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An answer to global warming?


In 1783, eleven-year-old Luke Howard was fascinated by the sky above Oxfordshire. Violent volcanic eruptions in Iceland had cast an eight-month pall across Britain, and a fiery meteor flashed through the dust-laden atmosphere. Lower-level gases, and the aerosols generated from them, brought tremendous “dry fogs” that affected Britain and the continent for months. A long-lasting acid aerosol cloud moved around the globe for three years. The overcast skies that resulted led to Britain's record-breaking cold winters of 1783-4 and 1784-5, and the cold summer of 1784.

The volcanic skies inspired Howard’s life work. At the time clouds had no names, and no one understood their relationship to atmospheric changes. After years of studying the sky, Howard suggested that there is a cause and effect relationship operating in the atmosphere that produces clouds, and that the type of clouds in the sky can tell us what the weather will be. In 1802 he developed the Latin names for cloud types that are still used today – cumulus (meaning heap), swelling cumulus, cumulo-nimbus, stratus (meaning layer). . .You get the idea, or like me, perhaps you don’t. Howard established the science of weather prediction. There is more about him in the science timeline.

It now appears that Vesuvius is about to blow. I'm not pleased, or trying to sound sardonic, but it may cool things down.