Has Charles Dickens shaped our perception of climate change?

Note: This essay originally appeared last January on The Air Vent. Given our current winter, it as just as prescient now as it was then, so I’m reposting it here. Thanks to Verity Jones and Charles the Moderator for bringing it to my attention – Anthony

Guest post by Tony Brown

Charles Dickens. Victorian winters. A Christmas Carol. Ice fairs on the Frozen Thames. Cold Cold Cold Cold Cold. Dickens has irrevocably moulded the climate views of generations of Anglo Saxon peoples as TV, Films and plays all promote his image of icy winters in that era. Is this view of Dickens winters correct? We take a look at his life through the prism of climate.

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth England on Feb 7th 1812.

1812 overall was a very cold year in the UK -the early part of the winter was especially bitter over Europe, marked by Napoleons retreat from Moscow, as illustrated in this painting by Adolph Northen.


“The air itself,” wrote a French colonel, “was thick with tiny icicles which sparkled in the sun but cut one’s face drawing blood.” Another Frenchman recalled that “it frequently happened that the ice would seal my eyelids shut.” Prince Wilhelm of Baden, one of Napoleon’s commanders, gave the order to march on the morning of Dec. 7, only to discover that “the last drummer boy had frozen to death.”

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44099-2004Aug5.html )

Napoleons’ Grand Armee of 600,000 was reduced to 200,000 by bitter weather and war, in an event of such significance that it inspired Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture whilst Leo Tolstoy put the 1812 campaign at the heart of his novel War and Peace,

Back in Britain, during 1812 the Dickens Family moved to Hawk Street, Portsmouth. And in 1813 to Southsea (adjacent) 1814: Brother Alfred born and died September.

In 1814 the River Thames froze over and the last ever frost fair was held. This was partly through changing weather conditions, but also because the nature of the river was altered when the old London Bridge was demolished and river flow increased

During that cold February in 1814 London experienced the hardest frost it had known in centuries. Though the fair lasted for only four days it was made memorable by an elephant, which was led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge. The print below shows how raucous some of the festivities became. The winter of 1813/14 was 4th coldest in the Central England Temperature record (which commenced 1660) at 0.43C


Your browser may not support display of this image.


The first frost fair was held in 1608. The most famous -lasting several months- was in 1684 (much the coldest year in CET at -1.17C) The link below leads to a promotional poster of that event.


1815: Family move to St Pancras London as John Dickens (father) is posted back by Navy. 1816: Sister Letitia born.

1816 was known as the year without a summer, snow fell very late and the summer never recovered. The winter proceeding it was severe. A volcanic eruption (Tambora: East Indies) disrupted wind patterns and temperatures greatly, affecting depressions, which tracked further south than usual, making the UK very cold and wet for the summer and beyond. In September the Thames had frozen and snow drifts remained on hills until late July.

1817: John Dickens is posted first to Sheerness then Chatham Dockyard in Kent. Family move to Chatham. 1819: Sister Harriet born.

1819-20: Severe winter. -23c was recorded at Tunbridge Wells. This was the 21st coldest winter in CET at 1.43C 1820: Brother Frederick born.

Decadal CET average 1810-1819 8.798C. The coldest decade since 1690-1699. Charles Dickens experienced six white London Christmases in the first nine years of his life. Truly his formative years were especially cold and signified a return to the Little Ice Age conditions which had been somewhat mitigated in previous decades.

1821: Dickens begins school. 1821: Late May saw snow in London, probably the latest snowfall there until 2nd June 1975. 1822: John Dickens recalled to London. Settle at Camden Town.

In his book ‘Climate History and the Modern world’ Hubert Lamb wrote of 1821/2 (and 1845/6) ‘The warm water of the Gulf stream spread itself beyond its usual bounds to the coast of Europe.’ This winter was the 16th warmest in the CET record at 5.80C.

The overall CET for the year was 10.05C the warmest for over 40 years.

1822-23: Severe winter, ice on the Thames by late December. February 8th saw a great snowstorm in Northern England. People had to tunnel through the snow.

1823 27th coldest winter in CET at 1.53C

1823: Family moves to 4 Gower Street North. Mrs. Dickens attempts to start a school without success. 1824: Dickens sent to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory. Father arrested for debt and sent to Marshalsea Debtors Prison where he is joined by wife and younger children. Charles lodges with family friends and spends a terrible year working at Warren’s Blacking, a shoe polish factory.

1825: Father retires from Navy, receives an Admiralty pension and Charles is sent to school-previously he had a very limited formal education

1825: Snow fell in October in London. A very windy time, with gales doing damage.

