Talk of “mini ice age” bunkum

By Ken Perrott 16/07/2015 55


The global mean temperature difference is shown for the time period 1900 to 2100 for the IPCC A2 emissions scenario (relative to zero for the average temperature during the years 1961 to 1990). The red line shows predicted temperature change for the current level of solar activity, the blue line shows predicted temperature change for solar activity at the much lower level of the Maunder Minimum, and the black line shows observed temperatures from the NASA GISS dataset through 2010. Adapted from Feulner & Rahmstorf (2010). Credit: Skeptical science

Irresponsible and misleading reporting of scientific issues always annoys me. But I have been particularly annoyed with the recent headlines of the sort Now it looks like we’re in for an ice-age.” Here reporters have taken it on themselves to naively extrapolate research on the modelling of solar cycles to predictions about climate. Without considering any of the whole complex of inputs into climate change.

I would have thought  with all the controversy, and political and scientific discussion, about climate change over the last few years, that even the most junior reporter would recognise this complexity. That they would not make such naive extrapolations. And, particularly, they would completely ignore the role of the major recent inputs into climate change – anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The research sparking the media reports was published last year –  Sheperd et al., (2014). Prediction of Solar Activity from Solar Background Magnetic Field Variations in Cycles 21-23. This paper does not talk about climate – in fact, it doesn’t even include the word temperature. Nor did the Royal Astronomical Society press release referring to this modelling work (see Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo).

Yet the  media article linked above claims the researchers say “fluid movements within the Sun will converge in such a way that temperatures will fall dramatically in the 2030s.”

Of course, if the solar model reported in this paper is accepted by other researchers it will be used in  modelling of future climate change. But we can get an idea of the likely effect of including this solar model from what  such modelling has shown in the past (see What is causing warming of the earth?)

Better still – the figure above is from Skeptical Science – using data from Feulner & Rahmstorf (2010). This shows the predicted future temperature of the earth modelled using current solar levels and the grand solar minimum of the sort predicted by Sheperd et al., (2014).

So much for the claim we are headed fo a “mini-ice age.”

See also:

A grand solar minimum would barely make a dent in human-caused global warming
Media Reports The World Will Enter A ‘Mini Ice Age’ In The 2030s. The Reverse Is True.
No, Earth is not heading toward a ‘mini ice age’
The ‘mini Ice Age’ media sensation – and the reality

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55 Responses to “Talk of “mini ice age” bunkum”

  • Well, you’ll be dead in 2030 so won’t be around to defend yourself in the event that this mini ice age does actually eventuate

  • @andys You obviously haven’t met Ken in person Andy – he’s likely got a good deal more than 15 years left on the clock!

  • OK, then we can check back in 15 years and see if it really is “bunkum”

    After all, you can’t fool nature, as a certain Feynmann once said.

    I suggest we put a meeting appointment in Outlook for July 16th 2030

    • Hopefully I will have at least some social life in 15 years time and therefor wasn’t want to spend time with such a crotchety old bugger as you. 🙂

      Hell, you are bad enough now – what will you be like in 15 years. Especially as you will probably be moaning about the heat.

  • I’d like to know how one can predict 15 years ahead based on computer models of the climate that have shown no skill so far.

    At least, if my career depended on it, I’d be a bit more circumspect about these predictions, either way.

    • Andys,the models seem pretty good at predicting the actual temperatures in the past. Of course one cannot accurately predict the future temperatures because one doesn’t have the accurate inputs until it happens. But scenarios can be chosen, as was done for the diagram in the article.

  • Andys,the models seem pretty good at predicting the actual temperatures in the past

    I’m pretty good at predicting things in the past too

    For example, I can predict that the Conservatives will win the 2015 elections in the UK

  • Hell, you are bad enough now

    There is an old saying: “if you don’t get grumpier as you get older, you are not paying attention”

    In the meantime, I find enjoyment and escape watching cat videos on Youtube.

  • By the way, Ken, speaking of irresponsibility, you might want to reach out and help your friend Michael Mann who is being counter-sued by Mark Steyn for $30 million

    I note that not a single one of his colleagues has filed an amicus brief in his favour, and the Steyn book “A total disgrace to the profession” is now selling as a preprint.

