2 5 years ago 5 0 years ago On the Demand for Extended Weather Fore- Climate Forecasts from the Past casts in Defense and War Activities Since planning agencies connected with defense ac- Historical records in the library of the U.S. Naval tivities and war services naturally must consider the Oceanographic Office, Suitland, Md., show that cli- effects of weather, and these activities have of late mate trends on record since the winter of 1279 fore- greatly expanded, the need for "extended" and longer cast an ice cycle that very likely holds true today. This range forecasts has accordingly multiplied. In re- observation was made by Martin Slessers after ten sponse to many requests for information about such years of translating Russian, Swedish, and German forecasts, the Weather Bureau has recently made books dealing with oceanography and related sci- public a statement of its position on the subject. ences. The gist of it resolves into three essential points. Until 1433, Mr. Slessers says, a bitter cold period Firstly, the Bureau fully recognizes the great impor- held sway; after that the weather began to warm up a tance of developing a technique for making reliable little and is expected to continue in this trend until the forecasts for periods longer than the conventional day beginning of the next millennium, at which time a cold or two, and is taking every reasonable and practicable wave may again be anticipated. According to time- step to aid and encourage such development.* Next, honored records of European historians, there is a the Bureau has been unable to discover any real large-scale "weather rhythm," interspersed with shorter evidence that sound methods have yet been devel- fluctuation periods of 11,90, and 250 years caused by oped anywhere for forecasting day by day weather in variations in ice conditions from 1233 to 1883 from the United States for periods longer than a week or two data based on Viking chronicles, ship logbooks, news- in advance. The criterion for this conclusion is that the paper reports, and ancient writings. According to so-called methods developed so far for longer periods these and other records, the cold cycle reached its than a week or so do not yield results superior to those depth in 1433. based upon climatological probabilities, a method This theory of ice cycles is further substantiated by which is not considered to be forecasting in the the ancient chronicles of Swedish fishermen during technical sense of the term. Finally, the Bureau wishes the Middle Ages that mention large schools of Atlantic to correct or clarify certain misconceptions which have herring in the Baltic Sea. Fishermen of Skanor and become more widespread since the public has had its Falsterbo supplied the Swedish markets with fresh attention drawn to the military significance of the fish and the prosperity of the villages increased until, subject. On the one hand, the Bureau has made no with the beginning of a warmer climate and the result- extravagant claims about the present value or pro- ant warming of the sea water, the herring began to spective results of its efforts in extended forecasting;* disappear and the villages became ghost towns. and on the other it does not believe a useful purpose Mr. Slessers, son of a Latvian fisherman, who fled will be served to take public issue with the claims of to Sweden after the occupation of Latvia in World War other institutions and individuals as to long-range II and thence to the United States, has been with the f o recast i n g. —R . G. S. Oceanographic Office since 1957. In his oceano- graphic research he has translated more than 328 *The latest publication on this work is by H.C. Willett, Report of the books and articles on the subject. Copies of his Five-Day Forecasting Procedure, Verification and Research as con- translations are kept on file in the Naval Oceano- ducted between July 1940 and august 1941, Papers in Physical graphic Library and have been distributed to universi- Oceanography and Meteorology (M. I. T.), vol. IX, no. 1, Nov. 1941,88 ties in the United States that teach oceanography and to some foreign institutions. PP- Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 47, 981. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 22, 425. 1836 Vol. 72, No. 12, December 1991
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Dec 1, 1991
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