by Anastassia Makarieva
See context here.
On pp.~C14691-C14692 of the review several suggestions are provided on how we could write a paper that would be easier to read (and review). This advice joins the many constructive recommendations that we have received while trying to communicate our ideas and findings to the meteorological community. While convinced that the text they comment upon should be rejected, some have been kind enough to suggest ingredients required for success somewhere in the future. Some believe that we should present simple thought experiments and focus on basic physical concepts. Others, including Dr.~Held, expect that our message could rather be clarified with use of explicit simulation models. Some critics discourage our use of the continuity equation as a source of information on pressure gradients. One private comment was that we might highlight our ideas as a comment on an existing related paper in the literature. Others, on the other hand, suggested that if the authors have a theory of their own they should present that rather than a critique of other people’s work.
We have appreciated all these comments and can claim some progress and efforts with almost every suggestion: we worked on a unified theory of hurricanes and tornadoes, criticized others, clarified the broader environmental implications of our findings (here is a list of our publications on the topic). However, all these recent developments occurred either in physics, environmental or ecological journals. Our success with the meteorological literature is very limited. Why is that? We have some ideas that we offer here as we hope to clarify some challenges arising in the review process.
The common practice in the meteorological literature is that the authors have to satisfy the expectations of all referees. Indeed, one editor of a high-profile journal explicitly admitted that papers are published if only all referees are in agreement. But when the authors’ findings are unexpected and, using Dr.~Held’s words, extraordinary, it is not straightforward to decide how such findings could be shaped, if at all, to meet the publicability standards. There are not many grounds either to expect that an account of paradigm-challenging findings would constitute an easy reading. In such a case the reviewers’ recommendations while expectedly diverse are likely to agree at one point: the authors should present something different to what they are presenting. The practical outcome of this process is that publication of such findings becomes impossible. In his review Dr.~Held provides evidence of this. He explains (p.~C14688) that a study that goes against the standard perspective or aims to overturn the conventional wisdom has to pass a high bar.