Don Easterbrook's AGU paper on potential global cooling

Don sent me his AGU paper for publication and discussion here on WUWT, and I’m happy to oblige – Anthony

Abstracts of American Geophysical Union annual meeting, San Francisco  Dec., 2008

Solar Influence on Recurring Global, Decadal, Climate Cycles Recorded by Glacial Fluctuations, Ice Cores, Sea Surface Temperatures, and Historic Measurements Over the Past Millennium

Easterbrook, Don J., Dept. of Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225,

Global, cyclic, decadal, climate patterns can be traced over the past millennium in glacier fluctuations, oxygen isotope ratios in ice cores, sea surface temperatures, and historic observations.  The recurring climate cycles clearly show that natural climatic warming and cooling have occurred many times, long before increases in anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 levels.  The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age are well known examples of such climate changes, but in addition, at least 23 periods of climatic warming and cooling have occurred in the past 500 years. Each period of warming or cooling lasted about 25-30 years (average 27 years).  Two cycles of global warming and two of global cooling have occurred during the past century, and the global cooling that has occurred since 1998 is exactly in phase with the long term pattern.  Global cooling occurred from 1880 to ~1915; global warming occurred from ~1915 to ~1945; global cooling occurred from ~1945-1977;, global warming occurred from 1977 to 1998; and global cooling has occurred since 1998.  All of these global climate changes show exceptionally good correlation with solar variation since the Little Ice Age 400 years ago.

The IPCC predicted global warming of 0.6° C (1° F) by 2011 and 1.2° C (2° F) by 2038, whereas Easterbrook (2001) predicted the beginning of global cooling by 2007 (± 3-5 yrs) and cooling of about 0.3-0.5° C until ~2035.  The predicted cooling seems to have already begun. Recent measurements of global temperatures suggest a gradual cooling trend since 1998 and 2007-2008 was a year of sharp global cooling. The cooling trend will likely continue as the sun enters a cycle of lower irradiance and the Pacific Ocean changed from its warm mode to its cool mode.

Comparisons of historic global climate warming and cooling, glacial fluctuations, changes in warm/cool mode of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and sun spot activity over the past century show strong correlations and provide a solid data base for future climate change projections. The announcement by NASA that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) had shifted to its cool phase is right on schedule as predicted by past climate and PDO changes (Easterbrook, 2001, 2006, 2007) and coincides with recent solar variations. The PDO typically lasts 25-30 years, virtually assuring several decades of global cooling.  The IPCC predictions of global temperatures 1° F warmer by 2011,  2° F warmer by 2038, and 10° F by 2100 stand little chance of being correct. “Global warming” (i.e., the warming since 1977) is over!

agu1

Figure 1.  Solar irradiance, global climate change, and glacial advances. Click to enlarge

The real question now is not trying to reduce atmospheric CO2 as a means of stopping global warming, but rather (1) how can we best prepare to cope with the 30 years of global cooling that is coming, (2) how cold will it get, and (3) how can we cope with the cooling during a time of exponential population increase?  In 1998 when I first predicted a 30-year cooling trend during the first part of this century, I used a very conservative estimate for the depth of cooling, i.e., the 30-years of global cooling that we experienced from ~1945 to 1977.  However, also likely are several other possibilities (1) the much deeper cooling that occurred during the 1880 to ~1915 cool period, (2) the still deeper cooling that took place from about 1790 to 1820 during the Dalton sunspot minimum, and (3) the drastic cooling that occurred from 1650 to 1700 during the Maunder sunspot minimum. Figure 2 shows an estimate of what each of these might look like on a projected global climate curve.  The top curve is based on the 1945-1977 cool period and the 1977-1998 warm period.  The curve beneath is based on the 1890-1915 cool period and 1915-1945 warm period.  The bottom curve is what we might expect from a Dalton or Maunder cool period.  Only time will tell where we’re headed, but any of the curves are plausible.  The sun’s recent behavior suggests we are likely heading for a deeper global cooling than the 1945-1977 cool period and ought to be looking ahead to cope with it.

agu2

Figure 2. Global temperature variation 1900 to 2008 with projections to 2100. Click to enlarge.

