Unprecedented Weather: is Climate Change Happening Now?

  • Scotland, and in particular NE Scotland where I live, has been battered by winter storms during December 2015 and January 2016 leading to widespread flooding, destruction of property and misery for thousands of people. The Met Office warns that wide-spread frosts are now on the way.
  • Government officials, while recognising a range of causes, seek to blame these events on climate change. For example Prof Jenkins, deputy Director of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology writing in the FT:

“We are absolutely convinced that there is weighty scientific evidence that the recent extreme rainfall has been impacted by climate change.”

  • Looking at a range of climate drivers, my eye is drawn to the fact that sunspot cycles 17 to 23 (1934 to 2009) all had monthly sunspot numbers much greater than 100. The Sun was more active in this period than any other since records began around 1757. 1934 to 2009 is a major anomaly in solar activity and yet we tend to use this period as our benchmark for normal climate.
  • Climate historian, Alastair Dawson recounts how Scotland’s climate was stormy, cold and wet for much of the 18th and 19th Centuries at a time when The Sun was less active than during most of the 20th Century. Sunspot cycle 24 began in 2009 and peaked with 100 sunspots and is now waning. It is the weakest cycle since the 1920s. Is Scotland’s climate reverting to the Hellish conditions that prevailed in centuries gone by? A number of physical mechanisms could explain this, but changes to the spectrum of radiative energy leaving the Sun is a prime underpinning candidate.
  • Roger Andrews has looked at precipitation amounts in Scotland and the UK. He has found that December 2015 was in fact the wettest month in Scotland since records began in 1931, but only by a slender margin. Recent average rainfall is neither extreme, nor is it likely to have been caused by Man.

The Recent Past

I have lived in NE Scotland for the greater part of my life. The weather of the recent past certainly seems unprecedented in my lifetime (born 1957). It all began with storm Abigail on 13 November 2015 that affected mainly the west coast of the UK. Storm Desmond then hit northern England and southern Scotland on 5th and 6th of December causing widespread flooding. And then came storm Frank, a massive cyclone, centred on Iceland that straddled the whole Atlantic. Frank brought prolonged heavy rain over central and North Eastern Scotland on 30th December sending the river Dee into a Muckle Spate (big flood). The Dee reached “record levels” flooding homes, wrecking riverside caravan parks, sweeping away bridges, roads and fishing cabins, perhaps drowning one unlucky camper.

But since then it just kept on raining, and sleeting and snowing. On 7th January the Dee was almost back to Frank levels and the River Don, the next catchment to the north reached “record levels” flooding more homes. The railway N and S of Aberdeen was closed because of flooding. The main road south was closed because of flooding. The airport was closed due to storm damage. I can’t recall anything like this before.

In between the named storms, it just kept on raining. I went 3 or 4 weeks without seeing blue sky or the sun. And then on the evening of 7th January is snowed. It is unprecedented and I am tempted to declare that climate change is to blame.


synonyms: unparalleled, unequalled, unmatched, unrivalled, without parallel, without equal; extraordinary, uncommon, out of the ordinary, unusual, outstanding, striking, exceptional, prodigious, abnormal, singular, remarkable, unique, anomalous, atypical, untypical, freakish; unheard of, unknown, novel, original, new, groundbreaking, revolutionary, pioneering; informal: one of a kind; rare unexampled

I’ve grown pretty tired of Met Office Weather girls, BBC news men, the press and politicians declaring that recent weather is unprecedented, breaking records, many of which only began 100 years ago or less. In Scotland, rainfall records begin is 1931. This is far too short a timescale for indiscriminate use of the term, especially if that 84 year period of records is not representative of what went before, as we shall see, is more than likely the case.

I’ve also grown tired of the aforementioned commentators claiming that said unprecedented events are due to climate change. Mostly these media and academic sources mean anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and climate consequences that may flow from that. And so to be accurate and honest they MUST add the prefix manmade. And preferably also mention global warming since our mountains are now covered in snow and flood waters are freezing this will make them look like fools in the eyes of the public.

Who is to blame for this propaganda and deception that the majority of the poorly informed public swallows hook, line and sinker? Newscasters, press and politicians may be excused their ignorance. But Met Office scientists and weather girls and the climate science community as a whole may not be excused. A day or reckoning for them is on the horizon.

Recent History

The following narrative borrows heavily on the fine book “So Foul and Fair a Day” written by respected climate historian Professor Alastair Dawson. The book chronicles the history of Scotland’s climate since around 1600 based on diaries and press reports. This may be qualitative, but it is information not to be ignored. The narrative applies solely to Scotland and therefore does not have a global context. Dawson is a cautious man and gives detailed cognicance to the role of the jet stream that passes backwards and forwards across the British isles and volcanic eruptions, especially on Iceland, and  their role in shaping Scotland’s climate. The exact cause of past climate change, while considered here, is not central to the argument. The argument hinges on whether or not the weather of the recent past as described here is unprecedented. Or has it all happened before in years gone by and caused by forces other than CO2?

In the last 2500 years there have been two notable periods when the climate of Northern Europe and North America was warmer and significantly more congenial for many than today’s climate.  Those were the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period. But reading Dawson’s book we find that even the Medieval Warm Period could deliver prolonged spells of filthy weather in Scotland. The periods in between were much worse.

1861-1899 A Catalogue of Disasters (p 170)

The first signs of the winds of change came in December of 1862, when a damaging storm swept across the Outer Hebridies. The gale was recorded by John MacDonald of Bernera on the Isle of Lewis and quoted in the Inverness Courier of 8 January 1863:

The gale commenced about noon on the 18th and did not abate til 7 a.m. on the 20th, and exceeded in severity, force and duration anything I have witnessed for at least 20 years. The boisterous raging of the Atlantic was fearful to behold. An Island named the Old Hill, which is several undred feet high and about 3 miles distant from Bernera, was frequently covered entirley with the spary. Fish of various kinds were chocked and driven onshore…


By the start of the 1870s people were beginning to wonder if Scotland’s weather was ever going to change. After all, an entire generation of Scots had lived through a period of calamitous weather that appeared not to have changed much over 50-60 years. From the 1870s onwards winters were either extremely cold, with snow lying for weeks on the ground, or they were incredibly stormy. By and large summers and autumns were wet, with only a few warm, dry summers interrupting the miserable dampness.

The year 1870 was only a few weeks old when a catastrophic storm battered Scotland. The effects of the February storm were most severely felt at Wick, when a severe storm broke out and continued without a break for three days, with the result that part of the pier, measuring 380 feet, was destroyed. At the end of February another storm struck…


Peril at Sea: During 1875, an extremely severe storm off northeast Scotland between 15 and 28 October led to the loss of 15 vessels, mostly between Aberdeen and Peterhead. In his history of shipwrecks in northeast Scotland, D. M. Ferguson relates how, “a south-easterly sprang up on the morning of 14 October and continued with increasing violence till the end of the following week……

The huge seas which hammered the coast caused considerable damage to the harbours at Stonehaven and Aberdeen…. In the latter a 60 ton block of masonry was torn from the North Pier and later discovered 100 yards away in the bed of the navigation channel.


Disaster on the Tay Bridge: Shortly after Christmas, on Saturday 27 December 1879, a bad storm swept across Lewis. It was recorded there as force 12, with winds from the southwest. By the next day, the winds had moved round to the northwest but were still measuring force 10. As the storm swept eastwards across the mainland it did not abate. Reports from Edinburgh also describe a severe storm from the southwest that Saturday, which did not subdue until the Sunday morning. All day the sky continued to have a very dark and threatening appearance, and in the evening the wind again blew to the force of a gale to the southwest.

