Impact of WWII bombing raids felt at edge of space

This isn’t our usual fare here, but I found it very interesting on several levels, so I’m sharing it. -Anthony

Bombing of a factory at Marienburg, Germany, on Oct. 9, 1943. Credit: US Air Force

Bombing raids by Allied forces during the Second World War not only caused devastation on the ground but also sent shockwaves through Earth’s atmosphere which were detected at the edge of space, according to new research. University of Reading researchers have revealed the shockwaves produced by huge bombs dropped by Allied planes on European cities were big enough to weaken the electrified upper atmosphere – the ionosphere – above the UK, 1000km away. The results are published today in the European Geosciences Union journal Annales Geophysicae.

Scientists are using the findings to further understanding of how natural forces from below, like lightning, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, affect Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Chris Scott, Professor of Space and Atmospheric Physics, said: “The images of neighbourhoods across Europe reduced to rubble due to wartime air raids are a lasting reminder of the destruction that can be caused by man-made explosions. But the impact of these bombs way up in the Earth’s atmosphere has never been realised until now.”

“It is astonishing to see how the ripples caused by man-made explosions can affect the edge of space. Each raid released the energy of at least 300 lightning strikes. The sheer power involved has allowed us to quantify how events on the Earth’s surface can also affect the ionosphere.”

In the study published today in Annales Geophysicae researchers looked at daily records at the Radio Research Centre in Slough, UK, collected between 1943-45. Sequences of radio pulses over a range of shortwave frequencies were sent 100-300km above the Earth’s surface to reveal the height and electron concentration of ionisation within the upper atmosphere.

The strength of the ionosphere is known to be strongly influenced by solar activity, but the ionosphere is far more variable than can be explained by current modelling. The ionosphere affects modern technologies such as radio communications, GPS systems, radio telescopes and some early warning radar, however the extent of the impact on radio communications during the Second World War is unclear.

Researchers studied the ionosphere response records around the time of 152 large Allied air raids in Europe and found the electron concentration significantly decreased due to the shockwaves caused by the bombs detonating near the Earth’s surface. This is thought to have heated the upper atmosphere, enhancing the loss of ionisation.

Although the London ‘Blitz’ bombing was much closer to Slough, the continuous nature of these attacks and the fact there is far less surviving information about them made it more challenging to separate the impact of these explosions from natural seasonal variation.

Detailed records of the Allied raids reveal their four-engine planes routinely carried much larger bombs than the German Luftwaffe’s two-engine planes could. These included the ‘Grand Slam’, which weighed up to 10 tonnes.

Professor Patrick Major, University of Reading historian and a co-author of the study, said: “Aircrew involved in the raids reported having their aircraft damaged by the bomb shockwaves, despite being above the recommended height. Residents under the bombs would routinely recall being thrown through the air by the pressure waves of air mines exploding, and window casements and doors would be blown off their hinges. There were even rumours that wrapping wet towels around the face might save those in shelters from having their lungs collapsed by blast waves, which would leave victims otherwise externally untouched.”

“The unprecedented power of these attacks has proved useful for scientists to gauge the impact such events can have hundreds of kilometres above the Earth, in addition to the devastation they caused on the ground.”

The researchers now need members of the public to help digitise more early atmospheric data, to understand the impact of the many hundreds of smaller bombing raids during the war, and help determine the minimum explosive energy required to trigger a detectable response in the ionosphere.


The paper, published in Annales Geophysicae, link to the paper

(open access)

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alatair Gray
September 26, 2018 12:12 am

I live close to Reading , have a background in geophysics , computer facilities and time on my hands due to retirement If Prof Scott would like to contact me my email is

Willis Eschenbach(@weschenbach)
September 26, 2018 12:24 am

Interesting, but there are problems. See the original study. The results are not p < 0.05 in the first analysis. Nor are they p < 0.05 in the analysis of the 20 largest raids. Finally, the measure of interest dropped for 20 days before the superposed time of the bombings ... why? I can't find any answer. Did the bombs affect the ionosphere? Possibly, perhaps probably, but the evidence is weak. It's a fascinating study in any case, thanks, Anthony. w. w.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
September 26, 2018 2:12 am

My initial reaction is highly skeptical. If the “safe height ” for the bombers was 1.8km and the energy would be spreading with inv. sqr law, it would be very weak by the time it got to the ionosphere.

It would make more sense to look for impacts of stratosphere nuke tests which have both acoustic and EMP shock-waves. Conventional explosives are puny by comparison.

One possibility for this effect is a spurious correlation leading to false attribution. Air raids were very dependent on careful choice of meteorological conditions. ( which is why the UK Met Office is still officially part of the Ministry of Defence ). The timing of the raids themselves may be a reflection of high level atmospheric conditions. I suspect they are putting the cart before the horse.

Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 2:19 am

Middle panel of their fig.1 shows a small repeat pattern 9 days after an initial raid. IIRC this 9d periodicity can also be found in solar data. I suspect a solar influence on weather and hence on the timing of air raids is what is behind this effect.

Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 2:33 am

After checking some data. There is a peak in solar at around 9d but it is very weak, not likely to be significant. I think what I was recalling was a strong peak in analysis of JPL data of lunar orbital eccentricity. I never found out what this related to. Most other peaks have a fairly obvious interpretation.

However, I think this is an indication that it may be external influences of weather on the timing of the missions ( and the ionosphere ) which is being misread as an influence of bombs on the ionosphere.

Once again: Correlation does not mean causation.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 7:54 pm

And this just in…15 roosters were heard crowing shortly before sunrise. More study needed to confirm that the crowing actually causes sunrises, but there is a robust correlation. What else could be causing it?

Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 6:37 am

ALL of the general bombing raids (both RAF nighttime and US AAC daylight) were carried out specifically in times of clear skies (reduced clouds) and were frequently cancelled when the primary and alternate targets were covered by clouds. Tactical raids (after June 1944 in France, the Low countries) usually were not cancelled by cloud cover, because those targets could be hit by single planes flying under the clouds. Then again, tactical raids were much smaller bomb loads too.

