Colder “climate change” blamed for excess deaths in World War I

From the American Geophysical Union.

WASHINGTON—Scientists have spotted a once-in-a-century climate anomaly during World War I that likely increased mortality during the war and the influenza pandemic in the years that followed.

American Expeditionary Force victims of the Spanish flu at U.S. Army Camp Hospital no. 45 in Aix-les-Bains, France, in 1918. Uncredited US Army photographer; public domain.

Well-documented torrential rains and unusually cold temperatures affected the outcomes of many major battles on the Western Front during the war years of 1914 to 1918. Most notably, the poor conditions played a role in the battles of Verdun and the Somme, during which more than one million soldiers were killed or wounded.

The bad weather may also have exacerbated the Spanish flu pandemic that claimed 50 to 100 million lives between 1917 and 1919, according to the new study. Scientists have long studied the spread of the H1N1 influenza strain that caused the pandemic, but little research has focused on whether environmental conditions played a role.

In a new study in AGU’s journal GeoHealth, scientists analyzed an ice core taken from a glacier in the European Alps to reconstruct climate conditions during the war years. They found an extremely unusual influx of air from the North Atlantic Ocean affected weather on the European continent from 1914 to 1919. The incessant rain and cold caused by this influx of ocean air hung over major battlefields on the Western Front but also affected the migratory patterns of mallard ducks, the main animal host for H1N1 flu virus strains.

Mallard ducks likely stayed put in western Europe in the autumns of 1917 and 1918 because of the bad weather, rather than migrating northeast to Russia as they normally do, according to the new study. This kept them close to military and civilian populations and may have allowed the birds to transfer a particularly virulent strain of H1N1 influenza to humans through bodies of water.

The findings help scientists better understand the factors that contributed to making the war and pandemic so deadly, according to Alexander More, a climate scientist and historian at the Harvard University/Climate Change Institute, associate professor of environmental health at Long Island University and lead author of the new study.

“I’m not saying that this was ‘the’ cause of the pandemic, but it was certainly a potentiator, an added exacerbating factor to an already explosive situation,” More said.

“It’s interesting to think that very heavy rainfall may have accelerated the spread of the virus,” said Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program at Boston College who was not connected to the new study. “One of the things we’ve learned in the COVID pandemic is that some viruses seem to stay viable for longer time periods in humid air than in dry air. So it makes sense that if the air in Europe were unusually wet and humid during the years of World War I, transmission of the virus might have been accelerated.”

War and weather

The rainy, cold, muddy landscapes of the Western Front are well documented by historians. Poet Mary Borden described it as “the liquid grave of our armies” in her poem “The Song of the Mud” about 1916’s Battle of the Somme.

Historical accounts of early battles in France describe how the intense rain affected British, French and German troops. Newly dug trenches and tunnels filled with rainwater; muddy fields slowed the movement of troops during the day; and cold nighttime temperatures caused thousands to endure frostbite. However, little research has been done on the environmental conditions that may have caused the torrential rains and unusual cold.

In the new study, More and his colleagues reconstructed the environmental conditions over Europe during the war using data from an ice core taken from the Alps. They then compared the environmental conditions to historical records of deaths during the war years.

They found mortality in Europe peaked three times during the war, and these peaks occurred during or soon after periods of cold temperatures and heavy rain caused by extremely unusual influxes of ocean air in the winters of 1915, 1916 and 1918.

“Atmospheric circulation changed and there was much more rain, much colder weather all over Europe for six years,” More said. “In this particular case, it was a once in a 100-year anomaly.”

The new ice core record corroborates historical accounts of torrential rain on battlefields of the Western Front, which caused many soldiers to die from drowning, exposure, pneumonia and other infections.

Interestingly, the results suggest the bad weather may have kept mallard ducks and other migratory birds in Europe during the war years, where they could easily transmit influenza to humans by water contaminated with their fecal droppings. Mallard ducks are the main animal reservoir of H1N1 flu viruses and as many as 60 percent of mallard ducks can be infected with H1N1 every year. Previous research has shown that migratory patterns of mallards and other birds are disrupted during bouts of unusual weather.

“Mallards have been shown to be very sensitive to climate anomalies in their migration patterns,” More said. “So it is likely is that they stayed put for much of that period.”

The first wave of H1N1 influenza infection in Europe occurred in the spring of 1918, most likely originating among allied troops arriving in France from Asia in the fall and winter of 1917, according to previous research. The new study found the deadliest wave of the pandemic in Europe began in the autumn of 1918, closely following a period of heavy precipitation and cold temperatures.

“These atmospheric reorganizations happen and they affect people,” More said. “They affect how we move, how much water is available, what animals are around. Animals bring their own diseases with them in their movements, and their migrations are due to the environment and how it changes, or how we change it.”

