would have been found in them!  It was a surprise weather event that produced barely measurable rain.

My Meeting with Israeli experiments’ “Chief Meteorologist,” Mr. Karl Rosner

Late in my 1986 cloud investigation, I met the Israeli cloud seeding experiments’ “Chief Meteorologist,” Mr. Karl Rosner.  It was IMS’ scientist, Alexander Manes, that got me in touch with him.  I learned that the chief meteorologist, too, knew that Israel clouds rained having tops warmer than -10°C!  It then seemed that the only three people in Israel who did not know that rain fell from such clouds were those who studied them in great detail, Prof. Abe Gagin, his frequent co-author, Jehuda Neumann,  and Prof. Gagin’s only graduate student, Daniel Rosenfeld!

But Mr. Rosner had a more important and astounding thing to tell me:  Prof. Gagin had refused to publish the result of the south target random seeding for Israel-2.   Mr. Rosner had launched a campaign to see that it got published.  The results of the “full” Israel-2 experiment were published by Gabriel and Rosenfeld (1990).   Prof. Gagin, his co-author, J. Neumann, had stated in their 1981 journal paper that the seeding of the south target was “non-experimental.” They wrote that this was due to the lack of a suitable coastal control zone like the that they used to evaluate the north target’s random seeding.  Previously, in 1974 these authors had given the result of random seeding in the south target as suggesting a decrease in rain after two rain seasons, and by 1976 at conference, stated the south target results were inconclusive for the full Israel-2 experiment.

So, here I was questioning the cloud reports and then learning from Mr. Rosner that half of the Israel-2 experiment had not been reported!  In Gabriel and Rosenfeld’s 1990, we learned that the “full” result of Israel-2 was a -2% suggested effect on rainfall;  it had not replicated Israel-1 as was previously believed based on the partial reporting of Israel-2.

Some Speculation About Why Prof. Gagin Might  Not Known Have Known About the Natural Precipitating Nature of Israeli Clouds

It may be that Prof. Gagin’s graduate student knew the true cloud/rain situation but did not pass that crucial information along.  It does happen that lab directors and important scientists have staff and students who do all the research, and upper echelon scientists are not close to what’s being done by the lower echelon staff;  the latter might not pass along all the relevant information if it goes against the beliefs of their bosses.

One must conjure up a dizzying amount of incompetence concerning the three principal Israeli cloud seeding researchers (Gagin, Neumann,  and Rosenfeld) who could not identify the most basic aspects of their clouds;  the depth  and cloud top temperatures  at which they started to rain.

But is an “incompetence” hypothesis credible? Or was it that a knowing graduate student did not pass along to Prof. Gagin information that would have eroded his cloud reports?  Read on….

Prof. Gagin and his student had monitored cloud tops with a vertically-pointed radar with tops having been confirmed by aircraft flyovers.  This was done for two rain seasons in the late 1970s (Gagin 1980, Atmos. Res.)  Prof. Gagin made no mention in his article of the shallow raining clouds that violated his cloud reports, ones that had to have passed over his radar during those two rain seasons.

Dr. Rosenfeld studied radar data and satellite cloud patterns in his 1980 master’s thesis and 1982 Ph. D. dissertation2.  Yet, he did not bring to his country’s attention or to the scientific community, those shallow raining clouds with relatively warm tops, either.  Such reports, if outed, would have had a profound effect on the viability of cloud seeding to increase rain in Israel, perhaps saving the country 10s of millions of dollars in wasted seeding efforts, as we now know happened when an independent panel (Kessler et al. 2006) found no via evidence that cloud seeding for 27 rain seasons had increased runoff into Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Moreover, these researchers were recording echo top data from their Enterprise 5-cm wavelength radar at Ben Gurion AP after it had been deployed in support of cloud seeding efforts in the late 1970s.  Dr. Rosenfeld cited 1986 recorded radar top data in his 1997 “Comment” on the Rangno and Hobbs 1995 J. Appl. Meteor. paper.  Another enigma.

 A regret about stridency

My last communication to Prof. Gagin following my cloud investigation trip was from Seattle in June 1986.  In that long letter I recapitulated the elements of my cloud investigation.  This letter was copied to Prof. Peter Hobbs, Roscoe R. Braham, Jr.3, at North Carolina State University, and Prof. Gabor Vali at the University of Wyoming.

The one thing I came to regret was how I closed that June 1986 letter.  I closed it with a challenge:  That I, myself, would leave the field of meteorology, all aspects, if my Israeli cloud observations were wrong; that ice was not forming in high concentrations in Israeli clouds with top temperatures >-12°C (eyeballing 50-200 per liter as I wrote in my letters from my experience sampling glaciating clouds at the University of Washington).   I then challenged Professor Gagin himself to leave the field of meteorology instead of me if my observations were later proved correct:

So, there I was, the person who was told to give up meteorology by Joanne Simpson, who believed that “statues will be raised in his honor” challenging that very professor to quit the field.

Joanne likely never remembered who I was, and I had a couple of cordial correspondences with her due to my cloud seeding reanalysis publications that began reaching the literature in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Later, when it was thought there was  some overarching claims about “global warming,” she sent me her banquet talk given in October 1989 to a statistical conference, shown here to indicate this cordial relationship:

1990 1-22 Simpson, from, about GW and cloud seeding_color version_ocr

I wish I had gotten to know her.

The End


Joanne Simpson’s homage to Prof. Gagin:


1This was, and is even today (!),  a sore point for me; that someone might believe this.  Prof. Hobbs was clueless about Israeli cloud anomalies and the Israeli experiments except for those plots and information that I relayed to him while studying those experiments on my own time.  As most professors would do,  he read in the peer-reviewed literature and took it at face value.

2Rosenfeld’s works are in Hebrew and have never been translated into English, but should be.

3The full letter, and others that I wrote to Prof. Roscoe R. Braham, Jr., are in an archive of his professional correspondence at North Carolina State University.


By the end of the 1970s, Prof. Gagin and his work had become of interest to me.  After all, as I learned in Durango, nothing could be taken at face value in the cloud seeding literature unless I had personally validated that literature by scrutinizing every detail of the published claims in it, looking for omissions and exaggerated claims, something reviewers of manuscripts certainly did NOT do.

I had a lot of experience by this time.  I had reanalyzed the previous published reports of cloud seeding successes in the Wolf Creek Pass experiment (Rangno 1979, J. Appl. Meteor.);  the Skagit Project (Hobbs and Rangno 19781, J. Appl. Meteor.), and had authored comments critical of the published foundations of the Climax and Wolf Creek Pass experiments in Colorado (Hobbs and Rangno1 1979, J. Appl. Meteor.) and others.

What was to transpire was that the person Joanne Malkus Simpson suggested to give up meteorology, me, helped eliminate the reasons why anyone, let alone her, would continue to believe that “statues” should be raised to honor Prof. A. Gagin’s contributions to cloud seeding.  Here’s what happened.

The Israel chapter of my cloud seeding life begins

In about 1979, the Director of my group at the University of Washington, Prof. Peter V. Hobbs, challenged me to look into the Israeli cloud seeding experiments:  “if you really want to have an impact, you should look into the Israeli experiments.”  I guess he thought I had a knack seeing through mirages of cloud seeding successes.

I did begin to look at them at that time.  Prof. Hobbs asked me to prepare a list of the questions I had come up with after I started reading the literature about the Israeli experiments.  He wanted to ask questions of Prof. Gagin at the latter’s talk at the 1980 Clermont-Ferrand International Weather Modification conference in France.  Those at the conference said that he did ask Prof. Gagin questions but it wouldn’t have been like Prof. Hobbs, as I began to learn over the years in his group, to have said, “My staff member has some questions for you, Abe.”  Maybe he thought that wasn’t important.

I already knew something of the rain climate of Israel long before reading about the Israeli cloud seeding experiments.  This was due to a climate paper I was working on when I arrived in Durango, CO, as a potential master’s thesis for SJS.  My study was about “decadal” rainfall shifts in central and southern California and I wanted to know if what I observed in California had also been observed in Israel, a country with long term, high quality rainfall records and one having a Mediterranean climate like California.  I received several publications from the Foreign Data Collections group at the National Climatic Center in those days, such as Dove Rosnan’s 1955 publication, “100 years of Rainfall at Jerusalem.”

So, I was not coming into the Israel cloud seeding literature “blind” to its surprisingly copious winter rain climate.  Jerusalem averages about 24 inches of rain between October and May, something akin to San Francisco despite being much farther south than SFO.

My interest in the Israeli cloud seeding experiments, however, ebbed and flowed in a hobby fashion until the summer of 1983 when I decided to plot some balloon soundings when rain was falling, or had fallen within the hour, at Bet Dagan, Israel, and Beirut, Lebanon, balloon launch sites. Anyone could have done this.

The plots were stunning!

Dashed line is the pseudoadiabatic lapse rate; solid line, the adiabatic lapse rate.   The synoptic station data are those at the launch time or within 90 min.  

Rain was clearly falling from clouds with much warmer tops at both sites than was being indicated in the descriptions of the clouds necessary for rain formation in Israel  by Prof. Gagin, descriptions that made them look plump with seeding potential.  His descriptions were of clouds having to be much deeper, 1-2 km,  before they formed rain.   And those descriptions were key in supporting statistical cloud seeding results that gave the first two experiments, referred to as Israel-1 and Israel-2,  so much credibility in the scientific community (Kerr 19821, Science magazine).    The deeper clouds described meant that there was a load of water in the upper parts of the clouds that wasn’t coming out as rain.  

Shallower clouds that were raining meant that there wasn’t going to be so much water in deeper clouds that could be tapped by cloud seeding; much of it would have fallen out as rain before they reached the heights thought to be needed for cloud seeding.

I also scrutinized Prof. Gagin’s airborne Cumulus cloud reports that appeared in the early and mid-1970s.  I found several anomalies in them when compared to other Cumulus cloud studies and our own measurements of Cumulus clouds.  One example:

While the 3rd quartile droplets became larger above cloud base as expected, droplets >24 um diameter were nil until suddenly increasing above the riming-splintering temperature zone of -3° to -8°C.  Those larger drops should have increased in a nearly linearly way as did the 3rd quartile drop diameters. If appreciable concentrations of  >24 um diameter droplets had been reported in this temperature zone, cloud experts would have deemed them ripe for an explosion of natural ice, not for cloud seeding.  So this odd graph left questions.

Too, the temperature at which ice first appeared in Israeli clouds, according to Prof. Gagin’s reports, was much lower than similar clouds as seen by data point 8 in the figure below constructed in 1984 (published  in  1988,  Rangno  and  Hobbs,  Atmos.  Res.)

When I read about how seeding was carried out in the first experiment, Israel-1,  I learned to my astonishment that only about 70 h of seeding was done during whole winter seasons upwind of each of the two targets by a single aircraft.  I concluded that there could not possibly have been a statistically significant effect on rainfall from seeding clouds given the true precipitating nature of Israeli clouds, the number of days with showers,  and the small amount of seeding carried out.  In Israel-2, the experimenters added a second aircraft and 42 ground cloud seeding generators (NAS 1973).  They, too,  must have realized they hadn’t seeded enough in Israel-1, I though.

Another red flag jumped out in the first peer-reviewed paper that evaluated Israel-1 by Wurtele (1971, J. Appl. Meteor.),   She found that the greatest statistical significance in Israel-1 was not in either one of the “cross-over” targets, but in the Buffer Zone (BZ) between them that the seeding aircraft was told to avoid.  This BZ anomaly had occurred on days when southernmost target was being seeded.   In her paper, Wurtele quoted the chief meteorologist of Israel-1, Mr. Karl Rosner, who stated that the high statistical significance in the BZ could hardly have been produced by inadvertent cloud seeding by the single aircraft that flew seeding missions.

The original experimenters, Gagin and Neumann (1974) addressed this statistical anomaly in the BZ  but did attribute it to cloud seeding based on their own wind analysis.

A Hasty 1983 Submission

Armed with all these findings, I decided to see how fast I could write up my findings and submit them to the J. Appl. Meteor.;  I came into the University of Washington on July 4th, 1983, and wrote the entire manuscript that day. I submitted it to the J. Appl. Meteor. the next day.    (Prof. Hobbs was on sabbatical in Europe at this time.)

I was sure it would be accepted, though likely with revisions required.  No reviewer could not see, I thought, that there was a problem with the existing published cloud reports from Israel.

My conclusions were against everything that had been written about those experiments at that time, that the clouds were not ripe for cloud seeding, but the opposite of “ripe” for that purpose.

In retrospect, it wasn’t surprising that I was informed six months later that my manuscript was rejected by three of four reviewers: “Too much contrary evidence.  You can’t be right” was the general tone of the message.

Nevertheless, I was surprised by the rejection, thinking my evidence was too strong for an outright rejection.  I tried to make the best of it in a humorous way to the journal editor, Dr.  Bernard A. Silverman, passed the news along.  I hope you, the reader, if any,  smile when you read this: In 1984 at the Park City, UT, Weather Modification Conference, I had my first personal interaction with Prof. Gagin.   I was giving an invited talk with an assigned title at that conference about the wintertime clouds of the Rockies, “How Good Are Our Conceptual Models of Orographic Cloud Seeding?”

Prof. Gagin  informed me that he had been one of the four reviewers of my 1983 rejected manuscript.  He “lectured” me sternly between conference presentations about how wrong I was about his published descriptions of Israeli clouds that had a hard time raining naturally until they got deep and cold at the top.

Rejection and Lecture Have No Effect

The rejection of my 1983 paper and Prof. Gagin’s “lecture” about how wrong I was about Israeli clouds, however, had no effect whatsoever on what I thought about them. 

I felt I could interpret balloon soundings just fine after the hundreds and hundreds I examined in Durango with the CRBPP while looking out the window to see what those soundings were depicting.  I marveled, instead, that reviewers couldn’t detect the obvious, especially Dr. Bernard A. Silverman, the Editor of the J. Appl. Meteor.

After that rejection that moved on to studies of secondary ice formation in clouds in Peter Hobbs group, published in Hobbs and Rangno 1985, J. Atmos. Sci.), but the thought of going to Israel began to surface.    Someone has to do something!

It was about this time that I read about American physicist, R. W. Wood, going to France to expose what he believed to be the delusion of N-Ray radiation reported by Prosper René Blondlot (Broad and Wade 1982, Betrayers of the Truth).  I thought, “I bet I could do that same kind of thing,” thinking that  Prof. Gagin might well be similarly deluded about his clouds.  

A Resignation Followed by the Cloud Investigation Trip to Israel 

And so, following the historical precedent that R. W. Wood set, I hopped on a plane to Israel at the beginning of January 1986 following my resignation from Prof. Hobbs’ Cloud and Aerosol Research Group.

Resigning from the Job I Loved .

My resignation was in protest over issues of credit here and there that had been building up for nearly a decade in Peter Hobbs group2.  Peter had lost several good researchers over this same issue.  In a late December 1985 meeting with Prof. Hobbs prior to my January 1986 trip,  he described me as “arrogant” for thinking I knew more about the clouds of Israel than those who studied them “in their own backyard.”

“Confident” would have been more appropriate than the word, “arrogant” Prof. Hobbs had used.  I smirked when he said that; I couldn’t help myself.  I had done my homework in the process of writing that short paper in 1983 critical of those cloud reports when Peter was on sabbatical.  In fact, I was so confident about my assessment of Israeli clouds that I told Prof.  Peter Hobbs,  Prof. Robert G. Fleagle (also with the University of Washington) and Roscoe R. Braham, Jr.3,  North Carolina State University, and others, that I was about “80 % sure” of my assessment of Israeli clouds from 7,000 miles away even before I went.

My Agenda

It was true, however, that I wanted to show the world by going to Israel that I was the best at “outing” mistaken or fraudulent cloud and or cloud seeding reports, ones that were considered credible by the  entire scientific community, including Prof. Hobbs4.  However, virtually any low-level forecasting meteorologist could do what I did, especially storm chasing types like me, that was the fun of it.

And, here was a chance to do something that would be considered, “historic,” just like Wood’s trip to France was!

Another intriguing factor contributing to the idea of going to Israel was the statement expressed by Peter Hobbs to me a few years earlier; “No one’s been able to get a plane in there.”  He told me that British meteorologist and cloud physics expert, Sir B. J. Mason, had said the same thing to him.  I wasn’t a plane, but by god, I was going to “get in there.”   The view of Prof. Hobbs and Sir B. J. Mason  was later to be confirmed in a letter to me in Israel by Prof. Gabor Vali, University of Wyoming cloud researcher who wrote of six attempts to do airborne research of Israeli clouds, all denied.

Too, I looked forward to going to Israel and seeing what that country was like, too, with all of its biblical history.

And, if it was a case of delusion, as American physicist, R. W. Wood, encountered with the N-Ray episode, Prof. Gagin would be happy to cooperate with me and let me see radar tops of precipitating clouds. Prosper-René Blondlot had cooperated with Dr. Wood, allowing him to watch an N-Ray experiment.

But if Prof. Gagin didn’t cooperate with me, I could just hop on the next plane back to America.  I would “know” I was right about those clouds without even seeing them!


1Corrections to Kerr’s 1982 Science article were published by Prof. Hobbs in Science in October 1982.  In the original article, Prof. Hobbs inadvertently led Kerr to believe that he himself, and not me, had conducted the reanalysis and other work that undermined the Climax cloud seeding experiments.  Prof. Hobbs apologized to me as soon as he saw Kerr’s article. Still…..

2Authorship sequences on publications under Prof. Hobbs’ stewardship sometimes did not represent the progenitor of a work; i.e., that person who should be first author;  the person who originated the research, wrote the drafts describing results,  the person who had done all the analysis that went into it, as in these footnoted cases of authorship where  Prof. Hobbs had placed himself as lead author.    Prof. Hobbs was a wonderful science editor and made great improvements to drafts that he received.   The authorship sequence problem was to mostly go away after I resigned.

3My resignation letter was 27 single spaced pages!

4Prof. Braham kept the letters I wrote to him and they can be found in his archive at North Carolina State University.

5See Prof. Hobbs 1975 “Personal Viewpoint” comment in Sax et al. 1975, J. Appl. Meteor., “Where Are We Now and Where Should We Be Going?” weather modification review.


This story begins with my first full-time job after graduating from San Jose State College.  I was hired as a weather forecaster by E. G. & G., Inc.,  in Durango, Colorado in support of a massive randomized cloud seeding experiment called the Colorado River Basin Pilot Project (CRBPP).  It was intended to prove that seeding wintertime mountain storms was a viable way of adding water to western rivers over a large area.   I was to work under lead forecaster, J. Owen Rhea, an expert on wintertime mountain storm forecasting.  Paul Willis was the Project Manager.  The project was intended to replicate stunning cloud seeding successes reported in Colorado by Colorado State University (CSU) scientists, but in the CRBPP, over a much larger area than in the CSU experiments.

The Durango job was to change my life forever, and eventually lead me to Israel as a skeptic of reports of cloud seeding successes.  Ironically, that change was to involve North American Weather Consultants,  and it’s president, Mr. Robert D. Elliott, for whom I had worked in 1968 in Goleta, CA,  as a summer hire between semesters at San Jose State, and again when on loan from the CRBPP  in the summer of 1972 in statewide cloud seeding program in South Dakota.

By time the Colorado River Basin Project (CRBPP), the nation’s largest, most costly ever mountain randomized cloud seeding experiment  ended after five winter seasons,   I had become an orographic cloud seeding “apostate. ”

What caused this epiphany?

This metamorphosis from  an idealistic and naive forecaster  coming right out of college happened due to seeing what I think most scientists would term “misconduct” in the journal literature during the CRBPP in 1974 combined with misleading news releases from the BuRec sponsor of the CRBPP.  In the journal article,  the two authors were asserting things they knew weren’t true.  I personally knew that they knew this.  I decided that  I was going to do something about this deplorable situation after the CRBPP ended.

I then had come to believe that the cloud seeding successes reported by CSU researchers couldn’t possibly have been real ones  due to the many seeding impediments that turned up during the CRBPP (clouds not ripe for seeding as had been described, inversions that blocked the seeding material in the wintertime,  cloud tops not at the heights they were supposed to be, etc.)

It was very troubling to me that the many published scientists that were associated with the CRBPP and knew that false claims had been published in the 1974 journal cloud seeding paper  did nothing.  In that 1974 paper, for example, one reads that the temperature at 490 mb in the atmosphere (about 18,000 feet above sea level) above Wolf Creek Pass, a central target of the CRBPP, was representative of cloud top temperatures during storms.   Both authors, due to the hundreds of rawinsondes launched during CRBPP storms, knew this was untrue.  Robert D. Elliott was one of the two authors.

I  waited years for a correction by the authors, or a journal “Comment” by a knowledgeable, published scientist pointing out that at least this one claim in that article was untrue.  The silence on the part of those many scientists I expected to do SOMETHING was deafening.   I, too,  was part of that “silence.”

Talk Sounds of Silence slide:  a pptx that after hours of investigation I am not able to insert, thanks to changes in WP.  It downloads and then you can play the slide.  In the meantime, this poor substitute for the real thing:

The false claim/misconduct I am referring to appeared in one of the most cited cloud seeding articles of all time, entitled, “The Cloud Seeding Temperature Window.”

Robert D. Elliott, one of the two authors of that 1974 paper was intimate with the CRBPP data as the official evaluator of the CRBPP.  That CRBPP data demonstrated that the claim in his paper that cloud top temperatures over Wolf Creek Pass averaged 490 mb  was false.  In his next visit to Durango I asked him,  “How could you write that (claim)?”   He replied that he had, “just sort of gone along with Lew” (Lewis O. Grant) his co-author.

I thought of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the little kid that said to him, “Tell me it ain’t so, Joe!”, that he had cheated in the Black Sox World Series scandal.  I felt just like that little kid must have.  This was the same Bob Elliott that I had worked for in Goleta  and admired so much.

So, that was the epiphany for me.   I then thought that nothing might be true in the cloud seeding literature no matter how highly regarded that literature or experiment was by the scientific community.

I had come into CRBPP a little too naïve and idealistic, and  when the CRBPP ended, that idealism was nearly gone and replaced by suspicion of any orographic cloud seeding success unless I had personally validated it. Over the next two decades, I was to reanalyze six prior cloud seeding successes in the peer-reviewed literature and not ONE was the success it was deemed to be by the experimenters who conducted it.

