William Gray (1929-2016)

Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University

William Gray, Ph.D., died on April 16, 2016. He was 86.

Dr. Gray was 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 was noted for his forecasts of Atlantic hurricane season activity. 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. He received an M.S. in meteorology and Ph.D. in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Gray worked in the observational and theoretical aspects of tropical meteorological research for more than 40 years, much of this effort going to investigations of mesoscale tropical weather phenomena. He specialized in the global aspects of tropical cyclones for his entire professional career. He studied under Professor Herbert Riehl, who arranged his early reconnaissance flights into hurricanes in 1958. Gray was involved with studies of broad-scale cumulus interactions and extensively studied the processes associated with tropical cyclone structure, development, and movement. Numerous satellite-based studies of tropical weather systems were accomplished.

Dr. Gray was a good friend of The Heartland Institute, speaking at five of our International Conferences on Climate Change (ICCC) and attending most others.  In 2011, Dr. Gray generated international attention with an open letter deploring the politicization of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), of which he was an elected fellow, Charney Award recipient, and member for more than 50 years.  He wrote, “We AMS members have allowed a small group of AMS administrators, climate modelers, and CO2 warming sympathizers to maneuver the internal workings of our society to support AGW policies irrespective of what our rank-and-file members might think. This small organized group of AGW sympathizers has indeed hijacked our society.”

The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University has a tribute to Dr. Gray with links to an obituary as well as a eulogy and commentary on his work by his colleague Phil Klotzbach at http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/.

Anthony Watts posted a brief commentary on Dr. Gray’s passing at Watts Up With That, recalling that Dr. Gray once told him he didn’t plan to stop speaking out on the climate change issue “until they put me in a box!” 

The Washington Post ran a surprisingly good obituary that reported Dr. Gray’s “strident challenges to the science behind ­human-caused climate change” in its opening sentence. The (unnamed) writer went on,

Starting in the 1990s, Dr. Gray developed a reputation as a combative figure on global warming.

“I am of the opinion that this is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people,” he told The Washington Post in 2006, regarding the significant impact humans are believed to have had on global warming through the production of greenhouse gases. He hewed to a belief in “natural” cycles of planetary heating and cooling and did not put stock in theories about “man’s influence.”

He likened apocalyptic fears of a hotter planet to a “hysteria,” saying that he recalled panics in the 1970s about global cooling that some said would culminate in an ice age. “I don’t think this warming period of the last 30 years can keep on going,” he told The Post. “It may warm another three, five, eight years, and then it will start to cool.”

His professional clout gave him access to policymakers and high-platform forums to espouse his views, but those same views put him in a distinct minority of scientists who specialize in climate change.

National Geographic’s obituary for Dr. Gray is accurate and appreciative of his contributions, but reports his work on climate change in just a single sentence: “Gray had strong disagreement with the science behind the human-induced global warming hypothesis and devoted the major portion of his recent years to research in this area.”

Bob Henson and Jeff Masters, hosts of the “Weather Underground” blog, posted a largely kind remembrance of Dr. Gray at https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/bill-gray-a-towering-figure-in-hurricane-science. They too down-play his contribution to the climate change debate. After mentioning his skepticism, they write, “That aside, Dr. Gray’s contributions to hurricane science deserve tremendous appreciation.”

Dr. Gray’s profile on Wikipedia accurately describes his work on forecasting hurricanes but minimizes and misrepresents his views on climate change, as is typical of all Wikipedia entries for scientists who don’t support Al Gore-style alarmism. It can be visited at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M._Gray.

The New York Times reported Dr. Gray’s passing with a largely accurate account of his career, but couldn’t resist including a slanderous comment about him by Judith Curry. It can be visited at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/us/william-m-gray-hurricane-predictor-and-climate-change-skeptic-dies-at-86.html?_r=0

Russell Cook, GelbspanFiles.com:

Similar to other prominent people on the skeptic side of the global warming issue, Dr Gray was very kind to me, an ordinary citizen having no science expertise, and he expressed true gratitude toward me after becoming familiar with my own work on dissecting the origins and people behind the ‘industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists’ accusation.

Followers of Al Gore love to repeat a widespread unsupportable talking point about skeptic scientists offering inconsistent statements about global warming ‘not happening‘ / ‘happening, but for natural reasons‘ / ‘happening from human activity but it won’t be so bad.’ When opportunities arise where I can respond to that, I always quote from the February 2000 New York Times article “Global Warming: The Contrarian View,” in which Dr Gray succinctly said:  “I don’t think we’re arguing over whether there’s any global warming. The question is, ‘What is the cause of it?'”

S. Fred Singer:

Bill Gray  was one of the Greats in understanding the atmosphere — and a real friend for many years. I remember my visit to Ft Collins and my stay at his house. I miss him and will always treasure his memory

Below, you can view William Gray’s presentations at five of Heartland’s International Conferences on Climate Change.


 “Climate Change Controlled by Ocean – CO2 Influence Minor,” plus Q&A (2014)

“Why Computer Models Overestimate Global Warming” (2012)

“The Overwhelming Dominance of Natural Climate Change over Anything Carbon Dioxide Increases Can Accomplish,” (2010)

“Climate Change is Primarily Driven by Salinity Induced Deep Ocean Circulation Changes,” (2009);

“Oceans, Not Carbon Dioxide, Are Driving Climate” (2008).













William Gray (1929-2016) Contributions

November 13, 2014
  • Environment & Energy
December 12, 2013
  • Environment & Energy