Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Coming Ice Age

Greenland Ice Sheet
David Archibald writes at the American Thinker:
... one of the best predictions of climate ever made (weighted for distance and accuracy) was by two Californian researchers, Leona Libby and Louis Pandolfi. In 1979, they used tree ring data from redwoods in Kings Canyon to make a remarkably accurate forecast. From a Los Angeles Times interview of that year,
When she and Pandolfi project their curves into the future, they show lower average temperatures from now through the mid-1980s.  “Then,” Dr. Libby added, “we see a warming trend (by about a quarter of 1 degree Fahrenheit) globally to around the year 2000.  And then it will get really cold—if we believe our projections.  This has to be tested.”  
How cold? “Easily one or two degrees,” she replied, “and maybe even three or four degrees.”
 Recent tree ring data confirms Libby and Pandolft's predictions.
The tree ring readings of the Finnish foresters are predicting a large decline in temperature bottoming out in about 2045. The downturn you see on the right hand side of the graph is as large as any in the last 200 years.
 [And] we now have a way of cross-checking the tree-ring based predictions. A just-released climate model using a notch-delay filter has the promise of providing much higher resolution in climate forecasting. Using historic TSI data, the model can see out to 2025:
... The figure above shows the model output plotted against the UAH temperature record. It shows a very steep decline starting in late 2014 and ending in June 2016. After that it trends sideways for the rest of the decade. The green box shows the expected temperature range in this period. The predicted decline to mid-2016 is 0.6°C. That is not remarkable in itself. There are a few declines of that magnitude in the 34 years of the satellite record. The remarkable thing will be that the temperature will not bounce back. 
We can predict out a further couple of decades using a prediction of Solar Cycle 25 peak amplitude of 7 (Livingstone and Penn) and the Lean 2000 TSI reconstruction back to 1610 as an indication of what TSI will fall to under Dalton/Maunder Minimum-like conditions:
... The figure above plots the notch-delay model output against the Central England Temperature (CET) record. The hindcast match is good. The interesting thing is that the projected temperature decline of 3.0°C is within the historic range of the CET record. The low is reached about 2045, lining up with the projection from the Finnish tree ring study. Maunder and Dalton Minimum-like levels of solar activity will be associated with temperature levels similar to those recorded during these minima.
 Archibald then discusses the impact on agriculture due to temperature declines, and concludes:

All things considered, the production decline for U.S. agriculture could be 8% per 1°C. A fall of 3°C and the United States would be out of export markets for agricultural products, with the same true of most mid-latitude grain exporters. This will have profound geopolitical implications -- namely, starvation and collapse for countries that import food. That’s for next decade. This decade, once the temperature decline is widely apparent, currently importing countries around the world will rush to stockpile, bringing forward the price effect of scarcity. ...
Read the whole thing.

Concern of a new cooling period is not new. From this site on global cooling.
Study of the orbital mechanics of the solar system in the 1970s led Russians to believe the Earth was about to cool and we should prepare quickly because it will be catastrophic. Their arguments were lost in the rush to warming group-think in the 1990s, but the arguments for impending cold are well founded and still believed by many good scientists. As the sun goes even quieter and January, 2008 saw the greatest year to year temperature drop ever (128 years ofNASA GISS data) and thru the end of 2008 remains relatively cool, it is clear cooling needs to be considered as a very plausible future. This is highlighted by 2 papers published in March 2008. Scafetta and West showed that up to 69% of observed warming is from the sun and remind us that the sun is projected to cool andRamanathan and Carmichael show that soot has 60% of the warming power of CO2. Both papers state that these factors are underappreciated by IPCC. The soot may well explain the Arctic melting, as it has recently for Asian glaciers. Many scientists believe the temperature changes are more dependent on the sun than CO2, similar to the relationship in your home with your furnace. With the Sun's face nearly quiet, the monthly patterns over the last 12 months are most similar to those of 1797 preceding the Dalton Minimum of 1798-1823 during the little ice age (Timo Niroma).
The southern hemisphere has been cooling over the last 10 years, just about as much as the north has been warming. There is no proof within observational data of warming outside of natural variation.
When 3 of the highest 5 or 6 years in the temperature record (since 1890) occurred over 70 years ago and 1900 was warmer than recent years in the USA (where the best data are), we are nowhere near statistical proof, nor even evidence of warming. Modelers are still unable to include important variables and no one is able to predict the future. At least Hadley Centre have tried (below). While CO2 continues to rise, the temperature has stabilized at a warm level, but not unusually so. Which way will it go? The world seems to be betting on warming. However, the probability of cooling may be equally valid and we must be prepared for both. Cooling presents the real danger. Things that go up and down only go so high. It has always been this way. Image of current northern sea ice (latest). Check the S. hemisphere sea ice (latest). 
Virtually all scientists agree that the Earth has warmed a small amount since the year 1000 or, if you choose, since 1850, when instrumented temperature records became reasonably accurate and distributed in key areas of the world. An alternative view, is that the Earth has been cooling since the 1930s when we had 3 of the 5 warmest years since 1860 in the US, and probably globally if the world environmental data base were cleaned up as is happening in the US.
Earlier this year, Tom Harris and Dr. Madhav Khandekar warned that we need to prepare for global cooling. The article notes the abundance of extreme cold events in the past few years, and discounts the hypothesis that these cold events are a result of global warming:
A quick look at meteorological history shows that Holdren’s leap in faith is unfounded. A weather phenomenon similar to what happened this winter also occurred during the 1962/1963 winter, when global cooling was underway. Miami experienced −12°C in December 1962, and most of Europe was exceptionally cold, with the average daily temperatures 4°C lower than usual at many weather stations.