This ephiphany set the stage for what was to happen a few years later concerning the scientist in Israel whose work in clouds and cloud seeding Prof. Joanne Malkus Simpson admired so much.

After the CRBPP had ended, I was asked to do an interview about it in November 1975 in the local newspaper, the Durango Herald.   In that interview, I stated exactly what I planned to do; reanalyze all the Colorado State University cloud seeding work that had led to the massive funding of the CRBPP since I now deemed that literature highly unreliable.

After living the winter of 1975-76 in Durango, living off my savings while gathering runoff and CRBPP precipitation data, I was hired for a May-August seeding project in South Dakota by Atmospherics, Inc.  I had worked for them in the summer and fall of 1975  as a radar meteorologist in Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India.  While mountain cloud seeding was suspect, Joanne Malkus Simpson and co-authors were published results of successful cloud seeding of tropical Cumulus clouds like those in India.  That’s why I had no qualms about taking that job in India in 1975,  Joanne had influenced me again.

Near the end of the 1976 project in SD, I was interviewed for a job at  the University of Washington by Prof. Larry Radke and Prof. Peter V. Hobbs.  I joined Prof. Hobbs, Cloud Physics Group, as it was known then, in September 1976.

After unraveling bogus cloud seeding successes in Washington State (Hobbs and Rangno 19781 and in Colorado (Rangno 1979, Hobbs and Rangno 19791),  Prof. Peter V. Hobbs who saw I had an interest and skill in examining the cloud seeding literature, said to me that “if you really wanted to have an impact, you should look into the Israeli experiments.”  It wasn’t long before I began reading critically about them.

1Authorship sequences in Prof. Hobbs group, as in these cases, do not reflect who initiated the work, carried out the analyses and wrote the drafts that Prof. Hobbs improved with his great editing skills.



This is a story about Joanne (Malkus) Simpson and our mutual study interest, Prof. Avraham “Abe” Gagin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the leader of the world famed Israeli cloud seeding experiments that took place in the 1960s to 1970s.  This is a story having irony.  For more about Joanne Simpson and her major contributions to meteorology, see J. R. Fleming’s, “First Woman: Joanne Simpson and the Tropical Atmosphere”.  She was a real superstar.


My own modest claim to fame,  partly for the work reported here:…/two-uw-researchers-honored-by-un-for-excellence-in-weather-modification

Following the untimely passing of Professor Abe Gagin[1], Joanne Simpson stated that, “statues will be raised in many towns and halls of fame” in his memory due to his contributions to cloud seeding. Her testimonial appeared in the 1988 memorial issue to A. Gagin of the J. Weather Modification and is shown at the end of this account.  The memorial issue of that journal is here:


As a measure of Prof. Gagin’s stature when he passed and why statue building might be considered for him, the October 1989 J. of Appl. Meteor. also issued a memorial volume to Prof. Gagin in due to his work in cloud seeding.  The preface to that memorial issue, written by Arnett S. Dennis, a former co-author of Joanne’s, is also shown at the end of this account.  Hardly any scientists are tributed by memorial issues of journals, much less, two!  Prof. Gagin’s frequent co-author in describing the results of the Israeli cloud seeding experiments, Prof. Jehuda Neumann, was ALSO tributed with a memorial issue of the J. Appl. Meteor. when he passed ten years later.

Prof. Gagin passed in September 1987 at the untimely age of 54, a few months after learning in a letter from Prof. Peter Hobbs that my manuscript, “Rain from clouds with tops warmer than -10°C in Israel,” had been accepted for publication by the Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc.  This paper showed that the clouds of Israel were completely different than the ones Prof. Gagin was repeatedly describing in the literature and at conference.

At the same time of his passing, Prof. Gagin was also being pressured by his own chief meteorologist, Mr. Karl Rosner, to publish the previously omitted data for the south target of Israel-2.  This was the 2nd randomized cloud seeding experiment that was conducted from the 1969/70 through 1974/75 Israeli rain seasons.  The reporting of Israel-2 had been confined to the north target where there was an appearance that cloud there had pretty much replicated what had been reported in ALL of Israel-1.

The testimonials to A. Gagin by many leading scientists in the cloud seeding domain were omitted in the digital version of the 1988 JWM volume when digitizing  was done many years later but can be found at the end of this story.

My one and only in-person interaction with Joanne Malkus Simpson:  “Go into journalism not meteorology.”

I met with Joanne (Malkus) Simpson in January 1963 at UCLA.  She had been brought to my attention when she had been named, Los Angeles Times “Woman of the Year.”  I was meeting with her, a professor of meteorology, to try and convince her that as a 20-year old junior college student, I was worthy of getting into the UCLA meteorology program even though I did not have a high enough grade point average to do so.  UCLA required a minimum of 2.4 and mine was barely above 2.0000x.  And I had to repeat all but one of my calculus and physics classes at Pierce Junior College.  I had spent too much time playing and practicing for intercollegiate baseball, but I also had no natural aptitude for physics and calculus.

UCLA was the only school offering courses for a degree in meteorology in California in 1963, and that’s why I went there to meet with Dr. Malkus, as she was known as then.  It seemed like UCLA offered the only hope of achieving my dream to become a meteorologist.   I thought explaining my fanaticism about weather would do the trick.  For example I had gone to Louisiana and ended up near Galveston, Texas, chasing Hurricane Carla in September 1961, and chased numerous thunderstorms in the Southern California desert during the summers.

Some early background that if told to Joanne, would convince her I was worthy of UCLA’s program

I began collecting weather maps out of the Los Angeles Daily News when I was in the 4th grade.  (Thank you, Mr. Borders and Mr. De la Gega, my 4th and 5th grade teachers, for encouraging my budding interest!).  Below a sample of a real weather map with isobars from the Los Angeles Daily News for December 26, 1951.  How exciting is this?

Too, I was subscribing to the “Daily Weather Map” by the time I was ten years old.   By the time I was 13 years old, I  was subscribing to the Monthly Weather Review and several states’ government, “Climatological Data” from NOAA.   (Well, my mom subscribed for me.)

I crazily thought that telling Joanne about all this would get me in to UCLA sans the grade requirement.

“The Meeting”

The first thing Joanne Malkus asked me when she kindly took a minute out of her busy schedule (I had made no appointment) was how my grades were in math and physics.   I told her I got “Cs” but did not reveal to her that those “Cs” were on the second try!   She then asked me, “How are your grades in the humanities?” “B’s.”   With my answers to but two questions, Prof. Malkus then advised me to give up the thought of becoming a meteorologist, and become, perhaps,, “a journalist and write about weather.”  And that was the end of the meeting; in less than five minutes I was advised to give up a life-long dream.

Yes, I “held myself back,” to repeat courses in math and physics, and in doing so lost my collegiate baseball eligibility.  Who would do this?But.. that stubbornness, to keep at it, not giving up  my dream, turned out to be key to my whole life.  But perhaps it could be seen as a character flaw, too?

Joanne Malkus assessment of my potential as a student in the UCLA meteorology program was, in fact, “spot on.”

Thank you, Joanne (Malkus) Simpson.


In retrospect, I never could have gotten through the highly theoretical program at UCLA in those days, a program that featured Morton Wurtele, Yale Mintz, Morris Neiburger, Jörgen Holmboe, Zdenek Sekera, James Edinger, and Jacob Bjerknes, the latter who had founded the Department in 1940.  Fjørtoft, a visiting Norwegian professor of meteorology, or possibly Holmboe, was slinging vector equations across a blackboard as I walked down the hall following my meeting with Prof.  Malkus.  At UCLA in those days, one would have walked the halls with giants. A few years earlier I had tried to get the autograph of Prof. Bjerknes at UCLA since meteorologists like him were to me,  like baseball superstars to other, “normal” kids.  Prof. Bjerknes was not in his office that day, but rather there was a sign said he was, “emeritus,” which I took to mean he was especially good as a scientist, not that he was retired.

After my 1963 meeting with Joanne Malkus I was angry and hurt and promptly went to the UCLA bookstore and bought one of the books they were using in their meteorology program, I was that mad.  The book?  “Introduction to Theoretical Meteorology” by Seymour Hess.  I stopped reading it after a day or two.  It had too many equations. 

It took me more than 25 years to realize that Joanne Malkus Simpson had saved me from myself.   I wrote her a note thanking her  for her keen assessment in the early 1990s.   She did not reply.  

Life After “The Meeting”

In  the spring of 1963 I had lucked out and gotten a job as a “research analyst” at Rocketdyne in their H-1 rocket group in the Simi Hills above the San Fernando Valley.  Rocketdyne was a division of North American Aviation.  By mid-1964, I was “suddenly” married and had a son.  Becoming a meteorologist was slowly slipping off the radar, but I loved my job at Rocketdyne (about Rocketdyne)  and the young, great engineers that led my group, like Wayne Littles  who later became the 8th director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.  They set great examples as engineers and leaders.

Rocketdyne’s Simi Hills test division where I worked, had a weather forecast office and I bugged the guys there, Joe Glantz (former State Climatologist for California) and Hank Weiss, virtually EVERY lunch time during the winter rain season.  We talked “progs” such as they were then.

I also started on another path toward being a meteorologist while married, still not giving up on my goal.  I took two correspondence courses in meteorology from Penn State University (graded by A. K. Blackadar and F. B. Stephens).

When my marriage was going on the rocks in the mid -1960s due to my immaturity, I learned that San José State College had started a program in meteorology.  I applied and got accepted even with my crummy grade point average from junior college.  It was an exciting time for me to meet, for the first time in my life, other weather-centric guys like me when I arrived at SJS in the spring of 1967.  One of them, Bill Hall, was to become something of a modeling superstar at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  Byron Marler, who ended up with PG&E,  became a life long friend.

I also became friends with the chair of the Meteorology Department in those days, Dr. Albert Miller.  He helped me tremendously by hiring me as a student assistant while I was an undergraduate, and later, as a graduate assistant in the synoptic lab.  Dr. Miller was like a 2nd dad to me.  Also key to being able to continue at San Jose State  was my former Rocketdyne supervisor, A. Dan Lucci, who re-hired me as a summer employee at Rocketdyne in 1967 after my first semester at San Jose State.

Another person whom I became good friends with at SJS due to working together, was C. Donald Ahrens, who was to go on and write the most popular meteorology book for 101 college classes in the nation, “Meteorology Today” and several other books.    His wife was to type the first chapter of his Meteorology Today book on my very own Hermes 3000 manual typewriter!

Don and I also worked together on tetroon (constant level balloon) paths in the Bay Area that disclosed where the onshore maritime air was going.  We worked in a corrugated metal building next to the football stadium far from the meteorology department.  To pass the otherwise tedious time, we had KGO-FM’s no commercials, top 40 radio station with DJ “Brother John” blaring.  And, we would break into song!  We really liked the Four Seasons, Western Union, by the Five Americans, and so many others that  we sang to many of them, harmonizing,  while our heads were down plotting tetroon paths.  I still smile thinking of those days.

In the summer of 1968, I worked for non-other than North American Weather Consultants under CEO, Robert D. Elliott.  That  summer Tor Bergeron came to visit!  For those readers who remember NAWC in Goleta, California, here’s the photo I took of the whole gang, Elliott, Bergeron, Keith Brown, Russ and Elona Shaefer, John Walter and others whose names I  can’t bring to the “surface:”

I’ve never had a job I loved as much as that summer one at NAWC, or people I had so much in common with there.   I also had a chance to meet the head of NAWC, the famous Robert D. Elliott, whom I came to admire so much while at NAWC.  My assignment at NAWC was mainly to draw weather maps of frontal systems coming into southern California and “lake effects” for the Great Salt Lake in winter.  I was in heaven.

Back at San Jose State in the fall of 1968, I started a tiny forecast blurb on the front page of the Spartan Daily.  It devolved into political satire at the suggestion of the Daily’s editor after one my forecasts, “…with the stratus, not the campus, burning off by noon.”  There had been some fires set in trash cans by protestors the day before on the San Jose State campus.   The Daily editor said I should do more of that, and off I went into some pretty lame stuff.  Oh, well; “let’s move along now, nothing to see here.”

I also began to write opinion pieces in the San Jose State Daily, mostly due to the encouragement of Prof.  Phil Wander, my speech teacher.  I deem him one of the most important influences in my life. He thought I had something to say, such as this from a talk I gave in his class:

I was also writing articles for the college paper on ending student funding of intercollegiate athletics due to Governor Reagan’s budget cuts, pollution and the effects on minorities (above), suggesting parking costs be based on the number of people in the car, and on the war in Vietnam, the latter as many others were.  My SJS experience is pretty much reprised in the “friendly” article below, miniaturized for the sake of humility, of which, I probably don’t have enough of:

I graduated from modest San José State College, as it was known then, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in meteorology in January 1969.   My grades, for so much effort I put into my meteorology classes with lots of math were,  nevertheless, mostly mediocre except in synoptic classes.  However,  I was a good weather map drawer and getting A’s in synoptic classes really helped raise my grade point average.

Perhaps due to writing topical articles in the SJS Spartan Daily,   I received the Meteorology Department’s Achievement Award when I graduated in January 1969.  Egad.   I was never sure I deserved it with big hitters and great students like future NCAR cloud modeler, Bill Hall, and other top students like Norm Hoffman, Chris Fontana, in my class getting “A’s.”

An example of over valuing my satirical talent that were on display in the Spartan Daily weather forecasts,  in the summer of 1969, I went to KRLA-AM in Los Angeles to suggest that I could be a weather forecaster for them.  KRLA was a top 40 station whose news team suddenly began doing news satire in 1968, and they dared to offend.   What they did was astounding to me and was even noted in Time magazine!

I wondered if I could be their weather forecaster, and maybe chip in to the their comedy team,  later called,  “The Credibility Gap”.  I showed a page of my Spartan Daily forecasts to a young Harry Shearer, a member of the KRLA satirical news team.  He quickly glanced across them and summarized his thoughts on them like this; “They’re not that funny, are they?”  End of interview.

I hung around San Jose State attending graduate classes until the spring of 1970.   At that time I was offered a job as an assistant weather forecaster with the nation’s largest ever randomized mountain cloud seeding experiment headquartered in Durango, CO,.  Funded by the Bureau of Reclamation, it was called the Colorado River Basin Pilot Project (CRBPP).   I was hired after being interviewed by J. Owen Rhea of E. G. & G, Inc.  in San Jose!  E. G. & G., Inc. had just been selected over North American Weather Consultants (NAWC) as the seeding contractor for the CRBPP.  Owen was going to be the lead forecaster under Paul T. Willis, the E. G. & G., Inc., Project Manager.

I really didn’t belong in grad school, either; too many equations.  Nevertheless,  it was hard to leave the excitement of SJS of those days.  SJS track stars, Tommy Smith and John Carlos had just drawn national attention to SJS,  that season’s NCAA track champion,  at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City with their raised, “black power” fists.

I also received a job offer from NAWC in Goleta, CA, at that time, too.  I did not know until decades later that they were finalists in bidding on the same contract that E. G. & G., Inc. had won from the Bureau of Reclamation for the seeding and forecasting operations for the Colorado River Basin Pilot Project.

But the job in Durango seemed so important and exciting; I was going to be a part of a giant scientific experiment to see if cloud seeding worked and so that’s where I went.  The thought that it was exciting that I would also be living in a new climate after a lifetime in California’s.

1970:  It was now seven years since Joanne had advised me to give up the idea of being a meteorologist.  And now I was going to enter a field that she was a top expert in; weather modification by cloud seeding.



(Joanne Malkus/Simpson and Abe Gagin)

A modern-day story with elements similar to that of American physicist R. W. Wood and his exposé of non-existent “N-Ray” radiation in 1904.  R. W. Wood went to France to expose “N-rays” as the product of experimenter delusion at the turn of the century (Broad and Wade 1982); our protagonist1 went to Israel in 1986 to expose faulty cloud reports by possibly deluded scientists.

The underlying message in this life story chapter?

Hold on Tight to Your Dreams“, one of the greatest-ever song messages.  You just might make something out of yourself even when it appears you don’t have the grey matter to do it, as in my case (the “protagonist” in the outline below.)  “EOM”–skip the rest if busy.

Story board

  • A young, “weather centric” student in junior college, the protagonist in this story, meets with Prof. Joanne Malkus, a famous woman scientist and faculty member at UCLA in meteorology in 1963. He is there because her university is the only one in his state of California that offers courses leading to a degree in meteorology.   She has come to his attention because she had just been named, Los Angeles Times “Woman of the Year.”
  • Though he has loved clouds, weather and forecasting since he was a little kid, he tells her he is struggling in junior college with the courses that future meteorologists are required to take, ones heavy in calculus and physics, and doesn’t have the grade point average to get into UCLA from junior college.  He is hoping to convince her he is worthy of a shot in their meteorology program anyway due to his enthusiasm about becoming a meteorologist.
  • Malkus, after hearing about our protagonist’s poor grades in math and physics, suggests it would be best for him to give up his dream of being a meteorologist and to go into something less rigorous, perhaps “go into journalism and write about weather.”
  • Eventually, and holding himself back by repeating courses in math and physics to get “C’s,”  the stubborn young man becomes a meteorologist, anyway, matriculating at San Jose State College, one that starts a meteorology program a few years after his 1963 visit to UCLA.
  • By chance, our protagonist eventually ends up being an expert in the same specialty as Prof. Malkus (now Joanne Simpson) whom he had met with many years earlier;  rainmaking by cloud seeding and Cumulus cloud structure at the University of Washington under Prof. Peter V. Hobbs.
  • Simpson is particularly enamored of the work of a leading rainmaking scientist in Israel, Prof. Abe Gagin. When Prof. Gagin passes in 1987 at the age of 54,  she proclaims that, “…statues will be raised in many towns and halls of fame to his memory.”  Her view about that rainmaker is shared by many others around the world.
  • Through the rigorous execution of two well designed rainmaking experiments in Israel, each with similar increases in rain, in turn supported by repeated descriptions of Cumulus clouds plump with rainmaking potential, the experiments in Israel, by the 1980s, are deemed to be the one true rainmaking success in the world among all those undertaken.


  • Our protagonist, who on his own initiative, has exposed mistaken or fraudulent claims of “successes” in the peer-reviewed rainmaking literature since the late 1970s, comes to doubt the validity of the published work of that very same scientist for whom “statues will be raised.”
  • In the late 1970s after exposing ersatz seeding successes in Colorado and Washington State, our protagonist’s lab chief, Prof. Peter V. Hobbs, challenges our protagonist, a mere staff member in his group, to investigate the famous experiments in Israel, advising him, “if he wanted to have a greater impact” in his specialty of unraveling false cloud seeding claims.
  • Our protagonist begins to do so, and supplies a list of questions, at the request of Prof. Hobbs, to ask Prof. Gagin about his experiments when Prof. Gagin reports on them at a 1980 international conference in France.
  • In 1983, while Prof. Hobbs is on sabbatical in Europe, our protagonist submits a paper to a journal that asserts that the clouds in Israel are not ripe for rainmaking, but rather quite the opposite, and that too little seeding was carried out in the Israel-1 cloud seeding experiment was not enough to have affected rainfall.  Israel-1 was the first of the two famous experiments.
  • The paper is rejected by three of four reviewers. One of the “reject” reviewers he later learns, is Prof. Gagin himself.
  • Our protagonist is undaunted by the rejection of his paper, and begins to contemplate going to Israel after he also reads about American physicist, R. W. Woods’ trip to France to expose N-Rays.
  • Our protagonist resigns at the end of 1985 from the job he has loved over credit issues with Prof. Hobbs and goes to Israel on 4 January 1986.
  • Prof. Hobbs is not onboard with our protagonist’s views on the clouds of Israel before he leaves. He describes our protagonist as “arrogant” for thinking he knows more about the clouds in Israel than those “who have studied them in their own backyard.”
  • Our protagonist eventually exposes the famed rainmaker’s faulty work on several fronts beginning with his self-initiated and self-funded cloud investigation to Israel in 1986, a science excursion that resembles the historic trip by R. W. Wood to France. During the first storm in Israel he finds that the cloud descriptions by Prof. Gagin are, indeed, in error.


  • Our protagonist is welcomed by the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) and given a tiny amount of desk space where he collects historical  data concerning Israel’s clouds and rains, data that will be used in a journal paper.


  • Not surprisingly, he finds that all the IMS forecasters know that it rains from clouds that are contrary to those described by Prof. Gagin’s descriptions in the journal literature.  They are much shallower than those described as necessary to develop rain by Prof. Gagin, making them appear necessary for seeding to take place to make them rain.


  • Following a first cordial meeting at Prof. Gagin’s office following a week of dry weather,  a second meeting occurs after several days with rain. Our protagonist discusses his observations with Prof. Gagin, which are sharply at odds with his journal cloud descriptions of Israeli clouds.  Gagin, understandably at the end of our protagonist’s discussion, asks him to leave and never come back; “do your own thing.”


  • Despite what happened in the second meeting, a third and final meeting is arranged with Prof. Gagin on 2 February 1986.    It occurs at the offices of his  rainmaking headquarters on the grounds of Ben Gurion International Airport.  Our protagonist asks if he can visit this headquarters to observe radar cloud top heights during storms.  His request is declined by Prof. Gagin, who insists that his cloud descriptions are correct.


  • In  mid-February 1986 our protagonist meets with the “Chief Meteorologist” of the Israeli cloud seeding experiments, Mr. Karl Rosner. He is informed by Mr. Rosner that a large amount of data was omitted in the reporting of the 2nd “confirmatory” rainmaking experiment whose results were published in 1981.  As it was published without that data, Israel-2 appeared to be a strong confirmation of the results of Israel-1 in the eyes of the world. Mr. Rosner, he tells our protagonist,  is now trying to get Prof. Gagin to publish the missing data.


  • The weather fails to deliver any more significant storms through 10 March, and our protagonist departs Israel after 11 weeks of cloud studies and data thanks to the IMS.