The Scots Magazine reported how ‘just a few miles to the north on Sunday December 28th, the most terrible railway accident which has ever happened in Scotland occurred when a large portion of the Tay Bridge having been blown down causing the total destruction of the North British train from Edinburgh due in Dundee at 7:20, and the loss of nearly 200 passengers’


More big storms followed in 1883 but something worse was to happen later in the year. The start of the year was snowy. In early March a storm with winds typically around 80-90 knots affected the whole of the North sea, especially the northern and western parts, the Hebrides and the northern part of the Irish Sea. There were also now the characteristic summer storms. For example, on 9 August 1883 the Scots magazine notes in characteristic Edinburgh style:

Yesterday was one of the coldest, stormiest and most disagreeable days which have been experienced in Edinburgh this season. A boisterous wind from the southwest brought with it blinding rains, which lasted during the greater parts of the day.

The Sun

How many readers have heard on their local news or weather forecast that an unusual sequence of weather events affecting them now may be linked to a change in The Sun? The chart up top is reproduced below. Click the chart to get a large, readable version. It shows the monthly sunspot number since 1757, cyclical fluctuations in sunspot number should be obvious to all. The cycle length is quasi regular with an 11 year period. The vertical axis lines are placed every 11 years, and in the 253 years from 1757 to 2010 there are  exactly 23 sunspot cycles of mean 11 year duration. The orbit of Jupiter is 11.86 years and it is widely assumed that Jupiters gravity acting upon the fluid plasma of the Sun is implicated in the processes that give rise to the cyclical appearance and disappearance of sunspots.

Figure 1 Monthly sunspot numbers as downloaded from Wood For Trees. Click chart for a large readable version. The horizontal dashed line marks 100 sunspots per month. Note how cycles 17 to 23 all exceeded 100 with some ease, cycle 19 reaching 250. Three major adverse weather events are marked, 1) the blowing down of the Tay Bridge in 1879, 2) the hurricane that blasted southern Britain in 1987 and 3) the blanketing of Britain by snow in 2010. Each of these events occurred in the minima between cycles.

The Sun, its structure and the gravitational impact of all the planets upon it is a vast science in itself. I am no expert and do not want to delve too deep. The main point I want to make is this. Sunspot cycles 17 to 23 (1934 to 2009) all had cycle peaks with well over 100 sunspots. Cycle 19 reached 250, cycle 22 reached 200. Seven cycles in a row with sunspot numbers exceeding 100 at the peak is unprecedented since sunspot records began. Since cycle 17 began in 1934 until cycle 23 ended in 2009 the Sun had been hyperactive compared with the 177 years that went before. This I believe is a fundamental observation not to be ignored. The instrumental rainfall record in Scotland begins in 1931 and for most of us this is the span of our life experience. What we have observed and may take for granted as normal weather, in fact coincides with the most abnormal portion of the solar record. All climate scientists and climate commentators should take cognisance of this fact. And yet it is to large extent swept under the carpet and ignored.

But everything changed around 2009. The end of solar cycle 23 was marked by the total disappearance of sunspots from the face of The Sun. This would portend what was to come  in cycle 24. You have to go back to the beginning of the 20th Century to find examples of The Sun going to sleep. At the beginning of the 19th Century, during the frosty Dalton Minimum, The Sun was blank for years on end between the weak cycles at that time.

Sun watchers have followed cycle 24 with patience as it unfolded keeping an eye on Earth’s climate at the same time. The cycle peaked at around 100 and is now on the wane. The next cycle low is due around 2020. Everyone in Scotland, especially the government and electricity generators, should be prepared for the extreme harsh weather this might bring. The last time we had a solar cycle this weak was cycle 16, 1920 to 1934, before Scotland’s climate records began. In the 18th and 19th Century, weak cycles like cycle 24 were the norm and were associated with harsh climatic conditions, crop failures and hardship as Dawson amply describes.

The Sun and Climate Change

Variations in The Sun can affect Earth’s climate in a number of known ways and perhaps in ways yet to be discovered. But trying to quantify these effects is like trying to scratch an itch that you can’t quite reach. Nothing lines up perfectly to allow definitive conclusions  to be reached and that is likely because of multiple influences that amplify and cancel at different times. Inertia and time lags between cause and effect adds further complexity.

Total Solar Irradiance

TSI is the most often cited mechanism for The Sun impacting Earth’s climate. This is a measure of total radiative energy arriving at the top of earth’s atmosphere. Sunspots in fact darken the parts of the affected surface but at the same time the area outside of sunspots shine more brightly and when the Sun is active, i.e. lots of sunspots, it gives off more energy that may warm the Earth. Pause to think about that, in the period 1934 to 2009, the Sun was hyperactive compared with the rest of the period we have records. And this is the period of global warming observed on Earth.

Figure 2 Image of the Sun showing sunspots. Image credit NASA.

Figure 3 TSI data as downloaded from Wood For Trees.

1979 likely marks the beginning of satellite era records for TSI. I don’t know why the data stop in 2011. Perhaps the satellite burned up. Or perhaps it began to give the wrong results. PMOD is not raw data but corrected data. Googling around I found this source [1]:

One can observe from Figure 3 that the TSI PMOD data spans only solar cycles 21, 22 and 23. Figure 1 shows that these were quite similar sized cycles and TSI does not vary much between them. I believe this is the main source of data used by the IPCC and climate science community for concluding that the Sun is constant, unvarying and consequently solar variability is set to all but zero in climate models. Using TSI data from three uniform cycles to make long term conclusions about solar activity is scarcely the stuff of science. Hence, all observed climate change on Earth becomes attributed to Man.

Geomagnetic Field

The majority of sceptics recognise that sunspots themselves are a symptom and not the cause of solar variability. The cause lies deep within The Sun and another important symptom is variation in the magnetic field of The Sun that becomes stronger when The Sun is active, covered in sunspots, and weaker when it is quiet as it is now for the first time in three generations. The magnetic field may be important for two reasons. The first is that The Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic field combine to shield Earth from Galactic Cosmic Rays. The second is the observation that Earth’s magnetic field is weakening in concert with the Sun’s and this increases exposure of Earth to the Solar Wind.

Many will be familiar with Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory for the formation of clouds. Simply put, the theory argues that cosmic rays enhance cloud seeding leading to greater cloud cover and cooling of Earth’s surface. As far as I’m concerned the jury is still out on that one.

From a climate history perspective, cosmic rays are important because they create cosmogenic nuclides in the atmosphere – 10Be and 14C – and we can measure these in ice, tree rings and fossil carbonate and observe how cosmic ray variances in the past have impacted climate change on Earth. I show just a couple of examples below.

The first compares the 10Be concentration in the GISP2 ice core corrcted for ice accumulation rate with the temperature record (in blue) where the warm Dansgaard – Oescheger events 2 to 8 are labelled (Figure 4). It can be seen that each of the D-O events correlates with a 10Be anomaly suggesting a link to solar geomagnetic activity. But there are many more 10Be anomaly spikes than there are recorded D-O events. One of these itches you can’t quite scratch. I count 20 10Be anomalies in all from 15,000 to 38,000 years giving a mean anomaly span of 1050 years. This periodicity is very similar to the Bond cycles [2] recognised during the Holocene of which the Roman Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period and Modern Warm Period represent pinnacles, roughly 1000 years apart. These features of natural climate cyclicity are to large extent ignored by the climate science community who seem happy to attribute warming that may be due to solar variation to CO2 instead.

Figure 4  The temperature record from [3] and labelled D-O events 2 to 8 in blue from [4]. Low 10Be events 1 to 20 labelled in red. Note the 10Be scale is inverted. These low 10Be events would equate to an active solar magnetic field, shielding Earth from Galactic cosmic rays. It is possible that another 3 weak D-O events are present at 10Be events 7, 10 and 15.