The good news is that global warming (i.e., the 1977-1998 warming) is over and atmospheric CO2 is not a vital issue. The bad news is that cold conditions kill more people than warm conditions, so we are in for bigger problems than we might have experienced if global warming had continued. Mortality data from 1979-2002 death certificate records show twice as many deaths directly from extreme cold than for deaths from extreme heat, 8 times as many deaths as those from floods, and 30 times as many as from hurricanes. The number of deaths indirectly related to cold is many times worse.

Depending on how cold the present 30-year cooling period gets, in addition to the higher death rates, we will have to contend with diminished growing seasons and increasing crop failures with food shortages in third world countries, increasing energy demands, changing environments, increasing medical costs from diseases (especially flu), increasing transportation costs and interruptions, and many other ramifications associated with colder climate. The degree to which we may be prepared to cope with these problems may be significantly affected by how much money we waste chasing the CO2 fantasy.

All of these problems will be exacerbated by the soaring human population.  The current world population of about 6 ½ billion people is projected to increase by almost 50% during the next 30 years of global cooling (Figure 2).  The problems associated with the global cooling would be bad enough at current population levels.  Think what they will be with the added demands from an additional three billion people, especially if we have uselessly spent trillions of dollars needlessly trying to reduce atmospheric CO2, leaving insufficient funds to cope with the real problems.

agu3

Figure 3. Global population.

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MattN

I doubt it will be published. AGU is fully vested in AGW-“science”…

Jared

How come a schmuck like me could look at these graphs back in the early 2000’s and clearly see we were about to go into a cold spell, yet Nobel Prize winners who invented the Internet couldn’t? One has to be blind not to see the cycles. My guess is Al Snore and his crew could see the cycles too, but they have an agenda that they want to get through and know most people are sheep, so they just disregard it.

Good graphics – First report in a long time that has reported on periodic solar changes.
I will get it printed and to my congressman!

Request permission to publish this on http://www.freerepublic.com
Though primarily a political and news analysis web forum, It will reach an additional few million (well – hundreds of thousands per week) more readers over at Free Republic.

Bob Sykes

So, we are in a warm period due to high solar output, nearly as warm as the Medieval Climatic Optimum. Easterbrook’s projection shows a very minor fluctuation downwards, but we still are in a warm period. Predictions of mass starvation seem unwarranted.
So, my question is, Does anyone think a downward cooling on the order of the Sporer or Maunder Minima is in the cards?
By the way, Easterbrook is using either the UN’s high or medium population projection. The medium projection assumes that all countries, including Europe, China and Japan, have fertility levels at the replacement level, and population growth is driven by the very young Third World age structure. It is more likely that fertility levels in the developed countries will remain well below replacement levels and that those in the Third World, which are now rapidly falling, will continue to fall. In that case, the total world population should peak around 8 billion, or a little less, around 2030 and fall slowly throughout the remainder of the century. No need to promote Ehrlich’s dementia. Read Julian Simon (RIP).

Pierre Gosselin

“The IPCC predicted global warming of 0.6° C (1° F) by 2011 and 1.2° C (2° F) by 2038, whereas Easterbrook (2001) predicted the beginning of global cooling by 2007 (± 3-5 yrs) and cooling of about 0.3-0.5° C until ~2035. ”
When was this prediction made?

deadwood

One of the advantages to having an analysis of climate by a geologist such as Don Easterbrook is that a geologist has a better grasp of the time frame within which climate operates.
The evidence of the PDO is extensive, as is that of glacial fluctuations in the PNW. What is truly amazing to me is that the clique of paleoclimate “experts”, whose knowledge appears solely limited to certain sub-alpine tree-ring collections, could ignore such well documented climate data.
When I was an undergraduate, my paleo prof told an interesting story one day during lecture. He said the typical undergrad knows a little bit about many things in science, but as his studies progress he learns more and more about less and less until finally, when he is awarded a Ph.D., he knows an awful lot about practically nothing.
This appears to be what has happened in the climate field. We have people who, while they have a great deal of knowledge about computer programming, and perhaps even have some training in the physics and chemistry of climate systems, are ignoring a vast sea of empirical observations that contradict the results of their climate models.
The vast amounts of research moneys that have been placed in the hands of the the modelers have been successful in creating ever more complex programs on bigger and better computers, but the models still fail to account for the real data (which many of the modelers dismiss as noise).
Thanks, Dr. Easterbrook, I have followed your work for many years (my first earth science project was a study of the glaciation of the Fraser Valley). Thanks also to Anthony for giving greater distribution of Dr. Easterbrook’s analysis.