  • In June 1986, in a letter to Prof. Gagin, our protagonist summarizes his cloud findings; his letter is copied to several leading scientists. In this letter, our protagonist vows that he will leave the field of meteorology altogether if his observations concerning the clouds of Israel are wrong; that high concentrations of ice crystals occur in clouds with tops >-12°C. He challenges Prof. Gagin to leave the field if he is right.
  • Gagin, just 54 years old, passes in 1987 a few months after being notified in a letter by Prof. Hobbs that our protagonist’s cloud investigation has been accepted for publication in the Quart J. Roy. Meteor. Soc.
  • Two journals issue separate memorial issues to Prof. Gagin’s memory in 1988 and 1989, an exceptionally rare tribute that testifies to his standing. Joanne Simpson’s testimonial to Abe Gagin is published along with several others in the 1988 issue of the J. Wea. Mod.
  • The results of our protagonist’s cloud investigation are also published in 1988. It concludes that the clouds aren’t plump with cloud seeding potential as they have been repeatedly described by Prof. Gagin, but are quite the opposite of those descriptions, repeating the conclusions in his rejected 1983 journal submission to the J. Appl. Meteor.  The paper questions how cloud seeding could be effective given the actual nature of Israel’s precipitating clouds.
  • Like N-rays, it is eventually it is revealed in multiple reports that the clouds ripe with rainmaking potential that were described by Prof. Gagin do not exist.
  • 1990: the “full” results of the Israel-2 cloud seeding experiment are reported as urged by Mr. Rosner.  It is now found that the “full” Israel-2 experiment, incorporating previously omitted data, had a null result contravening the previous view of Israel-2 as unambiguous rainmaking success.
  • However, it was also hypothesized in the 1990 journal article that there could have been increases and decreases in rain separately in each of the two targets in Israel-2.   Thus, when these differing results were combined as the design of Israel-2 called for, they canceled each other out, thus causing the null result of the whole experiment and leaving an enigma.
  • 1992: Our protagonist’s 1988 cloud reports are first corroborated in airborne measurements by Tel Aviv University scientists unaffiliated with seeding activities. The Israeli clouds, indeed, appear to have little rainmaking potential due to having high concentrations (10s to hundreds per liter) of natural ice crystals in them at cloud top temperatures >-13°C.  These airborne reports are reiterated in separate publications in 1994 and in 1996.  More research supporting our protagonist’s cloud investigation appears over the next 20 years.
  • 1992: a journal paper by the promoters of rainmaking, one a protégé of Prof. Gagin, claim that dust interfered with Israel-2; that actual increases in rain occurred when there was no dust and decreases in rain occurred when there was dust.   Thus, a “dust hypothesis” is put forth to explain possible real increases and decreases in rain that were suggested in the full result of the 2nd experiment in the north and south targets.


  • Joanne Simpson, who advised our protagonist to give up the thought of being a meteorologist, finds the “dust hypothesis” highly credible. Our protagonist and Prof.  Simpson are now on a collision course in opinions again.


  • Our protagonist finds the 1992 dust claim ludicrous due to his 11-week cloud investigation in Israel in 1986.  He decides that something must be done about the dust claim.  He begins working at home on his own time in 1992 on the daunting task of reanalyzing Israel-1 and Israel-2.
  • Our protagonist’s reanalyses of the two statistical experiments in Israel are published in 1995 in the J. Appl. Meteor.  Prof. Hobbs is a co-author.  The reanalyses conclude that rainmaking activities did not increase rain in either Israel-1 or in Israel-2.  The clouds are also shown to form precipitation rapidly, leaving little opportunity for rainmaking.
  • 1997: Critical commentaries of the 1995 paper are published. The number of pages of criticism of the 1995 paper sets a record for the pages of  “Comments” on a paper ever published in an Amer. Meteor Soc. journal.  An ox has been gored.  In effect, our protagonist and Prof. Hobbs have become the most “criticized” meteorologists in the history of the Amer. Meteor. Soc.
  • However, the 1995 reanalyses and the 1997 journal exchanges trigger the first major independent review of rainmaking in Israel by the Israel National Water Authority (INWA). This organization had previously relied on the reports of the rainmaking promoters and other rainmaking partisans that rainmaking was working to increase runoff into the country’s largest freshwater lake, the Sea of Galilee, aka, Lake Kinneret.


  • 1998:  The results of 19 winter seasons of randomized cloud seeding in Israel-3 in the southern part of Israel are reported. There has been no effect on rainfall due to seeding.  The results again indicate that the clouds of Israel are unsuitable for cloud seeding.


  • 2006: After several years of study, the independent Israeli review panel reports that they can find no viable evidence that rainfall has been increased in 27 years of rainmaking (1975-2002)  targeting the Sea of Galilee  watersheds.
  • The independent panel’s finding corroborates the conclusions in the 1995 reanalyses by our protagonist and Prof. Hobbs, and supports the findings of our protagonist’s cloud investigation published in 1988: the clouds in Israel are not viable for rainmaking.
  • Once again, this rainmaking story seems to have reached a conclusion when rainmaking  is terminated in 2007 or 2013.      But it is not so.
  • The promoters of rainmaking in Israel argue that air pollution has suddenly canceled increases in rain due to rainmaking activities during the last decade of the program .  They argue that the review panel’s findings of no viable increases in rain are faulty because they do not include air pollution effects.
  • The independent review panel, and several other scientists in Israel find the air pollution argument by the promoters of rainmaking unconvincing and cloud seeding of the Sea of Galilee watersheds does not resume.
  • In 2010  Tel Aviv University scientists find that the supposed rain increases in the Israel-2’s north target days lacking in “dust,” were bogus. The seeding partisans had been misled in their conclusion because stronger storms happened on days when rainmaking took place in the “dust-free” target.
  • Once again, the story seems to have reached a conclusion in 2010 due to the new independent reanalysis described above. But again, it is not so.
  • 2012: The Israel National Water Authority is convinced to try once again to see if rain can be increased by cloud seeding in a new, sophisticated, randomized experiment, Israel-4.  This time the experiment targets the mountainous, northern extremity of Israel.
  • The conduct of a new experiment is supported by airborne reports by the rainmaking partisans who conclude that the clouds have a lot of rainmaking potential in northern Israel.
  • Importantly, instead of being carried out by seeding partisans, the new experiment is carried out by independent Israeli scientists.
  • Israel-4 ends in 2020 after seven winter seasons. There is no indication that a viable amount of rain has been increased by rainmaking.   The official null “primary” result has since been published by Benjamini et al. 2023, J. Appl. Meteor.
  • This result of Israel-4 parallels the several prior conclusions by external skeptics concerning all the rainmaking activities in Israel, including those by our protagonist and Prof. Hobbs concerning Israel-1 and -2.
  • The null results of Israel-4 experiment also reiterate those of our protagonist in 1988 concerning the clouds of Israel; they are not conducive to rainmaking.
  • This time, in 2023, our “story” finally seems to have reached an end.
  • But how can the “story” end?  Think of the courage it would take for those who promoted seeding in Israel for so many decades and who have cost their own country so much in wasted seeding programs to walk away from repeated faulty analyses and descriptions of non-existent, ripe for seeding clouds?  They won’t.  Count on it!

1Art and Prof.  Peter V. Hobbs, the Director of his group,  were honored by the UN partly for the work reported here.  The 2005 monetary prize was adjudicated by the World Meteorological Organization.

If anyone has gotten this far, you can go even deeper in these posts:

Chapter 1: My One and Only Meeting with Joanne Malkus/Simpson

Chapter 2:   A Story About Lost  Idealism Concerning Science that Leads Eventually to Israel

Chapter 3: The Review of the Israeli Cloud Seeding Literature Begins

Chapter 4:  The Trip to Israel to See the Ripe for Cloud Seeding Clouds that I Doubt Exist

Chapter 5, the last:  Got Published!

My Life in Cloud Seeding: Colorado to Israel

A Personal Sojourn through a Murky Scientific Field Whose Published Results Have Often Been Skewed and Unreliable


Arthur L. Rangno

(journal handle)

Retiree, Research Scientist III, Cloud and Aerosol Research Group, Atmospheric Sciences Department, University of Washington, Seattle.

Author Disclosure

I have worked on both sides of the cloud seeding fence; in research and in commercial seeding projects.

My main career job for almost 30 years (1976-2006) was with the University of Washington’s Cloud and Aerosol Research Group (CARG) within the Atmospheric Sciences Department. I was a non-faculty, staff meteorologist and part of the flight crew of the various research aircraft we had (B-23, C-131A, and Convair 580) and directed many flights concerning the development of ice in Cumulus clouds; some involved dry ice cloud seeding. Prof. Peter V. Hobbs was the director of the CARG.

After retiring from the University of Washington I was a consultant and part of the airborne crew for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in a test of cloud seeding in Saudi Arabia during the winter of 2006-07. That research involved some randomized seeding of Cumulus clouds.

An overview/introduction to Peter Hobbs’ group’s work in cloud seeding, as it was presented at the American Meteorological Society’s Peter Hobbs Symposium Day in 2008 can be found here. Since Peter V. Hobbs has virtually no wikipedia presence, unlike his peers of comparable stature, he deserves at least a review of his group’s work (and our collaborations) in that domain (and in a tongue-in-cheek way that I think he would have liked.) Peter Hobbs passed in 2005.

I have also worked in summer commercial cloud seeding programs in South Dakota (twice), in India, in the Sierras, and for a CARG cloud seeding program for the Cascade Mountains of Washington in the spring of the drought winter of 1976-77. I worked for North American Weather Consultants, a provider of commercial cloud seeding services, as a summer hire in 1968 while a meteorology student at San Jose State College.

Confirmation bias? Yes, I have some. You can make supercooled, non-precipitating clouds precipitate. But since those clouds are almost always shallow, the amount of precip that comes out is small. Is it economically viable? I don’t know. EOD.

Table of contents


The cloud investigation trip to Israel

  1. The background for a trip to Israel: The British, among other groups, can’t get in to study the ripe-for-seeding clouds being described in Israel
  2. The British can’t get in: Sir John Mason’s letter
  3. Why I thought I could do something by going to Israel
  4. Story board concerning an extreme act of skepticism; “Honey, I just quit my job at the University of Washington”
  5. About the clouds I was supposed to see in Israel but didn’t
  6. 1983, an early jab at “faulty towers”; a paper that questions the Israeli experimenters’ cloud reports is submitted and rejected
  7. About getting the 1986 cloud study published
  8. The best example of rapidly glaciating clouds with modest cloud top temperatures that I saw
  9. Why was the 1986 study submitted to a foreign journal?

The battle to publish “The Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel” in the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.

  1. The battle to publish a review of Israeli cloud seeding in BAMS
  2. Why I persist with BAMS
  3. Interlude: A little of the talk given in 2017 at the University of Wyoming on the Rise and Fall FYI
  4. The Israeli experiments’ chief meteorologist’s 1986 letter about omitted Israel-2 data and at what cloud top temperatures Israeli clouds rained from
  5. More on getting the Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel published
  6. The TWO split peer reviews (reject and accept) and about BAMS decision take the reject one instead of getting additional expert reviewers to break the split
  7. The importance of controversy
  8. Israel moves on and starts over again to see if seeding works; Israel-4 and the HUJ airborne study that supported it. Comment: Don’t do an experiment based on this paper!
  9. More thoughts on the “Battle of the BAMS
  10. Science” or something else?
  11. Douglas Adams and the likely role of credentialism in the BAMS rejection
  12. Getting tough on research misconduct such as “falsification”; i.e., omitting data to improve results as happened in Israel-2
  13. The battle is on display here: the revised manuscript and the replies to the comments of the reviewers and to the BAMS editors

Where it all started: in a big randomized cloud seeding experiment in southwest Colorado in the early 1970s designed to prove orographic cloud seeding once and for all

  1. How unsettling experiences regarding journal cloud seeding literature laid the groundwork for an eventual trip to Israel as a super skeptic
  2. The “documercial” movie about the huge Colorado River Basin Pilot Project cloud seeding experiment
  3. Scientific idealism begins to slip away in Durango
  4. 1974: My first “accolade” for exceptional skepticism of cloud seeding papers, the Archie M. Kahan “Resident Skeptic” Award!
  5. The decay of idealism accelerates in Durango
  6. Conflict of interest on part of those chosen to evaluate the CRBPP 🙁
  7. The informational “black hole” during the CRBPP
  8. The 1973 NAS panel report on Climate and Weather Modification reaches Durango in 1974
  9. 1974: The University of Washington to the “rescue” of the CRBPP
  10. The final blow to idealism in Durango
  11. A regrettable personal media eruption in Durango that required an in person apology at CSU in Fort Collins
  12. The apology and the Durango Herald article’s after effects
  13. 1979: I discover that my first conference presentation is going to be addressed by the Colorado experimenters just before I give it; egad!
  14. 1983, a real no-no: a request for an investigation
  15. Tension highlight with Prof AG of Israel at the 1984 Park City weather mod conference
  16. Intermission (and a, “Get a Life!” note)
  17. Not trusting the journal literature in cloud seeding was a “fruitful perception”
  18. The payoff for decades of volunteer cloud seeding work: a monetary prize from the “people of earth”, well, those people represented by the United Nations
  19. Why am I doing all of this (and not others)?
  20. Peter V. Hobbs and his group’s work


  1. Anecdotes about my life outside of these volunteer efforts in case it doesn’t seem like I had one (the only fun part of this “blook” read if not busy)

1. Intro

What is cloud seeding/weather modification?

Cloud seeding is releasing silver iodide (AgI) or dropping dry ice pellets into clouds with liquid water at temperatures below about -5°C (23°F) to create more ice crystals than are thought to occur naturally in them. The ice crystals grow, aggregate into snowflakes and fall out as snow, or rain. At least that’s the ideal picture. Droplets of liquid water can persist in thin layer clouds and in strong updrafts to temperatures lower than -30°C (-22°F). Quite amazing, really.

But nature is perverse in ways we don’t understand fully. Completely glaciated (iced-out) clouds can occur in clouds that have never been colder than about -7°C (20°F). Such clouds have always been observed to have larger cloud droplets, drizzle or raindrops in them. Hence, there is a “problem” in assuming that clouds are lacking in ice and need MORE ice crystals via seeding; they often don’t, and seeding them will have no effect, or even could decrease precipitation.

No randomized cloud seeding experiment, followed by a necessary replication of the result to rule out flukes, has shown to have produced increased precipitation to date. An exception in the works may be an experiment in the Snowy Mountains of Australia that has recently been reported, but has not been examined rigorously by outside skeptics like me. And extreme rigor is required when cloud seeding successes are reported by those who have conducted the experiment! Read on….

About this “blook”

This is not a blog, but a “blook” (book-blog); a “blogzilla”, an autobio consisting of 50 years of experiences and observations of this field, 1970 to the present time. Thanks in advance to the two of you who actually read this whole thing! It’ll take a couple days. Its story about a journey through science and one about how it sometimes fails to catch perverse literature and won’t allow valid literature that it doesn’t like. My hope is that my path through this field was “anomalous” or we’re in deep trouble.

This blog-book (“blook”) has four main elements: 1) my cloud investigation trip to Israel and its findings; 2) about the difficulty of getting a review of Israeli cloud seeding published in the American Meteorological Society’s Bull. of the Amer. Meteor. Soc. (“BAMS“), historically the repository of cloud seeding reviews, 3) the manuscript in question itself recounting the “rise and fall” of cloud seeding in Israel (with slight revisions following peer-review) and 4), the early 1970s experiences in Colorado that led me to being an activist in closely scrutinizing cloud seeding literature, one having a strong distrust of successful reports. It is also about a “kill the messenger” attitude in science, and a test of current friendships of those once associated with institutions that will be mentioned.

For a modicum of credibility regarding what you will read:

Peter V. Hobbs and I received a monetary prize for our work in the cloud seeding arena. The award was adjudicated by experts with the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization. Peter Hobbs had done what might be viewed as “constructive” work in this domain before I arrived.

My portion of this prize, however, was mainly for tearing down accepted structures within the cloud seeding literature via reanalyses of cloud seeding experiments, some deemed the best that been done by the scientific community, along with other published commentaries. Ironically, some “tear-downs” were ones that Peter Hobbs himself had helped build up before I arrived. Here’s the secret to my reanalyses of cloud seeding successes: sadly, I have to report that they were ALL virtually “low hanging fruit” ready to be picked off by almost any under-credentialed meteorologist like me (cloud seeding wrecking ball Rangno) who was willing to look a little closer at them; they did not require someone with a big brain or “Einsteinian” insights to unravel them.

A part of the “prize”, was also under inadvertent (and controversial) seeding effects, we discovered in the early 1980s that our own prop aircraft (a Douglas B-23) was inadvertently seeding supercooled clouds that we had flown through at temperatures as high as -8°C! I still remember bringing in a strip chart to Peter Hobbs and telling him, “I think our aircraft did this” (created spikes of ice concentrations in an otherwise ice-free Cumulus congestus cloud).

The aircraft inadvertent seeding paper was so controversial in its day due to casting a shadow on prior aircraft sampling of supercooled clouds that it was rejected twice and took two years and voluminous increases in size before being accepted (Rangno and Hobbs 1983, J. Clim. Appl. Meteor.). It didn’t help that many earlier aircraft studies of clouds had been conducted near -10°C. Now, its common knowledge and the effect must be guarded against when sampling the same cloud repeatedly for life cycle studies. Prof. John Hallett described our findings in 2008 at the Peter Hobbs Symposium Day of the American Meteorological Society, as “an embarrassment for the airborne research community.” No! Not our study, but what we found!

In short, I have been involved with a lot of destruction or compromising of prior published science. On the other hand, I did make one positive contribution to cloud seeding, suggesting that we use the CARG mm-wavelength cloud sensing, vertically-pointed radar as a seeding target (after an aircraft contrail passed over it one day). The results of our subsequent experiments were published in no less than Science mag, and that article got a hand-written accolade from “Mr. Dry Ice,” himself, Vincent Schaefer, the discoverer of that modern seeding methodology! Some of this experiment (the best part, of course) is reprised in the 2008 Hobbs Symposium Day talk here.

I begin in mid-stream in a sense by starting out about my provocative trip to Israel to investigate their clouds in 1986. This was long after my disillusion with the cloud seeding literature had taken hold in the early 1970s. I start with this chapter because I am still battling to this day to get a review of cloud seeding in Israel published; its rise and fall. This is a major science story and I won’t give up on it! There are many reasons other than science ones for the difficulty of getting this account published. They are enumerated later. No one will be surprised by them.

The Israel seeding account, too, parallels the “rise and fall” of widely perceived experiments in Colorado that were believed to have proved cloud seeding as purported by no less than the National Academy of Sciences. Those Colorado experiments and their own rise and fall cycle preceded that of the Israeli experiments.

As in Israel, the primary fault of the Colorado experimenters was that they could not get their clouds right, the “bottom line” in cloud seeding experiments. The Colorado experimenters inferred (through post-experiment statistical analyses) as did they Israeli experimenters, “ripe-for-seeding” clouds that don’t exist.

Moreover, the Colorado experimenters could not accept the idea that their experiments were compromised because nature flung heavier storms at the seeding target and surrounding regions on randomly drawn seeded days. There were also problems with the data that the Colorado experimenters had used; it wasn’t what they said they had used, and they didn’t draw random decisions when their own criteria said they should have. (An aside: “Good grief!” And, yes, I was involved in the tear-down of the Colorado experiments).

In the account of Israel’s experiments’ “rise and fall”, you will read about how the results and even the clouds described by the Israeli experimenters, mirrored what was being reported about the clouds of Colorado. This even though the clouds in Israel were winter Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds that rolled in off the Mediterranean Sea, and the Colorado clouds much colder, winter stratiform clouds in the mountains, of course, deep within a continent. This should have raised some eyebrows, but didn’t. I included discussions of the Colorado findings in the Israel manuscript because at the time, these disparate reports were cross-pollinating one another in a sense for the scientific community, one that was primed for cloud seeding successes to be reported after increasingly optimistic findings in lesser studies and experiments in the 1960s.

If this hasn’t piqued your interest in reading this “blogzilla”, then, oh well; move along. haha.

But, if you want to read an “important paper”, as deemed by the anonymous reviewer (one of two), and presumably one not beholden to cloud seeding, it’s here. (That reviewer wanted it less harsh, however, and felt there were “personal criticisms.”). You can decide on these latter assertions by examining the manuscript, post revisions below.

By the way, BAMS was, and is, fully aware of the 2nd, “reject article” reviewer’s conflict of interest, but for whatever reason, paid no attention to it. More about this below.

Yes, this a slog. “Bear down”, as they say at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. (I think it will be worth it.)

Perhaps, as long as this account is, it will be seen as just a diatribe, a useless expenditure of energy on a cause that has little merit except to the author, me. I fear that’s how this will be seen, but I post it anyway. Let us begin…


No scientist working in a conflicted science arena where there are strong and diverse opinions, whether its on the origin of dogs, the degree of warming ahead due to CO2, or here, in cloud seeding, will be surprised by anything in this account.

“Unreliable literature”?

An interesting provocation in the title that I now flesh out. “One-sided citing”, or “selective citing” is a frequent occurrence in cloud seeding articles (and in other conflicted domains) and can be considered one element of “skewed literature,” that is, not being candid (honest?) about the history of your subject.

One-sided citing is when peer-reviewed article only presents (cites) one side of an issue or findings when there are more that a journal reader should be made aware of. It can only result from reviews of manuscripts by “one-sided reviewers” or ones ignorant of the body of literature in the subject they are passing judgement on in their review.

It should never happen in honest, thoroughly screened-for-publication literature.

So, how often does one-sided citing occur in the cloud seeding literature?

A survey of cloud seeding literature through 2018 (article in preparation) was done that found that 39 of 82 articles in American Meteorological Society (AMS) journals and in the Journal of Weather Modification Association’s peer-reviewed segment exhibited “one-sided citing.” The survey of peer-reviewed literature concerned two sets of once highly regarded cloud seeding experiments whose findings were overturned “upon closer inspection” also in the peer-reviewed literature. The two sets of once benchmark experiments, lauded virtually by all at one time, were conducted in Colorado and Israel. The criteria that was used in this survey was that an overturned result had to be in the peer-review literature for at least a year from the date of final acceptance of a cloud seeding article before any references to the two sets of experiments in an article that mentioned them were examined and categorized. Perhaps we should be placated that a slight majority of papers did, in fact, reference the “whole story” and cited studies that compromised prior successes. I think not.

The number of instances that authors and co-authors signed on to articles that told only one side of the story (ones that referenced only the successful phases) after compromising literature appeared was over 100 representing more than two dozen institutions from universities, government agencies, certified consultants, utilities, and, not too surprisingly, commercial seeding providers.

