Carbon dioxide levels are now the highest they’ve been in human history, and likely the highest in 3 million years.
— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/06/04/carbon-dioxide-record-2020/=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJjb29raWVuYW1lIjoid3BfY3J0aWQiLCJpc3MiOiJDYXJ0YSIsImNvb2tpZXZhbHVlIjoiNTk3ODkzMDdhZTdlOGE2ODE2ZWE5OWE1IiwidGFnIjoid3BfbmV3c19hbGVydF9yZXZlcmUiLCJ1cmwiOiJodHRwczovL3d3dy53YXNoaW5ndG9ucG9zdC5jb20vd2VhdGhlci8yMDIwLzA2LzA0L2NhcmJvbi1kaW94aWRlLXJlY29yZC0yMDIwLz93cG1rPTEmd3Bpc3JjPWFsX2Vudmlyb25tZW50X19hbGVydC1oc2UmdXRtX3NvdXJjZT1hbGVydCZ1dG1fbWVkaXVtPWVtYWlsJnV0bV9jYW1wYWlnbj13cF9uZXdzX2FsZXJ0X3JldmVyZSJ9.DComva2ZkavYUCKcOdzuZOsGaln2ddq7RvGfd6i2Iq0
A new analysis found 2019 was the hottest for the world’s oceans. The five hottest years have also been in the past five years.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2020/01/13/climate/ocean-temperatures-climate-change.html
According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2015’s global temperature average was 1.62ºF above the 1901-2000 average, making 2015 “by far the warmest year on record”. Ten of 2015’s monthly global temperatures tied or broke existing records.
Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.
NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2015 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data.
“Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and this issue affects every person on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Today’s announcement should make policy makers stand up and take notice – now is the time to act on climate.”
Global concentrations of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million for a monthly average in spring, 2015, breaching a symbolic barrier set by climate scientists and policy makers.
Concentrations of other greenhouse gases produced from human activities, such as methane and nitrous oxide, also reached records in 2014, the World Meteorological Organization announced in its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The report is one of several measurements made by different climate agencies to address the state of greenhouse gases.
“This evidence shows us that the concentrations are increasing, and they are increasing with increasing rates,” said Oksana Tarasova, chief of the W.M.O.’s Atmospheric Environment Research Division. “This calls for urgent and very strong actions to limit the emission of those greenhouse gasses.”
Hotter air can hold more moisture, which exacerbates greenhouse warming. According to Dr. Tarasova, if carbon dioxide levels reach 560 parts per million, or double their preindustrial levels, the feedback loop would cause water vapor and clouds to increase atmospheric warming to a rate that is three times as much as what the human-caused gases can do by themselves.
“We shouldn’t blame water vapor for making this place warmer,” she said. Rather, she said, by limiting the emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, people can balance the feedback loop and mitigate future warming.
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degree Celsius) since the late-19th century, a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.
Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Last year was the first time the global average temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880-1899 average.
NASA’s analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.
There is no refuting global warming when comparing lake temperature data from around the world from decades past to the same lakes’ temperature readings of today. The study, published in the Geophysical Research Letters and online in December, 2015, finds the Great Lakes are some of the world’s fastest warming lakes.
The decline of Great Lakes ice cover over the past several decades is contributing significantly to the rate of increase of summer water temperature, the study said.
Dozens of researchers pooled decades’ worth of data from hundreds of lakes and concluded that the world’s lakes are warming even more rapidly than the oceans or the atmosphere. The warmer waters threaten fish populations, ecosystems and fresh water supplies around the globe.
University of Minnesota Duluth Professor Jay Austin says the thick sheets of ice that blanketed Lake Superior for the past two winters did nothing to change the fact that Superior, like the other Great Lakes, is growing ever warmer.
“Lake Superior is one of the more rapidly warming lakes” among the 235 lakes in the study, Austin said in a 17 December 2015 Star Tribune report by Jennifer BrooksBy. A two-degree temperature shift can mean the difference between an iced-over Superior or an ice-free lake, he said. “Relatively small changes can lead to large changes in systems that define our region. Duluth would be a fundamentally different place if Lake Superior never formed ice”, Austin said.
