William M. "Bill" Gray
1929) is a pioneer in the science of forecasting hurricanes
.In 1952 he received a B.S. degree in geography from George
Washington University, and in 1959 a M.S.
in meteorology from the University of
Chicago, where he went on to earn a Ph.D. in geophysical sciences in
Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric
Science at Colorado State University (CSU), and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project
at CSU's Department of Atmospheric Sciences. He served as a weather
forecaster for the United States
Air Force, and as a research assistant in the University of
Chicago Department of Meteorology.
Colorado State University in 1961. He has been advisor of over 70
Ph.D. and M.S. students.
noted for his forecasts of Atlantic hurricane season activity.
pioneered the concept of "seasonal" hurricane
forecasting—predicting months in advance the severity of the coming
hurricane season. Gray and his team (including Christopher W.
Landsea, Paul W. Mielke Jr., and Kenneth J. Berry, among others)
has been issuing seasonal hurricane forecasts since 1984.
After the 2005 Atlantic
, Gray announced that he was stepping back from
the primary authorship of CSU's tropical cyclone probability
forecasts, passing the role to Philip J. Klotzbach. Gray indicated
that he would be devoting more time to the issue of global warming
. His views on global warming
are controversial, as he does not attribute global warming to
causes, and is harshly
critical of those who do.
Seasonal hurricane forecasts
Gray developed a seasonal hurricane forecasting methodology in the
1980s and began reporting his forecasts to the public. His
forecasts are widely discussed in the U.S. media. Preliminary
forecasts are released before the start of the hurricane season,
and the forecasts are then revised as the season progresses.
Stance on global warming
Gray is skeptical of current theories of human-induced global
warming, which he says is supported by scientists afraid of losing
grant funding and promoted by government leaders and
environmentalists seeking world
. He believes that humans are not responsible for the
warming of the earth and has stated that "We're brainwashing our
children." He asked, "How can we trust climate forecasts 50 and 100
years into the future (that can’t be verified in our lifetime) when
they are not able to make shorter seasonal or yearly forecasts that
could be verified?"
Gray said those who had linked global warming to the increased
number of hurricanes in recent years were in error. He cites
statistics showing that there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to
1949, in a period of cooler global temperature, compared to 83 from
1957 to 2006 when the earth warmed.
Gray does not say there has not been any warming, but states "I
don't question that. And humans might have caused a very slight
amount of this warming. Very slight. But this warming trend is not
going to keep on going. My belief is that three, four years from
now, the globe will start to cool again, as it did from the middle
'40s to the middle '70s."
to an earlier interview reported by Joel Achenbach, Gray had
similarly said that the current warming in the past decades is a
natural cycle, driven by a global ocean
circulation that manifests itself in the North Atlantic Ocean as the Gulf
In a December 2006 interview with David Harsanyi of The Denver Post
, Gray said, "They've
been brainwashing us for 20 years, starting with the nuclear winter
and now with the global
warming. This scare will also run its course. In 15–20 years, we'll
look back and see what a hoax this was." In this interview, Gray
cites the global cooling
Newsweek from 1975 as evidence that such a scare has happened in
In 2006, Gray predicted a cooling trend by 2009-2010.
Criticisms of Gray's statements on global warming
Peter Webster, a
Institute of Technology professor, has been part of the anonymous peer review on several of Gray's National Science Foundation
In every case he has turned down the global
warming research component because he believed it was not up to
standards, but recommended that Gray's hurricane research be
Webster, who has co-authored other scientific papers with Gray, is
also critical of Gray for his personal attacks on the scientists
with whom he disagrees. "Bill, for some very good reasons, has been
the go-to man on hurricanes for the last 35 years," says Webster.
"All of a sudden there are a lot of people saying things Bill
doesn't agree with. And they're getting a lot of press—more press
than I like, actually. I like the ivory
. But he's become more and more radical."