“I think it’s a very credible, provocative study that makes us think in new ways about the interplay between infectious diseases and the environment,” Landrigan said.


Paper title:
“The impact of a six-year climate anomaly on the ‘Spanish Flu’ Pandemic and WWI” and is freely available. Download a PDF copy of the paper here.

Multimedia files accompanying this press release can be found here:

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
September 29, 2020 6:20 am

mortality in Europe peaked three times during the war

Phew for a moment, I thought it might have been the Somme, Passchendaele or Ypres

The new ice core record corroborates historical accounts of torrential rain on battlefields

Haven’t these bright young things heard of trenchfoot?

Trench foot, or immersion foot syndrome, is a serious condition that results from your feet being wet for too long. The condition first became known during World War I, when soldiers got trench foot from fighting in cold, wet conditions in trenches without the extra socks or boots to help keep their feet dry.

IQs are still dropping fast.

Reply to  fretslider
September 29, 2020 6:38 am

Looking at the casualty statistics many more people died from disease and exposure than in physical combat during WW1. Troops complain about the load they have to carry, “What do I need heavy coat for?”, “Why do I have to carry all this rain gear for?”. You die just as dead from exposure in an open fortification on a ridge or hill as you do from a bullet or shrapnel.

Reply to  2hotel9
September 29, 2020 7:05 am

casualty statistics

Did you model it?

Obviously there was no shell crisis, for example. neither were there any shortages of kit.

Once it became clear that uniform production etc could not keep up with the supply of soldiers Kitchener allowed improvised outfits believing them adequate in the short term as long as men in individual units dressed alike.

But there is one nation where this may have been thought…

Troops complain about the load they have to carry, “What do I need heavy coat for?”, “Why do I have to carry all this rain gear for?”.

And I know which one it is.

Reply to  fretslider
September 29, 2020 7:36 am

Troops, all troops, complain about the load they have to carry. And as well as wool can insulate a person when it is soaking wet and the body is the only source of heat you can die anyway. Add to that the various diseases that thrive in a muddy, urine and feces filled flooded trench, “kit” was not really the issue. I have spent time living on what I carried in Alice Pack, Large and my LBE so I have a more than passing knowledge of the effects of exposure coupled with strenuous activity and high stress. In WW1 contaminated water and poor diet weighed even heavier on troops. Oh, and yes, trench foot can leave you with rotted stumps below the knees pretty damned fast, especially with no modern medical to intervene.

Reply to  2hotel9
September 29, 2020 8:05 am

You are clearly speaking from your own national perspective.

But thanks for confirming my suspicions. It clearly isn’t a European perspective. We know what the weather is like in this part of the world.

Reply to  fretslider
September 29, 2020 8:28 am

And all troops complain about the loads they have to carry, and it was European troops dying in droves in those trenches from exposure and disease, no matter what country they came from. Revision of history is so 1920.

John Tillman
Reply to  2hotel9
September 29, 2020 7:33 am

In WWI, unlike 19th century wars, about 2/3 of military deaths were in combat.

Even without counting postwar influenza, civilian deaths probably outnumbered military mortality during 1914-18. Of course many in the armed forces were also wounded.

Mortality peaks in the war resulted from offensives more than the weather. The death rate was high in 1914, but for only five months. The bloodiest day of the war for France was August 22.

The worst year was 1916. The British Army lost 20,000 killed in action on July 1, first day of the Somme offensive, intended to relieve pressure on Verdun. The Russian Brusilov offensive that summer also produced horrific casualties on the Eastern Front. In May, Austria-Hungary had launched its Trentino offensive on the Italian Front.

IIRC, highest German losses were in its 1918 spring offensive, which, when resumed in the fall, would have succeeded without US intervention. A near suicidal counterattack using outdated, 1914-style tactics by two regiments of Marines at Belleau Wood stopped the drive on Paris.

It's all BS
Reply to  John Tillman
September 29, 2020 6:21 pm

The Germans were spent by the fall of 1918. Spent. Ludendorff described 8 Aug 1918 as the “Black Day of the German Army”. It was on this day that the Australian Corp, supported by the Canadians, drove a hole 6.5miles deep by 11 miles wide into the German lines by 1030 in the morning. 30000 prisoners and 500 guns were taken in four days. Red flags were appearing behind German lines. I do not want to take anything away from the well documented bravery of the Marines at Belleau Wood or the fact that the Germans were fearful of the entry of the USA into the war, but to state that Germans were read to resume in the fall and that it was US intervention (allegedly alone) that saved the day is historically incorrect.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 30, 2020 4:56 pm

I have seen the 2/3 number in many places, mostly from later analysis. The steady rate of losses between the major offensives remain and are attributable to weather and disease. I am not a statistician or computer modeler, I am a student of history and military veteran, I have been in the “land of bad things” on three continents. I accept the conclusions and views put forward by my predecessors who shared that experience. Much like weather and climate, I don’t place much value on what REMFs have to say on the issue, they tend not to be especially objective, much more focused on what will advance them among their peers. A rather sad state of affairs, I know.