The institutional “winners” of one-sided citing?

Colorado State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and the Bureau of Reclamation, each having more than ten one-sided “instances1.” These results tell you, not surprisingly, that institutions who have, or have had, concentrated programs in cloud seeding as these did, are the ones most likely to have authors that practice one-sided citing in cloud seeding journal literature.

What motive would there be for authors to cite only the successful phase of cloud seeding experiments that were overturned later? There are several possible answers:

Foremost in my mind is to mislead journal readers by citing only the successful phase of an experiment that was overturned, presumably hoping that their readers don’t find out about the reversal. This leads the naive reader who takes such an article at face value to believe that cloud seeding has a more successful history than it really does, the probable goal of the authors. This is tantamount to citing Fleischmann and Pons (1989, J. Electroanalytical Chem.) in support of “cold fusion,” without citing the followup studies that showed “cold fusion” was bogus. What’s the difference here?

Added to this primary reason for one-sided citing would likely be: ignorance of the literature on the part of authors; the telltale human factor; authors that have grudges against scientists that have injured their home institution’s work, or that of their friends; and authors who don’t wish to cite scientists whose work threatens their own livelihood in cloud seeding.

Cloud seeding literature with only one side of the story cited can be considered one element of “skewed” literature. It should be considered a form of scientific misconduct or really, fraud, in my opinion, even if only a “misdemeanor.” BAMS leadership disagrees with my strong position, stating that its too difficult to determine one-sided citing in recently declining a proposed BAMS essay, “Should ‘one-sided citing’ be considered a form of scientific misconduct?” BAMS felt it was too hard to determine one-sided citing. It must also be considered that my proposal wasn’t as “tight” as it could have been…

But I disagreed due to having a low threshold of misconduct/fraud. Its rather easy to determine one-sided citing, as most of you would realize who’ve been subject to these kinds of omissions of your work. Please see the AMS book, Eloquent Science; the author, David Schultz, believes that one-sided citing is “easily recognized”, contrary to the view of BAMS. Perhaps BAMS leadership didn’t read the well-reviewed book, or consult with Prof. Schultz on why he would write that.

The survey above indicates that an awful lot of misleading literature is reaching the journals, something that publishers/editors of journals probably don’t want to hear about. Ask Stewart and Feder and their experiences with Nature in getting their 1987 article, “The Integrity of the Scientific Literature” published. It took years.

Moreover, one-sided citing damages authors like myself (I am frequently a “victim”) who lose citations they reasonably should have had, and thus one’s impact in his field as measured by citation metrics is reduced.

Surprisingly, one-sided publications have originated from such well-regarded institutions as the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ), and Colorado State University (CSU), among many others that could be named, thus compromising those institutions’ reputations as reliable sources of information.

That so many occurrences of one-sided citing reach the peer-reviewed literature points to a flawed peer-reviewed system, one populated by “one-sided reviewers” and/or ones ignorant of the literature they are supposed to know about in the role of a reviewer. This is not news.

The shame of this practice is that it would have only taken a single sentence containing references to “fill in the blank” for the journal reader, such as: “These results have been questioned.” Or, “overturned.”

—————————end of one-sided citing “module”————-

My whole cloud seeding story, more or less, is about the kind of lapses described above likely driven by excessive confirmation bias, vested interests; scientists presenting only part of the actual story, as happened in Israel regarding a key “confirmatory” experiment, again pointing to a weak peer-review foundation in journals.

Moreover, this “Readers Digest Condensed Book” is only a partial (!) autobio and should be considered one in development. I know changes/additions will be made over time as comments come in… I’ve tried to constrain myself for the time being to just those important-to-me science highlights/”traumas”/epiphanies that I experienced in this realm in my journey rather than present EVERY detail of my experiences in this field (though it will surely seem like I am discussing every detail).

This is also a story, too, by a person who only wanted to be a weather forecaster ever since he was a little kid, but ends up working in and de-constructing cloud seeding experiments, the latter almost exclusively on his own time due to an outsized reaction to misleading literature.

As mentioned, I joined the University of Washington in 1976, btw, long after my disillusionment with the cloud seeding literature was underway. With Prof. Peter Hobbs support when I brought in drafts concerning reanalyses of cloud seeding experiments, I had a strong platform from which to rectify misleading and ersatz cloud seeding claims. I don’t believe another faculty member at the “U-Dub” would have taken the interest that Peter did in cleaning up my drafts. Thank you, Peter Hobbs.

Peter Hobbs was also able to reverse course, as it were, when new facts came in. This was not so much seen in the cloud seeding community I went through in Colorado as you will learn in the “Where it all began” chapter.

My distrust of the cloud seeding literature was so great that I hopped a plane to Israel on January 3rd, 1986, relatively sure that the published cloud reports that were the basis for a cloud seeding success in Israel were not slightly, but grossly in error. And someone needed to do something about it!

Most of this “blook” will be about this chapter of my life because it seems so characteristic of the compromised literature in this field whose character somehow seems to escape the attention of gullible reviewers, and also demonstrates the powerful seductive forces that the thought of making it rain has on otherwise good scientists. Nobel laureate, Irving Langmuir, comes to mind.


1An author or authors on a one-sided article are each counted as an “instance.” A single author can comprise several “instances” if he repeatedly “one-sides” the issue, and a single article that “one sides” with several authors can be several “instances.” It was observed that several authors repeatedly practiced one-siding in their cloud seeding articles, practices that also repeatedly escaped the attention of those authors’ reviewers somehow.


For a comprehensive, informative, and entertaining read about early cloud seeding experimenters, crackpots, sincere, but misguided characters, and outright cloud seeding footpads, read, “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control” by Prof. James R. Fleming. I highly recommend it. Coincidentally, James R. Fleming was a crew member of Peter Hobbs’ research group when I was hired in 1976, before he became the illustrious “Prof. Fleming.” I actually took his place when I started, doing some of the same things he did, like servicing our aircraft’s instrumentation after flights! Crazy, eh?

You will read in Fleming’s book about how Nobel Laureate, Irving Langmuir, became obsessed with cloud seeding and his critical faculties were diminished by an overwhelming cloud seeding “confirmation bias.” The “Langmuirs” in this field persist to this day, willing to throw up specious arguments to recoup failed cloud seeding efforts, or create publications “proving” an ersatz increase in precipitation due to seeding by cherry-picking controls mid or post-experiment. And they’re still leaking articles like that into the peer-reviewed literature due to inadequate peer-review, likely by still-gullible and one-sided reviewers, and certainly by ones ignorant of the subject they are supposed to review. Examples to follow.


The experiences I had in the realm of cloud seeding also deal with a “checkered history”, as Prof. Fleming wrote, but ones that emanated from academic settings in the modern era in form of peer-reviewed literature. One will be able to confidently conclude from my account that putting on an academic robe did not end the kind of cloud seeding shenanigans described by Prof. Fleming, though they are far more subtle, sophisticated and crafty.

So “crafty” has been such literature that it persuaded national panels consisting of our best scientists (yes, consensuses have been formed) to declare that what were really ersatz cloud seeding successes, true and valid in several cases. Namely, bogus reports of cloud seeding successes that reached the peer-reviewed literature have misled our entire scientific community and those who read those assessments by our best scientists!

(Note: Were our best scientists at fault? Not only “no”, but HELL no!” They were just too trusting of peer-reviewed cloud seeding literature and naive about the forces of confirmation bias combined with weak peer-reviewing that allowed faulty publications to reach the literature, ones that they took at face value.)

Were the cloud seeding experimenters responsible for such faulty modern literature just misguided, deluded, but sincere people?

Or were they “chefs” that “cooked and trimmed” their results to present their journal readers with ersatz successes that they themselves benefitted from? You’ll have to decide. The evidence is clear in one case.

This, too, is written as I near the “end of my own road” and thinking that the events I experienced might be useful for others to know about and, especially, to be vigilant about.

Since its a story with dark elements, it’s also one where the scientific community (like doctors who loath testifying against malfeasant doctors), has tended to “circle the wagons” in misguided efforts to protect the reputation of science and scientists rather than being concerned with the “victims” of scientific misconduct/fraud. Again, ask Feder and Stewart. I am treading in this world now with in a manuscript submission last year to BAMS and the AMS, discussed in considerable detail later. You will be able to read the manuscript itself and make up your own mind about it’s appropriateness in BAMS.

Having never been a faculty member, only a staff research meteorologist at the University of Washington with only a bachelor’s degree, I suspect that it is easier for me than for authors like Prof. Fleming to address malfeasance and/or delusion as seen in the peer-reviewed literature by well-credentialed faculty members, the “club,” as it were, some of whom were even domiciled in one of the institutions he matriculated from.


The organization of this piece is somewhat suspect. Its not my forte, as the late Peter Hobbs would know. It jumps around a bit. But you will able to do that, too, via “jump links” in the Table of Contents. Think of them as like mini-chapters of a book.

Discussions about Israel’s clouds, cloud seeding, and the battle to get my review of Israeli cloud seeding published in BAMS has a light gray background for some sorting of topics! There is repetition. This “blogzilla” is so long I’ve lost track of some statements that might be repeated. But then, if I repeated something, maybe it was real important. 🙂

The references to technical literature alluded to here, are mainly in the submitted manuscript itself, which is found later in this piece, and on my “Publications” blog page. I didn’t want to overwhelm non-technical readers with numerous inserts of citations.

The “Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel” manuscript that I will discuss relative to BAMS, consists of a distillation of more than 700 pages of peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed conference preprint literature scattered among various journals and conferences and has, at this point, taken a couple of years to put together. Its a sobering historical account that has not been told before, and needs to be heard by a wide audience, particularly those who are involved with cloud seeding. There are also lessons for all of us in there when it comes to researching something when you already know before you start what the result will be.


I dedicate my work to the late Mr. Karl Rosner, former “Chief Meteorologist” of the Israeli randomized experiments, who became a friend. His integrity was laid bare for all to see when he stated that the high statistical-significance in the Buffer Zone (BZ) of Israel-1 (higher than in either of the two targets!) on “Center” seeded days could NOT have been due to inadvertent seeding based on his wind analysis (quoted by Wurtele, 1971, J. Appl. Meteor.) The BZ lay between the two intentionally seeded targets.

How easy it would have been for a seeding partisan to have said, “Oh, yeah, we must’ve seeded that Buffer Zone” and perhaps have ended speculation about a lucky random draw that favored the appearance of seeding effects in the Center target of Israel-1.

His revealing 1986 letter to me about the Israel-2 experiment is included later.

2. The background for going to Israel in 1986: no one could get a research plane in to check out those ripe-for-seeding clouds described by the HUJ experimenters

By the early 1980s, the events and the journal literature I had experienced during a randomized cloud seeding experiment in Colorado caused me never again to believe in a published cloud seeding success prima facie. It didn’t matter how highly regarded it was by national panels and individual experts. And the Israeli experiments were perceived as just that; the best that had ever been done in those days of the 1980s.

The ripe-for-seeding clouds that I went to see were ones that the HUJ experimenters had described repeatedly in journals and in conference presentations. They were the foundation for the belief that seeding them had, indeed, resulted in the statistically-significant increases in rainfall that had been reported in two randomized cloud seeding experiments, Israel-1 and Israel-2. The experimenters’ ripe-for-seeding cloud reports explained to the scientific community WHY cloud seeding had worked in Israel and not elsewhere.

In 1982, Science magazine hailed these experiments as the ONLY experiments in 35 years of seeding trials that rain increases had been induced by cloud seeding. Yes, there was a dreaded scientific consensus that these experiments had proved cloud seeding. However, only half of the Israel-2 experiment had been reported by the HUJ seeding team when the Science magazine assessment was made; the half that appeared to support a successful overall seeding experiment.

At the time I went to Israel in 1986, and much of the reason for going, was that no major outside research institution, curious about those Israeli clouds, had been able to get their research planes in to check them out. At least six attempts had been rebuffed (Prof. Gabor Vali, Atmos. Sci. Dept., University of Wyoming, personal communication, 1986). The attached letter below to me from Sir John Mason, former head of the British Royal Society and author of, “The Physics of Clouds,” tells of his attempt to get the British research aircraft into Israel and coordinate such a mission with the lead Israeli cloud seeding experimenter, Professor A. Gagin (hereafter, Prof. AG) of the HUJ. You will find it illuminating about why outside researchers couldn’t get in. (Prof. AG passed in September 1987.)

3. British unable to get in

4. Why I thought I could do something

So, in going to Israel in 1986 and by then having ten years of experience under my belt in airborne cloud studies with the University of Washington’s Cloud and Aerosol Research Group (CARG), as a weather forecaster, as a former storm chaser (summer thunderstorms in the deserts of Southern California and Arizona, Hurricane Carla in 1961) and importantly, as a cloud photographer, I felt I could fill a vacuum left by those rebuffed airborne research missions. Peter Hobbs, the director of our group, put it this way: “No one’s been able to get a plane in there.” It was a very curious situation in itself.

A “story board”, Clouds, Weather, and Cloud Seeding in Israel found below is focused on my provocative, but badly needed, cloud investigation trip to Israel in January-mid-March 1986. How I got to the point of doing such an outrageous science act as going to Israel to check out their clouds in person really began in Colorado in the 1970s, as mentioned.

Let me add this: I loved my storm and cloud chasing time in Israel and my days working within the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) on fair weather ones only, of course! I made relationships that continued over the years though most are now gone.

Since this is just a personal “blog-book” and I want to make it more “human” if you will, as well as having reliable science, I will add a couple of photos from my IMS experience. The first two photos below are some of my “officemates” in the climate division of the IMS that I had around the little table space I was given thanks to IMS Director, Y. L. Tokatly, who saw my skepticism as a natural part of science. The clouds of Israel can only be studied in Israel.

The third photo is one taken on top of a satellite campus of the HUJ where the Atmospheric Sciences Department was located (a former nunnery); photo by Prof. A. G.

Two of my “office mates” within the Israel Meteorological Service’s Climate Group
More “officemates” within the Israel Meteorological Service’s Climate Group. They were all so nice and accommodating to this intruder’s presence.
The photo taken of me by Prof. A. Gagin atop a satellite campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, on January 10th, 1986, during our first cordial meeting. The building had been a former nunnery he told me. (He would not allow me to take his photo.)

5. Story board concerning an extreme act of skepticism: the 1986 trip to Israel and its results

“Honey, I just quit my job at the University of Washington, and now I am going to spend $4,000 of our savings because I think the clouds in Israel aren’t being described correctly. I want to help them figure out their rain clouds. Do you mind if I’m gone for a few months and no longer have a job when I come back? Also, I won’t be looking for a job very soon since I will have to spend the rest of the year working on a manuscript about my findings. OK? I think we’ll still have some savings left at the end of the year.”

No, you can’t do these things if you’re married. But, as a single man in those days, “oh, yeah.” And somebody had to do something!

(Hit the expand button in the lower right hand corner for a full view.)

Peter Hobbs chided me about my skepticism concerning the HUJ cloud reports just before I left for Israel; that I seemed to be indicating to him that I knew more about the clouds of Israel than those who studied them in their backyard. He added that he thought I was “arrogant.” Wow.

Peter was still mad at me for resigning from his group just before a big CARG project and raising a ruckus about why I was resigning. But, I had scrutinized the HUJ cloud reports in considerable detail, and had submitted a paper on the problems with them in 1983 when he was on sabbatical. I had a solid background for my belief that the clouds described by the HUJ cloud seeding team didn’t exist. The mystery to this day is why they did not know the true nature of their clouds with all the tools they had.

Why I resigned from a job I loved, is another long story (oh, not really; you know, it was the old “authorship/credit issue”). Peter had those issues. But it’s one that ends happily with a reconciliation a couple of years later, which doesn’t always happen! We both benefitted from that reconciliation. We needed each other.

My trip to Israel was self-funded and self-initiated. It may sound ludicrous, but I also felt that by going to Israel I was going to be able to do what those rebuffed airborne missions could not do; evaluate the clouds of Israel sans aircraft. I had flown in hundreds if not thousands of clouds using high-end instrumentation, and when you’re directing research flights as I did for the University of Washington’s research group in studies of ice particle development in Cumulus and small Cumulonimbus clouds. You visually assess those clouds before going into them and then sample the best parts and then see what your instruments have told you about the concentrations of droplets and ice particles, etc.) You get a real quantitative feel for how much ice they’re going to have in them by their external appearance.

So, by just visually assessing the Israeli clouds and estimating their thicknesses and top heights, I would know from my airborne work and background whether the reports about the ripe-for-seeding clouds were correct. Upon closer inspection, there were several odd aspects in the HUJ experimenters’ cloud reports.

Too, if I was right about the clouds of Israel, that they were starting to rain when they were relatively shallow (highly efficient in forming rain, as we would say), say, topping out at 3-4 km (roughly 10 kft to 14 kft) above sea level, the people of Israel might well be wasting millions of dollars over the years by trying to increase runoff into their primary fresh water source, the Sea of Galilee (aka, Lake Kinneret) by seeding unsuitable clouds. They had started a commercial-style program in 1975 after Israel-2, the second experiment, had been partially reported as a success in increasing rain due to seeding.

During the first daylight hours of the first showery day, January 12th, 1986, I saw shallow Cumulonimbus clouds, clamped down by a stable layer of air, full of ice rolling in from the Mediterranean onto the Israeli coast. They had been preceded by true drizzle and thick misty rain falling from thick Stratocumulus the night before in Jerusalem where I had spent the night.

I KNEW within those first hours f the first storm that the cloud reports from the HUJ experimenters were grossly in error. To be sure there was nothing strange that day, or on subsequent days, I would ask the Israel Meteorology Service, “Was there anything unusual about this storm?” Nope. In fact, one former forecaster told me, “We get good rains out of clouds with tops at -10°C,” something the HUJ experimenters said never happened.

Experiencing drizzle was a surprise to me; it was not supposed to fall from Israeli clouds because the clouds were too polluted and as a result, the droplets in the clouds were too small to collide and form larger drizzle drops. The occurrence of drizzle instead, meant they were ripe to produce ice at temperatures only a little below freezing due to having large cloud droplets capable of coalescing into bigger drizzle drops, not tiny ones due to pollution that bounce off each other.

Why was the observation of true drizzle so important? The appearance of ice in clouds at temperatures not much below freezing (say, -4°C to -8°C) has always been associated with drizzle or raindrops before it forms.

Of course, there were other experienced research flight scientists in cloud studies out there I am sure that could have done the same thing as I did. But, I was the one that went. (Spent a lotta money doing what I thought was an altruistic act, too.)

6. About the clouds I was supposed to see in Israel

So, what are clouds that are plump with seeding potential supposed to be like? Just that; fat and pretty tall. The clouds that responded to seeding were reported to be those with radar-measured “modal” tops with heights where the temperatures were (from balloon soundings) between -12°C and -21°C. The major rain increases in the Israel-2 experiment due to seeding were reported from “modal” radar tops in the lower half of that temperature range. These would be clouds rolling in off the Mediterranean that were about 5-6 km thick, topping out around 15,000 to 20, 000 feet or so above sea level. Such clouds were described as having a tough time raining, according to the experimenters at the HUJ. They either barely rained, or not even at all, until they were seeded, the experimenters inferred from the statistical analyses alone. The effect of seeding in those statistical analyses of the Israel-2 experiment was that seeding had increased the duration of rain, not its intensity. Seeding had no effect when clouds were already raining.

These findings were compatible with how the experimenters seeded and also led to the inference of deep clouds that didn’t rain until seeded, surrounded by taller ones that did. Non-precipitating clouds cannot be observed by radar, so there was no evidence that such a cloud actually existed.

The experimenters had used just a little bit of seeding agent (silver iodide) released by a single aircraft flying long lines along the Israel coastline near cloud base in showery weather, and this seeding strategy was compatible with what was reported.

It all made sense. Mostly…unless you really got into the details of their cloud reports, in which the devil resides. And I had done that by 1983. See below for a “detective meteorology” module in which the cloud reports of the HUJ experimenters are closely scrutinized.

7. 1983: A paper questioning the Israeli cloud reports is submitted and rejected; a call to action… eventually

In 1983, after plotting dozens of rawinsonde soundings when rain was falling at the time of, or fell within an hour, of the rawinsonde launch time at Bet Dagan, Israel, and at Beirut, Lebanon, (see first figure in ppt above) I came to the conclusion that the clouds of the eastern Mediterranean and in Israel were, shockingly, nothing like they were being described as by the HUJ experimenters at conferences and in their peer-reviewed papers. I also looked at their published cloud sampling reports and it was clear to me that the clouds that the experimenters had sampled were not representative of those that caused significant rain in Israel; they were too narrow, did not have enough ice particles in them. They did not sample the wide Cumulonimbus complexes that produce rain for tens of minutes to more than an hour at a time during Israel’s showery winter weather, sometimes marked by thunderstorms.

I submitted a manuscript in July 1983 to the J. Clim. Appl. Meteor. that questioned the experimenter cloud reports. It indicated that rain frequently fell from clouds with tops >-10°C which according to the experimenters’ reports, was never supposed to happen. It was rejected by three of the four reviewers (B. Silverman, personal correspondence). Peter Hobbs, the leader of my group, was on sabbatical in Germany at this time and was not happy I had submitted a journal paper without his purview. In fact, I was to submit three that year, all rejected! I might have been “Rejectee of the Year” in 1983 with the AMS.

I was undaunted by the rejection; I was pretty sure my findings were correct, which they were proved to be by aircraft measurements in the early 1990s. Note: Rejected authors, take heart! You may have something really good.

The problem for reviewers of that 1983 submission?

How could the HUJ experimenters not know about what I was reporting if it was true?

The many rebuffed outside airborne attempts to study Israeli clouds, such as that by Sir John Mason mentioned above, suggested otherwise. I was to fester over this rejection for the next couple of years before deciding to go to Israel and see those clouds for myself, becoming a “cloud seeding chaser”, maybe the first!

I have to also acknowledge that it was Peter Hobbs in 1979 who challenged me, after our/my first cloud seeding reanalyses and commentaries were published on cloud seeding in Colorado, to look into the Israeli experiments. I guess he thought I had a knack of some kind for that kind of thing. In fact, he took a series of the first questions I had to the 1980 Clermont-Ferrand 8th International Cloud Physics Conference where the lead experimenter, Prof. AG, was presenting.