John Tillman
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 26, 2018 3:51 pm


Please pardon my pedantry, but the USAAC became the USAAF in June 1941, before we entered the war.

mike the morlock
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 26, 2018 7:18 pm

John Tillman
nope 1947

John Tillman
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 26, 2018 8:06 pm

mike the morlock September 26, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Nope. You’ve confused the US Army Air Forces with the US Air Force.

Big difference.

The USAAF was a branch of the Army service, on a par with US Army Ground Forces. In 1947, the US Air Force was granted separate service status with the Army and Navy (including Marines) under the Department of Defense, established 18 September 1947, which united the previously independent War Department and Navy Department under a single cabinet secretary.

John Tillman
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 26, 2018 8:13 pm

To save you the trouble of verifying my statement.

John Tillman
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 26, 2018 8:18 pm


AAF bombers of 8th Air Force killed the CO of Army Ground Forces:

France, July 1944.

Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 3:38 pm

Could the shape of the bomb charge have somehow focused the shockwave upward? Just speculating. Observations should be respected even if not to GLP.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
September 26, 2018 2:47 am

“the measure of interest dropped for 20 days before the superposed time of the bombings …why?”

build up to favourable weather conditions for doing a raid? I don’t know what the criteria for a raid were but there may well be a link to ionospheric conditions. Very likely cloud cover was one aspect. Wind conditions, visibility ( moonlight ) . I know the USAF did not like daytime missions, they let the RAF do those.

Quality of radio transmissions may also be a factor.

I think the chain of causation needs more study before the effort of trawling more data.

Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 3:14 am

Greg- I know the USAF did not like daytime missions, they let the RAF do those. ~ You have that backwards. The RAF flew the night missions and the AAF the day.

Reply to  Cube
September 26, 2018 6:45 am

Interesting link. Thank you.

Reply to  Cube
September 26, 2018 10:45 am

There was no USAF until after WWII. The United States Army Air Forces was disbanded in 1947, when the USAF was created.

GP Hanner
Reply to  Gator
September 26, 2018 1:18 pm

More like the United States Army Air Forces was renamed the United State Air Force. It was several years before the entire USAF roster actually wore the Air Force blue uniform. In the interim they wore their USAAF uniforms.

John Tillman
Reply to  Cube
September 26, 2018 10:49 am

USAAF during latter years of WWII, ie US Army Air Forces. USAF separated from US Army in 1947. A big mistake, occasioned by the strategic nuclear force, SAC.

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 4:18 am

The RAF carried out a lot of radar guided bombing and also used pathfinders to mark targets.
Unfavourable weather conditions would have been more of an issue of how effective attacks on industrial cities would be in bad weather. The strategy was simple and brutal. A mixture of High Explosive and Fire bombs would be released. The HE would blow the roofs off buildings and break out the windows and then the fire bombs would start wide spread fires and if conditions were just right start a firestorm.

One such firestorm in Tokyo was the most lethal bombing in raid in history killing an estimated 100,000 people and destroying 16 square miles of the city. If heating of the atmosphere is a factor then a firestorm will certainly do that. Its not just the energy release from the bombs that is the issue, added to that is the energy from a city on fire.

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
September 26, 2018 6:20 am

Almost, maybe.

Months of ineffectual air campaign in Japan expended large amounts of bombs with minor damage to Japan’s distributed cottage industry production facilities.

“March firebombing campaign

The first firebombing attack in this campaign was carried out against Tokyo on the night of 9/10 March, and proved to be the single most destructive air raid of the war.
XXI Bomber Command mounted a maximum effort, and on the afternoon of 9 March 346 B-29s left the Marianas bound for Tokyo. They began to arrive over the city at 2:00 am Guam time on 10 March, and 279 bombers dropped 1,665 tons of bombs.

The raid caused a massive firestorm that overwhelmed Tokyo’s civil defenses and destroyed 16 square miles (41 km2) of buildings, representing seven percent of the city’s urban area.

The Tokyo police force and fire department estimated that 83,793 people were killed during the air raid, another 40,918 were injured and just over a million lost their homes; postwar estimates of deaths in this attack have ranged from 80,000 to 100,000.
Damage to Tokyo’s war production was also substantial.”

John Tillman
Reply to  ATheoK
September 26, 2018 10:59 am


The US air campaign got much more effective after 20th AF CO LeMay changed tactics. During early March 1945, he decided to begin firebombing attacks on Japan’s main cities.

To maximize effectiveness of the firebombing attacks, LeMay ordered the B-29s to fly at the low altitude of 5000 feet and bomb by night; this represented a significant change from the Command’s standard tactics, which had focused on high-altitude daylight bombing. Japan’s night fighter force was weak and its anti-aircraft batteries were less effective at night, so LeMay also had most B-29s” defensive guns removed. This reduced the weight of the aircraft, so they could carry more bombs.

The new tactics worked.

If you want to read all about the air war against Japan, I recommend my brother’s excellent book on the subject:

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 5:03 am

The other way around, the RAF bombed at night, the USAF bombed during the day!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
September 26, 2018 6:29 am

You are correct, especially for the European aspects of the war.

The Tokyo raid, Keith mentions, was conducted at night.
A raid that demonstrated Japan’s night fighters were scarce and nighttime anti-aircraft fire much less effectual.

Many of the daytime air raids, the Allies conducted against Japan were expected to prevent Japanese fighter planes from being sent to support resistance forces on whatever island the Allies were trying to capture.
A mission desire that was more successful than the anti-war effort effects many of the bombing raids achieved. Japan’s distributed cottage industry made central heavy industry targets a difficult proposition.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  ATheoK
September 26, 2018 7:21 am

I must say that I personally think it was very brave of the American crews to follow orders by High Command, who chose to do day-light raidsover Germany! The RAF Bomber Command, led by Arthur “Bomber” Harris, were the victims of political correctness due to the deadly raids on Hamburg & Dresden with much loss of civilian life (the luftwaffe didn’t seem too bothered about civilian life in London, Liverpool, Coventry, Birmingham, Exeter, Plymouth, etc at the time) & were denied a campaign medal by Churchill, causing immense friction between Harris & Churchill as a result!