Similarly, towards the end of the global cooling period that lasted from 1945 to the mid-‘70s, Time wrote (June 24, 1974):

Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex — that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.

Meteorology textbooks show that such cold weather outbreaks happen often due to distortions in the boundaries of the polar vortex — and have nothing to do with global warming, or cooling, however caused.
Also from earlier this year, Michael Barone discussed the threat of global cooling at the Washington Examiner, noting that our current lack of solar activity mirrors that of the Maunder Minimum, or "Little Ice Age."
It has happened before. In his book Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, historian Geoffrey Parker writes:

“The development of telescopes as astronomical instruments after 1609 enabled observers to track the number of sunspots with unprecedented accuracy. They noted a ‘maximum’ between 1612 and 1614, followed by a ‘minimum’ with virtually no spots in 1617 and 1618, and markedly weaker maxima in 1625-26 and 1637-9. And then, although astronomers around the world made observations on over 8,000 days between 1645 and 1715, they saw virtually no sunspots: The grand total of sunspots observed in those 70 years scarcely reached 100, fewer than currently [the book was published in 2013] appear in a single year. This striking evidence of absence suggests a reduction in solar energy received on earth.”

The result of the “Maunder Minimum” of sunspots was a so-called Little Ice Age, with significantly colder temperatures in the temperate zones, low crop yields to the point of famine and, Parker writes, “a greater frequency of severe weather events—such as flash floods, freak storms, prolonged drought and abnormal (as well as abnormally long) cold spells.”
From the Daily Mail this January:
The Sun's activity is at its lowest for 100 years, scientists have warned. 
They say the conditions are eerily similar to those before the Maunder Minimum, a time in 1645 when a mini ice age hit, Freezing London's River Thames. 
Researcher believe the solar lull could cause major changes, and say there is a 20% chance it could lead to 'major changes' in temperatures.

'Whatever measure you use, solar peaks are coming down,' Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire told the BBC.
'I've been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I've never seen anything like this.' 
He says the phenomenon could lead to colder winters similar to those during the Maunder Minimum. 
'There were cold winters, almost a mini ice age.

'You had a period when the River Thames froze.'
And from last October, The Daily Caller reports on an interview by the BBC with Professor Mike Lockwood from Reading University, who indicated that, at the current rate of decline in solar activity, there is a risk that Northern Europe could become much colder and enter a new “Little Ice Age.”

Lockwood argues that during the late 20th century, the sun was unusually active, with the so-called “grand maximum” of solar activity occurring around 1985. But solar activity has decreased since then. 
“By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, [Lockwood] has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years,” The BBC reports.” Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.” 
Based on these findings, Lockwood argues that there is an increased risk of a Maunder minimum; and a repeat of a “Dalton solar minimum,” which occurred in the early 1800s, is “more likely than not” to happen again. 
“He believes that we are already beginning to see a change in our climate — witness the colder winters and poor summers of recent years — and that over the next few decades there could be a slide to a new Maunder minimum,” BBC reports, adding that harsh winters and cooler summers would become more frequent.
(Brackets in original).

So what will be the impact of colder weather. One way to get an idea is to look at prior cool periods. Jeffrey Folks writes at the American Thinker:
For most in America, Europe, and Asia, the winter of 1815-1816 was the coldest in living memory. What followed in the spring and summer of that year was equally disastrous. It was an entire year of cold rains, crop failures, hunger, and economic collapse.

There were multiple causes for the extreme weather of 1816, but all of them were natural, not man-made. Chief among them, according to the Klingamans, was the massive eruption of Tamboro in present-day Indonesia. The force of the explosion was ten times greater than that of Krakatoa, which took place in 1883. Heightened volcanic activity sent ash particles into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight and disrupting the northern hemispheric jet stream. One after another, polar vortexes dropped south, not just in the winter, but throughout 1816, and to a lesser extent for years afterward.

The winter of 2013-14 bears a striking resemblance to that of 1815-16, and there is every reason to believe that what follows will repeat the pattern of earlier periods of extreme cold. The consequences will not be pleasant. As some have begun to realize, periods of extreme cold are far more destructive than periods of warming.

My prediction of a “year without summer” is based partly on the record of 1816 and other years of increased volcanic activity. Like 1815, 2013 saw significant volcanic activity, with major eruptions in Indonesia, Alaska, Italy, Argentina, and Japan. It was inevitable that this "particularly eventful year" of volcanic activity would be followed by a cold winter, just as it is inevitable that more cold will follow.

