Proof that “climate disruption” is found all the way back to pre-industrial times

A new paper in Quaternary Science Reviews titled:

Combined dendro-documentary evidence of Central European hydroclimatic springtime extremes over the last millennium

…demonstrates that there is evidence for extreme weather during both the Medieval Warming Period  and the Little Ice Age, in fact it was seen as common according to the tree ring records examined. Unlike the Yamal debacle, it seems they did a much broader sampling of trees, both living and historical fir (Abies alba Mill.), and sampled across France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Even better, unlike the irascible Dr. Mann, they didn’t have to truncate the tree samples after 1960 because they didn’t agree with the premise. Their samples continuously span the AD 962–2007 period and no hide the decline was needed.

Fig. 5. (A) Central European and regional fir TRW extremes, and (B) their centennial changes over the past millennium (network extremes were double weighted), compared to (C)
annual-resolve and 40-year low-passed Central European April-May precipitation variability.

Unfortunately. this paper is published paywalled in Elsevier, which is being boycotted by thousands of academics worldwide, so I can’t recommend that anyone purchase it. But with a little sleuthing, I found a copy on one of the author websites here.

Abstract 

A predicted rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and associated effects on the Earth’s climate system likely imply more frequent and severe weather extremes with alternations in hydroclimatic parameters expected to be most critical for ecosystem functioning, agricultural yield, and human health. Evaluating the return period and amplitude of modern climatic extremes in light of pre-industrial natural changes is, however, limited by generally too short instrumental meteorological observations. Here we introduce and analyze 11,873 annually resolved and absolutely dated ring width measurement series from living and historical fir (Abies alba Mill.) trees sampled across France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, which continuously span the AD 962–2007 period. Even though a dominant climatic driver of European fir growth was not found, ring width extremes were evidently triggered by anomalous variations in Central European April–June precipitation. Wet conditions were associated with dynamic low-pressure cells, whereas continental-scale droughts coincided with persistent high-pressure between 35 and 55°N. Documentary evidence independently confirms many of the dendro signals over the past millennium, and further provides insight on causes and consequences of ambient weather conditions related to the reconstructed extremes. A fairly uniform distribution of hydroclimatic extremes throughout the Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age and Recent Global Warming may question the common believe that frequency and severity of such events closely relates to climate mean stages. This joint dendro-documentary approach not only allows extreme climate conditions of the industrial era to be placed against the backdrop of natural variations, but also probably helps to constrain climate model simulations over exceptional long timescales.

I found Table 1 and the historical accounts fascinating:

Conclusions

Numerous laboratories, institutes and universities independently developed a unique pool of nearly twelve thousand living and historical fir TRW measurement series from northeastern France, northern Switzerland, southern Germany, and the Czech Republic.

This worldwide unique conifer compilation continuously spans from medieval times into the 21st century, and was now for the first time, dendro-climatologically analyzed. Three regional subsets reveal an exceptionally high amount of common fir growth variability on inter-annual to multi-centennial timescales. An overall weak relationship between ring formation and climate variation, however, contradicts the pronounced year-to-year growth coherency across the lower elevation Central European mountain systems north of the
Alpine arc. Frequency and severity of regional- to continental-scale fir TRW extremes was equally distributed over the past millennium, and was likely controlled by anomalous departures in Central European April-June precipitation totals. Positive growth extremes
were associated with wet conditions that coincided with low pressure,
whereas negative TRW departures were related to dry conditions and high-pressure. Independent documentary evidence confirms many of the TRW extremes back into medieval times.

Quantitative indices and qualitative descriptions provide exclusive high-resolution insight on ambient climate conditions, including detailed information on possible causes and consequences of hydroclimatic anomalies. Cross checking tree-ring reconstructions of
extreme events with corresponding narrative documentary sources is indispensable for detecting possible disagreement in specific years. Uncertainties in our results comprise methodological limitations related to the tree-ring standardization and chronology
development techniques used, complex and possibly lagged responses of fir growth to climate change, some temporal mismatch between the dendro and documentary data, and statistical trials associated with the index calculation methods applied. Nevertheless,
our study does allow Central European hydroclimatic springtime extremes of the industrial era to be placed against a 1000 year-long backdrop of natural variations, and may possibly also offers a realistic and independent benchmark to improve the absolute dating of lower resolution proxy archives, and even to constrain climate model
simulations over pre-industrial timescales. Beside its palaeoclimatic value will this interdisciplinary dataset and approach likely appear beneficial for biologists, ecologists and archeologists, and will ideally also stimulate the re-assessment of additional and possibly even older historical tree-ring measurements that exist in Europe and
have so far widely been ignored for purposes other than dating.