Brent Buckner

Don Easterbrook wrote:
(1) how can we best prepare to cope with the 30 years of global cooling that is coming…
I think that should be “20 years of global cooling that is coming”, as the paper indicates that we are 10 years into a 30 year period of global cooling.

Brent Buckner

Ooops! Close tag!

Dave D

This is an excellent paper and I feel hits the real issue squarely on the head. Having written and published this paper on this informative blog – Keep Up the great Work Anthony! – do you have any plan to submet it to mass communications, Don? I believe the Washington Post, CNN and The NY Times have all done some alternative AGW articles lately. Fox is always open. Are you going to try these channels as well as scientific journals?
Thanks,
Dave

Jason

Where do Easterbrook’s numbers for solar irradiance come from?

John

I think that if a protracted period of cooling does continue then this will cause global population to naturally decline. Historically speaking warming periods have led to population increases and cooling periods- with the corresponding decline in agricultural output and economic prosperity- have led to decreases in global populations. Or at least a stalling of the increase in population.

DR.M.A. Rose

Don,
the Pacific Decadel Oscillation(PDO) has switched into cool mode. Does the Atlantic Multidecadel Oscillation (AMO) automatically follow? I ask because I have seen several statistical regression analysis which indicates the AMO has significant influence on the earths temperature

Cold=drought=famine. John Steinbeck´s “Grapes of Wrath” scenario.

G.R. Mead

One thing I never q

G.R. Mead

In the recent decadal warming, thta has now ended, you can see the shift in climate regions here Since 1990 through 2006:
http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm
It nicely brackets the 1998 El Nino spike. It is a good resource to figure shifts in reverse in North American agricultural productivity depending on the degree of shift toward cooling. In 16 years of warming there was a 1 degree shift equivalent to a hardiness zone change of about 1.5 degrees latitude at the 30th parallel; 2.0 degrees latitude at the 35th Parallel, and 2.5 -3.0 degrees latitude at about the 40th parallel (with wider shifts inland and narrower toward the coasts.
In Georgia, for instance saw a rise of total farm output over this period by more than 40% — from an index of about 1.25 in 1990 to almost 1.85 in 2004. Iowa saw a rise from about 3.9 to 5.1, a rise of over 30 %. See: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/AgProductivity/table03.xls
It would be expected to see the same fall in productivity over a similar period of cooling and climate zones shifting northward again. However, since that rise required structural adjustments that limited the realization of increased natural productivity below its potential gains (capitalized inputs have to be acquired to exploit the potential gains) the loss of natural productivity from cooling will be felt much more sharply and the economic dislocation harsher, because nothing puts a floor on annual productivity loss similar to the structural cap on productivity gain .

Steven G

Under the scenario of a cooling similar to 1945-1977, the Easterbrook projection shows a continued upward trend in global temperature anomalies over the next century. What is driving this?

bill-tb

Reality settles in.

AnonyMoose

That certainly covers a lot of ground.
One attack on this study will be that it’s based on mere historical trends rather than magical computer simulations.

giovanniworld

Hey, what happened to Global Warming?
Gio-

Robert Bateman

Now that’s a study that addresses the real issue here: Exactly what will be the depth of this cooling phase and what we will do about it.
I say we have already arrived at a 1880-1915 state and are flirting now with a Manunder/Dalton. If you look at the SOHO EIT and Stereo Behind right now you can see sunspot 1009 area and the place that formed ahead of it bracketed by a big piece of coronal hole just ahead and the polar cap hole below. Clearly, forces are at work sapping SC24 hard, and they are not playing nice.
If I could come up with the data, I’d like to see the % of Solar Area covered by coronal hole. To see whether it is on the increase or wane. Seems like it is increasing.