The second compares reconstructed d14C [5] with a global multi-proxy temperature reconstruction [6] (Figure 5). What we see in a general sense is a good negative correlation between these two variables (note d14C scale is inverted). High d14C during the Little Ice Age implies low magnetic field (few sunspots) and cosmic ray bombardment coincides with a dip in global temperatures. And vice versa for the Medieval Warm Period.

Figure 5  d14C data from Bard et al (2000) [5] provides a proxy for the Sun-Earth magnetic field and bombardment by cosmic rays.  Multi-proxy temperature reconstruction from Loehle and McCulloch (2008) [6].

But once again the co-variation is far from perfect, especially in the period 1150 to 1250 where the trends go in the wrong direction. Elsewhere there is mismatch between amplitudes and offsets between peaks and troughs. Some of this may be attributed simply to uncertainties and flaws in the model data that are compared. But as a geologist I can say that the imperfect match rings true for how the real Earth works. Changes to The Sun is not the only cause of climate change on Earth and at times it is over ridden or partially overprinted by other processes.

Spectral Variations

There are multiple examples where climatic / temperature signals show imperfect co-variance with cosmogenic isotope abundances as shown above. The emphasis is on imperfect since, if it was perfect the role of solar variance in modulating Earth’s climate would be a closed case. But this does not provide a physical mechanism. My preferred candidate, although there may be more than one, is variations in the spectral output from the Sun that have relatively recently been observed to be much larger than previously assumed. Changes in spectrum correlate with changes in magnetic activity.

What this means is that over a solar cycle or between strong and weak solar cycles the amount of UV may shift relative to the amount of IR radiation while the total radiation may be relatively more constant. This influences where the radiation is trapped in the atmosphere. UV is trapped in the Stratosphere and a shift towards UV may mean Stratospheric warming at expense of less IR reaching the surface, reducing the greenhouse effect.

These processes have been found to impact the geometry of the jet stream, and there seems little doubt that it is the geometry of the jet stream that lies behind the aberrant climatic behaviour in Scotland in recent years. Largely ignored by weather news for decades, the jet stream is now never out of it.

A few years ago  Sarah Ineson [7] and colleagues from the UK MET office published an intriguing paper on this topic that helped explain the extreme European cold of 2010. But since then I have heard nothing new. Perhaps commenters could update on new developments in this field.

What Caused the Scottish Floods of 2015/16?

The simple answer is a lot of rain. But Roger has shown in the sister post that the amount of rain in Scotland beat prior records by a slender margin. What does matter is that the rainfall was not evenly spread, Weather patterns became established dumping excessive amounts of rainfall first on SW Scotland and then on NE  Scotland. I have summarised the various processes that may have combined to give rise to this unusual but not unprecedented event in Figure 6.

For me low solar activity, as exemplified by the waning cycle 24, is likely to be a significant driver, taking us back to the Hellish climate Dawson describes in his book. But in detail, the El Nino, cooling N Atlantic linked to the AMO and a deeply meandering jet stream are the causes we see on the ground. While Man’s activities and CO2 levels my augment these overwhelming natural processes I can see no reason or evidence to implicate Man as a driver for recent floods as official sources have sought to do.

Figure 6 Schematic of various physical Sun-Earth processes that may contribute to cyclical change in Earth’s climate. The role of CO2 and Man overprints these natural processes. Climate Science and the IPCC have tended to create an imaginary world where natural climate change does not exist (hockey sticks) and then attribute all observed change to Man, CO2, aerosols and dust.

It is worth noting that with deep meanders in the jet stream that weather over the UK flips from anomalously mild to anomalously cold in winter time. These register with the population as extreme weather events while their signature on average rainfall and average temperature may be much more muted as the extremes get averaged out.

A Warning From History

During the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries The Sun appears on average to have been much less active than during the 20th Century. In these centuries gone by Scottish climate had rare congenial spells punctuated by Hellish cold, wind, rain and snow and by the Little Ice Age that made the land all but unliveable. Icelandic volcanoes, that have been rather quiet of late, are implicated in this catalogue of climatic catastrophe. These volcanoes will not slumber for ever. To survive a repetition of history, Scotland requires abundant and absolutely reliable supplies of electricity 24:7:365 that can only be provided by nuclear power augmented by natural gas, hydro and coal.

I have this via email from Doug Brodie attributed to Pete Wishart MP, SNP Business Manager in the House of Commons (UK Parliament).

The Secretary of State is right: we have to invest for the future. I am grateful she has acknowledged that climate change plays a significant part in the problems we are experiencing. So why are the Government stopping the investment in renewable technologies? Will they review the catastrophic decision to stop the support for onshore wind, a technology that will help us and that we desperately need in Scotland?”

Yes, the Scottish climate may be changing back to that mode that went before the 20th Century. It is extraordinary cognitive dissonance on the part of politicians to believe that the Scottish people may be served at all by intermittent on shore wind if confronted with appalling and deteriorating climatic conditions that we can do absolutely nothing about.

Historically, weak sunspot cycles do not occur in isolation but tend to occur in runs of 3 to 5 cycles (33 to 55 years). The extreme, UK-wide cold of 2010, the winter storms of 2014 and the winter storms of 2015/16 may be a rather benign taste of what is to come. The next solar minimum in 2020 could bring severe and widespread frosts, snow and more storms. In these conditions solar PV panels are worth absolutely nothing in Scotland. Wind serves only to destabilise the grid and to undermine the base-load generators upon which our prosperity and ultimately our survival may be dependent upon.

Concluding Comments

The winter storms and flooding of 2014, 2015/16 and extreme cold of 2010 leave me convinced that Scotland’s winter climate is changing in a way commensurate with our slumbering Sun. The number of permanent snow fields in the Scottish mountains is increasing.

While I have not been directly affected, exposure to events that on the ground appear to be extreme does make an individual receptive to the notions of climate change. I fully expect to be exposed to extreme cold, heavy snow fall and storms in the years ahead and the longer my expectations are fulfilled the more convinced I will become that Scotland’s winter climate is reverting to the harsh conditions of the 17th to 19th centuries described by Alastair Dawson. If, on the other hand we have a decade with no snow or frost I will change my mind.

[1] Evidence-based Climate Science: By Don J. Easterbrook
[2] Gerard Bond et al (2001) Persistent Solar Influence on North Atlantic Climate During the Holocene VOL 294 SCIENCE
[3] NCDC NOAA GISP2 Ice Core Temperature and Accumulation Data
[4] Richard B. Alley et al (2010) History of the Greenland Ice Sheet: paleoclimatic insights. Quaternary Science Reviews 29 (2010) 1728-1756
[5] Bard et al: Solar irradiance during the last 1200 years based on cosmogenic nuclides: Tellus (2000), 52B, 985–992
[7] Sarah Ineson et al (2011) Solar forcing of winter climate variability in the Northern Hemisphere Nature Geoscience PUBLISHED ONLINE: 9 OCTOBER 2011 | DOI: 10.1038/NGEO1282

This entry was posted in Climate change, Political commentary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Unprecedented Weather: is Climate Change Happening Now?

  1. Peter Lang says:

    ‘Stadium Wave’: http://www.wyattonearth.net/thestadiumwave.html

    Natural variablity

  2. “Government officials, while recognising a range of causes, seek to blame these events on climate change.”

    The example you gave doesn’t blame the events on climate change, only that climate change is likely impacting those events.

    It’s possible that the UK will get colder in future due to the weakening of the gulf stream. A spot in the western north Atlantic is one of the rare places on Earth that has shown cooling over the last few decades, probably due to melting Arctic ice. This can impact the AMO.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Mike, the AMO has oscillated for thousands of years, all on its own, driven by natural processes that are poorly understood. In the real world, it is likely that fluctuations in the AMO cause fluctuations in arctic sea ice maximum summer extent. AND fluctuations in climate in the circum Atlantic.