John Tillman
Reply to  2hotel9
October 1, 2020 3:57 pm's_Principal_Wars_1775_to_Present

Cirillo places WWI in the noncombat-dominant fatality camp because it was transitional to combat-dominant.

But the fact is that by 1914, medicine had improved greatly over the 19th century, wbile weapons tech had as well. Combine better logistics, care of the wounded and improved understanding of hygiene and sterile technique, which lowered noncombat deaths, with advanced means of k!lling, eg proliferation of bolt-action, magazine-fed rifles, machine guns, quick-firing artillery, hand grenades, mortars, aviation and armor, which increased KIAs, and you get 2/3 combat mortality.

The slaughter was worsened by use of 19th century tactics against 20th century weapons.

Historians of medicine cite 1905 as the first year in history in which medicine saved lives, on balance.

John Tillman
Reply to  2hotel9
October 1, 2020 3:58 pm

PS: Cirillo rightly includes WWII in the combat-dominant period, and we’ve only improved since then.

I failed to mention gas among advancements in k!lling power.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 2, 2020 5:02 am

Last night I was going through books I have not had a chance to unpack, on top was Paul Fussel then Hew Strachan, got down a bit farther and found John Keegan and Marshal. Now you’ve done it, I’m off on a history binge! I will have to buy a copy of Cirillo’s book, seen quotes from it, have not actually read it.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
October 1, 2020 3:22 pm

The Germans renewed their drive on Paris in June when it became clear that the Allies weren’t transferring troops from the British front, as Ludendorff’s spring offensive plan called for.

Despite the August setback, he hoped that a fall offensive could finish off the depleted, mutinous Allies before Americans could arrive in greater force.

The fact is that the war continued for over three more months after the Black Day. Had the Americans not arrived in time, the battered Allies could not have stopped the German spring offensive in June. There could not have been a Black Day.

Ludendorff should have sued for an armistice after Belleau Wood, when it was clear that the Yanks were coming, not waiting until November.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 2, 2020 4:46 am

German High Command made a series of missteps, victims of believing their own press as we say today. Many German officers held the opinion that American troops were not sufficiently disciplined or trained enough to be a factor, and many dismissed Black Jack as having only fought against a minor “native” uprising and that he would fold in a “real” battle. They learned a very hard lesson, one they totally forgot by 1938 or so.

Caligula Jones
September 29, 2020 6:36 am

As well, WWII was during a pretty cold period. The winter of 44-45 was I believe the coldest in XX years (sorry, think its 80, but can’t be sure).

September 29, 2020 6:46 am

Seems to me SLA Marshal wrote about the issue of the unusually wet and cold weather during WW1 having more effect than arms of the opposing forces. The primary battlefields of Europe were over much of the productive farmland of the region, should be fairly accurate records of weather conditions going back a few decades for comparison. I have to print out this PDF, my laptop is screeching I don’t have enough room in documents to just hold on to it and read as I get the chance. I really need to clear some crap out!

Reply to  2hotel9
September 29, 2020 7:40 am

Opened it up and it is only 8 pages, thought that was just a summary. And I have a login for AGU I forgot about. Guess I don’t need to clear out as much crap as I thought!

September 29, 2020 6:50 am

Solar Cycle 14 which preceded WWI was a weak one and March 1914 was the beginning of increasing solar activity for SC15. Solar Minimums influence the Polar jet streams and Polar Vortex and could it have anything to do with this?

Coincidentally we are pretty much in the same position as then and already early snows and anomalous cold snaps in Europe are happening. It snowed outside of Rome yesterday. It will be interesting to see how much 2020-2024 mirrors 1914-1918.

Reply to  rbabcock
September 29, 2020 12:55 pm

Don’t forget we have a debilitated European population because of mask wearing. Let’s see if there are differences between Sweden and the rest of the continent.
In theory mask wearing should make us safer for any kind of flu this winter.

September 29, 2020 6:56 am

On March 4, 1918 company cook Albert Gitchell, possibly patient zero, reported sick with a fever of 104º Fahrenheit at Camp Funston, part of Fort Riley, where 54,000 men were gathered for basic training.

No duck needed.

Strange is it not called Kansas Flu.