8. About the publication of the 1986 cloud study

Peter Hobbs called Prof. AG a few months before he passed in 1987 to let him know that my article on the clouds of Israel, derived from my 1986 cloud investigation, was going to be published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. The title? “Rain from clouds with tops warmer than -10°C in Israel,” something that the lead experimenter had maintained for many years never happened. In fact, to repeat, such rain was quite common, as the Israeli experiments Chief Forecaster, Mr. Karl Rosner, states in a 1986 letter to me (posted below), and as I also saw in 1986 during my investigation, and of course, as the IMS forecasters knew. Prof. AG passed three months after Peter’s call. Undoubtedly, the appearance of my paper was going to bring many questions and stress for him.

9. The best example of rapid glaciation of shallow cumuliform clouds that I saw in Israel

Shallow Cumulus congestus clouds that were transitioning to modest Cumulonimbus clouds rolled in across the coast north of Tel Aviv on January 15, 1986. This day’s scene was especially good because of the lack, mostly, of intervening clouds toward that small line of clouds. The first shot below was taken at 1556 LST and the second shot just four minutes later, 1600 LST. The rising turret peaking between clouds in the first shot had transitioned to ice in those four minutes, taking its possible load of momentary supercooled liquid water with it. This kind of speed of ice formation that I was to see repeatedly when I was in Israel.

Prof. AG had asserted in his papers that ice particle concentrations in Israeli clouds did not increase with time which was not possible in clouds converting to ice. Later, in mature and dissipitating stages concentrations will decrease as single crystals merge to become aggregates (snowflakes).

I estimated the tops of the clouds in the photos at 4 km ASL and the temperature at -14°C +3°C based on rawinsonde data. Cloud bases were a relatively warm 10-11°C; cloud bases in Israel on shower days are generally about 8°-9°C. The cloud top estimate was later verified by radar by Rosenfeld (1997, J. Appl. Meteor.); our full discussion of these photos, including an error in time by Rosenfeld (1997), is found here along with replies to his other comments. In retrospect, we erred by not publishing our full response to the comments of Dr. Rosenfeld instead of a partial one in the J. Appl. Meteor. I felt some of my best work was in this comprehensive reply, husbanded at the U of Washington:

Copies of these medium format slides, with the times above annotated on them, were sent in 1986 to Dr. Stan Mossop, CSIRO, Australia, Prof. Roscoe R. Braham, Jr., North Carolina State University, and Prof. Gabor Vali, University of Wyoming so that they could all see for themselves that there was something seriously wrong with the existing descriptions of Israeli clouds in the literature.

10. Why was the 1986 Israel cloud study submitted to a foreign journal, the British Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society?

Ans.: Neither Professor Peter Hobbs nor myself believed that my 1987 manuscript could be published in journals under the auspices of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). So, we went “foreign.”

I believe that this also relates to the problem I have today with BAMS under its current leadership with the “Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel” manuscript. Perhaps the BAMS editors and its leadership feel they are “protecting” Israel, its science, and the HUJ by rejecting a manuscript about faulty science, a faulty consensus, indicative of poor peer-review, with the reader likely being led to elements of misconduct. ???

My rejected manuscript in 1983 had already suggested that the AMS audience and its reviewers were not ready to hear what I was going to report, and once again I was going to report that the clouds were markedly different than was being described by the HUJ seeding researchers.

The problem with submitting to the AMS, again? Too many (gullible) American scientists had heard repeatedly in conference presentations or read in peer-reviewed journals about Israeli clouds plump with seeding potential and low in ice content to low cloud top temperatures (to -21°C) as they were being described by the lead experimenter.

It would also be seen from my report that it was likely that the clouds of Israel had little seeding potential due to how readily they rained naturally when cloud top temperatures were barely cold enough for the seeding agent to even work.

So in 1987 we believed that what I was reporting would not fly in an American journal, and Peter Hobbs, a member of the Royal Society, “communicated” my manuscript to the QJ. The major problem again for AMS journal reviewers would be, as it was in 1983:

How could the HUJ experimenters not know what I was reporting?

Overseas reviewers tabbed by the QJ, however, such as a Sir B. J. Mason, et al (I don’t know who the reviewers actually were) were likely to be more circumspect, and not at all surprised by mischaracterizations of clouds by members of the cloud seeding community that decribed them as filled with seeding potential.

And they were more circumspect.

My 1987 submitted manuscript was accepted and published in the January 1988 issue of the Quarterly Journal. My conclusions about the general nature of Israeli clouds have been confirmed on several occasions beginning in the early 1990s in airborne measurements by Tel Aviv University scientists and by others later. I had indicated to Prof. AG and several other scientists to whom I wrote to from Israel in 1986 that, from ground observations, the clouds of Israel were producing “50-200 ice particles per liter at cloud top temperatures >-12°C” and that “ice was onsetting in Israeli clouds at top temperatures between -5°C and -8°C.”

Of course, these were fantastic statements based on ground observations in 1986 for those scientists that I wrote to from Israel, but they were verified in a peer-reviewed paper reporting cloud top temperatures and ice particle concentrations in 1996 (Levin et al., J. Appl. Meteor., Table 4).

That 1996 TAU paper is the last time that cloud top temperatures and ice particle concentrations in mature clouds would be reported by Israeli scientists, though the HUJ has conducted numerous flights since then in several separate programs, but have omitted that data about their clouds stating that the instruments they carried on their research aircraft were not capable of this measurement. (I am not kidding.)

The HUJ researchers, however, could only discern the general characteristic of Israeli clouds in 2015; that precipitation onsets in Israeli clouds only a little below freezing as they come in off the Mediterranean Sea. The Israeli experiments’ Chief Meteorologist, Mr. Karl Rosner, already knew this in 1986 (see his letter), as did the Israel Meteorological Service forecasters I spoke with in 1986. What’s wrong with this picture?

Moreover, as happens in conflicted science environments, the HUJ authors of the 2015 paper could not bring themselves to cite my 1988 paper that had reported 27 years earlier what they were finally discovering about their own clouds in 2015. What does this kind of citing tell you about the science emanating from this group at the HUJ? And what is it telling their countrymen? A lot.

The cause of such high precipitation efficiency, the 2015 HUJ authors asserted, was “sea spray cleansing” of clouds coming across the Mediterranean Sea from Europe. This made them ready to produce precipitation at modest depths with only slightly supercooled cloud tops. The Mediterranean Sea is approximately five million years old. Moreover, since the cold air masses exiting the European continent are deepening, there is a “volume cleansing” effect as well that they do not yet know about; aerosols are dispersed over greater depths and in situ concentrations decrease.

In was in 1992 that the HUJ seeding researchers first discovered that shallow clouds with slightly supercooled tops rained in Israel; but they asserted, only in the specific situation when the clouds were impacted by “dust-haze.” And it happened mostly on the southern margins of showery days, they reported.

So, why did it take HUJ researchers so long to learn about their “sea spray cleansed” clouds with all the tools at their disposal? Only the current HUJ seeding leadership can tell us; he studied the clouds and storm patterns of Israel in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

11. The battle to publish “The Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel” in the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. (more slogging)

A LOT of the material in this “blook” is about getting my The Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel manuscript published in the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. (BAMS). I am an expert on the clouds and cloud seeding in Israel and have published on those topics in peer-reviewed journals. The effort to have my holistic account of Israeli seeding published began three years ago! A proposal to BAMS for such an article was declined in 2017, re-written and accepted in later 2018, the manuscript itself submitted in January 2019, and a split decision, reject and accept, received in March 2019.

BAMS chose to reject it, without allowing a response to the comments of the two reviewers, the reject reviewer, who signed his review, is with the seeding team at the HUJ, and I felt, was a “conflicted” one. The “accept, important paper, minor revisions” reviewer was anonymous. BAMS believed that the seeding issues are “not settled” and issue, “too contentious” to be published in BAMS.

I have no idea what these vague descriptions meant about “not settled” and “too contentious.” The Special Editor did not elaborate on what was meant. Here’s my paper as it stands after peer-review, in a two column format for easier reading:

I think here of Stewart and Feder’s efforts to get their 1987 article, The Integrity of the Scientific Literature published in Nature…which took several years. Those authors had found quite a few errors in peer-reviewed scientific papers and wanted the science community to know about some sloppiness in their domain. It resisted. Ditto here.

A revised manuscript of the “Rise and Fall,” for short, following peer-review, was sent in January 2020 to the chief editor of BAMS and the Special Editor, along with the case for publishing it. I also included my replies to the comments of the two reviewers. All of this material is found near the end of this “blook” if you really want to dig into it. These were items that were NOT requested by the BAMS Editors; I just hoped they would peruse them and reconsider their reject decision.

So far, BAMS et al. are unfazed/unconvinced or, more likely, didn’t bother to read my arguments for publication, or the revised manuscript, or the responses to the reviewers. They have responded with silence. Silence is not always golden.

But I remain undaunted. This kind of behavior, rather imperious, is not unusual for editors of journals–they often feel they are above being questioned concerning their decisions, or feel they are too busy to review their decisions. Some editors/reviewers of journal articles, however, often do take the time to help and advise authors (BAMS‘ Richard Hallgren, Irwin Abrams; Fred Sanders, Gary Briggs for other journals, come to mind). These above really cared about the literature, even when a paper was rejected (as in my case with Hallgren and Abrams).

12. Why do I persist in the effort to be published in BAMS?

I deem this “Rise and Fall” account the most important story concerning cloud seeding since the advent of modern seeding in the late 1940s. It’s not only about what I deem a human tragedy, but also a scientific tragedy as well for the people of Israel and the outside scientific community. If this sounds melodramatic, read on.

It’s also important because it demonstrates the seductive/corruptive power of changing the weather; that is, making it rain or snow, on otherwise good scientists who went to the “dark side”, perhaps due to confirmation bias, vested interests, or maintaining a high status in this field that overwhelmed their judgement. As Ben-Yehuda and Oliver-Lumerman (2017) have pointed out in their book studying 748 cases of fraud, becoming a “fraudster” to use their word, is often a “process.” Good scientists, as the leading characters in this drama were, didn’t go overnight to the “dark side.”

It is worth observing in view of the current rejection of my manuscript reviewing Israeli cloud seeding that BAMS has published more than 70 cloud seeding articles, some of those considerably longer than mine, since the advent of modern cloud seeding in the late 1940s. So, an article like mine reviewing Israeli cloud seeding is rather normal for BAMS to publish from its past history. BAMS is the most read, most impactful of our American Meteorological Society (AMS) journals; my piece belongs there so that those organizations, from state to private ones, who might be considering cloud seeding, know about the Israeli experiences.

So, I persist.

I have also placed a “Get a life” footnote in response to those many people who might think at this point that I need to get one after getting into this “blook.” Its not an unreasonable thought. That footnote, perhaps defensively written, has some less serious bio material about outside interests (“sports and weather”) so that it doesn’t appear that I didn’t have any life outside ruining other people’s cloud seeding work and careers. :), sort of.

13. A few ppt slides from a talk given on “The Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel” at the University of Wyoming in October 2017

This third ppt is a glimpse of a talk given at the University of Wyoming Atmospheric Sciences Department in October 2017 on the “Rise and Fall” of cloud seeding in Israel. At this time, my proposal to BAMS for such an article had been rejected. It was accepted when re-written about a year later. BTW, I hope you like Israeli rock music. Huh?

I used a song that I really love that’s in Hebrew for “ambience” during that WY talk, and its here as well in this ppt, the title of the song being, “The Train from Tel Aviv to Cairo.” I encountered it during my 1986 trip. Yes, that train ride might have some tension in it as this song seems to imply with its minor chords, as do my talks. I let it play as I went through the early slides without comment, at least that was the plan. In this ppt, that song doesn’t start automatically, you’ll have to click on it. Boo.

14. The Israeli experiments’ chief meteorologist’s 1986 letter decrying the omission of data from Israel-2; describes the high cloud top temperatures that rain falls from

Mr. Rosner’s feelings about that omission can be seen in his letter to me the year of my visit in which he also critiques the 1981 published article by the experimenters that left out half the results of Israel-2 on superfluous grounds:

BTW, it was the Israel Meteorological Service (I was granted some work space within it) that introduced me to Mr. Rosner in 1986. He had an astounding story to tell me, someone who had come to Israel only in question of cloud reports but who then learned about omitted experimental data! Imagine my reaction. It was unbelievable, but was beginning to look like part of a “pattern of reporting”, too.

For comparison, about what was known in 1986 concerning the clouds of Israel (information contained in Mr. Rosner’s letter), and what was only recently discovered by HUJ cloud researchers, these quotes:

From Mr. Rosner’s 1986 letter:

Mr. Rosner first corrects a statement in Gagin and Neumann 1981 who had written this about Israel-2: “Cloud tops warmer than -5·C were not seeded.”

Mr. Rosner, as chief forecaster, was closer to the day-to-day operations, says this: “In fact, the threshold (for seeding) was -8°C” (for Israel-2). (Note by ALR: This is a minor correction.

Mr. Rosner added this critical cloud/rain information after that:

“There were many instances where the tops did not reach these levels and yet rained, sometimes heavily from such clouds.”

Twenty-nine years later, in 2015, HUJ researchers discover the shallow precipitating Israeli clouds described by Mr. Rosner in 1986 (and reported by me in 1988)

From Freud et al. 2015, Atmos. Res.:

The median effective radius over the (Mediterranean) sea (blue solid curve) crosses the precipitation threshold of 15 um already at -3°C, even before silver iodide can have any effect…..”

Now, if you still believe that Prof. AG and his cohorts rebuffed airborne missions by outside groups such as Sir John Mason’s to investigate Israeli clouds, or me from seeing radar echo top heights in 1986 solely because of “national” or “personal pride” …well, I have some ocean view property in Nebraska I’d like to sell you; maybe a bridge, too. Its beyond a reasonable doubt; incompetence can not be so great as to not know.

An example: I had ridden my bicycle from Tel Aviv to Prof. AG’s radar on the periphery of Ben Gurion AP for our 3rd and last meeting. He would not allow me, however, to go there during storms and evaluating echo top heights claiming his cloud reports would only be verified. The reason I couldn’t go there, he said, was due to, “airport security.”

I don’t think he realized how I had gotten to his meeting.

His behavior was consistent with having “contrary knowledge”, that is, having the same knowledge about Israeli clouds that his chief forecaster and the forecasters within the IMS had, or even his former seeding pilots had. I spoke with one of the latter, then doing tourist flights out of Sade Dov airport and he said, when I asked him, “At what heights do Israeli clouds begin to rain?”, he said, “eight to ten thousand feet” (ASL). This would be exactly where the HUJ 2015 described the onset of rain, at heights where the temperatures are a little below freezing on most shower days.

Compare, too, Prof. AG’s scientific demeanor toward me to that of Professor Lewis O. Grant of CSU described earlier who gave me, a known skeptic, the data I requested.

But why didn’t Prof. Gagin’s successors at the HUJ, ones who could go to his radars regularly long before he passed, learn about these shallow, precipitating clouds, “cleansed by the sea” and report on them in a timely manner? Surely such shallow precipitating clouds from the Mediterranean Sea were passing regularly over and around their radars winter after winter, decade after decade (one of the two radars was vertically-pointed).

I saw those same clouds, photographed them, and reported on them in the Quart. J. Roy. Met. Soc. and in Rangno and Hobbs (1995, J. Appl. Meteor.) Yet, the HUJ seeding experimenters could not discover them.

“Dust-haze” is not a significant factor in making the majority of shallow clouds rain in Israel, as was once asserted by the HUJ experimenters as the sole cause. Indeed, that spurious report in 1992 was the “acorn” from which the “oak” of Rangno and Hobbs (1995, J. Appl. Meteor.) had sprung, again driven by the thought, “someone has to do something about this!” (that 1992 paper).

To repeat, only the current HUJ seeding leadership can illuminate us on why he/they didn’t see the regular presence of “sea-spray cleansed” shallow precipitating clouds sans “dust-haze.” But will he? Perhaps, like me in the early 1970s, he was participating in the weather modification/cloud seeding culture’s de facto “Code of Silence” to stay employed and avoid retribution by his supervisor.

Taking a step back to get a perspective on what happened in Israel… it was a human tragedy that was taking place in those days. We don’t know why it happened for sure. Perhaps Prof. AG felt trapped by his early cloud reports, ones cited early on in the 1974 benchmark papers on riming and splintering by Hallett and Mossop; Mossop and Hallett in Nature and Science, respectively; each mentioned the Israeli clouds as not having large enough droplets for riming and splintering to take place. Perhaps, becoming so prominent in the cloud seeding arena as having seemingly done such careful work and in his own Sephardic community was too much to give up (Prof. AG told me in 1986 during our first cordial meeting that he was the “most prominent,” or “highest ranking”, member of that latter group).

And me, coming to check his cloud reports, a minor figure in the field, must surely have been his worst nightmare. Had someone of the stature of a “Stan Mossop” come? Maybe not so bad.

And surely, as Prof. AG would have suspected given his cloud microstructure knowledge, there was little chance that the commercial-style seeding program targeting the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) that began in 1975 would have little chance of producing usable amounts of runoff, given the realities of Israel’s clouds. That this seeding program was not producing runoff was only discovered decades later when it was looked into by a panel of independent experts inspired by the Rangno and Hobbs’ 1995 reanalysis of the experiments and ensuing commentaries. It was finally “terminated” in 2007, 32 years after it began. (The “fall” in the “Rise and Fall”).

Imagine what we are dealing with here in scope and cost for the people of Israel? The magnitude of what happened emphasizes why my account should be published in BAMS for the AMS’ widest audience. In my opinion, those who are blocking the publication of my manuscript, rejecting it on tenuous grounds, consider the people of Israel somewhere down the line when it comes to BAMS priorities.

Please do read some of Mr. Rosner’s thoughts on omitting the results of the south target of Israel-2 by Gagin and Neumann (1981) in his letter.

15. More about getting published and those “dark elements” that may be preventing it

As of this very moment in 2020, I am still fighting to get the sobering story of this “Rise and Fall” of cloud seeding in Israel published in BAMS, one having dark elements; namely, the experimenters withheld critical data that would have changed the perceived outcome of their second, “confirmatory” randomized experiment, Israel-2.

Those withheld results were eventually forced out by the Israeli experimenters’ own “Chief Meteorologist,” Mr. Karl Rosner. Mr. Rosner’s campaign to out them began after he retired in 1985 (when he felt safe from possible retribution, he told me in Israel).

Well, there it is: whistleblowers, and why we don’t have more of them though they are crucial for science. Please step forward at your earliest convenience….

Those omitted results came out when the new leadership of the HUJ seeding unit had no choice but to publish them, with former Israeli statistician, Prof. Ruben Gabriel also becoming involved. (It was troubling to learn only recently that Prof. Gabriel, whom I admired, had reviewed the original paper that had omitted half of the Israel-2 results (Gagin and Neumann 1981, J. Appl. Meteor.—see acknowledgements.)

Imagine! Mr. Rosner felt it was wrong for the experimenters not to have reported all the results of the Israel-2 experiment immediately after it ended! I do, too, but there is little support for this view in the scientific community-at-large. The silence has been deafening.

In fact, not only was there silence, the AMS and the Weather Modification Association each dedicated memorial issues of journals to the leader of the Israeli experiments who was responsible for withholding data! Those organizations had not yet absorbed what had happened, and who exactly they had honored, but you can bet that they will fail to acknowledge their error.

Mr. Rosner and I remain in a substantial minority, one that perhaps consists of only me and him since the rest of the scientific community has “yawned” at the “misrepresentation/falsification” of Israel-2 while we remain upset about it to this day, looking for closure.

Definitions of “scientific misconduct” as formulated by the U. S. Office of Research Integrity, adopted by most scientific organizations, such as the AGU and recently by the AMS!

“Falsification”, as you will read, involves omission of data, and for the Israel-2 experiment it was not just a peccadillo. (Ben-Yehuda and Oliver-Lumerman (2017) defined omission of data as “misrepresentation.” Cherry-picking data while omitting the full amount of data that does not support the cherry-picked subset would fit under this definition.

16. The two peer-reviews: (accept and reject) and the BAMS choice to reject the “Rise and Fall” manuscript

There were but two reviews of my manuscript on the rise and fall of cloud seeding in Israel, submitted in January 2019 to the Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. (BAMS). The reviews came in in March 2019 and I ended up, to repeat, with a split decision: “reject” (by a conflicted reviewer with the HUJ “seeding team,” hardly surprising). He was my first choice as a reviewer with me knowing full well that he would reject anything I submitted, as he had in the past.

Why would I even name an adversary as my first choice of a reviewer?

I fervently believe that adversaries make the best reviewers. No error that you have made in a manuscript will slip by them. I did not want “pal” reviews. At the same time, I presumed that BAMS would understand the conflict of interest by the “reject” reviewer and allow me to respond to his disingenuous review full of mischaracterizations though also having some minor valid points that caused me to do some rewriting. BAMS did not recognize the conflict of interest, or has ignored it, as of now, February 24th, 2020. Probably never will. How strange this is, as though only BP can explain the Deepwater Horizon explosion without anyone commenting on it.

So, perhaps there is some inadvertent humor here when I deliberately selected a reviewer who would knee-jerk reject my paper and that BAMS would choose that one over an “accept” reviewer’s decision. Sadly funny.

The fault rather lies at the feet of BAMS who knew full well about the “reject” reviewer’s conflict of interest. It did not appear that BAMS even read the adversarial review and compared it to what was in my original manuscript! BAMS, too, is at fault in not letting me reply to the conflicted review. You can evaluate my assertions down at the end of this “blook” since I post the conflicted review and my replies to those comments. You can also read what I wrote in the manuscript, revised only slightly based on the legitimate comments of the two reviewers.

The 2nd anonymous reviewer’s decision, oddly not transmitted to me by the Special Editor in charge of my submission in his terse note; “article rejected” email, was the “accept, minor revisions, important paper”! That was amazing to me.

I was so excited to read that phrase: “important paper”, but one that somehow had no effect on the BAMS editorial staff. How can that be?

However, that anonymous reviewer also deemed my manuscript too “harsh” with “personal criticisms” and wanted it “toned down.” Well, those kinds of things are a matter of personal perspective, and are minor, as he wrote (“minor revisions.”) I contend that the original experimenters earned “harshness” with their reporting malfeasance, the effects of which I address in the “Rise and Fall,” “summary” and “reflection” sections. That is the only place where perceived “harshness” can be found in the revised manuscript. What happened must be reflected upon! To ignore it would be of itself be a whitewash and an insult to the people of Israel.