      You are now arguing that CO2 increase in the atmosphere has caused sea ice to decline and this affects the AMO. This I’m afraid is back to front. And I didn’t catch Prof Jenkins mentioning the Sun, I must have missed that bit.

      And by the way, the Arctic in the circum Atlantic was just as warm in the mid-1930s

      And here’s how the AMO links into the structure of the global temperature record, unaided by CO2

      I have said in this post that if Scottish winters revert back to being largely snow and frost free in the next 10 years that I will change my mind if this happens and the Sun remains quiet. I am not welded to my views. If this happens, how will you explain uncommonly mild winters?

      • Sorry, the piece about the AMO wasn’t related to my first sentence. The point of my first sentence is that you were raising a straw man, in that no-one is “blaming” AGW on any particular event or series of events but there is growing evidence that AGW influences these events.

        I should also have provided a link to the other piece. Here is one.

    • climanrecon says:

      Richard Seager, a well known orthodox climate scientist, has “debunked” the Gulf Stream myth:


      The UK winter is much warmer than that of New York not because of the Gulf Stream, but because our air gets warmed by a lot of ocean water, and it comes from the South West due to the Rocky Mountains. Seattle (same latitude) has a similar climate, but does not have a warming ocean current.

      The UK can ignore the Gulf Stream scare, but someone needs to tell the Met Office, who keep trotting it out.

  3. Peter Lang says:

    The climate of Ireland, Iceland, Greenland warmed from near glacial to near current temperatures in 7 years 14,500 years ago and in 9 years 11,500 years ago and cooled in 25 years 12,700 years ago.

    Coxon and Mcarron, “Cenozoic: Tertiary and Quaternary (until 11,700 years before 2000)“, Figure 15:21, page p391, http://eprints.maynoothuniversity.ie/1983/1/McCarron.pdf

    Figure 15.21 The stable isotope record (∂18O) from the GRIP ice core (histogram) compared to the record of N.pachyderma a planktonic foraminiferan whose presence indicates cold sea temperatures) from ocean sediments (dotted line). High concentrations of IRD from the Troll 8903 core are marked with arrows. After Haflidason et al. (1995). The transition times for critical lengths of the core were calculated from the sediment accumulation rates by the authors and these gave the following results: Transition A: 9 years; Transition B: 25 years; and Transition C: 7 years. Such rapid transitions have been corroborated from the recent NGRIP ice core data.

  4. Syndroma says:

    I live at 57N too, and am extremely jealous of your climate. Floods are no joke of course, but still better than snow cover for half a year and -20C outside right now.

    Scotland is unusually warm for its lattitude. If the natural forces that guard it change or falter, you may find yourself in a region of climatic instability.

  5. Grant says:

    Euan – a couple of typos in the text. Most evidently the description for Fig 1 shifts the Tay Bridge disaster by a century. I was distracted by a phone call as I read the second one and now cannot find it. It did not strike me as very important at the time.


    • Grant says:

      I meant to add that your typically balanced observations do seem to be very relevant to real world experience in a way that a focus on detailed technical components within sub-systems might “miss”.

  6. burnsider says:

    It seems the astronomers are in on the conspiracy now (LOL of course 🙂 )


    Recent data can be found at ftp://ftp.pmodwrc.ch/pub/data/irradiance/composite/DataPlots/

    I live even further north and east than Euan Mearns and we were luckily spared the worst of the recent extreme weather, as that is what it was. Dame Slingo summarised the Met Office view in a piece broadcast during the Cumbria flooding episodes, namely that current knowledge suggests that such extreme [individual] events are 40% more likely due to climate change.

    It is probably neither here nor there that December 2015 was not the wettest ever as the averaging tends to conceal the extremes. I don’t think there is any argument that the rainfall totals recorded during the weather events were extreme at some locations (especially in Cumbria) and the frequency of such events is of major ongoing interest as this may reflect/confirm/rebut a changing underlying trend. The average can be a tad misleading – it could be argued that someone who has just been shot has only a slightly elevated monthly lead ingestion rate, for instance.

    • Burnsider: The “astronomical” corrections probably don’t make much difference. Total solar irradiance estimates, which are largely based on sunspot numbers, have historically been all over the map. This plot of seven different 11-year smoothed estimates of TSI during the 20th century that I put together a few years ago is an example (note that Leif Svalgaard, one of the authors of the paper you link to, is lower than anyone else):

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Burnsider, many thanks for this. Does it not worry you that measurements carefully made by astronomers hundreds of years ago are now being arbitrarily changed to make the data fit a model that increasingly is incapable of explaining anything. How do you recalibrate measurements made hundreds of years ago? What is the nature of data recording that allows one to confidently change it? Galileo is not around to defend his method.

      The apparent upward trend of solar activity between the 18th century and the late 20th century has now been identified as a major calibration error in the Group Sunspot Number.

      Here’s the main chart from your link. A few observations:

      So an error is found in the group number but both group and Wolf numbers are radically adjusted!

      Lets start with cycle 3, third full cycle from left. I believe I’m plotting Wolf number and it has a peak of 250. On their uncorrected chart (top panel) it has a peak of 150. I’m afraid I’ve already lost interest in what these guys are doing. The uncorrected group number is in cycle 3 is about 70. The corrected number is 250. That is not a recalibration. It is recreation of “data”.

      Let’s look at cycle 10, the one in the 1860s. The data I used had a peak of about 100. Recalibrated it goes to 200. Heres the SIDC plot, Wood For Trees says I down loaded the SIDC monthly sunspot number. I’m struggling to see similarities between this and the uncorrected sunspots plotted above.


      The other thing is that the cosmogenic isotopes 10Be and 14C show cyclic and not step change. So maybe its the guys who do the cosmogenic isotope measurements that have been making up the data eh? These are difficult measurements made on real world geological materials.

      Your data link asks for a PW. If you can access it could you send me the data please?

  7. stone100 says:

    I agree that to date any climate change is barely if at all peaking above the noise. But perhaps our descisions about whether to avoid future climate change sadly can’t wait until/if any change becomes clearly manifest. There is a lot of inertia in the global climate (summer is warmest after the longest day after all). It is very hard to predict short term climate consequences of a given amount of climate forcing from higher CO2 levels. If we are going to be gung ho about CO2 emissions then we would need to be confident that CO2 levels resulting from business as usual fossil fuel use are not going to wreck the climate in the coming decades. That’s about being confident that burning the known huge reserves of coal and so increasing CO2 levels several fold above current levels (that are to date only 40% above pre-industrical levels) won’t wreck the climate.

    • Leo Smith says:

      If we are going to be gung ho about CO2 emissions then we would need to be confident that CO2 levels resulting from business as usual fossil fuel use are not going to wreck the climate in the coming decades. That’s about being confident that burning the known huge reserves of coal and so increasing CO2 levels several fold above current levels (that are to date only 40% above pre-industrical levels) won’t wreck the climate.

      On the other hand we are almost certain that the ‘green measures’ taken to abate CO2 will certainly wreck economies.

      Years ago may late business partner came to me and said ‘I am thinking we should have key man insurance in case you (I was ten years older) fall under a bus”

      “How much will it cost?”

      He named a figure.

      “That will certainly bankrupt the business”

      “So its a question of possibly bankrupting the business if you die, and definitely bankrupting it if you don’t and we take out insurance?”


      “No brainer, isn’t it?”

      • stone100 says:

        Leo Smith, France and Sweden manage to provide reliable electricty almost entirely from nuclear with a bit of renewables. Space heating requirements in the UK could be reduced massively with Passive House building standards. Electric trains and Tesla cars work well. I’m hopeful that we could get off fossil fuels and maintain a decent level of comfort and convenience.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Space heating requirements in the UK could be reduced massively with Passive House building standards. Electric trains and Tesla cars work well.