The study, which was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, found that lakes have been warming by more than half a degree per decade. That might not sound like much, but when lakes warm up, toxic clouds of algae can bloom, fish habitats can be disrupted and invasive species currently held at bay by Superior’s inhospitable cold might be able to make themselves at home.
The lake study is the first of its kind to use both satellite temperature data and long-term ground measurements. More than 60 researchers surveyed more than 200 lakes that hold more than half the planet’s freshwater supply, using data that stretched back at least 25 years. Their findings were announced Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C.
“These results suggest that large changes in our lakes are not only unavoidable, but are probably already happening,” the study’s lead author, Catherine O’Reilly, an associate professor of geology at Illinois State University, said in a statement. O’Reilly’s research found that as lakes warm, their productivity declines.
The world’s lakes are warming faster than the oceans or the atmosphere, Austin said. Unlike air temperatures, which can fluctuate wildly from day to day or even hourly, lake temperatures are stable, making them ideal systems for measuring climate change. It takes a significant shift to change the temperature of a lake — much as it takes as much energy to heat a pot of water on the stove as it does to heat an entire room.
“Obviously, Lake Superior is going to stay cold for a very long time,” Austin said. “But these lakes provide a sort of ‘climate antenna’ that allows us to look at these global trends.”
The current rate of lake warming — an average of 0.61 degrees per decade — carries the risk of a 20 percent increase in algae blooms, which deplete oxygen in the water and can be toxic to fish.
The lakes seem to be warming faster in northern climates like Minnesota, where lakes are losing their ice cover earlier.
In 2007, Austin and his colleagues found that the average summer water temperature on Lake Superior had risen more than 4 degrees since 1979.
“We have documented, since 1970, a significant reduction in the ice on Lake Superior,” despite the past two winters, when the ice was so thick that tourists could trek across the lake to gawk at the Apostle Islands ice caves along the Wisconsin shore. “It sounds a little bit hollow, after the last two winters when we had quite a bit of ice. … I’m not suggesting that we won’t see ice on Lake Superior again, but we are going to see more years like 2012 when we had no ice.”
Meanwhile, Eli Kintisch of the journal Science reported 18 December 2015 that the global survey of hundreds of the Earth’s lakes found that climate change is causing lakes to warm faster than the oceans or the air around them. One reason is that warmer wintertime temperatures are producing less ice atop lakes that normally freeze over. Reduced lake ice coverage, in turn, increases the amount of sunlight lakes absorb. The changes could spell trouble for cold water lake species like trout. It may also have more serious global effects. Higher lake temperatures may speed the conversion of carbon-rich organic matter in lake sediments into methane and carbon dioxide, gases that once released into the atmosphere could exacerbate global warming.
At the United Nation’s Twenty-first Intergovernmental Conference of the Parties (COP21) held in Paris, France 30 November to 12 December 2015, the Conference Parties from virtually all the world’s nations agreed to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and, by 2050, to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to a level that land and ocean ecosystems can absorb and, thus, keep them out of the atmosphere.
These “Planetary Boundaries” were proposed as global guardrails within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for many more generations. Scientists have estimated planetary boundaries for climate warming, land use, freshwater use, ozone, nutrients (namely nitrogen and phosphorus), and other key characteristics of the earth that determine the quality of our lives and our survival, say Adam Hinterthuer and Steve Carpenter, ecology researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Limnology, located on the shore of Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. In a 17 December 2015 Center for Limnology blog post, Hinterthuruer and Carpenter, state that “by crossing these boundaries, we may risk creating large-scale environmental changes that are difficult to reverse and could forever alter life on earth”.
Continuing, the authors state that “the warming boundary of 2 C was chosen with ecology in mind. As temperatures rise higher than 2 C, changes in the biosphere, or the living parts of the planet, can accelerate warming. In that scenario, we’ll go from worrying about how Earth’s climate impacts its ecosystems, to worrying about how these changed ecosystems drive even more warming.
“For example, the northern tundra and taiga forests of Canada and Russia contain vast amounts of organic carbon frozen in permafrost. As the planet warms, the permafrost could melt and release this carbon into the atmosphere. Such a big infusion of greenhouse gases will rapidly drive warming well above 2 C.”