John Tillman
Reply to  ATheoK
September 26, 2018 11:05 am


Americans by day and British by night eventually worked.

The USAAF aircrew were brave, and doomed until the arrival of long-range escort fighters, especially P-51. But so too were the airmen of British Bomber Command, who perished appallingly. German night fighter command improved during the war, as did radar-guided AAA, and the Allies even faced the first generation of SAMs. Had Hitler not diverted the Me-262 fighter program to ground attack, US day bombing would have been stopped dead.

Our losses over Germany were unsustainable until Mustangs started escorting the bomber streams. Until then, after such heavy losses, we were restricted to shorter range bombing, as over France, where Axis air defenses were less formidable.

mike the morlock
Reply to  ATheoK
September 26, 2018 7:28 pm

John Tillman
John wrong wrong wrong. The problem was always fuel. For training. This was always the problem


GP Hanner
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
September 26, 2018 1:15 pm

I have trouble believing that conventional explosives, even the 22,000 pound submarine pen penetrators, could have much effect on the ionosphere, although even conventional explosions generate EMP. The MOAB used in attacking ISIS targets is not a great deal larger that the Grand Slam of WWII. The yield of the MOAB is reported to be 11 tons of TNT.

From the Trinity nuclear weapon test at White Sands NM it was known that the over pressure from that weapon required that Tibbets execute a maneuver away from the target in order to minimize the over pressure effects of the weapon.

rhoda klapp
September 26, 2018 1:04 am

Bomb loads vary. USAAF bombers did not have large capacity bomb bays capable of dropping big bombs. RAF bombers had rather more and had bombs of 4000, 8000 and 12000 pounds. The numbers of Grand slams were very few and on specific raids. I’d look to see if this effect were enhanced after RAF raids with large HE bombs. There are records which show that sort of thing down to squadron level. I wonder about the energy content of the fuel too, a thousand aircraft burning a few tons of fuel each over a few hours.

Melbourne Resident
Reply to  rhoda klapp
September 26, 2018 2:17 pm

I agree. Only one squadron was equipped with the Lancaster bombers adapted to the the Tall boys and Grand slams. The Dam busters who were also equipped with precision bombsights. So they were used sparingly on specific raids. U-boat pens and the Tirpitz. My father used to load them on the planes. One of his ground crews dropped one once…….

Reply to  Melbourne Resident
September 26, 2018 3:57 pm

The Grand Slams and Tallbboy bombs (dropped from that single special squadron of Lancasters during daylight attacks) were also dropped against the V-2 bunkers, and a few V-1 assembly/storage sites across north France and the Low countries. Twice, as I recalll, against canals in that same general area. But those also represented a limted number of raids compared to the total tons of bombs dropped.

Now, for a true comparison for “climate research” MORE bombs were dropped into a far smaller area between 1966-1972 into very limited areas (by comparison to Western Europe at least) of North and South Vietnam. Many tons of bombs were dropped in a very short time in an even smaller area against the Iraqi army emplacements in Iraq and Kuwait in 30 days in 1992, and again in 2003. IF – big “IF” there! – there were to be a measureable effect on weather by bombs, those three cases (North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Iraq I, Iraq II) will either establish their premise. Or prove it wrong.

John Tillman
Reply to  RACookPE1978
September 26, 2018 4:29 pm


United Vietnam covers 128,000 sq mi. Both North and South were bombed. The other two states of SE Asia, also bombed during the “Vietnam” War, cover about 161,000 square miles, for an Indochina total of 289,000 sq mi. And the war lasted longer than the Allied strategic bombing campaign against the Reich.

Germany today has about 138,000 sq mi, but of course was bigger in WWII and included Austria. The Allies also bombed targets in France (249,000 sq mi) and Italy (116,000 sq mi), but not to the same extent as Germany.

Tonnage in WWII was more concentrated than in SE Asia.

But still, there were some big Arc Light missions and “strategic” attacks on the North, once the US briefly got serious, such as Linebacker II, aka the 1972 Christmas Bombings. Not much truly strategic in the North. The RR to Red China was off limits. Mining Haiphong harbor was however an effective strategic action. Hanoi ran out of SAMs.

Mike Wryley
September 26, 2018 1:06 am

I would agree that extrapolation leading to those conclusions was on a level of a UK tabloid

Lewis P Buckingham
September 26, 2018 1:08 am

The bombing of Hamburg would have injected ionised gases into the stratosphere.
The Ionosphere seems a bit too far.

September 26, 2018 1:32 am

The most significant ionospheric response (2.99σ) occurred for 20 raids up to 5h before the ionospheric measurement, each with a minimum of 300t of explosives… One metric ton of TNT has an explosive energy of 4.184×109J, which is of the same order of energy as a cloud to ground lightning stroke.

Globally there are (IIRC) about 100 lightning strikes per second. So that’s 100t of explosives per second. So in the 5 hours before the ionospheric measurement there would have been 1,800,000t of explosive equivalent in lightning bolts. 6,000 times the amount of energy released by the 300t minimum cited in the study. A tiny fluctuation in the amount of lightning strikes globally would obliterate the total energy from munitions dropped. Not to mention that certain types of weather were considered ideal for bombing raids and they probably included an absence of lightning in the local, so the fluctuations in the local ionosphere could easily be as correlated with local weather as they are with bombing raids. I only skimmed the paper so perhaps they controlled for these things…. but color me skeptical.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
September 26, 2018 5:25 am

Yes, I think this paper is motivated by the “man started affecting climate by burning wood in caves” mentality. It is just another attempt to construct evidence of man made influence on climate.

The most obvious cause of the correlation is choice of meteorological conditions for conducting raids.