Reply to  bonbon
September 29, 2020 7:05 am

I always wondered about “patient zero” being in Kansas. So many people were dying from so many different illnesses in Europe at the time I find it hard to accept that it started with one GI at Funston. How many personnel there at the time had been to Europe and returned? They possibly could have brought it with them. There were English and French advisors working with US Army so that could be the source point. Lots of threads to follow in lots of directions.

Rich Davis
Reply to  2hotel9
September 29, 2020 1:35 pm

Typical bonbon. If there’s a crackpot theory to malign America, bonbon’s all over it.

Reply to  Rich Davis
October 1, 2020 7:48 am

Can’t say I would hang this on bb, the “patient zero” having been at Camp Funston claim has been accepted for quite some time by a lot of different authors/researchers, and it is possible persons who were carries without symptoms did bring it there, a lot of advisers trained American troops in CONUS. I just never really bought that the whole epidemic started from one doughboy in Kansas, just never seemed plausible to me. People coming from Europe would have landed in NYC or Chesapeake Bay ports and then traveled by train to military posts in Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas, Kansas and California, interacting with various people all along their routes. Just the nature of travel in that era. You would expect outbreaks in multiple locales, not just the one. Unless the source was a very small group who did travel direct from disembark point to Ft Riley. Possible, just strikes me as unlikely.

John Tillman
Reply to  bonbon
September 29, 2020 7:39 am

That’s a canard (!).

No one knows whose was really the first case or whence came the flu pandemic, but the earliest now known cases were at a British hospital in 1917.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 29, 2020 7:52 am
Reply to  John Tillman
September 29, 2020 7:58 am

Thanks for the link.

John Tillman
Reply to  2hotel9
September 29, 2020 1:06 pm

You’re welcome.

The war probably provided opportunities for a waterfowl virus to evolve and spread.

But most likely it isn’t from Kansas anymore.

Rich Davis
Reply to  John Tillman
September 29, 2020 1:36 pm

+1 ducky pun noted

John Tillman
Reply to  Rich Davis
September 29, 2020 7:52 pm

Thanks for noticing!

Reply to  bonbon
September 30, 2020 3:06 am

Just like today, clear evidence of COVID19 in France and Italy in October and November 2019 already.
And the strain that hit Italy seems to be the NY variant, different to the Wuhan.

The conditions of WWI no doubt amplified the rates.

Today the utter collapse of the economy before is now made clear for everyone to see. The so-called informal sector has been devastated, and was really the unemployment sector.

To blame it all on ducks or bats is nuts!

Reginald Vernon Reynolds
Reply to  bonbon
September 30, 2020 3:52 am

So he was sick. What did he have? Did he go overseas? The War didn’t end until November and the flu came later in 1919. It really doesn’t matter what it is called, even though it is generally referred to as the Spanish flu I am not aware of anyone blaming the Spanish.

Reply to  bonbon
September 30, 2020 9:02 am

Actually the epidemic had already begun then in e. g. New York. Nobody really knows where it started.

September 29, 2020 7:08 am

They’re onto something big. When its cold and rainy people huddle together, indoors and in trenches. Who would have thought that might lead to contagion? Now to apply for research funding….

September 29, 2020 7:42 am

Couldn’t have been the machine guns and mustard gas. NO. It was covid-19.

Reply to  bluecat57
September 29, 2020 7:43 am

Should have said: COLDvid-19

Reply to  bluecat57
September 29, 2020 7:55 am

Actually gas exposure would have made any respiratory ailments far worse, you recover from gas, that does not mean you are cured from its effects which last the rest of your life. And gas casualties would have been in the same wards as others who were ill with various things. And yes, Satan’s Paintbrush added to the spread of diseases, bodies shattered by 8mm and .303Brit fire would have been pretty much impossible to clear adding to the disease vectors with rotting flesh and organs. All in all a nasty situation all around.

Reply to  2hotel9
September 29, 2020 8:31 am

Thanks for the extra info. I was just making light of the study. They were paid to find a climate connection and golly gee they found one.

Reply to  bluecat57
September 29, 2020 8:37 am

Pollsters and researchers, providing what they are paid to provide. Funny how that works. 😉

Reply to  bluecat57
September 29, 2020 9:35 am

Historians are slowly coming to terms with the concept that Climate Change has played a major role in population changes and civilization failures in recent and paleoclimatelogical scales. The Anasazi, Maya, even the Egyptians and Sumerians were major effected by climate.
Mostly they search out the rapid changes due to major volcanic eruptions, but now more often than ever the approach taken by the AGU.
The Black Death (Plague) surfaced more than once, and has occasionally been blamed on rats driven inside by cold and crop failure.