“In an effort to counter this potential release, Russian scientists are conducting a large-scale experiment to convert the tundra and taiga to grassland. Ecologist Sergey Zimov and his son Nikita are re-establishing large herbivores—elk, bison, moose, horses and reindeer—in a 53-square-mile reserve in Siberia known as Pleistocene Park. The idea is that these animals’ eating habits—grazing—may turn the existing ecosystem into grassland. The hope is that the resulting grassland will insulate the permafrost, stave off melting, and thereby prevent the emission of greenhouse gases as the planet warms.
“However, it is not certain whether the big grazers will restore the grassland or if the grassland will prevent permafrost melting. Moreover, if the scheme does work, millions of square miles of taiga and tundra would have to be converted to grassland in the next few decades—a large undertaking to say the least.
“Warming could also affect the other Planetary Boundaries. For example, the phosphorus boundary depends on the amount of runoff from land to surface waters that occurs. Too much phosphorus runoff triggers toxic algal blooms, oxygen loss and fish kills in rivers, lakes and coastal ocean waters.”
In their 2009 book The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin’s Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife, Donald M. Waller and Thomas P. Rooney cite the work of University of Wisconsin at Madison’s Emeritus Professor John Magnuson, who documented ice cover on lakes around the globe, including Madison’s heavily researched Lake Mendota, and found markedly reduced ice cover from decade to decade during the last century.
Oil and Gas Companies Knew in 1970’s that Continuing to Burn Fossil Fuels Would Lead to a Warmer Planet – Kept Results Secret and Paid Others to Show Otherwise
2015, the hottest on record, was also the year ExxonMobil was caught in a more than three-decade lie. Internal documents revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming in the 1970s, but hid that information from the public. Now it turns out nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company was likely aware of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change at the same time as Exxon.
Listen to full story online at Democracy NOW!
On this last day of the year, 2015 will be remembered as a pivotal one for the environment—the warmest year on record. In only the last few days, we’ve seen an historic storm hurtling toward the North Pole, threatening to warm temperatures by more than 50 degrees above average there, while in South America a massive drought has fueled wildfires across Colombia, which has issued a red alert for more than 80 percent of the country, and at least 24 people have died in Missouri and surrounding states amidst the worst flooding in two decades, while rare tornadoes killed 11 people in Texas over the weekend. And that’s only in the last five days.
The year 2015 ended with the U.N. climate treaty in Paris. It will also be remembered as the year ExxonMobil, one of the corporations with major responsibility for climate change, was caught in a more than three-decade lie. Exposés by the Pulitzer Prize-winning InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed how Exxon concealed its own conclusions that fossil fuels cause global warming, alters the climate and melt the Arctic. Exxon knew about climate change as early as 1977. But instead of taking action, the oil giant lied to the public and funded bogus climate denial—paid for by the billions it made from practices it knew were harming the planet.
Now a new investigation reveals that in the oil industry, Exxon was not the only one with something to hide. InsideClimate News reports nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company was likely aware of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change as early as the late ’70s. From ’79 to ’83, the oil and gas industry trade group American Petroleum Institute ran a task force to monitor and share climate research. The group’s members included senior scientists and engineers from not only Exxon, but also Amoco, Phillips, Mobil, Texaco, Shell, Sunoco, Sohio and Standard Oil of California, as well as Gulf Oil, the predecessor to Chevron. Internal documents show that as early as 1979 the task force knew carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was rising steadily. The task force even briefly considered researching how to introduce a new energy source into the global market, given the research about fossil fuels’ impact on global warming. But in 1983, the task force was disbanded, and by the late ’90s, the American Petroleum Institute had launched a campaign to oppose the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted by many countries to cut fossil fuel emissions, but was never ratified by the United States.
The Exxon revelations prompted the opening of a criminal probe in New York over whether the oil company lied to the public and its investors. Exxon’s climate deception has also sparked calls for a federal probe similar to the one that led to a racketeering conviction of Big Tobacco for hiding the dangers of smoking. With these new revelations [about] Exxon’s oil industry peers, could more companies be targeted for investigation?
Neela Banerjee is a Washington-based reporter with InsideClimate News. In response to her article: “Exxon’s Oil Industry Peers Knew About Climate Dangers in the 1970s, Too.”, Banerjee answers questions from Amy Goodman of Democracy NOW!:
AMY GOODMAN: Neela, tell us just what you found.