Robert Bateman

‘Bob Sykes (06:21:53) :
So, my question is, Does anyone think a downward cooling on the order of the Sporer or Maunder Minima is in the cards?’
I for one believe we have a 50-50 chance of reaching a Dalton.
A 25% chance of reaching a Maunder.
The progression and comparison I have on this page:
http://www.robertb.darkhorizons.org/DeepSolarMin.htm
How do I tell the difference between a Dalton & a Maunder?
The Dalton pattern will spend 2009 in limbo, 2010 in a very slightly raised plateau from bottom, but the Maunder will make for a ramp year, then fall back to bottom and sit there lifeless for several years, marking out the shoulders of rise, fall and a daring spike to maxima that is totally isolated.
Taking a gander at Easterbrooks progression, it only takes 2 decades to hit glacially numbing cold. All that is needed is a comatose Sun.

Pamela Gray

To improve the paper, I would have added sections explaining each of the forcings mentioned, with scientific study references. The ocean oscillations and solar irradiance needs more than just correlations but also mechanism theories. There are lots of cyclic things that can occur together but do not have a mechanism that demonstrates plausible cause and effect. For example, people always (or should) winterize before winter sets in. That does not mean that doing so causes winter to set in. Without a plausible and standard scientific treatment to the subject this is an opinion paper, not a scientific review of the literature with corresponding mega analysis.

Jason (07:25:20) :
Where do Easterbrook’s numbers for solar irradiance come from?
Jason hits this on its head. The increase in TSI in the first half of the 20th century didn’t happen, so if you want to ascribe the wiggles to solar activity, then the higher temps in the last half of the 20th century must be due to other causes. E.g. AGW, which is why the AGW crowd loves the solar connection. There is good evidence now that TSI during the Maunder Minimum was no lower than today [right now], so the solar connection is not so obvious.
It is a pity that Easterbrook hitches his wagon to the Sun, as that weakens his otherwise good case.

Pamela Gray

oops, meant meta analysis

Josh

Anecdotal cooling evidence from Colorado: The AGW alarmists told us that by now ski resorts would be suffering from global warming. I’ve lived in Breckenridge, CO since 2005 and haven’t seen any signs that (a) ski seasons are getting shorter (b) snowfall is decreasing or (c) temperatures are getting warmer. In fact, ski seasons are starting in October and lasting until June, resorts have been setting snowfall records (Beaver Creek just set a record for December snowfall and numerous resorts had record snow last season), and temperatures are downright frigid. I’m looking forward to many more powder days as global cooling continues!

Robert Bateman (09:58:16) :
If I could come up with the data, I’d like to see the % of Solar Area covered by coronal hole. To see whether it is on the increase or wane. Seems like it is increasing.
Most solar physicists believe that the interplanetary magnetic field comes out of coronal holes. If so, the IMF strength might be a measure of coronal hole area [assuming same basal field strength], thus suggesting that coronal holes are declining [if you subscribe to the idea that the IMF now is lower than lately].

Robert Bateman

Leif: I had something far simpler in mind than that. I was thinking that Coronal Holes compete with sunspot areas. That piece of coronal hole next to the spot that formed ahead of 1009 is what dampened down the whole string.
i.e. – the sequence in solar rotation direction is SC1009, spot ahead on Stereo Ahead, and when the whole thing reappears in Earth view we have plage- plage- hole.

Stephen Wilde

If you hitch solar changes to ocean changes as the article does then there is no problem explaining all the past and present global temperature observations without involving CO2 at all.
Easterbrook confirms what I have been saying in published articles since April 2008.
For a relevant example see this link:
http://co2sceptics.com/news.php?id=1302

Bill Illis

Woh,
Look at the newest Ocean SST map.
Negative PDO still in place but the developing La Nina trend just got much stronger over the past week.
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/data/anomnight.12.29.2008.gif
80% of La Ninas and El Ninos start developing in the early summer and peak around December. This one is starting to look like an atypical 20% one.

Robert Bateman (10:40:36) :
I was thinking that Coronal Holes compete with sunspot areas.
Coronal holes form from decaying sunspots, so rather than competing, sunspots feed coronal holes. There are a few exceptions to this: if an active region pops up in the middle of a coronal hole the region may temporarily close the hole, but soon the additional flux wins and the hole opens up again.