Thus, I can’t tone my manuscript too much and leave with my integrity intact; no one could. And it seems odd to want to put a happy face on misconduct; i.e., falsifying the results of an experiment, an act that affected so many stake holders in and outside of Israel.

Of these two possibilities, accept (with satisfactory revisions, as one would have expected with a split), or “reject,” BAMS chose to reject my manuscript outright, the Special Editor, tilting toward “reject” in his own opinion, describing it as “too contentious” and the seeding matter “not settled.” The latter statement is not credible in the face of the Israel National Water Authority (INWA), the funder of cloud seeding, had quit seeding of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) many years ago.

How is that seeding termination not a “settled” point? In fact, the INWA has started completely over with a new randomized experiment to see if seeding really does work. The results of the prior experiments have been, in essence, jettisoned.

The INWA quit commercial-style seeding, of course, amid the howls of the seeding promulgators at HUJ, who, while agreeing that there had been no extra runoff due to seeding, scrambled to pull out of the hat the argument that air pollution had canceled out seeding increased rain! They were both of the SAME magnitude!

Not surprisingly, this claim was not found credible by independent Tel Aviv University scientists on several occasions; the HUJ findings had been due to cherry-picking among the dense network of gauges in Israel. (There are 500 standard gauges and 82 recording gauges in Israel (A. Vardi, IMS Deputy Director, 1987, personal communication).

Nor did the INWA restore seeding based on the HUJ pollution claims, making the termination an emphatic settled point.

“Too contentious”? Not surprisingly, fessing up to having caused their own government to have wasted millions of dollars due to their faulty cloud seeding claims and the inability to assess their own clouds accurately is not in the “DNA” of the HUJ seeding group; seeding partisans within the HUJ will always believe that their experiments “proved” cloud seeding while the rest of the world, and even their own government, moves on.

Hence, disingenuous controversy with pseudo-scientific claims will always erupt from the HUJ seeders in defense of their million dollar lapses. Who is surprised by this behavior? Other scientists from Tel Aviv University who have also reanalyzed the HUJ cloud seeding claims in peer-reviewed journals have found them as faulty as Peter Hobbs and I did (details in the manuscript pdf).

Perhaps this is what the Special Editor and BAMS are afraid of in their ersatz assertion, “too contentious”: namely, that HUJ seeding partisans or others will write long “smoke screen” soliloquies to BAMS to complain about my “Rise and Fall” article should it be published, as they did similarly in 1997 after the 1995 Rangno and Hobbs reanalyses of the Israeli cloud seeding experiments was published.

17. The importance of controversy

Note: The Rangno and Hobbs 1995 reanalysis of the Israeli experiments, and the ensuing comments by several scientists and our “replies” to them in 1997, J. Appl. Meteor., “opened Pandora’s box” (Y. Goldreich, Bar-Ilan University, author of “The Climate of Israel“, 2018, personal communication). Goldreich further stated that this episode led the Israel National Water Company to hire that independent panel of experts to assess just what they were getting from the HUJ commercial-style seeding program for the Sea of Galilee. That panel could find no extra runoff due to seeding, contradicting the reports of the HUJ seeding promulgators. Why should we be surprised at this outcome given the actual high rain efficiency of the Israeli clouds that escaped the HUJ seeding researchers for SO LONG?

Controversy can be enormously fruitful. Q. E. D.

As a matter of fact, BAMS used to embrace controversial issues as they stated annually in their organizational issue and did so to help illuminate their readers on contentious scientific issues of the day. The statement about embracing controversy was dropped by new BAMS leadership. No reason was given. See below, from the 1995 organizational issue:

“Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) publishes papers on historical and scientific topics that are of general interest to the AMS membership. It also publishes papers in areas of current scientific controversy and debate, as well as review articles.”

Where have you gone, BAMS, that you would hide from controversy? Is it really that, “BAMS isn’t what it used to be”, as asserted by a Fellow of the AMS, a NAS member, and recipient of many honors, now retired from the University of Washington?

This further thought for the BAMS leadership: When my article is published in BAMS, why don’t you write an editorial or side bar about why you think it doesn’t belong in BAMS? This would be quite gratifying to me because you’d be laying your bias on the line for everyone to see.

18. About the new Israeli randomized cloud seeding experiment and the airborne study that prompted it

Israel, abandoning any idea that the prior cloud seeding experiments had “proved seeding”, again indicative of a terminus, has started over with a new experiment in the Golan Heights in the far north, to see, if in fact, cloud seeding works. It’s called, “Israel-4”, now its seventh season recently concluded. No preliminary results have been reported, which is odd. In contrast, the seemingly successful first two Israeli experiments had many interim reports reporting successful progress.

Unfortunately, the funder of this new experiment, the Israeli National Water Authority, hired the HUJ “seeding unit” to evaluate seeding potential in the Golan Heights region in preparation for the start of Israel-4, a mistake akin to having the fox guard the hen house.

I reviewed the published article that came out of that HUJ research in 2015 (Atmos. Res.) that described itself as the background airborne cloud study for the new experiment. After reading it, I was not sure it had even been reviewed! But, I had not seen it until two years after it came out, too late to formally comment on it.

That 2015 article clearly exaggerated seeding potential in my view; the 2015 authors could not even disclose ice particle concentrations and the rapidity at which they develop in Israeli clouds, critical information for seeding evaluation purposes. They claimed the couldn’t measure ice particle concentrations because the new, expensive probe they carried on their research aircraft, one manufactured by Droplet Measurement Technologies, Inc., could not measure ice particle concentrations accurately. Those measured concentrations by the new DMT probe, were “unreasonably high” (D. Rosenfeld, personal communication in his review, attached below.) I guess if concentrations are too high in Israeli clouds, they are not reportable by the HUJ.

DMT disputes the claim that their probe cannot measure ice particle concentrations accurately, stating that the HUJ researchers could have reported accurate ice particle concentrations if they had wanted to (D. Axisa, 2018, personal communication).

What does this tell you, again, about the reporting from the HUJ?

The reject reviewer, DR, was provably untruthful. Is there another explanation? What is it?

The above was pointed out to the Special Editor many months ago. The fact that critical data was being withheld from the INWA, the people of Israel, and the scientific community, as the prior HUJ experimenters had done with Israel-2. This knowledge had no effect on the Special Editor in reconsidering the quality of the entire “reject” review, as I think most in his position would have. Am I wrong here? Hence, my suggestion that he recuse himself from his role.

I wondered, too, why I wasn’t selected as a reviewer by Atmos. Res. of that 2015 article? My decision on the manuscript would have even been: “accept, pending MAJOR revisions”! This article had some of the best objective writing by the HUJ’s “seeding unit.” But it also had a “Jeckyl-Hyde” aspect where misleading statements kept popping up and along with over-optimized seeding scenarios.

And to the INWA? I would have implored them:

“Don’t do a cloud seeding experiment based on this paper! Get outside researchers to evaluate seeding potential!” (Yes, the larger font indicates that my voice is raised here.) 🙂

If Israel-4 fails to produce rain via seeding, the faulty HUJ assessment of seeding potential in the Golan will be the cause; the fox will have guarded the hen house as well as expected. And that faulty paper will be consistent with the work of the HUJ seeding group since the early 1970s, work that consistently exaggerated the seeding potential of Israeli clouds and seeding results.

19. Back to the battle to publish

Returning to my own case….what has been and remains shocking to me, as a well-published researcher and an expert on Israeli clouds and cloud seeding, is that BAMS has refused to get the opinions of one or more knowledgeable reviewers to break the current review split, or consider recusing the current Special Editor who is an alumnus of Colorado State University whose cloud seeding work I have, with Prof. Peter Hobbs, trashed on several occasions, even calling for an investigation of the reporting of those experiments. (See Colorado segment below–use the Table of Contents jump link to that subject).

Despite my admiration for Prof. Fleming’s secular work, a Special Editor more experienced in the technical details of the clouds and cloud seeding in Israel would have been more appropriate, such as Dr. Roelof Bruintjes of NCAR who wrote a long review of cloud seeding in 1999 that included the Israeli experiments, among several others. Other names of more qualified editors than the current one: Bob Rauber, Bart Geerts, Gabor Vali, etc.

In spite of having to question the Special Editor’s credentials for BAMS, the one who called the final shot on rejecting my manuscript, it doesn’t mean I don’t respect him and his body of historical work! Its like a court case where the prosecutor and the defense attorney can be at each other’s throats during a trial, but might be friends and socialize after work. This is the way I see it, anyway. Nothing personal intended.

As Schultz (2009) pointed out, a reject decision on the part of an editor if they have the least basis for it, is, in essence, the “easy way out.” No need to deal with troublesome authors thereafter; just ignore them. Such editors don’t have to read their responses, go over whether a revised manuscript has responded to the legitimate claims of the reviewers, etc., It can all be ignored once a “reject” decision has been made. I am quite sure the current Special Editor did not read my original manuscript and compare it to the comments of the “conflicted” reviewer from the HUJ. But you can read these below where I have posted them.

20. “Science” at BAMS? Or something else?

What does this sound like to you? Science? Or something else?

The answer is obvious. But why?????

Some thoughts on why BAMS/AMS rejected my “rise and fall” manuscript…

First, the BAMS Special Editor objected to the full title of the original submission, “The Rise and Fall of Cloud Seeding in Israel: A History with Lessons for the Future.” The word “history” is treading in the illustrious Special Editor’s domain; he deemed the use of the word “history” inappropriate in my title.

And, there are certainly lessons to be taken away from my account: 1) Never trust the experimenters to get it right when they report on their own experiment, among other lessons.


My account involves a country that people often have strong feelings about, perhaps ones wishing to protect it from the kind of negative publicity that would go with an article about leading researchers from their highly regarded HUJ that did not report all of their experimental results and couldn’t decipher the natural properties of their clouds for decades. In doing so, our scientific community, and their own government were misled.

Perhaps the country of Israel and/or its “premier research institution” (as the HUJ describes itself), are considered off limits by BAMS leadership for articles having descriptions of reporting by scientists that could be characterized as “scientific misconduct.” Yet we know if we ask ANYONE in science about fraud in science, such as the BAMS staff itself, they will tell you with great vehemence how strongly they oppose fraud, while their actual reaction to it is: “don’t tell us about it.”

I am straining for a reason here for what to me is unprecedented behavior by BAMS in its rejection of my manuscript without allowing a response to the comments of the reviewers, given a split decision.

My account, too, is also about failed science, failed peer-review, and an erroneous scientific consensus concerning the Israeli cloud seeding experiments, once deemed as the only cloud seeding success in 35 years of seeding trials according to Science magazine. The embarrassment factor is extremely high.

But again, that consensus view of the Israeli experiments that dominated the 1980s and beyond before the wheels fell off, besides not comprehending their clouds, was based on partial reporting of results of their 2nd experiment, Israel-2, as well as the HUJ researchers failure to report in a timely manner the results from a third, long-term randomized experiment that was failing to show any effect of cloud seeding.

That third randomized experiment, Israel-3, began in 1975, but was only reported on for the first time 17 long years after it began when the results of the first 15 years of random seeding were reported in 1992. Slight decreases in rain on seeded days were reported; they were not statistically significant.

Reporting those suggested decreases in rain due to seeding being logged in Israel-3 after just a few years would have had a tremendous impact on the scientific community-at-large and would have increased pressure to have outside groups study the clouds of Israel and illuminate the HUJ seeding researchers about them.

Had all these seeding related results been communicated to outside researchers in a timely manner, as our AMS “Code of Guidelines” (Ethics) demands, had the HUJ researchers discovered the high natural ice-producing aspects of their clouds early on, or if they had just allowed outside investigators like Sir B. J. Mason and his British team to discover it for them, the “damage” paid by the Israeli people would have been so much more limited.

And why was it that every forecaster with the Israeli Meteorological Service I spoke with in 1986 knew that Israeli clouds rained with tops equal to or warmer than -10°C, and as we saw, as did HUJ’s very own experiments’ “Chief Forecaster,” Mr. Karl Rosner? And yet the HUJ experimenters denied that it happened. To repeat, how could the HUJ experimenters not know this about their own clouds with all the tools at their disposal, and the cloud knowledge around them?

This is a major conundrum that only their current seeding leadership can answer, someone whose graduate work in the late 1970s and early 80s was about the clouds of Israel as seen the experimenters’ radars and in satellite imagery.

All in all, the delays in reporting results of experiments, preventing bona fide researchers with aircraft in to study their clouds, and preventing me, an on site bona fide researcher, from examining the tops of radar echoes while I was in Israel, were all abuses of science. Who wants to hear a story about scientists abusing science in a country we care so much about?

Ans. No one.

But not wanting to hear about abuses (of science) doesn’t mean its a story that shouldn’t be told. Ask Catholics.

With BAMS rejecting my manuscript on tenuous grounds, not reading the my responses to the reviewers’ comments, BAMS has now become part of the story unless it reverses course upon “further review.”

21. Has credentialism played a role in the BAMS rejection?

Without doubt. I have only a Bachelor’s degree and was a non-faculty staff member at the University of Washington. Comprehensive reviews such as mine of the Israeli cloud seeding experience, a distillation of more than 700 pages of peer-reviewed literature and conference preprints, have always in the past been accomplished by upper echelon, senior faculty. You can just imagine how repugnant, odious it might seem to have an under-credentialed mere staff member like me write a comprehensive review in a journal about the former highly regarded cloud seeding experiments in Israel. The only thing I have going for me is seniority….and having exposed various ersatz aspects of those and other experiments. As a BAMS editor observed, this latter element in his opinion, disqualifies me from writing about this subject because I am too close to the events I am writing about.

Please read my manuscript, and make up your own mind.

Imagine, too, in a thought experiment, if some of the now-passed major players in this field, such as Sir B. J. Mason, Roscoe Braham, Jr., Randy Koenig, Peter Hobbs, or Stanley Changnon, had authored my manuscript instead of me and had also reflected on the ramifications of partial reporting as I do? Surely it would “get in.”

I believe my modest status on the professional totem pole, a person with little influence, has contributed to an easy rejection of my review manuscript by BAMS. Do we need to reprise Douglas Adams’ classic Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” vignette about the graduate student who discovered the “Infinite Improbability Machine” to understand this cultural aspect of science that even Adams understood? Just in case you don’t know it, from the Hitchhiker’s Guide:

“It startled (the student) even more when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute’s Prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they really couldn’t stand was a smart-ass.”

22. Getting tougher in science concerning fraud and misconduct, criteria just being posted by the AMS

BAMS and its current leadership represent an “old guard” science reaction when evidence of misconduct is presented: “Circle the wagons to protect science and scientists; never mind the victims.” They see ignoring misconduct as good for science. No messy investigations, no perceived decline in the reputation of science and scientists as sole pursuers of truth.

For examples of this very same kind of behavior in the culture of science, please see the 1988 PBS NOVA program, “Do Scientists Cheat?” (You’ll spend a lot of time trying to find the full version.) I believe this cultural aspect of science is the primary reason that my manuscript on the “Rise and Fall” has been rejected.

The rejection of my manuscript has nothing to do with “not settled” or “contentious” issues, as asserted by BAMS.

The Israeli people were victims, and will be again in my opinion, under the current promulgators of seeding at the HUJ who were present when the original misrepresentation of Israel-2 took place. But they did nothing when it happened. Why would they do anything different in the future?

There is a new “get tough” ethic in science concerning fraud and misconduct that new attitude has been represented by a recent editorial by Kornfeld and Titus in Nature Geoscience, 2016: “Stop Ignoring Misconduct.” A similar theme has been reprised in the comprehensive 2017 look at fraud in science, “Fraud and Misconduct in Research” by Ben-Yehuda and Oliver-Lumerman of the HUJ. They called the 748 proven cases of fraud in science that they reviewed for patterns in misconduct, the likely “tip of the iceberg.” They noted that the site, “Retraction Watch” logged more than 1500 retractions just between 2012 and 2015! Stewart and Feder were right to question the “Integrity of the Scientific Literature.” Ben-Yehuda and Oliver-Lumerman further observed that “retracting” a paper is an “out” for known misconduct, which is certain in some of those cases. In essence, Gabriel and Rosenfeld’s (1990) analysis of the FULL results of Israel-2 was a retraction of the previously reported results for Israel-2.

Ben-Yehuda and Oliver-Lumerman further chided science for euphemising what is actually fraud, terming it, “scientific misconduct.”

The AMS/BAMS needs to “listen up.” You’re not protecting the people of Israel as you may think; you’re hurting them in your misguided actions to block the publication of this review of Israeli cloud seeding that would alert them to the dangers lurking within their own prized academic institution. Cloud seeding zealots are likely to mislead them again, and have, IMO, with their 2015 “background” paper (Atmos. Res.) for the Israel-4 experiment that exaggerated seeding potential in the Golan Heights.

Ironically, I don’t even use the word “misconduct” in my “Rise and Fall” manuscript, though a reader might well be led to that thought. In this blog, I am more definitive. Not reporting all the results of your experiment, critical ones, is deemed a type of misconduct called, “falsification/misrepresentation”, or “cooking and trimming”, and that, as we all know, including everyone at BAMS, is, in fact, what happened in Israel-2; half of this second experiment’s data was not voluntarily reported by the original experimenters, and that led to a false scientific consensus that seeding effectiveness had been “proved” at the end of Israel-2.

Please, AMS, consider your own newly minted Code of Research Conduct

Those withheld results of Israel-2 were finally published, but only after the lead experimenter passed in 1987 (he was just 54, he was about to have a lot of explaining to do). The 1990 journal publication (J. Appl. Meteor.) in which this happened was titled, “The full results” of the 2nd experiment. The full result was a “null” one when using the crossover methodology that had been used to elucidate the apparently successful results of Israel-1 in their retraction of the partial successful results reported earlier for Israel-2.

Why else would you withhold data except to produce an false image of success from which you would benefit?

Later analyses by the HUJ experimenters in the evaluations of Israel-2 have suggested increased rain on seeded days in the north target and decreases in the south target when using the full dataset and invoking “dust-haze” as having interfered in the experiment; that hypothesis is addressed in my “Rise and Fall” manuscript and is shown to be of dubious validity as they were also deemed in 1995 in Rangno and Hobbs (J. Appl. Meteor.) and by independent scientists at TAU in 2010 (Atmos. Res.)

Embarrassment has to be considered as a player in this melodrama. The AMS issued memorial issues J. Appl. Meteor. to both authors (Prof. AG and J. Neumann), 1989 and 1996, respectively, the authors of the 1981 Israel-2 cloud seeding paper that omitted half of the results of that experiment.

Additionally, the Special Editor of BAMS that rejected my paper is writing a book about Joanne Simpson who wrote the most over the top praise for Prof. AG of the HUJ when he passed. In her view, Abe Gagin could practically walk on water.

Blocking my rise and fall of cloud seeding in Israel paper from being published will shield both Joanne’s memory, the Special Editor’s. book and the AMS from considerable embarrassment. Her homage:

And, who wants to read about a failed scientific consensus, though a minor one in the small niche of cloud seeding, that might trigger a surge of negativity via an “aha, moment” concerning the “Climate Change consensus”? “Maybe its wrong, too”, some might believe. Well, too bad AMS.

23. The battle is on display here:

I am posting the revised version of the manuscript here, the one BAMS refuses to examine, after having implemented the minor legitimate changes suggested by the two reviewers. Along with it, I am posting the reviewers’ comments and my replies to them as well as thoughts on the Special Editor/BAMS rejection e-mail.

It seems only fair to do this although perhaps only one or two knowledgeable people will actually bother to read all this. The reviews were long, and so must the responses to them be. So there is a LOT of material here.

Latest Rise and Fall, line numbered for review purposes

Please tell me, if you’ve somehow gotten this far, if you think the manuscript is a suitable story, and a comprehensible one, for a general magazine of “informed readers” that BAMS says it targets. I think most everyone who reads the manuscript will understand what happened, and why this is an important story that needs to be told, not buried in a low impact journal or nowhere at all but here.


24. Where it all began: Durango, Colorado, 1970-75

In 1970 I joined a large randomized cloud seeding experiment as a naive, idealistic-about-science weather forecaster; I didn’t come out that way. A lifetime of own-time “activism” regarding cloud seeding literature I deemed suspect was the result.

This section is kind of a slog about my Colorado experiences….but, I wanted to hit a FEW highlights of what was an epiphany about science for a rather naive person, me, just out of college, that occurred in Durango, Colorado. This was my very first job as a weather forecasting meteorologist after graduating from San Jose State College (as it was called then).

(Skip if busy….though if you do, you will miss some personal ridicule, a movie, accolades, a possibly libelous newspaper headline caused by me, and details of a monetary science prize ($20,000) from the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization that me and Peter Hobbs received for our work in weather modification. Yes, in 2005 I became, “Prize-winning meteorologist”, Art Rangno… 🙂

It is sad for me to have to point out something about the above “prize”, however. Like my HS and college baseball career, (all 2nd team this; all 2nd team that), the prize described above was really a consolation one, to insert a truth-in-packaging note. Other workers got lots more than we did that year like that guy from South Africa that got $250,000. On the other hand, 32,000 Chinese weather modification workers got the SAME amount as Peter and I got that year; hah, less than a US dollar each!

OK, back to serious text…

…that Durango job was a dream come true for me, since I only wanted to be a weather forecaster since I was a little kid (even, somehow, forecasted weather for my 5th grade class–had a brass aneroid barometer in the “cloak room”). And there I was in the beautiful little town of Durango, Colorado, right out of college in 1970, forecasting weather for an important scientific experiment! My life could not have been better!

How I got to the point where I would be so skeptical of peer-reviewed cloud seeding literature that I would travel thousands of miles in question of cloud reports from the world’s leading cloud seeding scientist, however, began here during this huge Bureau of Reclamation randomized cloud seeding experiment called the Colorado River Basin Pilot Project (CRBPP). Read on.

25. The movie explaining the Colorado experiment; a tribute to its size and importance

To depart for a second, it was a project so huge that it had its own movie, the cloud seeding “documercial,” Mountain Skywater, with a soundtrack by a local Durango artist, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown!