The ionosphere starts at 85km, over 50 miles high. Could these explosions even be heard 50 miles away at ground level? The shockwave would be a spherical front and subject to frequency dependent spreading and energy being diffused as it traversed the lower atmosphere. The idea of it causing heating after 50 miles of spreading and attenuation seems fanciful to me.

I don’t know whether this is really politically motivated or that this mindset of man affecting climate has just become so entrenched they are not even aware of it.

“Bombs cause global warming , even in the ionosphere” . Really ?

Reply to  Greg
September 26, 2018 8:50 pm

Could these explosions even be heard 50 miles away at ground level?

One point I would make about that is that 50miles at ground level is much denser than the atmosphere directly above the target.

Mike Macray
Reply to  davidmhoffer
September 26, 2018 8:55 am

thank you davidmhoffer

Your info about energy discharges from lightning is most illuminating (sic)! I have been trying to quantify the ‘Sins of Emission’ perpetrated by VW in their recent diesel / NOx emissions scandal. Since lightning is a significant generator of NOxes to supply soluble nitrates for the majority of plants that cannot fix Nitrogen from the air, it seems that VW’s transgressions are trivial compared to those of Gaia, Zeus or whoever it is that looses 100 bolts a second on us.
Mike Macray
(Purveyor of Indulgences for the Sins of the Emission)

Alan Tomalty
September 26, 2018 1:34 am

I wonder what all the nuclear tests ( before they banned them to the underground) and the 2 bombs on Japan did to the atmosphere?

September 26, 2018 1:57 am

Adding this partly for fun and partly to show this while area is not well understood:

Michael S. Kelly, LS, BSA, Ret.
Reply to  pls
September 26, 2018 3:42 pm

Thar was interesting, pls. Thanks for the link.

There is a possible mechanism for far-field effects of blast waves, by the way. My office deals with it every time a really large commercial rocket is launched, particularly from Vandenberg AFB. It’s called Distant Focused Overpressure (DFO), whereby atmospheric refraction (and in some cases terrain reflection) takes a spherical overpressure wave and focuses it into a more collimated beam. It was first realized after the accidental explosion of over 50 tons of explosives in Medina, Texas in 1963 broke some 3,600 windows in San Antonio, more than 50 miles away.

Our concern is what happens in the event of a rocket crash just after launch, accompanied by a large explosion. Vandenberg has terrain that is conducive to reflecting sound waves toward Lompoc, and when there is a temperature inversion the stage is set for massive DFO. Generally, DFO conditions are part of the launch commit criteria there.

I don’t know whether the effect could focus blast waves in a more vertical direction, but I can see how drop aircraft damage could occur under certain atmospheric conditions. Anyway, it’s fun to speculate, though as Dr. House once observed: “Speculation: it makes a speck out of U and some guy named “lation.””

John Tillman
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly, LS, BSA, Ret.
September 26, 2018 3:49 pm


The refraction (called “acoustic shadow”) effect was noted in the US Civil War, when people farther away from an artillery exchange could hear the battle but some of those closer couldn’t.

Was noticeable when Mt. St. Helens blew.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly, LS, BSA, Ret.
September 27, 2018 10:06 am

There was an incident about 2009 or so where people heard a roaring sound in the midWest for a long time. This coincided with the landing of a space shuttle, much farther east. Nobody seemed to notice the correlation. There were videos of people hearing the noise. I tried to find them, but there’s too much other stuff.

September 26, 2018 3:57 am

The strength of the ionosphere is known to be strongly influenced by solar activity, but the ionosphere is far more variable than can be explained by current modeling.

September 26, 2018 3:58 am

A lot of the bombs dropped were incendiary, it seems likely to me that rising hot air and matter carried with it, had a bigger effect on the ionosphere than blast.

Also note that bomb weight and explosive weight are different, the 10 tome bomb that so impressed the authors of this study was designed to penetrate deeply into the ground before it detonated and so had a strong and hence heavy metal body, only 9,136 lb of the total 22,000 lb was explosive. Conversely the high capacity bombs, AKA blockbuster bomb AKA cookie, where almost entirely explosive with the lightest body possible.

Keith Willshaw
September 26, 2018 4:02 am

While the total energy released over occupied europe by bombing may well be small in comparison with the total released by natural causes the amount on a localised area in a short period of time may well have made it detectable. If you consider a large RAF raid from 1943 onwards you could have 1000 x 4 engined bombers each releasing 4000 to 8,000 lb of High Explosive in thin walled blast bombs. That is 2000 to 4000 tons of HE dropped on a city sized target and a large number of incendiaries would also be dropped.

A typical bomb load for an Avro Lancaster attacking an Industrial city would be 1 x 4,000 lb Amatol, Minol or Tritonal filled, impact-fused High Capacity (HC) bomb. 3 x 1,000 lb short-finned, short-delay, tail-armed HE bombs, and up to 6 SBC’s with 4 lb or 30 lb incendiary bombs. AN SBC is a bomb carrier (cluster bomb in modern parlance) packed with between 90 and 100 incendiary bombs which would scatter their contents before impact.

We know that in some cases such as Hamburg the effects of the bombs and subsequent fires caused localised fire storms as the air rushed into the centre to feed the flames producing very severe local meteorological effects.

The mention of the Grand Slam bomb and its little brother Tallboy is IMHO misleading. In both case the explosive content was about 50% of the bomb weight and they were designed to explode deep under ground and destroy their targets with shock waves under the surface not in the atmosphere.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Keith Willshaw
September 26, 2018 7:08 am

If history memory serves Tallboy was dropped by RAF Lancaster bombers to flip over the Tirpitz hidden in its Fjiord!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
September 26, 2018 8:06 am

Yes Alan, two direct hits by Tallboys sank the Tirpitz, the use of Tallboys was to penetrate the armour of the ship.

Melbourne Resident
Reply to  Phil.
September 26, 2018 2:22 pm

Precision bombing and not part of the nightly raids. See post above.

Reply to  Alan the Brit
September 26, 2018 3:52 pm

Yes the tallboys that sank the Tirpitz were examples of the extreme possibilities of visually aimed unguided bombs with a bit of luck or persistence.