          Are you proposing we knock down and rebuild our whole housing stock? Teslas are luxury top end sports cars, you would be better talking about the Nissan Leaf. Up here in Perthshire this evening, its 0˚C and snow. How do you heat an electric car in these conditions? -10˚C forecast for tomorrow.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      I agree that to date any climate change is barely if at all peaking above the noise. But perhaps our descisions about whether to avoid future climate change sadly can’t wait until/if any change becomes clearly manifest.

      Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been increasing since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago and so far the only conclusively documented impact is that plants are growing faster than they used to. How much longer are we going to have to wait before the “change” becomes “clearly manifest’?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      That’s about being confident that burning the known huge reserves of coal and so increasing CO2 levels several fold above current levels (that are to date only 40% above pre-industrical levels) won’t wreck the climate.

      This is where you need to be more careful Stone. Can you tell us where the “known huge reserves of coal” are so we can all go out and buy shares in it. China produces just under 50% of global coal from underground mines and production there is falling. The world has already produced probably more than half of easily accessible, cheap oil. Global reserves of coal, oil and gas are all determined by price and therefore by definition these reserves have all been slashed this last year.

      Simply put, we may be about half way through the easily accessible, cheap FF and from now on they get harder and more expensive to access. At some point we chose not to use them. Either because high price crushes our economies or something cheaper and better comes along, like nuclear.

      I agree that to date any climate change is barely if at all peaking above the noise.

      I’d agree with you 100% there. Most of the observed fluctuations are natural. Almost impossible to untangle a small anthropogenic overprint if there is one. And as you’ll learn, I’m actually cautious on emissions, distinguishing quite clearly the likely totally harmless increase from 260 to 400 ppm from a future extreme of lets say 700 to 1000 ppm where the consequences may be difficult to predict. But this by no means means they would have to be dire. Many believe it could be beneficial. The only certain impact of elevated CO2 today is promotion of plant growth.

      But lets imagine that climate sensitivity is 1˚C. 520 ppm gives us 1˚C warming. 1040 ppm gives a total of 2˚C warming and that’s it. If we leave unconventional FF in the ground, we will never get anywhere close to 1040 ppm.

      • stone100 says:

        Euan, I’m happy to be put straight about fossil fuel reserves and resources. My fears about fossil fuels not running out before we caused havoc were prompted by fig2 in http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0081648. It says that we have so far burned about a quarter of estimated coal reserves but that we have “recoverable resources of coal” 50x the amount we have so far burned.
        I worried that business as usual would just lead to us adopting technologies like underground coal gasification etc and we would end up emitting >10000 GtC.
        Like you I see hope in nuclear BUT we have to make the case for nuclear to people who want to avoid climate change. Nuclear seems in a real mess at the moment.

  8. aizolnai says:

    Love your exhaustive treatment Euan! I was going to say it’s been going on for 40 years
    … but you go way back! Have you followed Anthropocene discussions that argue for a distinct geologic era for much the same reasons you outline? Here’s a a link to my paper there, more to do with communication than funda. science
    I also mused on geomagentic reversals in my blog a while back
    tanks and “kee-eep on bloggin’ “

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Andrew, I did a post on the Laschamp Event a while back.


      As a geologist I feel certain that exposing Earth to full glare of solar wind would have a profound impact on climate but have zero evidence to back it up. I think a feature of many sceptics is that they are also optimists and so dislike considering something like Laschamp that would knock out the space station, all satellites and most coms, electronics and grids on Earth. Climate change would be the least of our worries.

      I hope Phil Chapman may call by to comment.

      • aizolnai says:

        Thanks for the info on the Laschamp event, your diagrams from NASA are even more arresting than mine from Los Alamos (I thing they’re the same but you have two). I read about Roman pottery capturing geomagnetism when fired, tho it’s useless info unless pots are found in-situ… and the only case are Pompeii lava burial that in turn destroyed the evidence! I wonder if we’re too busy counting how many angels fit on a pinhead while the barbarians are at the gate? While we’re busy convincing Climate Deniers the magnetic pole simple charges galloping to the equator (on geologic time scale). I myself was in the Canadian High Arctic in 1984 and we used sun compasses as the N Pole was on Cornwallis Island ‘snap dab in the middle’ apologies to Warren Zevon.

  9. Leo Smith says:

    “The Scottish climate may be changing back to that mode that went before the 20th Century. It is extraordinary cognitive dissonance on the part of politicians to believe that the Scottish people may be served at all by intermittent on shore wind if confronted with appalling and deteriorating climatic conditions that we can do absolutely nothing about.”

    What could be more natural, if climate is changing back to the mode before the 20th century, than to elect politicians who will take the means of generating power, the whole socio-economic situation, and indeed the population level back to a mode that precedes the 20th Century?

    Clan McSNP is rising up and with its usual tribal and racist agenda, will drive the hated Sassenach, and indeed most of the prosperity, out of a divinely inspired Scotland.;-)

    There is an aphorism a friend applied to his home town of Huddersfield: “In Huddersfield, there are two sorts of people, those that are on the dole, and spend all day in the pub, moaning about the government and blindly voting Labour, and those that left years ago, and are just visiting”..

    History is awash with great Scotsmen. Most of whom no longer live there. Present company excepted…self selecting?

    • Ted says:

      As a Scot, living in Scotland it’s somewhat painful watching the SNP shedding crocodile tears about North Sea job losses while blocking development of fracking or coal gasification which might provide new employment along with energy security.
      If North Sea Oil was discovered now would the SNP have a moratorium on development pending endless environmental impact studies?

  10. garethbeer says:

    Stone – were does Coal come from?

  11. climanrecon says:

    A recent academic paper on this subject (actually the 2013/14 UK floods), by the UK big climate cheeses, including Profs Slingo, Jenkins, Scaife and Lockwood is here:


    After the obligatory statements of Climate Orthodoxy (that CO2 is implicated), necessary to get anything published in Nature, the paper describes various current research ideas, which includes the influence of tropical events on the jet stream (Slingo), solar effects (Lockwood) and stratospheric effects (Scaife).

    Reading between the lines, it may be some combination of all the above, but nobody knows for sure, send more money please.

  12. garethbeer says:

    That’s the crux, it’s another nice little earner for many – this plant food scam, just don’t tell the children… Oh sorry my mistake, that’s ALL we’ll tell the children – worry about CO2! (Sorry Euan) keep banging the drum, co2 doesn’t matter, burn coal, gas, it’s curtains to our whole civilisation if we don’t (to anyone paying attention) burn FF, and curtains (to co2 true believers) if we do!

    The world will turn anyways!

  13. Javier says:

    Hi Euan,

    Great post. TSI measures have to be knitted together from different satellites. You have graphs on how they look here:

    TSI changes are believed to be too small to account for significant changes in climate. UV changes are larger, but UV is a very small part of solar irradiation, so same problem.

    Another problem is that there is no 11 year signal recognizable in Earth’s climate.

    Solar physicists are very wary of defending a connection between climate variability and solar variability, because for over a century that has been a career slayer, as nobody has been able to find conclusive evidence so far, but not from lack of trying.

    But correlations between climate and solar variability abound. There are dozens of articles on the issue. I have been looking for quite some time into the correlation between Holocene temperatures and solar activity for the last 10,000 years and I have become convinced that the Sun has a disproportionate effect on Earth’s climate. There are three long cycles during most of the Holocene, a 2500 years solar cycle (a.k.a. Hallstatt), an unnamed 985 years solar cycle, and a 1475 years non-solar cycle. The 985 years cycle bottomed around 1600, so it is at its height, In the next decades we are going towards a minimum in solar activity similar to the one at the beginning of the 20th century, colder than now, but definitely not LIA, and higher CO2 levels can offer some protection.