1826: Another warm year at 10.07C mean average

1827: Family evicted for non-payment of rates. Dickens goes to work at Ellis and Blackmore’s Solicitors then Charles Molloy’s Solicitors. Birth of Brother Augustus.

1828: Father works as a reporter for the “Daily Herald” newspaper.

1828 22nd warmest ever winter at 5.73C and also marked the warmest overall year for 45 years at 10.30C

1829: Family move to 12 Norfolk Street, Fitzroy Square. Dickens works as a freelance reporter at Doctor’s Commons.

1829: A cold year at a mean average of 8.16C. Continuous frost throughout January. The summer was wet, and quite cold. Over an inch of snow fell in early October, although where isn’t certain, most likely to be London. 6 inches fell in London and the South in late November. Northerly and Easterly gales damaged ships.

Decadal CET 1820-29 9.35C-in terms of the UK a comfortable decade

1829-30: Severe winter. Continuous frost from the 23rd to 31st December, 12th to 19th January, and 31st January to 6th February. Ice on the Thames from late December to late January. Some places completely blocked. 25th December 1830 was cold, with -12c recorded in Greenwich. 1.13c was 13th coldest winter in CET.

1830: Admitted as a reader at the British Museum.

1831: Begins work as a reporter for “The Mirror of Parliament” edited by his uncle J.M. Barrow. 1832: Reporter at the “True Sun” newspaper. Illness prevents him attending auditions at Covent Garden.

1834: Becomes reporter on the “Morning Chronicle” and meets Catherine Hogarth. Takes rooms at 13 Furnival’s Inn, Holborn.

Second warmest ever winter at 6.53C which marked the start of the warmest year overall for 100 years at 10.47c

1835/6: Snowy winter in Scotland. Snow lasted well into March, with 8 or 9 feet of snow being reported in parts! This trend continued for a number of winters, with a lot of snow in Scotland. From early winter, December, to late winter, March, snow was a problem. There were considerable accumulations, becoming common throughout the winter. Snow fell widely, but mostly in the North of Scotland, where accumulations were very large, right through until April

1835: Becomes engaged to Catherine Hogarth.

1836-37 was another snowy winter in the series, with heavy falls of snow in January. Blizzards began in late February, and lasted into March. Transport was severely disrupted, and harvest damaged by harsh frosts. This series of winters was severe, and notable, especially for Scotland, but very bad elsewhere also.

October 1836, snow reached depths of 5-6 inches, very unusual.

25th December 1836, roads impassable, snow depths reached a staggering 5-15 feet in many places, and most astonishingly, drifts of 20-50 feet!

1837: Birth of first child Charles, on 6th January. Moves to 48 Doughty Street. Visits France and Belgium.

1837-38: Murphy’s winter. Patrick Murphy won fame and a small fortune from the sale of an almanac in which he predicted the severe frost of January 1838 (a 2 month frosty period set in with a light SE wind & fine day with hoar frost on the 7th (or 8th) January). 20th January saw temperatures as low as -16c in London, accepted as the coldest recorded here of the 19th century. -20 recorded at Blackheath, and -26c at Beckenham, Kent. The temperature at Greenwich was -11c at midday! The Thames froze over. 20th coldest at 1.40c

1838: Second child Mary born.

1838: Snow showers on 13th October, possibly in London and the South.

1839: Resigns editorship of “Bentley’s Miscellany”. Third child Kate born. Moves to 1 Devonshire Place, Regent’s Park.

Decadal 1830-39 9.216C.a very mixed decade with some notably cold winters but also the second warmest ever in CET, illustrating the huge variability in British winters.

1841: Fourth child Walter born. Declines an invitation to be Liberal parliamentary candidate for Reading. Granted the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh on 29th June.

1841 29th coldest winter at 1.60c

1842: Visits America plus Canada. December as a whole was the 7th warmest in CET at 7.2c.

1843 Dickens began A ChristmasCarol in October 1843, and completed the book in six weeks with the final pages written in the beginning of December while suffering from a cold, walking at night in a feverish state through the streets of London and drawing inspiration from all he saw. As the result of a feud with his publisher over the meager earnings on Martin Chuzzlewit, Dickens declined a lump-sum payment for the tale, chose a percentage of the profits in hopes of making more money thereby, and published the work at his own expense. High production costs however brought him a mere £230 rather than the £1,000 he expected – and needed, as his wife was once again pregnant (wikipedia)

Dickens purpose in his characterisation was to bring back the good cheer of traditional Chrismases, a notion which had been fading for decades-in this he was assisted by the enthusiasm for the festivities shown by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Dec 1843- the month of publication-exceptionally mild, 5th warmest in the CET record at 7.4C

Dickens would describe Scrooge in the city on a Christmas morning, watching inhabitants “scraping the snow from the pavements in front of their dwellings, and from the tops of their houses: whence it was a mad delight to the boys to see it come plumping down into the road below, and splitting into artificial little snowstorms” Films and Tv adaptations ever since have depicted this bitter weather which ironically didn’t happen during the year of publication!