But it was the Germans who, alone, made and deployed radio guided bombs with wings and fins. With these they sunk a couple of British ships in the Mediterranean. However this technology was essentially lost after WW2. The USA fought the Korean and Vietnam wars with dumb bombs. (Guided air to ground munitions might have appeared at the very end of the Vietnam war but too late to make much difference.) Only in the Gulf war in Iraq (and also the Falklands) did the WW2 German invention of guided bombs finally reappear.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
September 26, 2018 9:07 pm

One of my relatives was an officer on the first ship sunk by those guided bombs (HMS Egret, 27th August 1943 in the Bay of Biscay). They were glide bombs with a rocket motor attached which were radio controlled.

September 26, 2018 5:35 am

Toshiba noted:
The strength of the ionosphere is known to be strongly influenced by solar activity, but the ionosphere is far more variable than can be explained by current modelling.

The emphasis here is “current modelling”, like climate, eh?

Reply to  David Hart
September 26, 2018 9:47 am

This is actually an area where modeling is useful.

They model their current best understanding, then compare output to the real world.
In this case they find that the real world is more variable than the model. Which tells the modelers that there is at least one more factor that they don’t know about. So they start looking for it.

bit chilly
Reply to  MarkW
September 26, 2018 1:14 pm

in climate science your last line changes to – so they ignore it.

September 26, 2018 5:55 am

“Researchers studied the ionosphere response records around the time of 152 large Allied air raids in Europe and found the electron concentration significantly decreased due to the shockwaves caused by the bombs detonating near the Earth’s surface. This is thought to have heated the upper atmosphere, enhancing the loss of ionisation.”

Do tell…
Let’s break that down.

“Researchers studied the ionosphere response records around the time of 152 large Allied air raids in Europe”

A curiosity, where the researchers self select a very specific time and place series of events.

” and found the electron concentration significantly decreased.”

Do tell.

A) There is an implication that this has never happened before or since. Even though the researchers do not provide this information.

“bombs detonating near the Earth’s surface”

Cherry picked cause.
Meaning, the researchers started off their research as a confirmation bias exercise where all results prove their hypothesis.

“This is thought to have heated the upper atmosphere”

Gross assumption without evidence.

“enhancing the loss of ionisation”

Gross assumption without evidence.

“Detailed records of the Allied raids reveal their four-engine planes routinely carried much larger bombs than the German Luftwaffe’s two-engine planes could. These included the ‘Grand Slam’, which weighed up to 10 tonnes”

A rather empty comparison without explanation detailing why the two are compared.

I note that there is no mention of Germany’s V1 missiles or the following V2 rockets.
The motor typically burned for 60 seconds, pushing the rocket to around 4,400 ft/second (1,341 m/sec). It rose to an altitude of 52 to 60 miles (83 to 93 km) and had a range of 200 to 225 miles (321 to 362 km).
The V-2 carried an explosive warhead (amatol Fp60/40) weighing approximately 738 kg (1 ton) that was capable of flattening a city block.
It was first fired operationally on Sept. 8, 1944 against Paris then London, this was the beginning of the V-2 campaign.

A rocket that reaches low levels of space, during the exact time frame chosen and directly affects the atmospheric area these jokers are allegedly researching.

“Professor Patrick Major, University of Reading historian and a co-author of the study, said: “Aircrew involved in the raids reported having their aircraft damaged by the bomb shockwaves, despite being above the recommended height. Residents under the bombs would routinely recall being thrown through the air by the pressure waves of air mines exploding, and window casements and doors would be blown off their hinges. ”

Lurid, completely extraneous details that serve zero purpose other than to color the events as monstrous.

““The unprecedented power of these attacks has proved useful for scientists to gauge the impact such events can have hundreds of kilometres above the Earth, in addition to the devastation they caused on the ground.”

The money claim, reached through a bizarre collection of secondary facts without any direct evidence; and which precedes the request for more aid.

“Detailed records of the Allied raids reveal their four-engine planes routinely carried much larger bombs than the German Luftwaffe’s two-engine planes could. These included the ‘Grand Slam’, which weighed up to 10 tonnes.”

“Detailed”, which detail the authors studiously avoid.
e.g. “These included the ‘Grand Slam’”; an inclusion that makes it appear the “grand slams” were routinely used.
The Grand Slam, “ten ton Tess’, designed by Barnes Wallis, created underground ‘earthquakes’ which could destroy targets without a direct hit.
* It was tested in the New Forest on March 13, 1945, making a huge crater.
* The bomb was then used to attack infrastructure at nine German sites.”

March 1945, shortly before the war in Europe ended.
Nine specific sites.

This is another junior high school level research getting distributed via press release, while hoping citizens that paid for the research do not look too deeply into their claims. And, that these clueless citizens happily hand over money, time and effort.

” ”

Bob Hoye(@subtle2)
Reply to  ATheoK
September 26, 2018 7:05 am

A thoroughly done condemnation of nonsense.

September 26, 2018 6:07 am

Tall boys and Grand Slams were designed to penetrate the ground next to the foundations of massive reinforced structures and not on the structure it self. The resulting explosion 200 ft or so below ground was intended to blast a cavity that would undermine the foundation. However some bombs did miss the mark and did inadvertently hit massive steel reinforced concrete structures such as the roof on U-Boat pens and penetrated.

If the explosions of large bombs we’re detected then one would expect that bombardments by large caliber artillery would be detected also. Railroad guns and naval rifles on battleships and monitors throw massive weights of ordinance. I witnessed the USS New Jersey firing over 200 16″ shells into the Beke Valley when in Lebanon. A broadside (9 rounds) pretty much wipes out a grid square (1 sq. K).