This prediction is backed up by the National Weather Bureau and other sources that predict an extended period of cold in the northeast and upper Midwest. This cold may have consequences for farm production since it would likely disrupt planting in the crucial corn- and wheat-growing regions.

The effects of a poor harvest would be higher prices for nearly all foods – not just for Americans, but for consumers in the global marketplace. And while affluent consumers in developed countries can accommodate higher prices, however painful that may be, the world’s poor cannot. For billions of human beings, even a slight increase in grain prices results in hunger. And along with hunger comes social unrest – the sort of unrest that helped trigger Egypt’s Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
 He also adds:
Indeed, global warming alarmists display all the symptoms of “recentcy basis.” Relative to 1850, global temperatures have indeed risen by some one degree Celsius, but that calculation compares current temperatures with those at the trough of a four-century cold spell. Relative to longer-term global norms, today’s temperatures are not unusually warm. They are comparable to temperatures that prevailed during the Medieval Climate Optimum of 950 through 1250 AD. During this period, a Norse settlement thrived in Greenland and even reached North America.

Like the Medieval Climate Optimum, the past 150 years of warming has actually been highly beneficial: it is no coincidence that the greatest period of economic improvement in human history has occurred precisely during the period of warming since 1850. The danger is that global temperatures may now be entering a new and ominous period of extended cold.
An article at the New York Times describes the impact of cold weather in the 17th Century:
During the 17th century, longer winters and cooler summers disrupted growing seasons and destroyed harvests across Europe. It was the coldest century in a period of glacial expansion that lasted from the early 14th century until the mid-19th century. The summer of 1641 was the third-coldest recorded over the past six centuries in Europe; the winter of 1641-42 was the coldest ever recorded in Scandinavia. The unusual cold that lasted from the 1620s until the 1690s included ice on both the Bosporus and the Baltic so thick that people could walk from one side to the other.

The deep cold in Europe and extreme weather events elsewhere resulted in a series of droughts, floods and harvest failures that led to forced migrations, wars and revolutions. The fatal synergy between human and natural disasters eradicated perhaps one-third of the human population.

... Earth scientists have discerned three factors at work globally during the 17th century: increased volcanic eruptions, twice as many El Niño episodes (unusually warm ocean conditions along the tropical west coast of South America), and the virtual disappearance of sunspots, reducing solar output to warm the Earth.

The 17th century saw a proliferation of wars, civil wars and rebellions and more cases of state breakdown around the globe than any previous or subsequent age. Just in the year 1648, rebellions paralyzed both Russia (the largest state in the world) and France (the most populous state in Europe); civil wars broke out in Ukraine, England and Scotland; and irate subjects in Istanbul (Europe’s largest city) strangled Sultan Ibrahim.

Climate alone did not cause all the catastrophes of the 17th century, but it exacerbated many of them. Outbreaks of disease, especially smallpox and plague, tended to be more common when harvests were poor or failed. ...

But the cold did take a more direct toll. Western Europe experienced the worst harvest of the century in 1648. Rioting broke out in Sicily, Stockholm and elsewhere when bread prices spiked. In the Alps, poor growing seasons became the norm in the 1640s, and records document the disappearance of fields, farmsteads and even whole villages as glaciers advanced to the farthest extent since the last Ice Age. One consequence of crop failures and food shortages stands out in French military records: Soldiers born in the second half of the 1600s were, on average, an inch shorter than those born after 1700, and those born in the famine years were noticeably shorter than the rest.

Few areas of the world survived the 17th century unscathed by extreme weather. In China, a combination of droughts and disastrous harvests, coupled with rising tax demands and cutbacks in government programs, unleashed a wave of banditry and chaos; starving Manchu clansmen from the north undertook a brutal conquest that lasted a generation. North America and West Africa both experienced famines and savage wars. In India, drought followed by floods killed over a million people in Gujarat between 1627 and 1630. In Japan, a mass rebellion broke out on the island of Kyushu following several poor harvests. Five years later, famine, followed by an unusually severe winter, killed perhaps 500,000 Japanese.
 This is why food stores are important. Not just for survival, but to soften the blow of food shortages and higher prices.


  1. Cool!

    Declining agricultural output combined with the coming collapse of the dollar, just as the full brunt of Dear Leader's socialist policies take hold, will create some very interesting times.

    Something to ponder: civilization as we know it has flourished in the few thousand years since the last ice age. Ages ago in Geology 101, I was taught that ice ages were the norm, punctuated by warming periods of ten-ish thousands of years. What we consider "normal" temperatures is, from a geologic perspective, a warm period.

    1. Colder weather also drives vermin into households, aggravating the spread of disease. The black plague appeared during a cooling period at the end of the Medieval warming period. The colder weather will also increase demand for fossil fuels, which will drive up prices, placing a further strain on economies.

      Something that needs to be considered, though, is that other than Israel, Middle-Eastern countries are all net importers of food, with some having to import nearly half of their food. We can expect that the Middle-East will continue to destabilize.


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