1844: Fifth child Francis born. Breaks with previous publishers Chapman and Hall and moves to Bradbury and Evans. Lives in Genoa, Italy. 1844/5 26th coldest winter in CET at 1.50c

1845: Visits Rome with Catherine. Sixth child Alfred born. In ‘Climate history and the Modern world’ Lamb wrote of 1845/6 (and 1821/2) ‘the warm water of the Gulf stream spread itself beyond its usual bounds to the coast of Europe’

18th warmest winter in CET at 5.77c

1846: Becomes Editor of the “Daily News”. Resides in Lausanne and then Paris.

1847: Returns to London. Birth of Seventh child Sydney. Travels to Switzerland again

1847 31st coldest winter in CET at 1.70c

1848: Death of Sister Fanny 1849: Eighth child Henry born.

1849: April, great snowstorm hit Southern England. Coaches buried in drifts. Notably late snowfall.

1840-49 Decadal CET 9.03c

1850: Ninth child Dora born. Founds the Guild of Literature and Art with Bulwer-Lytton to help writers and artists who have fallen on hard times.

1851: Catherine ill and is treated at Malvern, Worcestershire where Dickens visits her. Death of Father and baby Dora. Family move to Tavistock House.

1851-53: The first of these winters saw heavy snowfall in Scotland. The North of Scotland saw the first of the heavy snow. The railway from Aberdeen to the South was badly affected, but was kept open. Blizzards caused deaths. The storms stopped near the end of January

1852: Tenth child Edward born.

1852-53 was severe particularly in February. Low temperatures and heavy snowfall lasted well into March.

1853: Holiday in Boulogne. Visits Switzerland with Wilkie Collins.

1855: Joins Administrative Reform Society. Family move to Paris from October

1856: Returns to England to live at Gad Hill Place, Chatham, Kent.

1857: Hans Christian Andersen visits Dickens at Gad’s Hill. The Danish author of fairytales such as The Ugly Duckling first visited England in June 1847. He was a guest of the Countess of Blessington, who attracted the cream of Europe’s intelligentsia to her gatherings. It was at one of these assemblies that Andersen was introduced to Dickens, whom he worshipped, calling him “the greatest writer of our time”. Dickens, who reciprocated the admiration, visited him at his lodgings the following month. Discovering that Andersen was not in, he left him a parcel containing 12 presentation copies of his books. A cordial correspondence developed between the two and Andersen returned to England for a fortnight as Dickens’s guest at Gad’s Hill in the summer of 1857. (one of the warmest in the CET record at 16.53c)

Before his arrival, Andersen had written to Dickens promising: “I shall not inconvenience you too much.” But it was an invitation that Dickens would soon regret. The Danish man of letters, a tall, gaunt and rather ungainly character, extended his visit to five weeks. Dickens dropped polite hints that he should leave, but they were, perhaps, too subtle. After he finally left, Dickens wrote on the mirror in the guestroom: “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks — which seemed to the family AGES!”

Dickens subsequently based Uriah Heep on Andersen-The character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and general insincerity.

1858: Separates from his wife. Embarks on a provincial reading tour.

Decadal 1850-59 9.162c

1860: Katey Dickens marries Charles Collins. 1863: Charity readings at the British Embassy in Paris. Death of Walter Dickens in India.

1863 21st warmest winter at 5.73c

1865: 9th June, involved in a serious railway accident at Staplehurst, Kent with Ellen Ternan. 1867: Begins a reading tour of the U.S.A. 1868: Leaves New York for England. 1869: Reading tour broken off because of illness.

1869 /70 saw Britain’s warmest ever winter at 6.77c.

1860-69 9.30C Decadal; the second warmest decade in Dickens life

1870: January, twelve farewell readings in London. 9th March, received by Queen Victoria.