    We can review your “bunkum” claim in 15 years. In the unlikely event that you are still defending this science, that is

  • Maybe Ken can explain which of the CMIP5 model ensemble predicted the 18 year pause in global warming, and why he thinks these models have any value in determining what will happen in 15 years time.

    • Andy has a fixation with 1998 – an abnormal high temperature year – which he compares subsequent years with. 2015 – 1998 = 17, hence his 18 year pause.

      He is one of these people who carefully cherry pick 2 data points to produce the “trend” he desires. His hero, Monckton, does exactly the same.

  • Oh I se we have some global warming pause deniers. As Peter Griffen will recall, much talk was spent at the IPCC WG1 outreach meeting in Wellington discussing the “pause”, which that the IPCC acknowledge.

    Pause Deniers like Maurice can prattle on about “warmest years on record” but most people can recognise the difference between trends and small statistical outliers.

    Perhaps Pause Deniers like Ken and Maurice might like to use the Skeptical Science trend calculator to try out various time periods that don’t include 1998.

  • Andy has a fixation with 1998 –

    I never even mentioned 1998 not once
    Ken is putting words in my mouth, once gain.

    Clearly dishonest

    • Anyone capable of arithmetic can see 1998 flashing in bright lights whenever Andy raises “the 18 year pause in global warming” or similar. He just adds 1 every year.

  • Andy I will change my mind when the evidence warrants it. The outreach meeting was over a year ago. Keep up to date.

    Look at the up to date measurements. Hardly an outlier. And New Zealand innovators are missing opportunities. As I said…

    “The 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2014 ranks as the warmest on record.”

    The real pity is that here in NZ we are missing the opportunities to innovate and make money from this; like Al Gore.

  • I find it ironic the skepticism that is involved when something goes against science and the medias spotlight. How quick the move is to debunk.
    Why is it solar cycles aren’t studied to the depth that dark matter and black holes are ? I am talking about the amount of money being poured into the research into the hypothetical scenarios of black holes and dark matter. Also the media spotlight on these plus the global warming issue.
    It is quite clear we get our weather from the sun. It would seem logical that the sun goes through solar cycles of calm and storm due to magnetic influences.
    A good article on the magnetic field of the sun influencing the sun’s behaviour.
    So the magnetic field of the sun influences sunspots, which in turn influence our terrestrial home.
    Why then is it considered “Bunkum” and we hear ” It’s a dramatic idea, but it isn’t being embraced by many climate scientists, who argue that anthropogenic global warming — brought on by a human outpouring of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere — will far outweigh any climate effects that might be caused by the sun.”
    I disagree with that statement, it is clear who has the bigger influence, the odds are in favour of the sun.

  • Derek, you have one thing right. The Sun does have a big impact on our climate. After all, if it weren’t for the Sun then Earth would certainly be a lot colder!

    But it doesn’t follow that any change in solar activity is going to have a more significant influence on climate than local effects, and the case being made that predicted change in solar activity will cause a “mini ice age” is far from convincing.

  • This expected solar minimum would appear to be an excellent opportunity to determine whether solar or GHG influences on our climate are greater.

    Given that the IPCC now give a range of equilibrium climate sensitivity of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees with no central estimate given (vs AR4 where the range was 2 to 4.5 with a central estimate of 3 degrees) would suggest that our understanding of climate is far from complete

    The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) wasn’t even named until 1990s, and is a major part of internal variability in the climate

    I’d be having a “bob each way” on where global temps will be in 15 years. I simply don’t believe that we have enough information to determine this, currently

  • Well the industrialization of the globe, deforestation and the continued use of fossil fuels contributes negatively, to our atmosphere.
    It is not only the atmosphere that influences our weather here on earth. The magnetosphere,the plasmasphere, the ionosphere contribute as well. CME (Coronal mass ejection) directly affect the magnetosphere.
    Time will tell I suppose, here is a toy for Ashton to play with a magnesium salt water reactor powered car. While he is thinking what science can do to a reduce carbon emissions.