    Due to the magnetic signature of present solar cycle, we know that the next solar cycle (25) is going to be similar to present one (24), so we may not get a grand solar minimum by 2050.

    The Bond cycle does not properly exist. It is a register of every cold event during the Holocene, but different Bond events have a different cause, some are solar and some not. The oldest Bond events show a very clear 1000 year periodicity and are a manifestation of the 985 years solar cycle. The more recent Bond events show the signature of the 1475 years cycle. This 1475 years cycle appears to be the same that gives rise to warming events (Dansgaard-Oeschger) during glacial periods and cooling events (Bond) during interglacial periods.

    My personal opinion is that we have been very fortunate with the climate having been born during a global warming period. We are probably near peak warmth and it is likely that there will be more cooling that warming from here, but it will probably be 2-3 centuries before the climate starts to be dangerously cold. By then probably CO2 levels in the atmosphere will be lower. Tell your grandchildren to tell their grandchildren to move South.

    • Javier: You’re right about the difficulty of proving a link between climate and solar – I’ve busted my pick on this more than once. But there are a number of studies that show correlations between river flow rates and sunspots or GCRs, including:

      Mauas & Buccino: Stream flows in S American rivers:

      Ruzmaikin et al. Stream flows in the Nile:

      Perry: Stream flows in the Mississippi:

      These studies all show highest flows at solar maximum, not solar minimum, but maybe it works the other way round in Scotland.

      • You’re right about the difficulty of proving a link between climate and solar – I’ve busted my pick on this more than once.

        I guess this is the difference between skeptics and climate scientists. Scientists don’t set out to prove anything. They set out to understand. Sometimes they are surprised by what they find, sometimes not. In all the research I’ve seen that attempts to show how solar variability influences climate, none can explain the warming we’ve seen (and the pattern of it) without human caused CO2 forcing.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Once again Mike you have this totally arse about face. Roger could have said “I have busted my pick testing this hypothesis and just can’t find the answer”. Climate scientists say “I busted my pick testing this hypothesis but nothing fits but I changed the data and now it does 😉 “.

          As a test. Do you or do you not believe that the Vikings colonised Greenland (and Newfoundland)? If you believe it, what do you think made it possible, and why did the colonies fail?

          • That old cry, “they changed the data”. It’s wearing thin. Multiple lines of evidence and multiple data sets maintained by multiple organisations and countries agree, so we have pretty good evidence for the consensus.

            Greenland warming? Go here. This sort of stuff has been addressed in many places. Quite easy to find.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Professor Curry’s testimony to the US House of Representatives on the “President’s UN Climate Pledge”

            Major points:

            Recent data and research supports the importance of natural climate variability and calls into question the conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of recent climate change:

            • The hiatus in global warming since 1998

            • Reduced estimates of the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide

            • Climate models predict much more warming than has been observed in the early 21st century

            We have made some questionable choices in defining the problem of climate change and its solution:

            • The definition of ‘dangerous’ climate change is ambiguous, and hypothesized catastrophic tipping points are regarded as very or extremely unlikely in the 21st century.

            • Efforts to link dangerous impacts of extreme weather events to human-caused warming are misleading and unsupported by evidence.

            • Climate change is a ‘wicked problem’ and ill-suited to a ‘command and control’ solution

            • It has been estimated that the U.S. INDC of 28% emissions reduction will prevent 0.03o C in warming by 2100.

            The inadequacies of current policies based on the Precautionary Principle are leaving the real societal consequences of climate change and extreme weather events (whether caused by humans or natural variability) largely unaddressed:

            • We should expand the frameworks for thinking about climate policy and provide policy makers with a wider choice of options in addressing the risks from climate change.

            • Pragmatic solutions based on efforts to accelerate energy innovation, build resilience to extreme weather, and pursue no regrets pollution reduction measures have justifications independent of their benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation.

            Read the full written testimony here:

        • Peter Lang says:


          Are you opposed to scepticism?

          Do you oppose attempts to disprove hypotheses and theories?

          Do you oppose attempts to reproduce results produced by others?

          • No. No. No. However, “sceptic” in the climate change arena, often equates with “denier”. That’s just the way it is. So they try to show an alternative to the consensus instead of showing where the mainstream research or data is inadequate. One thing I’ve noticed is that there doesn’t seem to be a consistent message from sceptics. No powerful alternative explanation for the warming, the ocean acidification, the ocean warming the melting of land ice, and the patterns of those over time. Scientists noticed changes and sought to understand them. Only after rigorous research and with multiple lines of evidence analysed, they come to the current understanding of the human imprint on climate (and on our planet). It’s a fairly robust understanding, at this point.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            You really got to be joking 😉 IPCC estimates of climate sensitivity range from 1.5 to 4 ˚C and has not narrowed in 30 years. That alone demonstrates what you are saying is BS.

            there doesn’t seem to be a consistent message from sceptics.

            Disagreement is the stuff of science! Agreement the stuff of religion.

            But now’s your chance, can you point me at the data on ocean warming?

          • You’re missing the point, Euan. That there is no consistent explanation from sceptics for the warming we’ve seen on Earth, is an indication that there isn’t a strong alternative contender to the consensus view. I agree science isn’t arrived at through consensus but I do think we should be driven by the consensus view, rather than one of many contrarian views. Data on ocean warming? I’m sure you’re quite capable of finding that on your own, but here is something to start with.

            Apologies for using the term “denier”. It’s much easier to type than “contrarian”, but I realise some contrarians get phased by the “d” term.

            Not sure why you raise the point of the ECS estimates not narrowing in decades. Neither has the best estimate of 3C. RealClimate mentions the recent paper on low estimates and the inaccurate reaction to it in some parts of the press.

            Old Fossil, thanks for the reply. can you point to any peer reviewed research (I realise peer review doesn’t mean it’s correct) that gives an alternative explanation that better matches the warming we’ve seen in the industrial age? Remember that the IPCC AR5 pores over research prior to the report and observes that, for warming since 1950, the best estimate is that human behaviour is responsible for more than 100% of it (meaning that natural variability would have cooled the surface). Check out this explanation (one of many) from the US’s EPA, which includes a graph which suggests that natural variability has tended to slightly cool the planet since 1950 (or at least not warmed it).

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Mike, I simply don’t have time to go on with this. You seem to accept that Medieval Warming in Greenland was down to natural causes. While you have not said as much, I have to presume that you also believe that the return of cold and sea ice that stretched to Iceland mid-millenium was also natural and that the eventual retreat of sea ice was also natural. But you then go on to assert that the totally trivial temporary retreat of sea ice in the last decade was caused by Man and linked to a global phenomenon. And you seem prepared to ignore the cosmogenic isotope records that show the quasi 1050y cycle has repeated many times. I suspect you don’t understand what the cosmogenic isotope record shows. It is not bullet proof, but at same time shouldn’t be ignored.

            I’ll allow you one last response. Is Arctic Sea Ice extent an indicator of global or local processes?

        • Peter Lang says:


          Climate scientists have such impeachable intellectual integrity, eh?

          It’s been over ten years now. Time now to remind ourselves of perhaps the most famous of all climate emails, laying bare as it did the accepted ethical and intellectual baseline of government-funded climate ‘science’ :
          (Emphasis added)

          Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 12:12:22 +0000
          From: Phil Jones
          To: “wshughes@xxxxxx.au”
          Subject: Re: WMO non respondo


          Hans Teunisson will reply. He’ll tell you which other people should
          reply. Hans is “Hans Teunissen” .