Reply to  Enginer01
September 30, 2020 3:48 am

Historians have always acknowledged weather effects events. That is not what all this leftist political crap is all about. Try again.

John Tillman
Reply to  Enginer01
September 30, 2020 3:32 pm

Cold and drought account for the Bronze Age Collapse and Sea People raiders and colonizers.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  bluecat57
September 29, 2020 10:02 am

The irony here is that this should tend to put a crook in the hockey stick, except that MM “ironed it out” with his scientological techniques
of mathematical torture. I wonder how he’ll wiggle out of it.

September 29, 2020 7:45 am

There’s more to Spanish flu mortality than just a virus. Tuberculosis, aspirin poisoning, flu, detrimental weather conditions, instability from societal upheaval, etc., etc. Learn to think multifactorially to escape the one dimensional catacomb framed by virologists to ensure their continued funding.

Similarly, view the Black Death plague within the context of the the Magdalene Flood, that preceded the plague and wiped out significant agricultural capacity, rather than simply pathogen virulence. Remember, immunity is only as good as nutrition received.

John Tillman
Reply to  icisil
September 29, 2020 1:09 pm

Much Spanish flu mortality was from secondary bacterial lung infections.

Reply to  John Tillman
September 30, 2020 8:09 am

And still as icisil has put it in consideration of “aspirin poisoning”, aspirin treatment at that time might have being the most successful one… provided that fatality due to aspirin poisoning statistically significant in comparison.


Reply to  icisil
September 30, 2020 3:42 am

Exactly, but see :

The very first banking derivative collapse ruined agriculture capacity, just as the plague arrived.

Today we stand before a $15 QUADRILLION derivative collapse, with a pandemic. The warning could not be clearer. The banking Spider’s Web (See Shaxson) will do anything to preserve its “entitlement” to the possible extinction of civilization.

Reply to  bonbon
October 1, 2020 5:23 pm

How was that a derivative? The extension of loans to Henry III was a straightforward increase in debt and the repudiation of this debt was a simple default.

Reply to  icisil
September 30, 2020 9:09 am

Now plague is actually one of the few diseases where mortality is not much affected by the nutrition and general condition of the infected. Unlike most diseases it was equally deadly for rich and poor

And the plague had the worst effects in areas far away from the Magdalene Flood e. g. in Norway.

September 29, 2020 7:49 am

Surprise, surprise; cold weather is bad for you.
WWI was the time of SC15 which was relatively strong, but wait for it, was preceded by the SC14 minimum the deepest solar minimum in the last 200 years.
So how does the current minimum compare?
It is no good news, we need only 3-4 more months of the sunspot count in single figures and we are there i.e. SC24 min will be as long as the SC14 minimum. September is almost over and monthly SSN count for the month is less than 1 (one).
SC25 up to now had few spots now and then, but nothing to write home about to another solar system either in this or any other galaxy even ‘external’ one if you wish.
Cold weather of the early years of this decade might not be as cold as the WWI years but the Northern Hemisphere warming is over for time being.

Reply to  Vuk
September 29, 2020 9:21 am

SC5 – 3 year long solar minimum: 1817 First Cholera Pandemic
SC14 – 3 year long solar minimum: 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic
SC24 – 3 year long solar minimum: 2019 Covid19 Pandemic
Good news: pandemic will be over. Bad news: another one coming in 101 years in 2120.
Not to panic, just coincidence
Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe hypothesis: “Major world pandemics are caused by virus originating in outer space”. May be, but most likely may be not.
During long solar minima, solar radiation is considerably reduced so if …. (you can do the rest if so inclined).

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Vuk
September 29, 2020 11:42 am

Solar cycle 15 lasted 10.1 years, beginning in July 1913 and ending in August 1923.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 29, 2020 12:42 pm

SC15 hit its peak in July 1917. During solar minima there is always overlap of spots with polarity of both the preceding and succeeding cycles. Some solar scientists take for the minimum an date or a month (e.g. Dr.S etc) when prevalence of the first is taken over by the second.
As long as the SSN count is bouncing up and down in the single digits, for my own personal consideration, I take it to be the previous cycle’s minimum. On that measure the SC14 minimum lasted just short of 3 years as shown here
You and many others may not agree, and that is absolutely fine with me.
p.s. to avoid further quibble let’s call it the SC14/15 solum.

September 29, 2020 8:11 am

Of course, in the early 20th century, the thermometer hadn’t been invented, and nobody on earth was collecting systematic weather data and reports. So a single Alpen ice core taken 100 years later has finally solved the problem of characterizing weather for all of Europe during WWI.