Departing even further from serious text, it is with extreme modesty that I point out that I was the STAR of this 28 minute movie; I never dreamed that I would be a STAR in a movie (!), but there I am, as was declared by the Commissioner of Reclamation in those days, Ellis Armstrong. He attended the 1972 release of the 1971 film in Durango and gave me an autographed photo of several of us with him in which he proclaimed on it that I was the STAR. I only speak maybe two sentences in the whole thing! It was a pretty humorous take by the Commissioner. I do cite it in my filmography, however. 🙂

Watching this movie you will get a sense of that cloud seeding era and how it was thought that a cloud seeding success in this randomized experiment was going to be a slam dunk in the San Juan mountains around Durango. There wasn’t a lot of questioning in those days about the work that this massive project was based on; namely, several stunning randomized experiments conducted and reported by Colorado State University (CSU) scientists in the late 1960s–contracts were being signed in 1968 for the CRBPP work about when the Climax II experiment was only about half completed! (And that, my friends, was a gigantic goof, as you will read.)

Also from the movie you will get a sense of the CRBPP’s scope and how well-planned it was overall. The precip measurements were made by those who didn’t know what the experiment day call was, seeded or not seeded. It doesn’t get better than that, and the BuRec deserves some mighty big accolades for that; trying to do it right. They were so confident, too, that they said that in spite of randomization (in which only half the days are seeded), that the CRBPP would produce an extra 250,000 acre-feet of water from the target watersheds.

Also in “doing it right”, and before the CRBPP began, the BuRec proclaimed in its PR literature beforehand that they would hire an independent statistical group to evaluate the results of this mega-experiment. It doesn’t get better than that, either. It was a display of confidence about the outcome of the experiment. But, that didn’t happen. Instead, the BuRec hired a group associated with cloud seeding!

Aside: For the other seeding operators out there whose films you might see, this admonishment: “Randomize, baby, randomize”. Prove your claims the right way. Also, to seeding funders: employ independent panels to evaluate what you’ve been getting from commercial seeding as the Israeli’s bravely did.


26. Scientific idealism begins to slip away in Durango

However, during the CRBPP I lived through journal peer-reviewed literature (J. Appl. Meteor.) that many of us knew was bogus but no one challenged. I, too, participated in a “Code of Silence” that kept our outside peers in the dark about important discrepancies that were being discovered in the CSU cloud and cloud seeding hypotheses during the CRBPP. These discrepancies turned out to cause the undoing of an otherwise well-planned experiment by the Bureau of Reclamation’s Atmospheric Water Resources Management Division, as it was called then (just “BuRec” in this piece). The “Management” of atmospheric water was a word that also spoke to overconfidence.

At the same time, while in awe of the BuRec’s planning, it was strange to me that the personnel with them were immune from learning from those of us in the field about problems in their interpretations of the CRBPP’s results.

An example: BuRec personnel submitted a paper to a Florida conference in 1974, several years after the CRBPP had started, purporting that “carryover seeding” effects (those days when a control day followed a seeded day) had compromised the CRBPP because heavy snow often fell on that second “control” day. They then assumed that any heavier snow on the 2nd day MUST be due to seeding effects from leftover seeds that didn’t get blown away. They then grouped such carry over days, or portions of such days, into the actual days chosen for seeding and got better suggestions of increased snow due to seeding for the CRBPP overall.

However, no seeding effects were being detected in the first few years on single days that were seeded. Therefore, it was a crazy idea that somehow the seeding agent, silver iodide, turned into super-seeds after we turned off the seeding generators.

Of course, there was a natural explanation for heavy precipitation on the second day when two days in a row were selected for experimentation.

I wrote a long letter in 1974 explaining why the findings in that BuRec preprint were bogus. When we randomly selected a second day in a row for experimentation, it was because an incoming storm was so large and heavy that it took two days for it to go by, or it was just beginning on the last hours of the first day. Not surprisingly, the heaviest part of the storm was on the second day, and usually early on.

I showed the BuRec data that control days that followed a control day, the second control day also had heavy snow, especially in the early going just like they were inferring was due to inadvertent “carryover” seeding of a control day after a seeded day. You could claim in a similar way from my examples that not seeding on a control day caused heavy snow on a following control day; silly. I had much more argumentation as well.

My explanation fell on deaf ears.

I concluded my commentary to them in 1974 about their ersatz findings with a line they couldn’t refuse to act on: I said they needed a “Resident Skeptic” at their headquarters in Denver.

A couple of weeks later, the CRBPP Project Monitor from the BuRec, Mr. Bill Douglas, presented me in person with a framed, Dr. Archie M. Kahan “Certificate of Honorary Resident Skeptic Award.” The presentation, in which he read the words on the Certificate, got a lot of chuckles from our staff who gathered around to see it. Archie Kahan, whose signature appears in the lower right, was the head of that BuRec cloud seeding division.

27. A Resident Skeptic Award from Dr. Kahan and the BuRec

Here is that “Certificate”, one really meant, I thought anyway, to ridicule someone they didn’t take seriously. Well, there were some at the BuRec, like the late Olin Foehner, who did take me seriously. I was only trying to help, guys…. You’ll have to zoom in to read the text.

Note the upside down Bureau of Reclamation logo in the lower left hand corner. It was to be prophesy for the division that sent me this “award.” Due to various missteps, of which the CRBPP was one, and a wetter period of years in the later 1970s into the 1980s, interest in cloud seeding virtually disappeared and their office was shutdown.

28. Decay of idealism accelerates in Durango

More disillusionment with the BuRec and journal literature came when their preprint about carry over effects in the CRBPP was published in 1975 in the peer-reviewed, J. Appl. Meteor. There was no mention of the synoptic situation that I had described that compromised their findings. To them, inadvertent contamination of CRBPP days was too good an argument to let go of to help boost the results for a failing 10 million dollar experiment. Nor did I comment on it; I had no experience in journal matters and it never occurred to me to do so.

29. The choice of the evaluators of the CRBPP 🙁

Another decline in confidence about the science of the CRBPP occurred when the BuRec, instead of choosing an independent group to evaluate the CRBPP as they said they would do before the project started, hired a cloud seeding group to evaluate it! While the group they hired went under the company name of Aerometric, Inc., most of the team of evaluators were really from North American Weather Consultants, led by Robert D. Elliott, President of NAWC. NAWC was largely a commercial cloud seeding company with many seeding projects and at one point was seeding commercially so enthusiastically in Utah that it contaminated some control days of the CRBPP! “Aerometric-NAWC” was chosen as the evaluator when it was clear, after just two years of random decisions, that the CRBPP was NOT going to replicate the CSU seeding results.

Perhaps the BuRec needed a friendly bailout, someone to put a happy face on a science disaster. (Footnote: I had worked for NAWC as a summer hire in 1968 and loved it and the great people there. Tor Bergeron stopped by! Still, it wasn’t a good choice by the BuRec to have them evaluate whether cloud seeding worked.)

30. The informational “black hole” during the CRBPP: important findings came in from the field but never went out to peers

In mid-stream of the CRBPP, the BuRec called a meeting in July 1973 to try to understand what was going wrong with it. Why wasn’t it going to replicate the CSU work? Mainly, it was due to a few critical CSU assumptions that were not supported by data, such as the 500 mb temperature being an index of cloud top temperatures, and therefore, as it had been assumed, a reliable index of seeding potential. After all, the CSU experiment seeding effects were stratified by 500 mb temperatures repeatedly in the published literature; they had no data on actual cloud tops. Neither of those parameters, 500 mb temperatures or cloud top temperatures, are reliable indicators of seeding potential.

Nor were there widespread non-precipitating, reasonably deep clouds ripe for seeding ahead of and behind periods of natural precipitation, clouds that CSU scientists had inferred existed because the claimed increases in snow they reported, were solely due to the greater duration of snowfall on seeded days. Seeding had no effect on natural precipitation they concluded.

No such thick, non-precipitating cloud was found to exist in the CRBPP. This was largely due to the fact that cloud tops during storms were almost always colder than -15°C in storm situations, and usually considerably colder. Those cold tops naturally produced substantial ice concentrations without being seeded. High natural ice concentrations in clouds pretty much decimates seeding potential.

In closing that 1973 meeting, consisting of a who’s who in weather modification from universities and companies around the country, the Chief of the BuRec’s cloud seeding division, Dr. Archie M. Kahan closed it by observing that, “the (CSU) physical hypotheses were not as strong as we had been led to believe.”

It was an understatement.

But these important findings presented at that BuRec conference remained husbanded with those at that meeting. The “Code of Silence” was in full display. The discrepancies were not to be “outed” until 1979 in Hobbs and Rangno (J. Appl. Meteor.) and in my reanalysis of the CSU Wolf Creek Pass experiment that same year in that journal. (The former article was originally part of the draft manuscript I brought in to Prof. Hobbs, but he deemed it something that should be reported separately.)

31. Another pivotal event in 1974

I remember how excited I was, too, when a National Academy of Sciences 1973 report, Climate and Weather Modification; Problems and Progress, came through the Durango office in 1974. The NAS Panel on Weather Modification (Malone et al.) stated that the CSU cloud seeding work had “demonstrated” cloud seeding efficacy on a “deterministic basis”.

What was exciting when I read that NAS report in 1974?

I knew by then that an assessment by our best scientists with the NRC-NAS, a scientific consensus on the CSU experiments, as we would say today, was wrong! It was interesting to me later that Peter V. Hobbs, for whom I was to work, was a co-author of that optimistic report concerning the CSU experiments.

32. 1974: The University of Washington to the “rescue”

A breath of fresh air for me blasted into Durango during the CRBPP.  The University of Washington’s Cloud and Aerosol Group, Directed by Peter Hobbs, was hired by the BuRec to study the winter storms in the San Juan Mountains and the dispersal of the ground released seeding agent during those storms; was it getting into the clouds?

By this time, it was clear that the CRBPP was not going to replicate the Colorado State University cloud seeding results in which 50-100% increases in snowfall were reported due to seeding.  By 1974, the randomly drawn control days of the CRBPP were averaging more snow than the seeded days! The U of WA group was just coming off an exhaustive seeding project in the Pacific Northwest called the Cascade Project that had incorporated extensive ground and airborne measurements.  The U of WA field research team was led by Dr. Lawrence F. Radke for the first half of its six week Colorado mission, and by Research Meteorologist, Don Atkinson during the second half.  

With the Washington team was James Rodger Fleming, who was to play the pivotal role 40 years later in rejecting my “Rise and Fall of Israeli Cloud Seeding.”  Fleming had just obtained his Master’s Degree from the Colorado State University whose work was being questioned.  

Problems with the CSU cloud seeding work had been described at the end of the first season, 1970-1971, by the seeding contractor, E. G. and G., Inc., (Willis and Rangno 1971, E. G. & G., Inc., Final Report to the BuRec).  Those reported flaws, including the often observed blocking flow during stable air mass situations, however, went nowhere with the BuRec. CRBPP’s project leadership changed and CSU student, Lawrence Hjermstad (hereafter LH), was brought in to replace the departing Project Manager, Owen Rhea who had replaced Project Manager, Paul Willis early in the first season.

Also contributing to a lack of action was that the first season of randomization had produced results suggesting that increases in snow had occurred on seeded days compared to control days, which the BuRec exulted over in news releases. I had become Acting Project Forecaster when Paul Willis’ was removed as PM. In that role, I had made every forecast of random draws in the winter of 1970-71. You can’t imagine how much I loved that challenge, though the stress of “getting forecasts right” was daunting, getting up at night to see if the clouds were moving in, heart pounding. But I felt I had been born to be a weather forecaster, as so many of us do in this field.

And, in my first forecasting season, the forecasting criteria was much easier than it would be in the following two winter seasons, and likely why I was hired in the first place. In that first season of the CRBPP, we were directed by the BuRec, as expected, to forecast a chance of measurable precipitation “somewhere” in the target in the 24 h ending at 11 AM local time. This had to be accompanied by at least 12 h of a 500 mb temperature of -23°C or higher when the precip happened. The temperature at 500 mb, or around 18,000 feet, changes rather slowly as storms come through, so it was not an extremely difficult job to predict that.

That was to change for the following two seasons after a critical visit to the CRBPP headquarters in Durango in April 1971 by Prof. Lewis O. Grant, the leader of the Climax and Wolf Creek Pass cloud seeding experiments. He was chagrined to learn that the BuRec had ordered experimental days of the CRBPP to be drawn on the basis of 500 mb temperatures, as the CSU results had been stratified by, and not rawinsonde inferred cloud top temperatures. Prof. Grant felt that actual cloud top temperatures that were -23°C or higher, would bestow better results in the CRBPP experiment. The rawinsonde inferred temperatures at cloud top would prove to be very different than the 500 mb temperature.

This would not be news to practicing meteorologists, and was not news to former PMs, Paul Willis and Owen Rhea, just off the Park Range Project at Steamboat Spring, CO. Owen Rhea, in the summer of 1970 when I queried him about the frequently used CSU expression in the design document I was assigned to study, “500 mb (cloud top) temperature” told me, “that may say its cloud top, but that’s not cloud top.” Paul Willis chuckled at the CSU claim, saying pretty much the same thing.

The confusion was sown not only in the journal literature by CSU, but also in the 1969 CSU written design document in which it was claimed that 500 mb temperature was an index of cloud top temperature during storms and had stratified the 50-100% increases in snowfall at Climax and at Wolf Creek Pass by, well, you guessed it, 500 mb temperatures. In the 1969 CSU design document, CSU and their consortium of authors used the phrase, “500 mb (cloud top) temperature” repeatedly. Hence, the BuRec’s instruction at the outset of the CRBPP to use of 500 mb temperature as the primary forecast criterion in the first season, 1970-71.

Due to Prof. Grant’s visit and return to CSU where he advised the BuRec to change to random draw criterion to rawinsonde inferred cloud top temperatures, the forecasting job became extremely difficult. There were no immediate upwind rawinsonde measurements in which to infer incoming cloud tops from, and there were no useful satellite measurements during the years of the CRBPP. The nearest, and most often upwind of the San Juan’s, was the rawinsonde profiles from the NWS at Winslow, AZ, hours away from the CRBPP target. Moreover, that site was in the lee of the Mogollon Rim Mountains where strong drying would in effect, “hide” the incoming cloud depth. It was the best site we could use, but it not very useful for clouds arriving in the San Juan Mountains.

The new PM, LH, whom had led the Climax experiment in Colorado during his later graduate years and had done some interesting work on the precipitation patterns around Climax at CSU. His work was to be important in shedding light the Climax I results (Hjermstad 1970, Master’s Thesis).

However, LH and I clashed over many elements of the CRBPP during our first couple of years there, and the office had a background of tension.    Instead of helping to write annual reports for each season of the CRBPP, as for the 1970-71 season, I was now subject to being on loans to other companies to assist in their cloud seeding efforts. The annual CRBPP reports for the remainder of the CRBPP had a much different tone, “happier” tone, and discrepancies were not dwelled upon if mentioned at all.

The internal clashes between myself and the CRBPP leadership were described to the Washington team during their airborne studies and they were sympathetic and understood the discrepancies and confusion sown by the cloud top criterion changes (hence, the “breath of fresh air”).  LH was fully onboard the criterion change to rawinsonde inferred cloud top temperatures at the beginning as Prof. Grant demanded, but went further, suggesting to the BuRec that only 3 h of a random day meeting that criterion would be enough for an experimental 24 h day to be randomly drawn.

LH was to change his mind over the “500 mb (cloud top)” temperature issue after two seasons. Following presentations of this discrepancy at a BuRec workshop at Denver in 1973, the call of a random decision reverted to 500 mb temperature (>-23°C). However, it did not return to a partitioning large portions of storms, 12 h as before, but only THREE h of a 24 h day had to meet that criterion during a storm as LH wanted. 

During the remainder of the CRBPP, that after the 1970-71 season, I had been moved to back from Acting Project Forecaster (under Owen Rhea), to my original hired position as Assistant Project Forecaster as LH brought in his well-experienced forecasting friend from Ocean Routes, Inc., Dick Medenwaldt.  While I was disappointed, it was the logical thing to do given my on-paper inexperience.

During the early years of the CRBPP, 1970-1973, the stunning, and ever-so-convincing results of both Climax I and Climax II were reaching the journals (Mielke et al 1970 for Climax I, Mielke et al 1971 for Climax II, and Chappell et al 1971, the latter examined where the seeding effects were taking place—it was by creating more hours of snowfall and not affecting the intensity, as was expected by the kind of ground releases of seeding that had been carried out.  Note: the BuRec was going on preliminary results when it started the massive funding of the CRBPP–that’s how good the CSU work looked to them.

And how convincing were those results, once having been published in the peer-reviewed journals?   Here’s what the National Academy of Science’s Panel on Weather Modification had to say about the results of the Climax experiments in 1973: 

“Hence, in the longest randomized cloud-seeding research project in the United States, involving cold orographic winter clouds, it has been demonstrated that precipitation can be increased by substantial amounts and on a determinate basis.”

Prof. Peter V. Hobbs was a member of the NAS Panel that wrote that statement. He was fully onboard with what the literature was telling him, as was virtually everyone else. (Hah. “Everyone” but me, of course, as an insider to the CRBPP mess.) The interesting sidelight to this was that instead of questioning the reliability of the original CSU experiments, attention focused on what went wrong with the CRBPP! That’s the main reason why I began a reanalysis of the Wolf Creek Pass experiment. It was crazy that no one was questioning the original reports to see if they were robust!

Nevertheless, when the Climax results were combined with those from the seasonally randomized Wolf Creek Pass experiment in the San Juan Mountains conducted in the 1960s, with its strong indications of statistically significant increases in runoff produced by cloud seeding (Morel-Seytoux and Saheli 1973, J. Appl. Meteor., the CSU seeding picture was as complete as one could possibly could be. Thus, one can’t be too hard on the BuRec for charging ahead into a costly randomized experiment, the CRBPP, instead of doing more research “before the leap.”

33. A final blow to idealism about science

The final straw, however, was a much-cited article in 1974 in the J. Appl. Meteor. titled, “The Cloud Seeding Temperature Window.” The two authors had used constant level pressure surfaces to index cloud top temperatures in several seeding projects to come up with a cloud top temperature window of -10° to -25°C for successful cloud seeding. This temperature range was thought to characterize clouds with tops this cold that were deficient in ice particles, but would have supercooled liquid water in them that could be tapped by cloud seeding. It turned out to be a too optimistic a temperature range as later research showed.

Moreover, the lead author of this article had been told by three different people on separate occasions in my presence not to use a constant pressure level as an index of cloud tops in the Rockies. Nature does not constrain cloud tops so that they can be indexed by a constant pressure level temperature in the atmosphere.

The other author of “The Cloud Seeding Temperature Window” was in the midst of evaluating the storm day rawinsondes of the CRBPP; he was the leader of the Aerometric-NAWC evaluations team chosen by the BuRec. He absolutely knew that stratifications by a constant pressure level was not a viable way to index cloud tops from our data. When I asked that 2nd author the next time he came through the Durango office about that article, “How could you write that?” He simply replied, sheepishly it seemed to me, that he had just, “gone along with” the lead author.

So that was it.

I never again trusted the cloud seeding published literature. Cynicism 1, Idealism, nil. It didn’t matter, either, how highly regarded the literature was. It still might be inaccurate, corrupt, I thought. I often wondered, too, why that “Window” article was cited so much. I presumed it must be by readers that did not know much about synoptic weather and cloud top fluctuations.

34. A regrettable personal media eruption in late 1975 that required an apology in person at CSU

I remained quiet until the CRBPP experiment ended in 1975, which also allowed me to retain my great job in the nice little town of Durango, Colorado–ah, the plight of whistleblowers……

But then I erupted in November 1975 after the CRBPP ended when it was safe and I had no job. 🙂 Here’s that whistleblowing eruption as seen in the Durango Herald, one that I feel I have to disclose in this “blook” to give an idea of my potential biases:

You will notice that I referred to “Watergate” in the Herald headline. As I left the Durango Herald office with the reporter, Mike McRae, I muttered a mistake. I said, “if what I have begun to work on turns out, it could be the Watergate of meteorology”, meaning it would make a big splash. It was a poor, if current and accessible metaphor, but it implied wrongdoing on the part of CSU scientists. I was away when the article came out and was devastated to see what Mike had written after a careful 1-2 h recorded interview in his office. He had promised to let me examine the article before it came out, but called the evening before I left and said he wasn’t able to do that, adding, “trust me.”

I left the next day for Fresno, California. I got that Durango Herald issue about a week after it came out while I was there working briefly for Tom Henderson, and Atmospherics Inc.

After I returned to Durango from Fresno, I sped off to CSU to apologize in person for my lapse to the leader of the CSU experiments, Professor Lewis O. Grant. I had also submitted a “retraction” to the Herald clarifying what I meant. I did see that reporter Mike in the Durango supermarket, and, after I only shook my head at him, he said, “Never trust a newspaper reporter.”

Q. E. D.

But Mike’s article in which I stated I was going to reanalyze ALL of the CSU prior experiments, as you will read, was to have a profound effect that neither of us could have imagined at the time.

35. The apology and the after effects of the 1975 Durango Herald article

I was able to meet with Professor Lewis O. Grant, the leader of the CSU experiments in his CSU office as soon as I got there, . I groveled and apologized for my possibly libelous newspaper gaffe. He was real nice about it, actually. And, moreover, even when I said I still questioned his seeding experiments and asked for data, like the list of random decisions, he did not hesitate. He was an idealist; questioning was a part of science and he understood that.

Professor Grant’s attitude was not shared by the leader of the experiments in Israel, I am sad to say as Sir John Mason’s letter illustrated.

I kept Professor Grant apprised of my work from Durango as I went along with it as I said I would. As the Wolf Creek Pass experiment began to fall apart in my reanalysis, he even wrote that I had found something important. He was a true scientist.

I also learned from Professor Grant’s graduate student, Owen Rhea, who had started out as the CRBPP’s lead forecaster in 1970 and, along with Paul Willis, had hired me, that the Durango Herald article got back to the National Science Foundation who asked of CSU, “What’s going on?”

According to Owen, due to that Durango Herald article in which I was claiming that I myself would reanalyze ALL of their work, CSU scientists began reassessing their Climax experiments at that time. Those, too, eventually fell apart “upon further review”; their own. Its always best if you find your own problems and report them first before someone else does.

First, in 1978, the earlier claimed evidence of inadvertent downwind increased snow due to seeding at Climax, was found to be due to a synoptic (weather pattern) bias on seeded days. Gone.