NEELA BANERJEE: We found that as early as 1979, the oil industry—oil companies, through the American Petroleum Institute, wanted to explore the emerging science around rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And we saw this through documents that we found as part of our Exxon research. And through that, we also found the former API employee who was the director of the task force for those four years. He was—the task force was part of a broader air quality effort at API, and he filled out the picture for us, too, and that, you know, they wanted to follow the science, but that some were probably—were already doing their own modeling, though it was not as ambitious as what Exxon was doing at its site.
AMY GOODMAN: Neela, you spoke with James J. Nelson, the former director of the American Petroleum Institute’s task force on climate change, who left API in ’83. He described a shift that was taking place at the time: quote, “[API] took the environmental unit and put it into the political department, which was primarily lobbyists. They weren’t focused on doing research or on improving the oil industry’s impact on pollution. They were less interested in pushing the envelope of science and more interested in how to make it more advantageous politically or economically for the oil industry,” unquote. Expand on that.
NEELA BANERJEE: Right. And, you know, what Mr. Nelson said was that he didn’t have any issue with that. He thought that that was the right tack to take, because at that time, even though it was under the Reagan administration, the power of the EPA and regulators was growing, and so the industry felt that it was not being properly heard. And they were trying to introduce science, they were trying to get research done, they were trying to have their papers published in peer-reviewed journals. And, you know, his viewpoint, and that of the industry, was that they were—that they couldn’t get their voices heard, and they were worried about overregulation. So, rather than having scientists work on a task force and engage with policymakers, the best way to do this was to have lawyers and lobbyists, you know. And that’s how Mr. Nelson helped fill out the picture from the documents we had.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the late ’90s and look at the oil industry’s role in opposing the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted by many countries to cut fossil fuel emissions, but was never ratified by the United States. A draft action plan circulated by the American Petroleum Institute at the time read, quote, “Unless ‘climate change’ becomes a non-issue, meaning that the Kyoto [Protocol] is defeated and there are no further initiatives to thwart the threat of climate change, there may be no moment when we can declare victory for our efforts,” they said. The American Petroleum Institute was part of a lobbying group called the Global Climate Coalition, which included Exxon and other companies. As you write in your article, Neela Banerjee, a 2001 briefing memo quotes a top State Department official thanking the GCC because Bush, quote, “rejected the Kyoto Protocol in part, based on input from you.” Explain what this memo said.
NEELA BANERJEE: This memo talked about how to influence the public—and, I think, policymakers and scientists, as well—about climate change. The interesting thing about the Global Climate Coalition, which was formed in 1989, so about a decade before this memo came out around 1998, is that they didn’t hew to a lot of the theories that climate deniers back, so, for example, that it’s sunspots or volcanoes or natural cycles. They just kept saying the science is uncertain, and it’s too uncertain to warrant drastic action on the kinds of energy we use, and economic—you know, economic ruptures because of that. So, they kept hammering away at the uncertainty, and then they came up with this communications plan to do the same. And, you know, the point that they were making, that this was unwarranted, that the science was uncertain, that we shouldn’t ratify Kyoto, I mean, it worked. It wasn’t just the GCC. I mean, there were policymakers who believed this, too. But, you know, we did not sign onto the Kyoto Protocol—or we didn’t ratify it, rather. And then, during the Bush administration, some of the key people involved in the Global Climate Coalition went on to administrative posts, top administrative posts, and worked to—some of them worked to censor science on climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip from 1996, when then-Exxon CEO Lee Raymond spoke about global warming. He was also chair of the American Petroleum Institute from ’96 to ’97.
NEELA BANERJEE: Yes.
LEE RAYMOND: Proponents of the global warming theory say that higher levels of greenhouse gases are causing world temperatures to rise and that burning fossil fuels is the reason. But scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect the global climate. … Many scientists agree there’s ample time to better understand climate systems and consider policy options, so there’s simply no reason to take drastic action now.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Lee Raymond, chair of the American Petroleum Institute, that excerpt from a PBS Frontline documentary. Talk about the significance, Neela, of what he’s saying and what he actually knew.