The authors have inadvertently stumbled on something and, in so doing, sealed their research grant doom. They assert that cold is bad, which would lead one to logically conclude that warm is good. The CAGW emergency-crisis-catastrophe police will be paying them a little visit. Canceled.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Pflashgordon
September 29, 2020 3:36 pm

These scientists also “analyzed an ice core taken from a glacier in the European Alps to reconstruct climate conditions during the war years.” I hope the people of Europe aren’t too angry that they changed the climate to cold and rainy. I know I would be at least a little upset.

On the outer Barcoo
September 29, 2020 8:11 am

So when the entrenched sergeant shouted “duck!” he was actually referring to a mallard?

September 29, 2020 8:16 am

Why use an ice core to reconstruct the temperatures in the 1910’s? Why not just read the weather reports in newspaper archives? Or look at the comprehensive logs from weather stations?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Roger
September 29, 2020 1:54 pm

You just don’t BELIEVE in Science, do you Rog?

September 29, 2020 8:26 am

“They found an extremely unusual influx of air from the North Atlantic Ocean affected weather”
If a statement starts with climate defined by a multi-year weather pattern, then the rest is nonsense.
Having spent a reasonably temperate year living in the Ardennes in the mid-1980s, and shorter exposures to the vicinity in the warmer and 70’s and 90’s, I’ve got to say that seasonal rain, mud, and snow are pretty much normal for the region. It takes only a few degrees (any scale) of temperature to make the experience several orders of magnitude more miserable. I am immensely relieved not to have also encountered 1916-era food, drink, clothing, shelter, medical and sanitary conditions while I was there, yet alone gas, bullets, and high explosives.
Happily, we shall only return to pre 1920 standards of living – and death tolls from disease and deprivation – in the unlikely event that we stop using fossil fuels.

September 29, 2020 8:35 am

“Scientists have spotted a once-in-a-century climate anomaly during World War I”

This is so bad, it’s almost not deserving of being commented on.

1. Scientists living today can’t “spot” anything from WWI.

2. “a once-in-a-century climate anomaly” is what they call “weather.”



Reply to  Bad Andrew
September 29, 2020 10:21 am

They “spot” signals in data collected from catalogs (e.g. historical) or direct observations under assumed/asserted conditions. Sometimes the observation is in the near-frame, often it is in a far-frame (e.g. outside of the solar system, prehistorical, predicted, or inferred). A thirty-year anomaly is climate. The question then is what constitutes an anomaly over that period. The intuitive answer is both progressive and divergent from a reference where normal can be distributed with 10, 20, 40, and greater temperature variance on local, regional, and global scales, thus the use of a non-physical average statistic. The consensus answer was progressive, then it was divergent, and always a perturbation (e.g. 1 degree).

Reply to  n.n
September 29, 2020 11:09 am

I guess I had word-salad for lunch. 😉


Joel O’Bryan
September 29, 2020 9:42 am

Gleissberg minimum (1890–1920). We’re now entering SC25 which is equivalent to SC15 (1913-1923).
deja vu all over again.

Tom Abbott
September 29, 2020 9:50 am

From the article: “The rainy, cold, muddy landscapes of the Western Front are well documented by historians.”

So why do we need an ice core?

September 29, 2020 9:50 am

If cold weather = bad
=> Warm weather = good?

But global warming = bad?

Reply to  ThinkingScientist
September 29, 2020 10:25 am

Warm is bad for electronics. Not great for machines. Good for people, flora, and fauna, who, with cause, choose, in the majority, to live in warm climates.

Reply to  ThinkingScientist
September 29, 2020 10:50 pm

Cold weather is bad if you live a cold climate. Hot weather is bad if you live in a hot climate. The vast majority live in hot climate.

Reply to  Loydo
September 30, 2020 4:08 am

Population growth figures do not support any particular disadvantage from hot v cold climate so far as the ability to reproduce is concerned :
Since 1980 when concern over global warming began to be expressed the global population has increased by 74% but the rate of increase is slowing : from 2000 to 2020 the increase is 11%. This reduction in population growth does not seem to be related to the ca. 0.5C increase in global temperature since the current yearly increases in population are greater in the “hotter ” climes:
Thus for UK, US France , Spain , Japan , Italy the current increases are from 0.59% (US ) to -0.3% (japan). whilst looking at some African countries they range from 1.94%(Egypt ) to 3.19% (Congo).
Cultural differences probably are the determinant, but clearly living in a hot climate does not subdue the desire to procreate, nor the ability to care for the majority of the offspring.

John Tillman
Reply to  Loydo
September 30, 2020 3:39 pm

Wrong yet again!

Only 40% of world population lives in the tropics, and many of them at high elevations.

Now there are some hot areas of the subtropics, but tropics and hot subtropics don’t add up to a vast majority.