          I should warn you that some data we have we are not supposed top pass on
          to others. We can pass on the gridded data – which we do. Even if WMO
          agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested
          in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim
          is to try and find something wrong with it.
          There is IPR to consider.

          You can get similar data from GHCN at NCDC. Australia isn’t restricted
          there. Several European countries are. Basically because, for example, France doesn’t want the French picking up data on France from Asheville. Meteo France wants to supply data to the French on France. Same story in most of the others.



          Prof. Phil Jones
          Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
          School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
          University of East Anglia
          Norwich Email p.jones@xxxxxx.uk
          NR4 7TJ

          • Peter, so are you saying that all the peer reviewed work of all climate scientists should be discarded because you didn’t like what one out of context email from one of them contained? I agree that it’s not a good reason to deny providing data but without context, I couldn’t say more. It certainly doesn’t paint all climate scientists as untrustworthy.

          • E.J. Mohr says:

            Mike you should not jump to conclusions. Peter is pointing out that at least one publicly funded climate scientist did not want to make publicly funded data available for peer review. This should never have happened since peer review is all about allowing others to see the data and work with it. If your methods are sound this will solidify your case. If you’ve made a horrible mistake it would be better that this be found out. Being tightfisted with the data makes it seem like you have something to hide. Furthermore as I said, this is publicly funded data, and it should be freely available.

            It seems to me that Euan and Roger make a point of telling readers what data they are using and where the reader may find it, so they can run their own tests if they wish. This also holds true for many other science blogs. Steve Mcintyre being a notable example.

          • EJ,

            I agree. But not wanting to provide the data to some, is not the same thing as actively denying them the data. However, my point was that a single out of context email from one climate scientist proves nothing about the trustworthiness of all climate scientist and doesn’t completely destroy the trustworthiness of that one climate scientist. We should remember that multiple enquiries found nothing in ClimateGate that warranted more than mild rebuke. I really don’t know why contrarians keep bringing it up. Oh, OK, I know why they keep bringing it up but I don’t know why they refuse to accept any enquiry findings on they simply (apparently) on the basis that they don’t like the results.

            The data is usually available anyway.

      • oldfossil says:

        mikeroberts2013 says:
        January 14, 2016 at 4:35 am

        In all the research I’ve seen that attempts to show how solar variability influences climate, none can explain the warming we’ve seen (and the pattern of it) without human caused CO2 forcing.

        Mike, I don’t think any of us here doubt the Greenhouse Gas Theory for a second. We’re simply not convinced that CO2 is the only or the main driver of climate. We think that 1/f noise (natural variability) is largely responsible for the recent warming, which is pretty much the position now taken by Jim Lovelock, author of the Gaia Hypothesis.

        And in fact there are many, many who have explained the warming we’ve seen (and the pattern of it) without resorting to human caused CO2 forcing as the prime culprit. You just choose to ignore these explanations, that’s all it is.

        But thanks for coming here and sharing your views. The comments threads on too many of the other climate sites, pro and anti, are full of mutual back-slapping. Perhaps you will convert us or perhaps we will even convert you, just as I was converted.

        • Mike, I don’t think any of us here doubt the Greenhouse Gas Theory for a second. We’re simply not convinced that CO2 is the only or the main driver of climate.

          Some years ago I constructed dozens of empirical models in an attempt to determine how the sun might have “driven” global surface temperatures during the 20th century. Here’s a typical result. I can’t match observed 20th century surface air temperatures using only natural forcings (in this case TSI, the AMO and the PDO) and I can’t match them using only anthropogenic forcings (in this case CO2 and sulfate aerosols). I need a mixture of both, in roughly equal proportions:

          I’m hoping that the fact I do work like this will go at least some way towards convincing Mike Roberts that we here on Energy Matters are not just another bunch of despicable climate d*niers.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Fossil, thanks for that. Here’s the consensus IPCC view of the world. The natural forcing is effectively set to zero, that is the consensus that Mike refers to. I.e. there is no natural climate change on Earth, its all due to Man. That is supposed to be a balanced view of painstaking research.

          Contradicting that position is the 97% consensus which I believe is based on 97% of climate scientists believe that at least half recent warming is due to man which is in direct contradiction of the chart I just posted.

          I in fact am not too far off the bottom end of that, seeing on basis of my own work that climate sensitivity is more likely between 1 and 1.5˚C. And I’d say that perhaps as much as half of recent warming is down to Man.

          Where the gulf in opinion appears is that if one accepts say 1.2˚C as CS then you also need to conclude that CO2 is largely benign, perhaps beneficial. But the climate science community does not differentiate on that basis. The same prescription is applied regardless of the modelled outcome – which is not scientific at all.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Javier, I agree with most if not all of this. Here’s Bond’s cycles as defined by drift ice index. The last two are 1000 yrs in duration – MWP and RWP. I agree that we are unlikely heading for anything like the LIA – lets hope not. But perhaps Dalton minimum style. These cyclical changes create winners and losers. Some places get warmer, some colder. Net impact on global temperature can be minimal. The climate can change everywhere with little to no change to global average temperature. It all comes down to the pattern of atmospheric circulation.

  14. Lars says:

    Very very interesting post from Euan. I have nothing factual to contribute, but I am thinking that if Euan`s predictions come true more than one European government will rethink their decision to close nuclear power stations in the next 5-10 years. When people are cold and electricity bills unbearable opinion about nuclear energy will change. The Belgian government`s decision to let a couple of old reactors run until 2025 at least may be a harbinger of what`s to come.

  15. oldfossil says:

    Euan, I particularly like your Spectral Variance hypothesis, and along those lines I’d like to mention one of my own.

    The best-liked hypothesis for gravity says that all objects having mass emit gravitational waves, and that the force carrier is a spin-2 boson called a graviton. There’s a fair amount of evidence for the existence of gravity, but so far nobody has ever spotted a graviton.

    Gravitational waves are not the same as electromagnetic radiation, where the quanta are photons. Besides, the Sun’s (hypothetical) gravitational waves do not vary with its activity, otherwise the planets etc would be tumbling about all over the place. But suppose there were another elementary particle where the rate of emission from the Sun did indeed vary with activity. And that this particle interacted with the atmospheric system to produce small changes in the energy of the system.

    TSI does not at first sight appear to be well correlated with global surface temperatures, because of the considerable thermal inertia of the oceans and the upper few metres of the earth’s crust. It seems to take about 30 years before increased TSI starts heating things up noticeably. Inertia would explain some of the Pause, because TSI has been pretty flat for a few decades now. It also explains why there is no noticeable annual temperature cycle coordinated with aphelion and perihelion.

    So my hypothesized elementary particle would have little to do with the high-inertia parts of the climate system and a lot to do with the low-inertia, atmospheric part of the system. Who knows, its strongest interactions may even be with CO2 molecules, giving even greater importance to the quest to reduce carbon emissions.

    That there is another source of incoming energy not measured in TSI, and which varies in line with the Sun’s activity as measured by sunspots, is almost certain. But what this energy is, nobody knows, because nobody is looking for it, and even if they were, like the graviton it may not be possible to detect.

  16. John F. Hultquist says:

    A group of solar students have been working for many years to figure out what was done in the past to record Sun spots, what changed over time, and how to construct a proper data set. It is well documented.

    Participants with photo are here:

    Leif Svalgaard, a few years ago, did a series of posts on WUWT and led readers through the process of how spots and groups are viewed and counted. In comments he answered many questions.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Thank you John. May I express surprise that after 30 years of intense research on climate change and several billion $ spent, that they are only now getting around to confirming baseline data.

      My charts plot the international sun spot number from SIDC. I don’t think the revisions will change the picture I present much. There are 7 active cycles in the 20th Century.