As an aside. Many of the “Cookies” we’re dropped by Mosquitoes. The wooden wonder. There were several RAF squadrons using “Pregnant Mosquitoes” specifically built to carry a cookie.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rah
September 26, 2018 7:05 am

I heard that the people on the recieving end of the New Jersey’s 16-inch shells were duly impressed with the ship’s destructive power. Those that survived.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 26, 2018 5:54 pm

Here’s the deal. The New Jersey was called in because Syrian artillery targeted the US Ambassador’s residence. They almost got Ambassador Bartholomew and the special envoy Donald Rumsfeld while they were meeting there one day and killed a Lebanese guard. The US Marines had a counter battery radar OP set up on the first ridgeline east of Beirut. I was on that ridgeline and had talked to those Marines.
They knew exactly where the shelling had come from. That night the New Jersey retaliated firing over 220 16″ shells wiping out that battery and killing a Syrian General.

At the time neither they nor I or anyone on my team knew the facts at the time. It was only later when I was part of the team tasked with being a reaction force if the Ambassador’s residence was directly attacked and met the Ambassador that I started to get the picture. He was evasive when we asked him about it. Made a joke and said he called in the New Jersey because they blew up his prize peach tree. Bartholomew was a real pro. It was only later that I read the account of Rumsfeld being there and the last piece fell in place.

John Tillman
Reply to  Rah
September 26, 2018 6:17 pm


Yet again, my comment is lost in Cyberspace.

The short version is that the heaviest Iowa Class 16″ projectile weighed 2700#.

Thanks for being there.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 27, 2018 9:55 am

Yes, and that would be AP which has more mass in metal than explosives as compared to the lighter case 1,800 lb shells generally used for shore bombardment. A broadside of those shells would put somewhere around 10,000 lbs of explosive on the target detonating more or less simultaneously.

Melbourne Resident
Reply to  Rah
September 26, 2018 2:39 pm

Rah. Whilst you are correct about the main purpose of Grandslam bombs, they did intend to hit the U-boat pens as the British government was desperate to stop the U-boat attacks in the Atlantic. Sometimes you use the weapons you have, not those you wish for. My father used to load those bombs onto the adapted Lancaster bombers. They were used sparingly as the crews trained to use the precision bombsights were few.

Reply to  Melbourne Resident
September 26, 2018 5:22 pm

Yes, I’ve read ‘The Dam Busters’. And thank you so much for a comment from a person that has a real personal connection to the magnificent 617 squadron and the ultra precision bombing they did after their unique and daring dams raid as X squadron.

But as I recall from that book the intent was still to hit beside the pens according to the author. But it’s been awhile so I could be wrong. I do know for a fact that there was a picture in the book showing that at least one of Barnes Wallis’s bombs penetrated right through something like 16 ft of steel reinforced concrete before exploding in the bay below. The guys that that cast the nose of that bomb deserved a bonus!

John Tillman
Reply to  Rah
September 26, 2018 5:33 pm


The bombs were dropped on the roof of the pens. Here’s a picture of the damage:

comment image

This shows inside the structure:

Farge, 27 March 1945

115 Lancasters of 5 Group attacked an oil-storage depot (95 aircraft) and a U-boat shelter (20 aircraft of 617 Squadron) at this small port on the River Weser north of Bremen. Both attacks appeared to be successful. The results of the raid on the oil depot were not known because this target was attacked with delayed-action bombs so that clouds of smoke would not obscure the target. The U-boat shelter was a particularly interesting target. It was a huge structure with a concrete roof 23 ft thick. It was almost ready for use when 617 Squadron attacked it on this day and penetrated the roof with 2 Grand Slams, which brought down thousands of tons of concrete rubble and rendered the shelter unusable. No aircraft were lost in these attacks.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 26, 2018 5:36 pm

The technique might have been different against sub pens in France.

Mike Ozanne
Reply to  Melbourne Resident
September 29, 2018 4:50 am

“Whilst you are correct about the main purpose of Grandslam bombs, they did intend to hit the U-boat pens as the British government was desperate to stop the U-boat attacks in the Atlantic.”

By March 1945 the Atlantic U-Boat campaign was long over…

Reply to  Rah
September 26, 2018 3:37 pm

Tall boys and Grand Slams were, as noted, designed for deep penetration and had delayed fusing so the blast was under ground or occurred after penetrating concrete structures. The grand slams were very expensive and had to be carried by specially modified Lancaster bombers. Only 42 of these were apparently ever used. As both bomb types were designed for subsurface detonation I am suspicious that these generated upper atmosphere shock waves significantly larger than those “smaller” bombs with contact fusing that detonated nearer the surface. I’m sure those unlucky enough to be nearby one of these detonations would be quite impressed. It is interesting that the ionospheric disruption was detected I just wonder that citing the deep penetration “earthquake bombs” as uniquely detectable is correct. I could be wrong but I’m suspicious.

Ben Vorlich
September 26, 2018 10:33 am

I think the U-boat pens at Saint Nazaire survived RAF Grand Slam and Tallboy bombs. They still exist and are open for tourists to walk round. After the war they proved too expensive to demolish, if memory serves correctly 500,000 cubic metres of concrete was used in their construction, so for an economy recovering from the war that isn’t surprising.

Other U-boat facilities not as well constructed were not able to withstand the grand Slam bomb.

September 26, 2018 10:43 am

When someone suggests that a vaccine, a medical drug intended to push the immune system in some direction, causes unwanted immune-related effects (or illnesses with unknown causes but where the only suggested cause is immune disorder), the “pro-science” crowd screams that you can’t make the link, even with overwhelming evidence, without a detailed step by step description of the biological process that causes the side effects – when the process that make vaccines work are not even well understood at the biological level, according to their promoters.

This is “science”? Bombs are heard above the stratosphere, really?

John Tillman
Reply to  simple-touriste
September 26, 2018 12:30 pm


What overwhelming evidence do you imagine supports the link you suppose?


Reply to  John Tillman
September 26, 2018 6:45 pm

Almost tripling of MS in France, with a change in definition of MS making it harder to claim (RMI confirmation required), following vaccination is damning.

Plus many episodes of MS just following a vaccination. So close to the vaccination that “justice” claims it’s impossible to be caused by vaccination.

Plus all the signs of effect of drug; aggravation following readmistration. Worst series of side effect of any vaccine, ever.