NEELA BANERJEE: Right. So, Mr. Raymond encapsulates the talking points and the strategy of the fossil fuel industry then, and that is that the science is too uncertain to warrant drastic steps to cut emissions from fossil fuels. Now, this is at a time when the science was growing more certain, and this is, you know, nearly 20 years after Exxon’s top management was told by its scientists that CO2 levels were rising, that they could drive climate change, and that the main—you know, that the main driver of higher CO2 levels was the use of fossil fuels. So, Mr. Raymond was not part of that group in 1977 that heard that, but later on, you know, scientists at Exxon continued to tell top management about CO2 and the link to fossil fuels through the ’80s, and from what we saw in the documents and the people we spoke to, Mr. Raymond was briefed on that. Now, whether he chose to believe that, why he chose to believe it or not, you know, I can’t—I can’t tell you. But we’re pretty certain he was at least exposed to the science and told about these connections by Exxon scientists.
AMY GOODMAN: Neela, can you talk about the impact of your first huge exposé about what Exxon knew, when it knew it and what it covered up, how Exxon has responded, right up to challenging the president of Columbia University, because Columbia journalism students were involved in the investigation?
NEELA BANERJEE: Well, Exxon has said, very broadly, that the reporting is inaccurate, that we’re cherry-picking, and that they’ve never stopped doing climate research. And the issue—their talking points basically don’t address the main thrust of our stories and the stories done by Columbia Graduate School of Journalism that were published in the Los Angeles Times. None of us said that Exxon stopped doing climate research—they did not. And Exxon, yes, continued to do climate research. What Exxon has not really responded to is why, despite the research that it did through the ’70s and ’80s, and really continued doing, though on a much less ambitious scale, through the ’90s, that they took a policy position that cast enormous doubt on climate science. The closest they’ve come to responding to that is to say, “Well, you know, our policy positions and what our scientists do are different things,” which—you know, which is interesting. It makes you wonder, you know, how much science informs other decisions that they take. So that’s been the Exxon position.
They also went after the reporters at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. They wrote to Columbia University and, you know, reminded Columbia about how much money they give Columbia, and said that what the Columbia journalism school project did was entirely irresponsible. Columbia responded and said—and basically, you know, they have a lot of emails and so on to show that Exxon’s assertions could not be backed up.
With us, as I’ve said, they’ve said very general things, but they can’t point—they’ve never challenged the authenticity of the documents that we’ve shared. And we digitized more than two dozen documents, so that people can see that we’re not cherry-picking. They can read the documents themselves. Exxon actually downloaded them and then uploaded them onto their website, so you can see our documents on Exxon’s website and ours. And they’ve never pointed out how we might be misinterpreting the documents in any specific way. So, it’s been a general response.
And as you’ve mentioned, you know, there’s been a response by lawmakers to launch investigations, and there’s been a subpoena that’s been issued for documents by the New York state attorney general. We don’t think that Exxon has delivered the documents yet. And, you know, we surmise that Exxon will probably fight this for as long as they can, because that’s been their strategy in other conflicts with prosecutors.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11. It will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.
The overarching goal of the Convention is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. However, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, acknowledged in the closing briefing at the 2012 Doha conference “the current pledges under the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol are clearly not enough to guarantee that the temperature will stay below 2 °C and there is an ever increasing gap between the action of countries and what the science tells us.”
The governments of more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and thus avoiding the threat of dangerous climate change.
Current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions run out in 2020, so at Paris governments are expected to produce an agreement on what happens for the decade after that at least, and potentially beyond.
Media Reports The World Will Enter A ‘Mini Ice Age’ In The 2030s; Actually, It’s the Reverse That’s the Real Truth!
U.K. tabloids, conservative media, and others are (mis)reporting that the Earth will enter a “mini ice age” in the 2030s. In fact, not only is the story wrong, the reverse is actually true.
The Earth is headed toward an imminent speed-up in global warming, as many recent studies have made clear, like this June study by NOAA. Indeed, a March study, entitled “Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change,” makes clear that a stunning acceleration in the rate of global warming is around the corner — with Arctic warming rising 1°F per decade by the 2020s!
Also, right now, we appear to be in the midst of a long-awaited jump in global temperatures. Not only was 2014 the hottest year on record, but 2015 is in the process of blowing that record away. On top of that, models say a massive El Niño is growing, as USA Today reported last week. Since El Niños tend to set the record for the hottest years (since the regional warming adds to the underlying global warming trend), if 2015/2016 does see a super El Niño then next year may well crush the record this year sets.