    • Andy, could you please provide a list of the peer-reviewed papers mentioned by your linked blog that have clearly not been considered by the IPCC reviewers?

      For each one could you also provide your arguments why the specific paper should have been reviewed.

  • Andy: I am curious. Just what makes you think that 100 papers selected by a random blogger with no particular expertise in the subject out explains the full expertise, experience and judgment of professional scientists working from the full published literature on the subject. I suggest you read the IPCC reports on the subject before saying that the IPCC are “missing” things.

  • Most of the papers listed have not been considered by the IPCC. The reason for this is simple. The IPCC charter is to investigate human caused climatic change, so they provide scant regard to natural climate variability due to solar and other factors.

    However, Ken writes

    Andy, could you please provide a list of the peer-reviewed papers mentioned by your linked blog that have clearly not been considered by the IPCC reviewers?

    No I can’t Ken. As someone with a job (unlike you) I don’t have all day to cross-correlate all the papers listed with those not mentioned by the IPCC.

    However, unlike you, I am not writing blog posts on Sciblogs claiming that solar influence ( and impending mini ice ages) is “bunkum”. So the onus is on you, as a Sciblogger, to check all these papers

    • actually, Andy, as the one making the claim about these papers you haver the responsibility to check. to not do so indicates you take the assertion of a climate change denier as gospel and meaningful – when often they just aren’t.

      Given the source I do not feel I should waste time on checking every citation either for its inclusion in the IPCC report (a relatively simple search for individual authors) or its relevance (an even bigger job).

      Perhaps you should read my post again, Andy. It makes the point that despite the suggested or predicted future changes in solar irradiance they still are not sufficient to counter the predicted changes in anthropogenic effects. As such it involves a little more thought than your assumption that the new modelling for solar output predictrs an ice age.

  • Ken, have you given any money to Michael Mann’s legal defence?

    This junk scientist, fake Nobel Laureate and serial litigant, is looking for support for his multi-million dollar lawsuit against Mark Steyn.

    Since you have written gushing reviews of his work, I thought you might be able to help.

    After all, none of his colleagues are prepared to help him.

  • Maurice may be interested in this comment from the “unknown blogger” Pierre Gosselin that I linked to above

    The Earth’s sole supplier of energy, the sun, and all its dynamism, in fact gets only a couple of pages in a 2200-page report, about 0.1%. That alone is a monumental scandal.

    Two pages!

    Obviously the sun only deserves two pages in a 2200 report.

  • Andy: When I read the IPCC reports I find them particularly thorough and properly referenced. I suggest you take the time to study them before you comment.

  • ” I have been exposed as … ”

    Actually I was just inquiring as to why solar influence on the climate only warrants 2 pages in the 2500 page IPCC report when there are hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on the subject.

    In a real science, this would be of interest to people.

    • Andy, that is a few pages within the chapter on “Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing” which comprises almost 100 pages. Solar irradiance is referred to throughout the chapter.

      So much for the naive assertion that ” solar influence on the climate only warrants 2 pages in the 2500 page IPCC report”

      Always pays to check claims like this.

    • Get your blinkers off, Andy.

      ”solar influence on the climate” is discussed all the way through the about 100 pages of that chapter “Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing.”

  • Well, I hope you are right Ken, and that catastrophic global warming does eventuate.

    After all, as one of the climategate emails said (approx) “what happens if it turns out to be just interdecadal variability, they’ll kill us, probably”.

    Since people in Christchurch are being refused insurance and having their properties rendered worthless by council policy on sea level rise that is purely based on models too, I hope they are right too, because people don’t like losing all their family assets

    So you can drone on about “deniers” all you like, but people are starting to get very angry indeed

    Just a thought

  • Incidentally, I’m wondering why you show a graph that projects a 4 degree warming by 2100, when most recent estimates of climate sensitivity are more like 1.5-2 degrees at most.

  • Which “denier blog” are you referring to?
    Surely not Judith Curry, who, unlike you, is a working climate scientist who has contributed to the IPCC.