Plus all studies show more MS cases among those vaccinated.

I don’t know any evidence more overwhelming that doesn’t involve low dose radiation.

John Tillman
Reply to  simple-touriste
September 26, 2018 10:38 pm


After what vaccination in France did MS allegedly triple?

There have been vaccinations in France for over 200 years.

Please provide any evidence, let alone “overwhelming” showing that this, that or the other vaccination caused a tripling in MS in France.

Good luck, since no such evidence exists.

But thanks anyway.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 26, 2018 11:53 pm

The hep B vaccination. It goes without saying. In fact the whole medical world has accused France of starting the worldwide fear of that vaccine (these vaccines actually) out of nothing, and they dare to say it’s specifically a French issue (it isn’t, obviously).

The fact you need to ask tells me that you know exactly nothing about the subject. No person who remotely followed the most important medical controversies in the last 30 years would have missed that.

So your claim that “no evidence exists” is obviously a lie. You have made up that claim to satisfy your veneration of the vaccine god.

Your competence on the subject matter is obviously absolute zero. Please abstain.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 27, 2018 10:12 pm


No doubt you actually believe the preposterous falsehoods which you spew, but reality says otherwise. I’m sorry for whatever tragic event caused you to become so unhinged, but adoption of your raving lunacy would result in the deaths of hundreds of millions:

That means that you are an enemy of humanity on a titanic scale.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 27, 2018 11:52 pm

Which studies did not find an increase number of MS cases among those vaccinated? How do you explain the tripling of MS in France?

Since when is WP is a reliable reference?

I’m sure you don’t know and couldn’t care. You are the SJW of vaccines, you need to show off your vaxxism to everybody to prove how much anti-diseases you are.

“but reality says otherwise”

Give me the phone number of reality, her mail address, etc.

John Tillman
Reply to  simple-touriste
September 27, 2018 10:17 pm


Are not anti-vaccination lunatics among the mendacious anti-scientific spewers of lies, drivel and nonsense banned from this blog?

Correct me if wrong, but why then are Simple’s comments not barred?

If WUWT wants to maintain its reputation as a pro-science, pro-human site, how can such anti-scientific, anti-human garbage be supported here?

Reply to  John Tillman
September 28, 2018 12:20 am

Typical hysterical reaction from a vaxxer bigot! Those who dare to attack the pseudo scientific, scientist dogma must be excluded.

“such anti-scientific, anti-human garbage be supported here?”

You couldn’t make that crap up.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 28, 2018 4:09 pm

In the promotion of the hepatitis B vaccination, the WHO has never been more than a screen for an undue commercial promotion, in particular via the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB), created, sponsored and infiltrated by the manufacturers. In Sept 1998, after the dreadful hazards of the campaign had been given their first media coverage in France, the VHPB organized a panel of “experts”, the reassuring conclusions of which were extensively given media coverage as reflecting the WHO’s position: yet some of the participants in this panel had no more “expertise” than that of being employees of the manufacturers, and the vested interests of the rest did not receive any attention.

September 26, 2018 10:50 am

I would think looking at volcano data would give a better foundation to a model that’s looking at what Big Boomba’s might do to the ionosphere…They have larger pressure waves than anything we little apes have done…

Reply to  Patvan
September 26, 2018 6:37 pm

Some connections between eruptions and ionospheric propagation have been found:

Ionospheric effects of volcanic eruptions
Argelia H.C. de Ragone1, Amalia N. F. de Manzano1, Ana G. Elias1,2 and Marta Z. de Artigas2,3
Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Fac. de Agronomía y Zootecnia, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas – CONICET – Argentina
Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Fac. C. Exactas y Tecnología, Depto. de Física, San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina
Ionospheric effects of Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption in June 1991 were recorded on 1-minute interval soundings made
by stations north of the volcano. Disturbances characterized by quasi-periodic wavelike trains were detected. They were attributed
to gravity waves generated by the eruption, and its characteristics were determined. We search for similar ionospheric disturbances
caused by volcanic eruptions in North and South America, based on hourly F2 critical frequency (foF2) and F layer virtual
height (h’F) data. The study was carried out for quiet magnetic activity levels. All eruptions reached the Pinatubo intensity. A
decrease of foF2 and of its amplitude of variation, and an increase of h’F in relation to their values during the day before and after
the eruption were detected in some cases. In other cases the disturbance was detected for only one parameter, or for none. The
absence of disturbances in the hourly records could be due to the lack of coincidence between the maximum departures of the
parameters from the normal situation, and the recording time of the parameter. The observed disturbances are correlated with the
eruption intensity

September 26, 2018 12:05 pm

Churchill’s bombing of German cities to destroy German civilians and culture was a holocaust that actually happened.

John Tillman
Reply to  Designator
September 26, 2018 12:16 pm


Do you imagine that the German programs to exterminate innocent civilian men, women and children, with their cultures, did not actually happen?

Strategic bombing during World War II began on 1 September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and the Luftwaffe attacked cities and their civilian population in an indiscriminate aerial bombardment campaign.

And of course Germany had pioneered strategic bombing of cities with Zeppelin and Gotha raids on London in WWI, followed by urban attacks during the Spanish Civil War, and by their allies in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Not to mention German raids on London and other British cities before Bomber Command’s heavy bombers started hitting the Fatherland.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 26, 2018 12:36 pm

Not to mention urban bombing by Germany’s then-ally the USSR, in the Winter War, and of Finland during the Continuation War, during which the former allies fought each other.

Aurora Negra
September 26, 2018 1:20 pm

Yes, I have heard about Tallboy and what a terrible mess it made of the windows in town. My mother used to talk about it. And I remember Tirpitz, we went fishing around it. Did not catch any Mackerel though. (sick joke!)