Much of the temperate zones have hot summers but cold winters. The latter is when excess mortality occurs.

Reply to  Loydo
October 1, 2020 5:24 pm

The vast majority live in hot climate because it is easier to survive in such

September 29, 2020 10:09 am

Oh, I see.

So the fact that the CDC had preserved tissue samples from patients who died during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, and traced the DNA samples to a Chinese flu virus carried by some 30,000 Chinese workers who had gone from China to Spain looking for work, has nothing to do with any of the epidemics that followed.

It was ducks. It was all their fault. The fact that H1N1, being an avian virus that also infects chickens has nothing to do with it, either, right? And the fact that it’s a very common flu virus also has nothing to do with it, either.

Well, that was interesting.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Sara
September 29, 2020 12:57 pm

RNA. influenza is an RNA genome virus.

John Tillman
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 30, 2020 3:57 pm

Yup. Like coronaviruses, influenza virions feature encapsulated, single strand RNA with proteins on the capsule (not to be confused with capsid, which protein coats the RNA inside the usually spherical capsule). The surface proteins are flatter than the eponymous spikes on coronaviruses.

But coronaviruses replicate in positive sense mode, while flu viruses are negative sense, so need a transcriptase.

Flu RNA is also segmented, typically eight separate sequences encoding 11 genes.

September 29, 2020 10:45 am

It is called the Spanish Flu because neutral Spain was reporting on it while a news blackout prevented such information at the front lines and the combatant countries that were issuing war bonds. Today we have the first world war on climate going on with a pandemic on the side and it’s a competition to fill the news channels rather than attempt to block COVID-19 news. A good blame game on COVID could help in the mean time also. HIPPA is also working hard to blunt information for now.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 29, 2020 1:02 pm

I read that it was given that name after approximately 8 million Spaniards died in the months of May of 1918.

Reply to  goldminor
September 29, 2020 2:19 pm

That is without doubt a huge exaggeration. Population of Spain at the time was less than 20 million. The estimated death rate of the 1918 flu was 5 %. But not everybody got it. The official death toll in Spain was ~ 185,000 deaths for the three years that the pandemic visited the country.

You shouldn’t believe everything you read. Particularly with such outlandish numbers that defy common sense.

Reply to  Javier
September 29, 2020 11:30 pm

Thanks for the update. I am not sure where I had read that, or why that number stuck in my mind.

Here is something of interest though “In 2014, a new theory about the origins of the virus suggested that it first emerged in China, National Geographic reported. Previously undiscovered records linked the flu to the transportation of Chinese laborers, the Chinese Labour Corps, across Canada in 1917 and 1918. The laborers were mostly farm workers from remote parts of rural China, according to Mark Humphries’ book “The Last Plague” (University of Toronto Press, 2013). They spent six days in sealed train containers as they were transported across the country before continuing to France. There, they were required to dig trenches, unload trains, lay tracks, build roads and repair damaged tanks. In all, over 90,000 workers were mobilized to the Western Front.

Humphries explains that in one count of 25,000 Chinese laborers in 1918, some 3,000 ended their Canadian journey in medical quarantine. At the time, because of racial stereotypes, their illness was blamed on “Chinese laziness” and Canadian doctors did not take the workers’ symptoms seriously. By the time the laborers arrived in northern France in early 1918, many were sick, and hundreds were soon dying.”. …

Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 29, 2020 10:55 pm

“It is called the Spanish Flu because neutral Spain was reporting on it while a news blackout prevented such information at the front lines and the combatant countries…”

Correct. The first known case was reported at a military base in Kansas on March 11, 1918.
In other words it could quite easily have been dubbed the American flu.

John Tillman
Reply to  Loydo
September 30, 2020 11:22 am

Incorrect, as always.

There were cases in Europe over a year earlier. And probably before that.

Please see replies to Bonbon, above, who committed the same canard.

Reply to  John Tillman
October 1, 2020 5:28 pm

But because it was purported to have originated at Camp Funston for so long (the canard that you refer to), it is curious that it became known as the Spanish Flue.

Loydo (for once) has a point in terms of naming.

John Tillman
Reply to  Analitik
October 1, 2020 7:20 pm

He/she/it has no point.

Indeed, it didn’t start in Spain, but that doesn’t mean it began in Kansas.

The fact is that objectively it didn’t.

September 29, 2020 10:59 am

So I guess global warming is protecting us from WWIII.

September 29, 2020 11:16 am

Now it can be told ! Valley Forge, where the break-away American military commander Washigton roughly wintered with the remnant of his Continental Army, might have been more survivable if only it hadn’t been so cold.