Whatever near-term jump we see in the global temperatures is thus likely to be followed by an accelerating global warming trend — one that would utterly overwhelm any natural variations such as a temporary reduction in solar intensity. A recent study concluded that “any reduction in global mean near-surface temperature due to a future decline in solar activity is likely to be a small fraction of projected anthropogenic warming.”
That’s true even for one as big as the Maunder Minimum, which was linked to the so-called Little Ice Age.
The “Little Ice Age” is a term used to cover what appears to have been two or three periods of modest cooling in the northern hemisphere between 1550 and 1850.
I know you are shocked, shocked to learn that unreliable climate stories appear in U.K. tabloids, the conservative media, and those who cite them without actually talking to leading climate scientists. Often there is a half truth underlying such stories, but in this case it is more like a nano-truth.
Last week, in Llandudno, north Wales, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) held Cyfarfod Seryddiaeth Cenedlaethol 2015 — the “National Astronomy Meeting 2015″ (in case you don’t speak Welsh). An RAS news release had this startling headline, “Irregular Heartbeat Of The Sun Driven By Double Dynamo.”
Okay, that wasn’t the startling part. This was: “Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645.”
Ah, but the word choice was confusing. We’re not going to have temperature “conditions” last seen during the Little Ice Age. If this one study does turn out to be right, we’d see solar conditions equivalent to the Maunder Minimum in the 2030s.
This won’t cause the world to enter a mini ice age — for three reasons:
The Little Ice Age turns out to have been quite little.
What cooling there was probably was driven more by volcanoes than the Maunder Minimum.
The warming effect from global greenhouse gases will overwhelm any reduction in solar forcing, even more so by the 2030s.
So how little was the Little Ice Age?
The most comprehensive reconstruction of the temperature of the past 2000 years done so far, the “PAGES 2k project,” concluded that “there were no globally synchronous multi-decadal hot or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age.”
Green dots show the 30-year average of the new PAGES 2k reconstruction. The red curve shows the global mean temperature, according HadCRUT4 data from 1850 onwards. In blue is the original hockey stick of Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1999 ) with its uncertainty range (light blue). Graph by Klaus Bitterman.
The Little Ice Age was little in duration and in geographic extent. It was an “Age” the way Pluto is a planet.
Writing on Climate Progress, climatologist Stefan Rahmstorf noted the researchers “identify some shorter intervals where extremely cold conditions coincide with major volcanic eruptions and/or solar minima (as already known from previous studies).”
That brings us to the second point: The latest research finds that what short-term cooling there was during the Little Ice Age was mostly due to volcanoes, not the solar minimum. As “Scientific American” explained in its 2012 piece on the LIA, “New simulations show that several large, closely spaced eruptions (and not decreased solar radiation) could have cooled the Northern Hemisphere enough to spark sea-ice growth and a subsequent feedback loop.” The period associated with the LIA “coincide with two of the most volcanically active half centuries in the past millennium, according to the researchers.”
The cooling effect from the drop in solar activity during even a Maunder Minimum is quite modest. Environmental scientist Dana Nuccitelli discussed the literature underscoring that point in a U.K. Guardian post from the summer of 2013, the last time the “Maunder Minimum” issue popped up.
That brings us to the third point: Whatever cooling the Little Ice Age saw as result of the Maunder Minimum, it pales in comparison to the warming we are already experiencing — let alone the accelerated warming projected by multiple studies. That’s clear even in Pages 2k reconstruction above.
Just last month “Nature Communications” published a study called, “Regional climate impacts of a possible future grand solar minimum.” This found that, “any reduction in global mean near-surface temperature due to a future decline in solar activity is likely to be a small fraction of projected anthropogenic warming.” As with the Little Ice Age, any significant effects are likely to be regional in nature — and, of course, temporary, since a grand solar minimum typically lasts only decades.
So, no, the Daily Mail is quite wrong when it trumpets, “Scientists warn the sun will ‘go to sleep’ in 2030 and could cause temperatures to plummet.”
In actuality, what is going to happen in the business-as-usual emissions scenario (RCP8.5) is closer to “rate of change” of warming.
Original story by Joe Romm on Climate Progress