And to the interesting post form Anthony.
The instrument the paper is talking about is probably an ionosonde , the only remote sensing instrument available at that time. For the effect of the bombs on the ionosphere I guess it was not the bombs but the firestorms that heated the near-ground atmosphere. That would create atmospheric gravity waves (AGW) that would brake and deposit energy in the in the lower ionosphere. It would also rearrange the ions in the ionosphere (E and F region). If this would be enough to account for the effect seen in the ionosonde data I don’t know. One would have to study the physical equations and see if the numbers agree with the observations. However, this may not be a trivial task.
I will read the full paper one of these days when I get my head above water !

September 26, 2018 1:58 pm

I can’t comment with any competence on the subject of this thread, but forecasting for the bombing raids on Germany was my father’s job. He joined the Air Ministry in 1936, was put into RAF uniform when war broke out, and spent most of his wartime at Leconfield in Lincolnshire. He continued to work as a forecaster for the Met Office until he retired.
He didn’t talk much about the war, but admitted that giving briefings to the aircrew was often difficult. He’d be standing there time and again, describing the weather conditions, in full knowledge that sometimes near half of the men he was looking at wouldn’t make it back.
That truly was ‘climate science’ in the service of something necessary and noble.

September 26, 2018 3:42 pm

It’s a surprising fact that according to the meticulous historian Anthony Beevor, despite the scale of allied air raids in Germany, the Luftwaffe still killed more by bombing of cities in Europe than the allies during WW2.

John Tillman
Reply to  Phil Salmon
September 26, 2018 4:07 pm


Whether he’s right or wrong, the comparison is closer than commonly thought. The data probably aren’t good enough to be sure. However, some early claims for German civilian deaths from Allied bombing were definitely exaggerated:

In any case, the number of German civilians killed by the Allies was probably a lot lower than the highest estimates. But the Allies also killed many French and Italian civilians. When you factor in those killed by Luftwaffe bombing on the Eastern Front, Beevor just might possibly be right, but no one really knows. Aerial bombardment might have taken as many as 500,000 civilian lives in the USSR.

If you factor in Allied merchant mariners bombed and air crew lost over the Continent, the Allies probably did lose more military personnel and civilians in the air war than did the Axis.

September 26, 2018 4:05 pm

Each raid released the energy of at least 300 lightning strikes. The sheer power involved has allowed us to quantify how events on the Earth’s surface can also affect the ionosphere.”

Yes, but lightning emits ionizing radiation (EUV up to gamma rays etc) directly, at high altitudes, into the ionosphere, which I think is far more efficient than watered down acoustic waves travelling from the surface. Consider the tremendous impact of solar EUV radiation (which is minuscule compared to visible and IR solar radiation) on our ionosphere.

And the average global lightning bolt frequency of occurrence, IIRC, is on the order of ten bolts per second. So that’s only 30 seconds of lightning per blitz-bomb raid.

Compare the acoustic output of a bombing attack to the accumulated sound of waves crashing on all the beaches in the world over the same time span. Which has greater impact?

Reply to  Johanus
September 26, 2018 4:26 pm

… and looking at the paper (url above), I see the main idea of the experiment is to compute a suitable window of feasibility, based on the propagation times of the shock waves to the ionosphere, and then compare foF2 (upper frequency bound for ionospheric reflection for ordinary waves) for each window and correlate to bombing occurrences.

They were careful to consider only correlations _after_ the bombing, and not before, to preserve causality:

Since it is not possible
for the ionosphere to be influenced by a given raid prior to its
occurrence, the study was further constrained to ensure that
each trigger event was aligned with the first subsequent ionospheric
data point within a given time window. T

But it occurs to me that they should have computed the correlation both ways as a kind of experimental control (or “sanity check”). Thus negative occurrences of pre-bombing correlations would tend to corroborate the assumption that the bombing effects on ionization are indeed detectable.

Steve Oregon
September 26, 2018 8:03 pm

I’ve occasionally wondered if the WWII bombings, fires etc caused or contributed to the 40s to 70s cooling period.

John Tillman
Reply to  Steve Oregon
September 26, 2018 8:09 pm


Don’t think so.

That cooling cycle was just another in the natural alteration of warming and cooling cycles, IMO.

From the onset of the industrial age, however, pollution did tend to cool the NH. When the West started to clean up its air in the ’70s, some “man-made” warming did result.

But now China and India are rapidly correcting that environmental amelioration.

Reply to  Steve Oregon
September 26, 2018 9:29 pm

One related event which has been related to weather effects was the contrails from the huge bomber raids (1000 bombers) over Germany near the stratosphere. Sometimes succeeding raids had to be replanned because of the persistence of previous day’s raids.

comment image

September 26, 2018 9:30 pm

In addition to natural sources such as volcanoes and earthquakes affecting the ionosphere, what about large meteors such as the Chelyabinsk meteor that landed in Russia a few years ago?

Bob Denby
September 27, 2018 10:01 am

..nothing to see here folks . . . keep moving along…

September 27, 2018 10:28 am

I feel a model coming on.

mike ozanne
September 28, 2018 11:17 am

“Detailed records of the Allied raids reveal their four-engine planes routinely carried much larger bombs than the German Luftwaffe’s two-engine planes could. These included the ‘Grand Slam’, which weighed up to 10 tonnes.”

Only specialist Squadrons dropped tallboy and grandslam.. 9 and 617 mostly.. we didn’t drop tallboy until mid ’44 and only 854 were used. GrandSlam use started in March ’45 and we only lofted 42 of them.

Otherwise the standard large bomb was the 4000lb “Cookie” basically a piece of tinfoil stuffeed with HE…

Mike Ozanne
September 28, 2018 7:39 pm

“One related event which has been related to weather effects was the contrails from the huge bomber raids (1000 bombers) over Germany near the stratosphere. ”

As I recall this came up before… :

Unfortunately during the study period (May 1944) both the RAF (Bomber Command) and USAAF (8th Air Force) bomber fleets were supporting Overlord with missions over France, typically flown at altitudes well below 26,000 ft/8000 metres…..

James Zott
September 30, 2018 5:54 pm

We have just started mapping the earth using infrasound, which we have been able to detect events a long way off. I will have to look at the studies and see if there is some impact there.

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