=========================================================

Next time you hear someone wailing about climate change driving severe weather and this being a recent phenomenon caused by AGW, show them this.

If that fails, use Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s handy button:

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34 Responses to Proof that “climate disruption” is found all the way back to pre-industrial times

  1. Very darned interesting. This seems to indicate what should be common sense, that tree rings are not proxies for temperature, but for overall climate.

    Would this also not mean that the Mannian Hockey Stick is measuring CO2 fertilization rather than temperature?

  2. lgp says:

    It means the Mannian Hockey Stick is measuring fertilization of the Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s handy button kind, not of the CO2 kind :-)

  3. Jimbo says:

    I have told Warmists time and again that weather extremes show no worsening trends and sometimes go the opposite to their predictions. Think ACE hurrican index during the ‘hottest decade on the record’.

  4. Peter says:

    Did I miss the part where this paper disproves the theory that climate change causes extreme weather?

  5. Mike Mangan says:

    Historical accounts? I don’t think Mosher would approve.

  6. Bloke down the pub says:

    I don’t know what the weather is like in the areas where these samples were taken, but in the UK the weather is so variable that you can easily have four seasons in one day, which makes reconstructions like this look a bit suspect to say the least.

  7. timg56 says:

    How about that. A dendro-climatology study that relates to precipitation rather than temperature. My confidence that d-climatology is a scientific field just went up.

  8. timg56 says:

    Peter,

    Apparently you missed seeing where it shows that extreme climate events occured prior to the industrial age and that it is difficult to decern any difference in the rate of occurance now from then.

  9. Brian H says:

    timg56;
    Peter also missed that climate change = weather change. It’s a tautology. ;)

    Nice study. A baseline! My kingdom for a baseline!

    Edit note, re original (?) text: “may question the common believe belief”

  10. Peter says:

    timg56:
    yes, extreme climate events in one small area (“northeastern France, northern Switzerland, southern Germany, and the Czech Republic”) and as measured by one data source (a species of fir tree) and for one type of climatic extreme (precipitation extremes). It is quite a sweeping conclusion to then say that this disproves the idea that climate change can and will cause extreme weather. It is also not at all what the authors said anywhere in this paper – or at least, the part of the paper posted above.

  11. Steven Mosher says:

    Mike Mangan says:
    April 10, 2012 at 10:30 am (Edit)
    Historical accounts? I don’t think Mosher would approve.

    #################
    On the contrary. If you follow my discussions this is exactly the kind of cross check you want to do. A piece of writing “it was rainy” by author A, cannot be calibrated against another piece of writing by author B. “it was very rainy”. With an independent QUANTITATIVE measure you have something to work with.

  12. Thomas Scotland says:

    I see that Scotland is apparently not included. August 1829 was exceptionally wet in the North East with major floods* to the extent that every bridge over every river was washed away with one famous exception. That of Thomas Telford’s bridge over the river Spey at Craigellachie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craigellachie_Bridge The local story is that Telford on an early twice yearly visit (1812) enquired of the locals if he had designed the bridge high enough above the river. Whether or not on their advice, he told the foreman to raise its height by 5 feet. That probably saved the bridge.
    In the same flood the Findhorn river brought down so much silt that it effectively filled in the large semi enclosed bay there to the extent that the shipbuilding industry in Findhorn was killed off. No ships could negotiate the now shallow bay. At low tide now the approx 1 mile by 1/2 mile bay is about 3/4 sand. Additionally there is now a low seaward bar.
    * This is still known as the ‘muckle flood’ Muckle meaning very very big.

