By Andy May
Is it just me, or are the climate alarmists more unhinged than usual lately? Al Gore screaming about boiling oceans and rain bombs is just part of it. As Eric Worral has reported, the BBC blamed global warming for the lack of snow, just after they blamed global warming for colder winters. And, who can forget John Kerry’s World War II style mobilization to fight a possible man-made climate change disaster? What disaster? There is no observational evidence today that human activities are causing any climate-related problems and there is considerable evidence that warming and additional CO2 have been beneficial since the so-called “pre-industrial.”
Could they be worried that global warming is slowing down? Are we entering another hiatus or pause in warming (horrors!)? Talk about in-your-face humiliation. They didn’t predict the first “Pause” from 1998-2014, if they miss another one, how does that look? Certainly, CO2 is marching on at a steady pace, as shown in Figure 1. No slowdown there.
If the atmospheric CO2 concentration continues to increase as it has in recent years, it will be 438 ppm in 2032, what if there is no warming, or very little warming, between now and then? How does that look?
We will remember that the first pause occurred after the 1998 super El Niño. The 1998 Niño marked the beginning of a major climate shift that resulted in the Pause in global warming. This is logical, El Niño’s are nature’s way of expelling excess heat from the ocean to the atmosphere so it can be radiated to space. El Niños temporarily warm Earth’s surface but have a long-term cooling effect. The frequency of El Niño events was greatly reduced during the Holocene Climatic Optimum (Moy, Seltzer, & Rodbell, 2002), which ended about 6,500 years ago when the long Neoglacial cooling period began. According to Christopher Moy’s El Niño proxy data, we see that as the world entered the Little Ice Age, the nadir of the Neoglacial Period, the frequency of El Niño’s peaked, then declined as the world got colder. El Niños became very rare in the early 20th century when Moy’s record ends, as shown in Figure 2.
Moy created the dataset plotted in Figure 2 from a sediment core taken in southern Ecuador. See the location map in Figure 3. Red sediment color intensity in this core correlates well to warm ENSO events in modern times since positive precipitation events in Ecuador are strongly related to warm ENSO (El Niño) events. The lighter colored inorganic reddish clastic layers contrast strongly with the very dark colored organic-rich siltier layers from the lower-precipitation ENSO cooler periods. Moy’s examination of the area indicates that his cores only capture moderate to strong El Niño events, weak events may not create the colors he associates with El Niños.
Given this data and history, it is quite possible that the large 2015-2016 El Niño might result in another long-term cooling effect. After all, since the El Niño, we’ve had three La Niñas, which collect and store ocean heat. How are we doing so far? See Figure 4.
After the 1997-1998 Niño we had rapid atmospheric warming as heat was transferred from the ocean to the atmosphere. Then, through meridional transport the heat was moved from the tropics to the higher latitudes and altitudes and expelled to space. This caused the world to cool for a period. Then we had another large El Niño in 2015-2016 and the atmosphere warmed again, only to settle into a new cooling phase. Over the whole record, the secular, or long-term, warming trend is 0.0133°C/year. Figure 4 is constructed using yearly average lower troposphere satellite temperatures.
Figure 2 shows that frequent strong El Niños occurred as the world entered the Little Ice Age, they signal eventual global cooling. El Niños became quite rare as the Little Ice Age ended. We’ve had two very strong El Niños only 18 years apart, are they a sign of cooling ahead?
What else do we see today? As shown in Figure 5, we have exited the Modern Solar Maximum, global temperatures appear to have peaked and are falling, and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) has plateaued and appears to be about to decline. The previous decline (~1957 to ~1977) in the AMO coincided with the unusual cooling period from ~1947 to ~1977.
Figure 5 illustrates the correlation between solar activity, North Atlantic Ocean sea-surface temperature and global average surface temperature. This apparent correlation is ignored by the IPCC, who prefer their climate model calculation of the human contribution to climate change, which is very poorly supported in observational data.
What happens if we project the trends in Figure 5 into the future? See Figures 6 and 7.
The AMO is a leading indicator of the climate state since it is a measure of sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean, a principal avenue of meridional transport of heat from the tropics to the North Polar region. It tends to warm and cool periodically. When it warms, meridional transport is weak, and the polar vortex is strong. This traps cooler air in the Arctic and keeps the rest of the planet warm. When meridional transport strengthens and the polar vortex weakens, more heat is transported to the Arctic, more cold Arctic air escapes to the middle latitudes, and the AMO index becomes more negative due to a cooling North Atlantic.
Changes in solar activity very roughly track changes in the AMO, but the correlation is poor due to the strong effect that the Sun has on the stratosphere. The stratosphere and ENSO affect both polar vortex strength and meridional transport.
Solar activity probably ultimately drives long-term climate change, but in the shorter term, the solar effect is obscured by changes in the meridional transport of energy, which has a lot of drivers. It is the strength of this meridional transport that directly causes global climate changes and the energy it transports provides the energy to change the climate. Variations in solar activity only trigger the changes. Other important factors in natural climate change are climate system inertia, internal ocean variability, and changes in stratospheric ozone and winds. In the very long term, changes in Earth’s orbit play a role.
So, a warning to Al Gore, John Kerry, and the BBC. You need to realize that your now 50-year-old very out-of-date hypothesis that humans dominate climate change through fossil fuel emissions and other human activities is becoming less likely with time. It has not escaped our notice that the IPCC has published 47 reports on the possible dangers of man-made climate change over the past 32 years, and yet polls suggest the public is not convinced climate change is a priority. The next ten years will test your climate change ideas, and the result may not be pretty.
Clilverd, M. A., Clarke, E., Ulich, T., Rishbeth, H., & Jarvis, M. J. (2006). Predicting Solar Cycle 24 and beyond. Space Weather, 4. doi:10.1029/2005SW000207
Moy, C., Seltzer, G., & Rodbell, D. (2002). Variability of El Niño/Southern Oscillation activity at millennial timescales during the Holocene epoch. Nature, 420, 162-165. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01194
Vinós, J. (2022). Climate of the Past, Present and Future, A Scientific Debate, 2nd Edition. Madrid: Critical Science Press. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363669186_Climate_of_the_Past_Present_and_Future_A_scientific_debate_2nd_ed