Then, in October 1979, at a joint conference of weather modification and statistics at Banff, Canada, Owen Rhea, Professor Grant’s graduate student, verbally withdrew the claims that seeding had increased snowfall in the Climax experiments. Paul Mielke, Jr., the lead CSU statistician, had already done this in a short commentary in the J. Amer. Stat. Assoc. in March of that year, also noting that the stratifications could not have partitioned seeding potential. Climax I and II, gone.

A lucky draw on seeded days had occurred in both Climax experiments; pretty remarkable, though Climax II was to receive some “help” as it turned out, exposed in later independent reanalysis in 1987 by yours truly, with Hobbs.

At that same conference at Banff in 1979, I presented my now published, “Reanalysis of the Wolf Creek Pass cloud seeding experiment” in the May 1979 issue of the J. App. Meteor.) It, too, like the Climax experiments, was the result of a lucky draw and favorable selection of controls by the experimenters, but ones chosen after the experiments had begun, a no-no for experiments because it opens to door to confirmation bias and cherry-picking.

That was my first presentation at a conference. The year before, I had played “center microphone” for a similar conference in Issaquah, Washington. That is, I ran around with a microphone for attendees that had questions for speakers. I was a real “gopher” just the year before.

All in all, the Banff conference was a devastating one for those involved in cloud seeding at CSU, and for those organizations such as the BuRec that had placed such big bets on the CSU experimenters’ original reports.

36. Pre-1979 Banff conference palpitations and why; the human part of being a science worker in a conflicted environment

The Banff 1979 program that I was going to present in was published in the Bull. Amer. Soc. in May 1979. I was shocked to see that it indicated that CSU faculty would address my paper before I gave it. Thankfully this did not happen. I was an amateur compared to the faculty at CSU, and I was sure all that time before the October Banff conference after seeing the program in May, that my work would be cut to pieces and I would get up red-faced with nothing to say. I had palpitations that whole summer of this nightmare scene, and even redid my paper. Perhaps I had made egregious errors; I was the one that was biased and couldn’t see it.

The evening before my talk in October, I ran into Professor Grant, and he informed me at that time that they were not going to address my work after all. Whew. I had even considered not going; the fear of humiliation was that bad!

Paul Mielke, Jr., also came by, and he simply said, “We screwed up.” I admired him for that and his courageous 1979 article in the J. Amer. Stat. Assoc. In essence, in that article, he had stated that there was no real basis for the 10 million dollar CRBPP the BuRec had signed up for. Can you imagine? The BuRec REALLY did need a “Resident Skeptic!”

The 1979 Banff talk went fine, even got an accolade and a laugh, and I ended by saying, “Who wouldn’t have believed all this evidence was NOT due to cloud seeding?”, trying to put the best face on the CSU seeding collapse that evening. It was an amazing trifecta of “evidence” that seeding had increased snow that CSU scientists had encountered and embraced, but was now gone.

But that was not to last.

CSU scientists began looking again at their Climax experiments and began publishing claims that they had resuscitated valid increases in snow in those experiments in 1981, though they were smaller ones, stratifying the data again by 500 mb temperatures asserting or implying that they had something to do with cloud tops and cloud seeding potential. It was quite a discouraging blow if you care about science.

Neither I, nor Owen Rhea of CSU, could let such claims go unchallenged and we each reanalyzed the new Climax experiment reports, both of us finding a second time in the following years that those claims of increased snow due to seeding by the experimenters were ersatz. There’s much more on this, but will end this discussion here for some hint of brevity. My reanalysis of the Climax experiments was rejected by the J. Appl. Meteor., B. Silverman, Ed., personal communication; Owen Rhea’s compact one, was accepted. We did not realize that we were doing the same thing at the same time.

And, so, while the story today is centered on my work in Israel, the full autobio ppt “book” has a lot of backfill to my experiences in Durango like the ones above, experiences that caused me to distrust any publication regarding a cloud seeding success without extreme scrutiny, the kind that reviewers of journal manuscripts mostly don’t have the time or inclination for.

37. 1983, a real no-no: a request for an independent panel to investigate the reporting of the Climax I randomized experiment

This was a painful chapter, but in trying to be totally candid, it has to come out. There are likely still those out there that know about it, though, as I wrote in my request for this to the Amer. Meteor. Soc., I hoped it would remain completely behind the scenes. It did not. Prof. Grant himself later told an audience that he was under investigation.

Here’s why: CSU statistician, Prof. Paul Mielke in 1979 J. Amer. Stat. Assoc., while withdrawing the claims that the Climax experiments had increased snowfall, observed that both experiments, Climax I and II, had experienced favorable draws that created the impression that snow had been increased on seeded days. It was a courageous post. Here’s what he wrote:

Very recently, in connection with design studies for a possible experiment of this type in central and northern Colorado mountains, station-by-station precipitation analyses of the Climax I and II experimental units were made for all available hourly stations in Colorado. The resulting maps of seeded to non-seeded mean precipitation amount ratios and non-parametric teststatistic values plotted over the western half of Colorado indicated (for meteorological partitions such as warm 500 mb temperatures) that the Climax experimental results were part of a region-wide pattern (emphasis by ALR) rather than an isolated anomaly produced by seeding. In particular, these recent results cast serious doubts on consistency of apparent effects associated with replicated five-year winter periods of the Climax I and Cllimax II experiments.

Later, however, while looking for something else, I ran into this statement at the very end of the article by Mielke et al. (1970, J. Appl. Meteor.), an article accepted for publication on June 30, 1969:

“In an attempt to better define the area extent of the differences between the seeded days and non-seeded days beyond the boundary of the experimental network, available data from all Weather Bureau stations in Western Colorado are currently being investigated.”

Mid-1969 was a time that large contracts were being formulated by the BuRec and signed by contractors involved with the CRBPP. One, at least, had already been signed in 1968, the one with CSU scientists for a CRBPP design document, whose interim document was released in October 1969.

What to do after I ran into what seemed to be a “smoking gun”?

It seemed inappropriate to me to have the CSU scientists answer such a profound question on which millions of dollars might depend on the answer: “What happened to the 1969 study that was “underway”? So, I stewed for quite awhile on this seeming “smoking gun.”

Millions of dollars would have been saved, of course, if the CSU scientists had discovered/reported in 1969 the evidence that Climax I had been compromised by a “lucky draw.” It can be assumed that the BuRec would have backed off their plans for the randomization of the CRBPP; perhaps had gone into a research mode with ground and air measurements, or canceled the project altogether to ruminate on what really happened in Climax I. Note: it was well known at E. G. & G., Inc, and by the BuRec that CSU scientists opposed randomization of the CRBPP on the basis that, “it’s already been done” (in their own experiments). Imagine what would have been the situation if the BuRec had listened to that CSU argument and went commercial seeding in the CRBPP!

Ultimately, in 1983, following a negative reaction to the CSU scientists’ responses to my friend, Owen Rhea’s reanalysis of the Climax II experiment, I wrote up my request and sent it in to several organizations including CSU, the AMS and NAS. The AMS didn’t know how to go about this (D. Landrigan, personal communication) and I got no response from the NAS.

There was, however, an internal investigation by a CSU faculty panel that found no problems in the reporting of the Climax I experiment. I also received a threat of legal action by then Acting Colorado State University President, Robert Phemister if I persisted in my calls for an investigation of the CSU reporting. I didn’t. I still wish that there had been a wider look besides that by CSU faculty, one of whom was a co-author of a seeding paper.

I really hated to do it, knowing the fallout. But, what would you have done if you found the 1969 Mielke et al. “smoking gun?” I just didn’t think they should answer a question with millions of dollars riding on the answer.

I let this issue go downstream, but you can only imagine how CSU and their sympathizers that found out about my unprecedented action might have felt about me. I had asked for an investigation of the most beloved persons in all of weather modification, Lewis O. Grant and Paul Mielke, Jr., both of whom I actually liked as people!

Peter Hobbs, when he found out, was livid; he was not involved because he was on sabbatical in Germany. No one was involved but me. But, I got a raise the next year, 1984. ??

I presented a paper at the Park City, UT, weather mod conference in 1984 with all those present from CSU who knew what I had done. It was the “kitchen.” Gads, how did I make it through that one! The tension was so thick. My paper, one that later became part of an AMS Monograph with the other presentations, was titled (I had been assigned this title), “How good are our conceptual models of orographic cloud seeding?


38. Tension highlight at Park City with Prof AG

It was during this conference that Prof. A.G. from Israel took me aside and sternly lectured me about how wrong I was about the clouds of Israel (from my 1983 rejected article by the J. Appl. Meteor. that asserted they weren’t being described correctly. It was also at that time that he informed me that he had been a reviewer of that submission, one of course, that helped reject it. His lecture had no effect whatsoever on what I thought about those clouds. I hopped a plane to Israel two years later.


If you have read our papers on the Climax experiments, you will know that there was suggestions of a data reduction bias that favored the appearance of a seeding effect with the key NOAA target gauge precipitation data in Climax II (Rangno and Hobbs, 1987, 1995, J. Appl. Meteor.) The values used by the CSU scientists in their analyses were not the ones that were published by NOAA for the independently maintained gauge in the center of the target; the values that the experimenters used increased the supposed seeding effect a modest 4%. There were also many other discrepancies in the 500 mb temperature assignments for storms from those published by NOAA that also “helped” the Climax II experiment “replicate” Climax I.

In contrast, errors were negligible in Climax I; all the precipitation data were the same as in the NOAA publications, for example. Climax I benefitted by a lucky draw of storms with NW flow at mountain top levels on seeded days with high 500 mb temperatures (the latter, the category where strong, 50-100%, increases in snowfall were reported due to seeding. But NW flow is also the direction from which Climax receives it greatest natural daily precipitation and the set of control stations chosen by the experimenters (halfway through the experiment), the least. Climax II had no such luck. Check it out below:

Percentage of the experimental seeding season precipitation at Climax I (a)and II (b ) for three wind direction categories using the winds at mountain top level 4 km ASL or 600 mb level, whichever was available in the NOAA publication, “Daily Series, Northern Hemisphere Data Tabulations, Radiosonde and Rawinsonde Checked Data.” The solid bar is for seeded days, and the cross hatched ones for control days with the 500 mb temperature GE -20°C. Climax receives its greatest average daily amounts in NW flow. (From an unpublished manuscript rejected by J. Appl. Meteor. in 1983, B. Silverman, Ed., personal correspondence.

To my knowledge, the results of the 1969 Mielke et al. investigation of all western Colorado precipitation gauges in the Climax I experiment was not made known to the BuRec until Mielke’s 1979 J. Amer. Stat. Assoc. comment.


Why would anyone do call for a behind the scenes investigation that would only have negative fall out for everyone involved? I felt I was representing those people outside the cloud seeding community who really paid for the CRBPP. That, too, was the way I felt about my trip to Israel. OK, I know you’re rolling your eyes now, but it was true, I really did think, “Someone has to do something about this!” If I was arrogant (“confident” is a better word) it was because I thought I could do something given my particular cloud-centric background. I think a lot of “activists” think this way; that they can do something.

39. Intermission and time for a “Get a life!” note

Following the above comments, it seems like an appropriate point for a reader to erupt with, “Get a life!” See the note at the very end of the science portions of thes piece if that’s what you might be thinking at this point, which is not an unreasonable thought at all. 🙂

I did have an outside life somehow. I was single during most of this time, too. There’s no way you could be married/have a partner, and be doing what I was driven to do. Playing baseball, doing some extracurricular forecasting on the radio and for the Washington Huskies comprised most of that outside life.

OK, enough intermission….

40. A “fruitful perception”

Not trusting cloud seeding peer-reviewed literature, no matter how highly regarded it was, was a fruitful perception. I think you can see why by now!

Over the following twenty years after Durango I reanalyzed, with Prof. Peter Hobbs as my co-author on all but one article, no less than six peer-reviewed, journal published cloud seeding experiments. Not one was the success the original experimenters claimed it to be! PDFs of these reanalyses, and other commentaries on cloud seeding in the literature can be found here:

Important Footnote: To fill out my CV even further on the above page, I have even included my rejected papers and non-submitted reviews as well to make it look bigger than it really is. Of course, those latter items REALLY don’t count in official CVs except to ME. I am hoping to one day to have, as other scientists do, a subset of my papers published: “The Collected Rejected Papers of Arthur L. Rangno.” The volume would be quite thick.

All those published reanalyses and commentaries, and articles/reviews that weren’t accepted or not even submitted, was a vast amount of material I had created, and they were accomplished on my own initiative, my own time (except one, the Skagit reanalysis, was on Peter Hobbs’ time, but my initiative). That is, I worked on these kinds of things on my weekends, evenings, before work, after work at the office, etc. , on and on over years, probably amounting to thousands of volunteer hours to evaluate and “out” faulty cloud seeding claims and to get my views of the cloud seeding arena into print. I even drafted most of my own figures. (Crackpot alert!)

I had no funding, of course, for these, well…”altruistic” efforts, as I thought of them. I just felt I had the skills to expose faulty cloud seeding literature being a forecaster and a “cloud man.” I also felt I had a duty to do it since it was likely that no one else would.

To readers: anybody down here?

41. The payoff for decades of “volunteer” work due to that “fruitful perception”

But there was an eventual payoff for all that self-initiated work that came in 2005, as seen below. My apologies in advance for my large face shot in the first link. I didn’t do it! I post these solely for a modicum of credibility.

The $20,000 prize was also for the mountains of constructive work in cloud seeding done by Peter and his “Cloud Physics Group”, starring Lawrence F. Radke, Dean Hegg, for mostly aerosol work, and John Locatelli in ice crystal studies, the former the leaders of our airborne crews in those days. The Group’s published work was supportive of cloud seeding effects in the early 1970s “Cascade Project”, though no randomized experiments were carried out.

In fact, Peter Hobbs was pretty ebullient about the possibilities of orographic cloud seeding just after his Cascade Project had ended. He had been a panel member of the 1973 National Academy of Sciences report mentioned earlier that was also so ebullient about the CSU cloud seeding work. Peter Hobbs had also gotten the panel to insert the non-randomized Skagit cloud seeding project into that report due to its stunning apparent indication of having increased precipitation. However, the Skagit Project would also fall apart in future years, “upon further review” by “you know who.”

42. Why the recurring thought: “Somebody has to do something about this, dammitall!”

A question I ask myself is WHY I was so energized, worked up, to do all this volunteer work concerning faulty cloud seeding claims in the literature when the rest of the scientific community more or less yawned at them or absorbed them; no one really dug into them the way I did with rare exceptions. I think the activism on the war in Vietnam and in civil rights in those days of the late 60s and early 70s led one to believe that you should jump in and do something when you see things that aren’t right. That was certainly a thought I had (and still have I guess, from this mighty effort!)

In Colorado the answer was simple enough.

I knew the “territory” of the CSU cloud seeding experiments, and a lot about them, and felt I had a duty to reanalyze them since I came to doubt that those results could be valid based on the experiences and data gained in the CRBPP. I was pretty sure no one else would do this, too, based on the de facto “Code of Silence” ethic in this realm. So, I took the 75-76 winter off in Durango after the CRBPP to dig into the Wolf Creek Pass experiment, living off my savings until getting a summer commercial seeding job as a “radar meteorologist” with Atmospherics, Inc., in SE South Dakota. I was running out of savings.

I should add, too, that as a kid, the printed word in journals was precious to me. I subscribed to a journal when I was just 13 (1955), “The Monthly Weather Review,” and tried to memorize all that I read even if I couldn’t really understand all that there was in one, especially if there were equations. Haha–I still skip articles with too many equations in them.

The authors of articles, and the founders of modern meteorology, like Jacob Bjerknes (whose autograph I tried to get when he was at UCLA) and “stars” like Tor Bergeron (had my picture taken with him), or Jerome Namias, etc., were heroes to me somewhat like baseball players were to other kids. And, I was already writing stuff about ice in clouds in weather diaries in the 50s.

So, was this combination of traits the reasons why I reacted so strongly to faulty literature? I dunno.

Learning how seductive and corruptive the effects of confirmation bias could be as I saw in Durango and in the commercial seeding projects I worked on, also augmented my inclination to closely examine cloud seeding papers. To claim, or believe, that you had changed the weather by increasing precipitation was a very potent euphoric.

What was the likely driver of ersatz seeding success claims that were later overturned?

Ans. 1: No one ever got a job saying cloud seeding didn’t work.

Ans. 2: Experimenters were damn sure seeding worked beforehand, by god, they were going to strangle the data until they found signs of it, or post-select controls to “prove seeding.”

Yes, almost certainly, as Donald Kennedy observed in his Science editorial, Research Fraud and Public Policy in 2003, it was mostly “career enhancement” that drove fraudulent science (or “career maintenance” as it might be in the cloud seeding realm). Of course, they could also be well-intentioned, deluded people, unreceptive to new facts.

43. Peter V. Hobbs and his group’s work in cloud seeding


44. Life beyond science volunteering: “sports and weather” with some humorous, maybe, anecdotes concerning the Seattle Mariners and some radio work

The almost fanatical activity described above can be also be seen as a “crackpot alert.” But, maybe a good one? Yes, and you might well be thinking, as noted, “get a life!”

Well, I did have some outside activities, like playing baseball in a hot semi-pro league called the Western International League, so there. Eight guys were signed off my team over the several years I played on it; one, Mike Kinunen, was pitching for the Twins the next (1980) summer and the guy that batted 3rd in front of me, made the last out of the 1980 college World Series in Omaha playing for the #5 Hawaii Rainbows (defeated by the Arizona Wildcats!) I was the oldest starting player in that league in those halcyon days of my late 30s. In case you don’t believe me:

In my last playing year, I was the recipient of the Jim Broulette “Mr. Hustle” Award in 1980. No, it wasn’t for being a great player, but rather for being an “inspirational” one, which is not as good as being given an award for being great (I had an off year..). FYI, this what I looked like during the era of ruining cloud seeding papers except I wasn’t wearing a baseball uniform when I was doing that.

In a further nostalgic sports report and waste of your time, after the WIL, I pitched batting practice for the Seattle Mariners, 1981-1983. An anecdote about that:

I showed up for a tryout at a workout they were having on the U of WA Husky baseball field in 1981 after the MLB strike had ended and, after pitching BP there, I got to be one of the regular Mariner BP pitchers in the Kingdome, an unpaid job, btw. You get tickets behind home plate. It was so much fun, but stressful. There was an uneasy quiet if you threw as many as three balls that weren’t smacked.

They released me at the end of 1983 because the “guys” were complaining that my ball had too much movement in BP; I was “cutting the ball”, giving it extra spin (private communication, Steve Gordon, backup catcher, 1983). (Unbelievable).

The Mariners of note in those days were Tom Paciorek, Dave Henderson, Bruce Bochte, Richie Zisk and Gaylord Perry, the latter who said my BP was “horrible” in 1983 after he joined the Mariners– he didn’t hit it so well. Of course, he was a washed up pitching buffoon in those days–what would he know about hitting? (Just kidding, Gaylord.) I did throw harder than normal BP pitchers and off or near the pitching rubber, just like I did for my WIL teammates who loved my BP. They wanted zip on the ball like real pitching and I thought the MLB players would, too. And they did, too, that’s why I got “hired” in the first place.


Forecasting for the Washington Husky baseball and softball teams.

I was also the de facto weather forecaster for Washington Husky baseball and softball teams calling rain delays, tarp placements and removals and such beginning in the mid-90s. I had met the Husky baseball coach during my WIL experiences and began forecasting for softball during the 1996 NCAA regional tournament in Seattle which was impacted by numerous showers and even a thunderstorm.

The weather during these spring sports seasons is occasionally showery in Seattle, lots of Cumulonimbus clouds form on those kinds of days, rather than the easy to predict day-long rains from fronts. Radar was pretty useless in showery situations. Why? Because the lifetime of showers is short, and the Huskies could play in SOME rain, just not too hard. So, an incoming shower had to be evaluated by eyeball to assess whether it was dissipating or not; was it all ice or what, and would it rain hard enough to require a tarp and a rain delay? So that’s how I did it, almost completely by eyeballing showers, their movement and growth pattern and assessing their stages.

When the tarp was on the softball diamond during showery days, it was almost harder to call when it should be removed since it took about 45 min to get the game going again; the players had to warm up, besides taking the tarp off themselves. This meant predicting whether a shower would even form in that 45 min time frame, and if so, would it affect the game? The worst possible scenario was that you said to remove the tarp, everyone warmed up again, the crowd came back into the softball stadium, and then it rained hard right after that. It was a stressful volunteer job. Fortunately, that did not happen. I was lucky.

It sounds disconnected, but this was exactly the kind of skill I took to Israel in 1986.


Before the Husky forecasting era, I had been a forecaster on two different radio stations in Seattle, KUOW-FM (1987-1992), an NPR affiliate in which I came on during “Weekend Edition”, and on a local rock station, KZAM-FM, M-F, for about six months in 1982. For both stations I was doing very short-term forecasts for Seattle using the time of day, such as “no rain through 11 AM, then rain beginning between 11 AM and 2 PM”, etc. When I started these efforts, Seattle had no dedicated weather radar! Doppler weather radar became available only in 1992. In place of radar, you had to use upwind station reports, satellite imagery, know the “territory”, and eyeball the cloud situation along with knowing what the computer model predictions were, and then evaluate how the cloudscape, obs, and how the model predictions were meshing with what the sky was doing.

Perhaps, for sophomoric entertainment, you would like to hear one for KZAM-FM in 1982. In listening to this (sorry, its not real clear), we have to remember that, as the LA Times wrote in 1981, weather forecasting at that time was an era of “clowns and computers” as they headlined. You were expected to come up with some “schtick” if you were a media weather forecaster. And I was encouraged to do so by KZAM-FM. It got a little wild, as you will hear. To stay with the theme of “sports and weather”, I reprise my “sports-like” 1982 weather forecast on KZAM-FM, one that mentioned Gaylord Perry in context with a low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska with “moisture and rotation on it.” GP was known for cheating by throwing spitballs. And damn him for criticizing my BP! It’s a little muffled, but you’ll get the idea. Remember I was forced to do this by the forecasting motif of the day…. 🙂

OK, I am having more fun now as I remember those crazy days….I still worked at the U of WA cloud group full time during these efforts, too. Good grief, how did I manage all this?

The End at last.