  13. bernie1815 says:

    Did anyone see a reference to any of the Mannian literature?
    Perhaps Lubos can do some sleuthing on the key aut

  14. Paul Coppin says:

    Peter says:
    April 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Did I miss the part where this paper disproves the theory that climate change causes extreme weather?

    No, it’s right there after the citation that proves the theory hypothesis that climate changes causes extreme weather. You forgot your /sarc tag.

  15. peterhodges says:

    Peter says:
    April 10, 2012 at 10:57 am
    Peter says:
    April 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Where or where do these people come from???

    I am astounded by the constant appearance of folks parroting the latest BS meme from the AGW propaganda machine. I mean, memes with no relation to reality whatsoever.

  16. Paul Coppin says:

    Uncertainties in our results comprise methodological limitations related to the tree-ring standardization and chronology development techniques used, complex and possibly lagged responses of fir growth to climate change, some temporal mismatch between the dendro and documentary data, and statistical trials associated with the index calculation methods applied. Nevertheless, our study does allow Central European hydroclimatic springtime extremes of the industrial era to be placed against a 1000 year-long backdrop of natural variations, and may possibly also offers a realistic and independent benchmark to improve the absolute dating of lower resolution proxy archives, and even to constrain climate model simulations over pre-industrial timescales.

    I find this statement in the conclusion particularly troubling. It starts by heaping a huge dose of doubt on their processes, their correlations and their statistical testing, but then goes on to invoke “climate change”, a modern times correlativity, “benchmarking”, no less, and as parametric input to climate models. Seems a lo-o-ong stretch from one to the other. This statement shouldn’t have passed the reviewers in my view. But then, I haven’t worked through the paper yet, but I’m still left with a vague feeling that their results are a variation on the standard polling statement: “results are valid 19 times out 20, plus or minus an error of 150%, when compared to a national average selected at random from a pool of subjects at home between 5:46PM and 5:58PM, and available specifically through the Verizon telephone network on a pay as you go phone plan.”…). Maybe I’m just getting jaded….

  17. AnonyMoose says:

    I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the precipitation rates increased from 1492 until the early 1900s. That’s the period when the population of the Americas crashed and reforestation happened, until steam-powered railroads and sawmills did a lot of harvesting.

  18. AndyG55 says:

    No Peter, it shows that the climate hasn’t really changed. !!

  19. David A. Evans says:

    Peter says:
    April 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Did I miss the part where this paper disproves the theory that climate change causes extreme weather?

    Assuming you mean CAGW, did I miss the part where there was anything more than an assertion?

    Some people have told me that Cailion et al which established the 800 (ish) year delay between Temp increase and CO2 increase also establishes a connection between CO2 increase and further temp increase. All I ever found was an assertion to that effect on the penultimate page. It’s all I’ve EVER seen ANYWHERE, ASSERTIONS!

    DaveE.

  20. phlogiston says:

    Peter says:
    April 10, 2012 at 10:24 am
    Did I miss the part where this paper disproves the theory that climate change causes extreme weather?

    Sounds like you missed out on mother nature’s genetic IQ lottery.Climate is always changing and therefore – as the paper shows – extreme events in the study period up to the present are uniformly distributed. No effect of late 20th century AGW. What part of this do you not get?

  21. kwinterkorn says:

    For Peter, and his ilk

    What this paper does is provide evidence, not proof, that “extreme weather events” have occurred in both warmer and colder periods. It is fashionable these days to attribute extreme weather to CO2-driven climate change. This paper weakens such claims, though it does not not “disprove” them. It will require many such studies, in diverse locations, looking at diverse proxies, to even provide strong evidence for or against any particular theory. That is how good science works.

    The problem with advocates of catastrophic AGW hypothesis is that they have closed their minds to empirical data, preferring instead to embrace the output of computer models, which provide no data at all. For a short period of about 20 years, from the 1970′s to the 1990′s, the climate seems to have warmed. That’s it. To take one hypothesis for that warming, CO2 forcing, to the exclusion of alternate hypotheses is just plain unscientific. To mock those who point to contradictory evidence exhibits hostility to the scientific method.