Robert Bateman

Oh great, another La Nina.

Stephen Wilde (10:43:35) :
what I have been saying:
“In my personal opinion it was criminal for the IPCC and the modellers to ignore all that on the basis of some nebulous concept termed Total Solar Irradiance.”

TSI is NOT ‘some nebulous concept’, it is a very precise measurement of the total solar output of radiant heat, which is what directly heats the Earth’s Surface [including some back-radiation from GHGs].
If you invoke PDO the way you do, you don’t need CO2 nor the Sun.

MattN

Bill,
Thanks for that heads up! I’ve been watching SSTs for a while too. I saw a faint La Nina signal in a daily satellite shot last week, but the last one I saw was Dec 22nd. This one is certainly more clear. La Nina is back….

Deadwood
Your comment is prioceless
“When I was an undergraduate, my paleo prof told an interesting story one day during lecture. He said the typical undergrad knows a little bit about many things in science, but as his studies progress he learns more and more about less and less until finally, when he is awarded a Ph.D., he knows an awful lot about practically nothing.”
I correspond and work with a lot of scientists and am in awe of their depth of knowledge on ‘their’ subject but shocked how narrow that area of interest is. It perhaps illustrates why context and perspective is so often lacking in scientific works.
TonyB

Pierre Gosselin

Leif,
One also cannot ascribe the wiggles to CO2 either. Surely CO2 did not cause the Minimums and Optimums over the last 1000 years.
If it’s not the sun and not CO2, what is left?
Brent Buckner (07:17:30) :
Don Easterbrook wrote:
(1) how can we best prepare to cope with the 30 years of global cooling that is coming…?
Answer: Easy! Just pretend it’s getting warmer!

Pierre Gosselin

Bill Illis,
Holy bejesus!
At that rate, we’ll be in an ice age in about 9.5 months!
Any ocean experts here who can shed light as to what is going on here?

Ellie in Belfast

TonyB, Deadwood,
….on the other hand a consultant learns less and less about more and more until he knows practically nothing about almost everything.
There are people who can be described as ‘a goldmine of information’… and others who are ‘minefields of information’ (i.e. don’t get them started on a pet subject)

AnonyMoose

giovanniworld (09:32:35) :
Hey, what happened to Global Warming?

You mean the political movement of the late 20th Century? It was overwhelmed by Climate Realism.
Incidentally, the claimed regionalism of the Little Ice Age apparently covers the kind of large regions of North America and western Europe: “Striking ecosystem changes were recorded from a large suite of lakes from Arctic, alpine and temperate ecozones in North America and western Europe. Aquatic ecosystem changes across the circumpolar Arctic were found to occur in the late-19th and early 20th centuries.” Maybe these Little Ice Age “hemispheric” changes weren’t very regional.

Stephen Wilde

Sorry, Leif.
When I wrote that I was under the impression that ‘Total Solar Irradiance’ was a general term covering all the different solar effects ‘in total’.
Nevertheless my point about the behaviour of others still seems to ring true.

Rhys Jaggar

Bob Sykes (06:21:53) :
‘So, we are in a warm period due to high solar output, nearly as warm as the Medieval Climatic Optimum. Easterbrook’s projection shows a very minor fluctuation downwards, but we still are in a warm period. Predictions of mass starvation seem unwarranted.
So, my question is, Does anyone think a downward cooling on the order of the Sporer or Maunder Minima is in the cards?’
I think personally that at the moment the odds are less than 25%, however the longer the delay to cycle 24, the more those odds increase. I think you need PDO/AMO forcing, weak sun and maybe volcanoes as well to trigger such an event, however.
Other factors likely to increase probability: continued heavy early winter snowfall across Canada, Northern US and Europe for the next 5 years; a sustained year-on-year recovery of summer ice in the Arctic; a second and third winter/summer like the 2007/08 one in Alaska.
One thing I would say though under such circumstances: expect some deserts to turn into fertile lands. Rainfall in southern Spain and North Africa has been much heavier in the past two years, which clearly will have an effect on their desertification status. Crop cycles will move southward, not be wiped out, just as with increasing heat until recently wine crops in the UK have become much better. It’s up to mankind to adapt innovatively to that, not bleat that the world’s growing areas are wiped out.