      • A C Osborn says:

        As you have also sugested TSI is not the whole story, although it does not vary a great deal the formation of it does.
        There is a great deal of work being done on how UV reacts with Ozone at the poles and elsewhere.
        There is also more work being done on Magnetic fields, Solar Winds and the “Electric Universe” theories as well Solar System Dynamics.
        To blame a single trace gas for “Climate” is not science.

  17. E.J. Mohr says:

    Euan thanks for a very balanced factual report, and thanks Roger for the nice graphs showing that todays weather within the normal statistical envelope.

    The late William Burroughs in his book, Climate Change in Prehistory, shows from the GISP data that the variance in Ice Age climate decreased by a factor of 5 to 10 with the advent of the Holocene. He describes the Holocene as “emerging from the climatic ‘long grass’ into more hospitable conditions.”

    I think many people today may underestimate the written records of weather in the past that show that, even in the Holocene, there have been dramatic changes. We have written records of the Viking settlements, and there are written records of the great storms that hit Europe as the MWM came to an end. Rather than ignore these as mere local phenomena we should study what happened. Even more important, in my view, is the Ice Age. The science is not settled and we really should put funding into what changed in the earth climate system in the Ice Ages.

    I know that many believe the science is settled and that Milankovitch insolation cycles explain everything, but if you look closely you will see that this can’t be the full answer. One example is here: http://www.muller.lbl.gov/papers/Causality.pdf

    Then there are the great and sudden changes like Bolling, Older Dryas, Allerod, Younger Dryas which occurred far faster than insolation changes. It would be great if we could get a handle on what happened.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I tend to agree entirely. There is a missing ingredient. The whole radiative balance with space and insolation just doesn’t tell the whole story. Atmospheric convection rate and its change with time linked to circulation is one variable that keeps cropping up in my head. Convection is the main mechanism for heat transport away from the surface. This perhaps linked to dCloud cover.

      Alternatively a state of The Sun that we have yet to observe. Earth science is empirical. Observations drive ideas and theories. We have not observed directly what causes Ice Ages and the very rapid climate change associated with the glaciations. And that’s why we have these itches that we cannot scratch.

      We would never have come up with the theory of plate tectonics without the observational evidence provide by the map of the ocean floor. We would unlikely have come up with evolution without the observational evidence provided by fossils and palaeontology. Its just possible that the ARGO buoys provide the observational evidence required to understand the salinity and temperature structure of the oceans and how this changes with time. It is basically impossible to understand climate change without that data.

      • E.J. Mohr says:

        You know your mention of convection got me thinking about the atmosphere. One thing that we think we know, as there is evidence of it, is that the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone moved north during what was formerly known as the Holocene Climate Optimum. At that time Milankovitch forcing was high for the northern hemisphere. The reason we can assume this is true is that the Sahara was at that time lush compared to today since the ITCZ had moved north over what is now desert.

        Taking that into account we can deduce that greater solar activity will move climate zones north, and presumably south. It is also true that the atmosphere expands and contracts in response to the solar cycle as we know it and allowances must be made for satellite and space station atmospheric drag. As I understand it an active sun causes the atmosphere to expand, and solar minimum causes it to shrink. If there are other modes that the sun operates in, it does seem likely that there would be profound effects on the atmosphere. I can imagine climate zones collapsing towards the equator and possibly freezing levels to drop, as seems to be the case in the tropics during the last Ice Age. Food for thought methinks.

  18. E.J. Mohr says:

    Well darn, I think the moderation beast ate my comment. I just wanted to add that in the department of settled science we have the Milankovitch insolation theory that dominates. If you look at what little data we have you can see from GISP that annual temperature variance was five to ten times greater during the last ice age than it is now.

    There are also the huge temperature swings, such as the Bolling, Older Dryas, Allerod, Younger Dryas that occurred toward the end of the last ice age that seem to have occurred so quickly that slow changes in insolation cannot be the cause. I think it would be money well spent to study everything possible about the last ice age, or any ice age, to gather information that tells us why most of the last 2.6 million years has been very cold. The previous colder Holocene is bad, but pales in comparison with glacial times which would disastrous.

  19. Peter Lang says:

    Climate models running too hot; climate sensitivity overstated
    Climate Models are running too hot

    Global climate models are running too hot. They are over-estimating temperature changes in the mid-troposphere compared with observations from balloons and satellites:
    See chart here:
    John Christy, 2015, Testimony to House Committee on Natural Resources: Oversight Hearing on “The Obama Administration’s CEQ Recently Revised Draft Guidance for GHG Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change.”

    Climate sensitivity estimates are decreasing

    Estimates of climate sensitivity that are based on observational evidence are declining: See chart:

    Chart sourced from: ‘Published measurements of climate sensitivity declining’
    Data points from: Nic Lewis, 2015, ‘Pitfalls in climate sensitivity estimation: Part 2’ http://climateaudit.org/2015/04/13/pitfalls-in-climate-sensitivity-estimation-part-2/

    According to Nic Lewis, all the analyses up to 2012 had problems due to the analysis methods used.

    To summarise: all pre-2012 instrumental-period-warming studies had one or more serious problems, and their median ECS estimates varied widely. Most studies from 2012 on do not appear to have serious problems, and their estimates agree quite closely.

    Compare the estimates of ECS from the models (brown violin on right of plot) with those from instrumental data:

    Source: Nic Lewis, 2015, ‘Pitfalls in climate sensitivity estimation: Part 2’

    The above plot suggest ECS is around ½ what the IPCC reports have been saying since they began.

    As for ECS, the observational TCR estimates have broadly similar medians and ‘likely’ ranges, all of which are well below the corresponding values for the CMIP5 models.


    The main cause of long tails in ECS and TCR studies based on observed multidecadal warming is uncertainty as to the strength of aerosol forcing (Faer). I’ll end this part with a pair of slides that show how well constrained the Lewis and Curry (2014) energy-budget main ECS and TCR estimates would be if they were recalculated using the distribution for aerosol forcing implicit in Bjorn Stevens’ recent study instead of the wide AR5 aerosol forcing distribution. The median ECS estimate reduces modestly from 1.64°C to 1.45°C, but the 95% uncertainty bound falls dramatically, from 4.05°C to 2.2°C.


    The picture is similar for TCR, although somewhat less dramatic. The median TCR estimate reduces modestly from 1.33°C to 1.21°C, but the 95% uncertainty bound falls much more, from 2.50°C to 1.65°C.


  20. Pingback: Is UK precipitation really becoming more extreme? | Energy Matters

  21. Pingback: Is UK precipitation really becoming more extreme? - News4Security

  22. Pingback: AWED Energy & Environmental Newsletter: January 25, 2016 - Master Resource

  23. Owen says:

    According to this solar data goes back to 1880s and has no effect on temperature


  24. Reader says:

    What was a bit different this December is that usually the UK’s weather this time of year blows from the West and we get a “front” this is basically like a broadside from the North Atlantic and we get a huge weather system that stretches 1500 miles North to South and the whole thing blows right over the UK from West to East. We are all familiar with this by now.

    What happened this year and has also happened a few times in previous years is that the weather pattern is different.

    Recently the rain arrives not as a huge broadside from the West, but it seems to come as a train traveling “end on” from the South East. So the entire weather system will travel from South West to North East and it hits the UK like a laser and all the rainfall is highly localised which results in regional flooding. This pattern seems to lock into the Irish Sea and it just runs and runs like a train/laser straight into Cumbria.

    The same thing has previous “locked” into the English channel and caused highly localised flooding on the South Coast and on one time even the Bristol Channel.

    I can offer no explanation as to why this happens, but watching these weather patterns develop on satellites makes the two types of Atlantic rain very distinct.

  25. Pingback: Recent Energy And Environmental News – January 25th 2016 | PA Pundits - International

Comments are closed.