  22. DesertYote says:

    WOW, some real data. Cant wait to get off worki so I can read this.

    Now we can really choose our Poisson.

  23. Peter says: It is quite a sweeping conclusion to then say that this disproves the idea that climate change can and will cause extreme weather.

    Dear Peter,

    Those who promulgate the idea that “climate change” causes extreme weather have the responsibility to test that idea, and to provide evidence for or against.

    This paper provides evidence against, as does the recent cyclonic index. Can you cite any evidence that supports the idea? Other than theoretical models, which are not evidence but only conjecture?

  24. timg56 says:

    Peter,

    You are the one claiming it “disproves” that climate change causes extreme weather. What I said was that the study indicates that it is difficult to decern any difference in extreme events over the timeframe of the study. While this doesn’t “disprove” any link between a warming climate and an increase in extreme climate events, it does give one cause to question whether such links do in fact exist.

    As for the nature of the study, it appears far more diligent than the claims we constantly see about increasing numbers of extreme events.

  25. vukcevic says:

    Here is the 350 years of seasonal CETs, where the most if not all extremes (cold and warm) are confined to the winter months and
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET-D.htm
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETsw.htm

  26. Tim Mantyla says:

    It’s about time some real science appeared on WUWT. Of course, it remains to be validated by peer review and placed in the context of the entire body of global climate change knowledge.

  27. TomT says:

    Uh, Peter, duh the climate changes. What does that have to do with whether or not CO2 causes climate change?

  28. As for increase of CO2 causing greater incidence of extreme weather events:
    I doubt it.

    Bad extratropical windstorms, bad blizzards in low elevation areas of northeast
    USA and associated with major storms, bad Nor’Easters, and USA tornadoes
    F2/EF2 and stronger, especially if they have long tracks: These have major
    dependence on horizontal temperature gradient between the Arctic and the
    topics. According to models and the past 33 years of history, that item is
    decreasing.

    The record of USA tornadoes F2/EF2 and stronger shows slight decline after
    1950. F1/EF1 hardly increased, and F0/EF0 increased, likely due to increased
    detection of small-&-weak tornadoes.

    For that matter, the great tornado outbreak of early April 1974 has some of
    its records still standing.

    1978-2010 had what I consider “merely fair share” of snowfall records. In a
    few locations in northeast USA, the worst blizzard on record is still the one of
    March 1888 – on snowfall alone, not counting extreme wind and protracted
    extreme cold. Philadelphia still has a few March days with record lows and
    spectacular record-lowest-highs from that storm, even though most of the
    snow fell farther to the north. Washington, DC had tidal waters blown down
    to spectacular low levels by historic “white hurricane” winds from the
    northwest, along with a mere 6 inches of snow, but also record cold and
    record lowest-highs for those days, and likely record windchills for March.

  29. Interstellar Bill says:

    Thank you for saying ‘titled’ rather than the usual, painfully erroneous ‘entitled’.
    The former refers to something having a title, while the latter refers to persons.

  30. Brian Johnson uk says:

    Academics may scoff but this guy has dug up loads of historical observations of UK weather and is at least as accurate as any UEA utterance.

    http://www.booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/wxevents.htm

    example……

    http://www.booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1750_1799.htm

  31. Brian Johnson uk says:

    Try this link and look at 1703 – if that happened now can you imagine the hysteria from the Greens!
    http://www.booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1700_1749.htm

  32. Bertram Felden says:

    I’m afraid, that leaving aside all the told you so and now you didn’t claims I personally remain very sceptical of dendroclimatology.

    Although I do find it laughable to have one of the earlier contributors claim that as this was a study based only on north western Eurpoean trees it can’t be a proxy for global conditions (true enough). But remind me, how is it that a handful of trees from one Siberian peninsula can (Mann et al)?

  33. Anthea Collins says:

    Don’t panic, all is well. The weather here in southern England is back to “normal” … this morning we have had: brilliant sunshine, drizzle, sunshine, torrential downpour with hail and thunder, and it’s back to sunshine. April, don’t you love it!

    Anthea

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