Stephen Wilde

Actually Leif the PDO doesn’t seem to quite do it on it’s own but I can live with a solar input of, say, 10% over extended periods of time with the effect amplified upwards or downwards by the net global effects of the oceans from time to time.
I think we would have a problem ascribing the overall warming from 1600 to date on the oceans alone so the sun has to remain in the equation to provide slow longer term background changes.

Pierre Gosselin (11:45:08) :
One also cannot ascribe the wiggles to CO2 either. Surely CO2 did not cause the Minimums and Optimums over the last 1000 years.
If it’s not the sun and not CO2, what is left?

Any system as complex as the climate has internal oscillations. One may ask: what caused the Sun to vary? The answer [the best we know it – although there are fringe ideas about astrology and galactic center and spiral arm traversals and electric storms from Jupiter, etc] is ‘internal oscillations’. People that cannot accept oscillations of the climate system seem happy to accept oscillations of the Sun. Go figure…
Stephen Wilde (12:26:52) :
the sun has to remain in the equation to provide slow longer term background changes.
It is now becoming clear that there are no background changes in the Sun’s output, so we cannot invoke such changes, but why do we have to? Can we say with confidence that we need an extra 10% from the Sun? This presupposes that we have the data otherwise explained to that accuracy or better, which we do not.

Pamela Gray

Glaciers and bitter cold seem to come from the North and extend southward, not on a global scale or the other way around. It now seems reasonable to say that when these flip, northern weather is significantly changed. A cold flip brings cold, a warm flip brings warmth. Since the various ocean cycles are not in synch at this moment, it is reasonable to guestimate that occasionally they flip together, just like my oft repeated example of bus windshield wipers. And there is more than just the two major ones. I can see very bitter cold, extensive glacier and sea ice growth, and significant advance into areas unseen by the present generations, and devastation to flora and fauna alike were this to happen. It would happen rapidly with precious little time to prepare, maybe a season or two of early warning for only those watching for it. The rest would be caught unaware of impending extreme danger. I can reasonably think that ocean currents alone would be the cause of such an event. Of course, the discussion would still go on about what causes ocean circulation and flips. And for those of you with a religious bent, what causes the cause.

I’m having fun yanking Tamino’s chain with some of Easterbrook’s data: http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/12/26/the-other-anthropogenic-greenhouse-gas/#comment-25790

Robert Bateman

‘Leif Svalgaard (11:01:07) :
Coronal holes form from decaying sunspots, so rather than competing, sunspots feed coronal holes. There are a few exceptions to this: if an active region pops up in the middle of a coronal hole the region may temporarily close the hole, but soon the additional flux wins and the hole opens up again.’
If I am reading this right, the origin of those 2 trans-eqauatorial coronal holes formed out of the last of SC23 activity.
Is Coronal Hole theory and modeling something new, or is it well understood at this point?
I’m going to hazard a guess that those 2 trans-eq holes will close up when SC24 decides to ramp, otherwise they will hamper progression as the additional flux is going to win out.
Something like that.

maksimovich

“the sun has to remain in the equation to provide slow longer term background changes.”
http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh133/mataraka/faintearthparadox.jpg

maksimovich

“Actually Leif the PDO doesn’t seem to quite do it on it’s own”
Some might argue that the signals in geomagnetic activity have a comparitve signal to the PDO over similar time windows.
http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh133/mataraka/geomagneticchange.jpg

Robert Bateman (13:30:53) :
If I am reading this right, the origin of those 2 trans-eqauatorial coronal holes formed out of the last of SC23 activity.
The hole that gives rise to the stream we are just about to enter the next couple of days has existed since July, 2004. It can be followed as the ‘.’s in the left hand side of
http://www.leif.org/research/spolar.txt
The modeling and theory is reasonably well understood.
Solar minimum is often characterized by the disappearance of long-lived coronal holes as they are disrupted by emerging active regions, but new holes quickly form as the flux is there to allow them to.

RH

Steven G
The sun will drive it. It won’t get as warm though if there is a longer cooling period as observed in the 1800 or 1880 cool periods.