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Pioneering hurricane researcher William Gray, Ph.D., died on April 16, 2016 at the age of 86. Gray was a good friend of The Heartland Institute, speaking at five of our International Conferences on Climate Change and attending most others. He was emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University (CSU) and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences.
Gray helped develop satellite-based studies of tropical weather systems, with his research examining tropical cyclone structure, movement, and intensity change resulting in pioneering seasonal hurricane predictions for the Atlantic basin for the past 23 years of his life. As The New York Times noted, Gray’s pioneering hurricane predictions allowed “the East Coast and the Caribbean to gird for their [hurricanes’] fury.”
Gray rejected the idea human fossil fuel use was having an impact on hurricane frequency or intensity. His research indicated the frequency of hurricanes was cyclical, with their intensity and likelihood of reaching the East Coast of the United States depending on a number of natural factors including the amount of rainfall in the African Sahel and the impact of El Niño.
The Times noted, “In an interview with Westword, a Denver online newsletter, in 2006, Dr. Gray said, ‘When I am pushing up daisies, I am very sure that we will find that humans have warmed the globe slightly, but that it’s nothing like what they’re saying.’”
Bill Gray displayed courage and kindness in the face of harsh criticism for his climate realism. We at Heartland will miss him.