Mark - Helsinki
September 29, 2020 11:50 am

Quite a good case for why warming is good this paper so I’m a bit faux confused as to whether the authors consider recent warming a good thing. 😀

September 29, 2020 12:39 pm

In most wars before 1940 more soldiers died from disease than from enemy action .

John Tillman
Reply to  Robertv
September 29, 2020 1:23 pm

Although not in WWI.

September 29, 2020 12:57 pm

While searching for information on the origins of the Spanish Flu earlier this year I came across one interesting article which told the story of how train loads of Asians were shipped across Canada, west to east, as they were being sent to the UK to aid in the war effort as factory workers. It is said that by the time that the trains reached the destination of Eastern Canada that many of these Asians packed onto the trains had perished from some illness. The surviving Asians were then shipped to the UK. This occurred in 1917. It makes a strong case for the Spanish Flu origins as coming from Asia as a result, likely meaning China.

Reply to  goldminor
September 30, 2020 11:28 am

Interesting. That policy and the train story needs more uncovering.

Ian MacCulloch
September 29, 2020 3:57 pm

Now the Spanish flu ended up in Australia and in both Western Samoa and American Samoa. None of these places is particularly wet and cold and none reported the presence of those pesky mallard ducks.

Reply to  Ian MacCulloch
September 30, 2020 3:41 am

Australian soldiers were in France and the belief is they brought the flu back with them after 1918.

Ian Cooper
September 29, 2020 3:58 pm

If Europe was getting extra rain it must have been at New Zealand’s expense. The NZ climate during WW1 was notable for wide spread drought that affected much of the country. Not that modern scientists want to remind us of this as they like to promote the idea that such droughts are a modern phenomenon, caused by us. Thank goodness for historic records!

Reply to  Ian Cooper
October 1, 2020 5:30 pm

I wonder what would be the result of homogenizing the rainfall across the globe for that period? Probably meaningless like most global climate data

September 29, 2020 4:01 pm

Blockades, food rationing and reduced availability of fresh food obviously had nothing to do with it…. none of the belligerent nations of Europe were particularly pleasant and plentiful societies by the end of the war.

The well-named “battlefield plagues” (cholera, dysentery etc) obviously had nothing to do with it.

…… and some (predominantly French) historians are still blaming the weather for Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. How very convenient.

Reply to  PeterW
September 30, 2020 3:29 am

The very same refuse to see Napoleon’s defeat in winter actually was in Moscow, because of a tactic well executed at Borodino.
And the defeat of Napoleon’s “offspring” Hitler at Stalingrad in winter, a tactic well executed in Greece.
The tactic – delay and allow winter to do it’s bit.

No known use of ducks.

September 29, 2020 6:48 pm

I never got around to charting precipitation, but temperature records from France and Germany don’t show WWI years as being unusually cold.

Reply to  verdeviewer
September 30, 2020 8:33 pm

Nice chart.

joop van den broek
September 30, 2020 2:35 am

According to a 2014 hypothesis, the origin lies in an H1-type virus that had been haunting humans for ten to fifteen years until it managed to build in pieces of genetic material from an avian flu virus just before 1918. Only then could it be devastating. The reason that quite a few 18-29 year olds died was because their immune systems were only exposed to the Russian flu – virus H3N8 – in their youth and did not know what to do with the H1N1 virus of the Spanish flu.

Farmer Ch E retired
September 30, 2020 8:45 am

Here’s a bit of historical Montana weather during that time from my ancestry. These are letter excerpts from my grandfather to his brother in Norway, his country of origin. Letters were translated from Norwegian. The farm was ~7 miles north of Bozemen.

“We have had lots of rain this summer. The spring was cold and wet, so the growing season was 3 weeks later than usual. We had a good hay crop, but much of it spoiled. The grain was late and some of it was ruined by frost. The yield was quite good and we have finished threshing and the grain is in the house (grainery). . .”

“This has been a poor year for Montana. We had little rain from April to Oct. so the dry land farming was very poor–we got practically nothing. Hay is high priced $25-$30 a ton. I have bought $600 worth of hay and will have to buy more so you see there will be little profit from the cows. We have 26 head of cattle and 8 horses. We have had full winter for 2 months–30 inches of snow so as Father used to say, it will not be easy to get through this winter!”

As a side note, my father was born on the farm in 1918. My grandparents made this decision to safeguard against the flu that year.

September 30, 2020 9:00 am

“Mallard ducks likely stayed put in western Europe in the autumns of 1917 and 1918 because of the bad weather, rather than migrating northeast to Russia as they normally do, according to the new study.”

In aurumn mallards migrate south-west from Russia, not the other way around. And the migration happens earlier in cold autumns. This is sheer nonsense.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights