Comments on Planned and Inadvertent Weather Modification, a policy statement of the American Meteorological Society

Comments on Planned and Inadvertent Weather Modification, a policy statement of the American... letter to the editor Comments on "Planned and Inadvertent Weather original decisions to employ statistical analysis were Modification," a policy statement of the American wrong. The more recent randomized cloud seeding Meteorological Society programs conducted in Israel and Tasmania em- ployed statistical methods of analysis to good effect in The policy statement on "Planned and Inadvertent demonstrating substantial increases in precipitation Weather Modification" (Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 73, by cloud seeding. 331) should be revised to prevent misconceptions The authors of the AMS policy statement should concerning the early history of scientific weather modi- consider that current techniques and instrumentation fication. As written, it wrongly criticizes the scientific for weather modification studies, such as modeling, foundations of field operations conducted 40 or more microwave radiometry, multiparameter radars, and years ago in the light of today's knowledge. chemical tracers, while certainly different or more The operational (as opposed to research or experi- sophisticated than those techniques and instrumenta- mental) cloud seeding programs, such as those con- tion employed 40 years ago, may also not lead to ducted in the Sierra Nevada Mountains beginning in definitive conclusions about the precipitation enhance- the late 1940s and early 1950s by California electric ment potential of cloud seeding field operations. Dif- power companies and water conservation and stor- ferent and more sophisticated do not necessarily age districts, must be considered to have been soundly mean better. The authors run the risk of having their based scientifically. These programs were carefully own weather modification research or operational planned with the aid of many of those scientists who program results characterized as "without sound sci- were conducting the research programs in weather entific foundation" in 50 years (or less) if science modification. progresses in a different direction than the one cur- The scientific credentials of the pioneers in weather rently envisioned as the correct way to conduct and modification, such as Irving Langmuir, Vincent evaluate weather modification field programs, or if Schaefer, Bernard Vonnegut, Roscoe Braham, Patrick they fail to arrive at the correct solution to the problem Squires, and E. J. Smith, should not be in question. of quantifying precipitation increases from cloud seed- Their field programs were conducted using the best of ing operations. sound scientific knowledge available when those pro- The AMS policy statement on planned and inad- grams were conducted. vertent weather modification appears to reflect the Similarly, the decisions to employ statistical analy- opinions of only a few members of the Society. Per- ses of the precipitation data from early randomized haps drafts of each policy statement should be circu- field operations were surely scientifically sound. To lated to all members who are interested in that area, so say otherwise is to impugn the scientific reputations of that differences of opinion that exist among members all those who proposed the use of statistical analysis might be properly framed and deficiencies might be and those who accepted their proposals. Finding out corrected before adoption. at some later date that this approach did not always produce the anticipated results does not imply that the WILLIAM G . FINNEGAN AND RICHARD L. PITTER DESERT RESEARCH INSTITUTE ©199 3 American Meteorological Society RENO, NEVADA Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society American Meteorological Society

Comments on Planned and Inadvertent Weather Modification, a policy statement of the American Meteorological Society

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Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
1520-0477
D.O.I.
10.1175/1520-0477-74.9.1745
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Abstract

letter to the editor Comments on "Planned and Inadvertent Weather original decisions to employ statistical analysis were Modification," a policy statement of the American wrong. The more recent randomized cloud seeding Meteorological Society programs conducted in Israel and Tasmania em- ployed statistical methods of analysis to good effect in The policy statement on "Planned and Inadvertent demonstrating substantial increases in precipitation Weather Modification" (Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 73, by cloud seeding. 331) should be revised to prevent misconceptions The authors of the AMS policy statement should concerning the early history of scientific weather modi- consider that current techniques and instrumentation fication. As written, it wrongly criticizes the scientific for weather modification studies, such as modeling, foundations of field operations conducted 40 or more microwave radiometry, multiparameter radars, and years ago in the light of today's knowledge. chemical tracers, while certainly different or more The operational (as opposed to research or experi- sophisticated than those techniques and instrumenta- mental) cloud seeding programs, such as those con- tion employed 40 years ago, may also not lead to ducted in the Sierra Nevada Mountains beginning in definitive conclusions about the precipitation enhance- the late 1940s and early 1950s by California electric ment potential of cloud seeding field operations. Dif- power companies and water conservation and stor- ferent and more sophisticated do not necessarily age districts, must be considered to have been soundly mean better. The authors run the risk of having their based scientifically. These programs were carefully own weather modification research or operational planned with the aid of many of those scientists who program results characterized as "without sound sci- were conducting the research programs in weather entific foundation" in 50 years (or less) if science modification. progresses in a different direction than the one cur- The scientific credentials of the pioneers in weather rently envisioned as the correct way to conduct and modification, such as Irving Langmuir, Vincent evaluate weather modification field programs, or if Schaefer, Bernard Vonnegut, Roscoe Braham, Patrick they fail to arrive at the correct solution to the problem Squires, and E. J. Smith, should not be in question. of quantifying precipitation increases from cloud seed- Their field programs were conducted using the best of ing operations. sound scientific knowledge available when those pro- The AMS policy statement on planned and inad- grams were conducted. vertent weather modification appears to reflect the Similarly, the decisions to employ statistical analy- opinions of only a few members of the Society. Per- ses of the precipitation data from early randomized haps drafts of each policy statement should be circu- field operations were surely scientifically sound. To lated to all members who are interested in that area, so say otherwise is to impugn the scientific reputations of that differences of opinion that exist among members all those who proposed the use of statistical analysis might be properly framed and deficiencies might be and those who accepted their proposals. Finding out corrected before adoption. at some later date that this approach did not always produce the anticipated results does not imply that the WILLIAM G . FINNEGAN AND RICHARD L. PITTER DESERT RESEARCH INSTITUTE ©199 3 American Meteorological Society RENO, NEVADA Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

Journal

Bulletin of the American Meteorological SocietyAmerican Meteorological Society

Published: Sep 1, 1993

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