Charles Dickens dies June 9th 1870

Conclusions and Ruminations;

Dickens life demonstrates the extraordinary variability of the British winters during that era, when the coldest and warmest winters in the CET records can be juxtaposed. Generally there are few examples of constant cold winters year after year-the LIA was becoming much more sporadic than it had been several centuries earlier, when bitter cold weather appears to have been the norm. To put this era into perspective mature English people might be surprised to learn they lived through a much colder winter than Dickens ever experienced. 1962/3 at -0.33C was the third coldest in the entire CET record compared to Dickens coldest year 1814 at 0.43c, the fourth coldest in the record. (1962/3 was a bit of a one off-Dickens experienced a greater number of relatively cold winters)

HH Lamb, (in ‘Climate, History and the Modern World’), says: “Indeed, the descriptions of ‘old-fashioned’ winters for which Charles Dickens became famous in his books may owe something to the fact – exceptional for London – that of the first nine Christmases of his life, between 1812 and 1820, six were white with either frost or snow.”



(As can be seen, a White Christmas in London is a very rare event)

Lamb also points out that the decade from 1810 to 1819 was the coldest in England since the 1690s. The following table was originally published in ‘London Weather’, and updated by booty.org

Your browser may not support display of this image.


Natural cycles can be clearly seen in operation as the first very cold decade of Dickens’ life was replaced by several decades of relative warmth before the climate deteriorated again after his death in 1870. There was an extraordinarily low point of 7.42C CET overall in 1879 (the third coldest year in the entire record) with the 7th coldest winter at 0.70c, followed by a cold 1880’s decade at 8.87c –the coldest since Dickens birth, signifying a return to LIA conditions.

Curiously this climatic trough in 1880 is the exact point from when GISS commenced their temperature records, a fact which has been commented on in additional articles by Tony Brown (shown in the references at the end of this article)

1870-79 CET 9.08C 1880-89 CET 8.87C


To the surprise of no one -except it appears the IPCC and National Governments- temperatures have subsequently risen from this considerable climatic trough and the 1880/89 decade of cold has not been matched since.

Additional articles on Giss records from 1880.

Three long temperature records in USA. Author: Tony Brown

This article links three long temperature records along the Hudson River in the USA. They illustrate that a start date of 1880 (Giss) misses out on the preceding warm climatic cycles and that UHI is a big factor in the increasingly urbanised temperature data sets from both Giss and Hadley/Cru


Three long temperature records from Europe. Author: Tony Brown

In examining these records from Europe the climatic variability prior to the Giss records of 1880 are again shown, demonstrating that no one should be surprised when temperature readings commencing from a trough of the Little Ice Age subsequently rise again in our own era.


References used in the Dickens article;





This very readable version of his life



(Time line with places he visited)


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
stephen richards

Not sure I can agree with the diagram showing the LIA from 1480 to 1880. I thought it was accepted to be in the period 1640 to 1740.


Russia today. If this is what Napoleon met, I can understand he was a bit …put off;


Climate fluctuations through old eyewitness accounts instead of computer “models”
It’s called SCIENCE, people.
no, leave the sarc on I am so sick and tired of “educated” idiots trying to ruin my life.

Paul Deacon

For French speakers, the 19th century was invented by Balzac, for English speakers by Dickens.

Paul Coppin

Gee, it appears to be worse than we thought…

val majkus

Quadrant Online has a couple of interesting articles:
Sceptics losing clarity
by Peter Smith
and reply by Professor Carter linked at the foot of that article; read them both at

Here is CET record. Simply said, whatever summer or winter in recent decades was matched by some previous ones.
How can weather extremes rise, when exactly such temperatures happened also before?

R. de Haan

This really is a nice article and it certainly makes for an extremely big nail in the coffin of the Anthropogenic Climate Change doctrine.
We are currently breaking cold records in Europe that were set in in the 18th century.
We are measuring temperatures for a very short period of time and it is simply to arrogant for words to ignore the collected data from the past.
It’s our sun, our oceans and volcano’s that make our weather not the anthropogenic emissions of CO2.


Wikipedia, probably with some editing by William Connolley, says:

[The LIA] is conventionally defined as a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries, though climatologists and historians working with local records no longer expect to agree on either the start or end dates of this period, which varied according to local conditions. It is generally agreed that there were three minima, beginning about 1650, about 1770, and 1850, each separated by intervals of slight warming.

charles nelson

Most excellent piece. Unfortunately for us all, Scientists these days tend to be highly specialized and as a general rule are not particularly concerned with Literature or History. Indeed History and Literature are generally considered less valuable subjects and are less taught today than previously. Because of ignorance amongst the population, Charlatans like Mann, Hansen etc can get away with their ridiculous claims. Bring back Renaissance man!
Which is a shame. Why should a physicist for example have any I think it illustrates perfectly the problem we have with highly specialized scientists working in obscure and isolated fields.

charles nelson

Sorry about leaving the raggedy bits on the post above!
[Ah, but one cannot edit a post which is not clarified! 8<) Robt]


Us (and Canadian) Skeptics are regular people who dropped the university system when the greenies took over. I majored in Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy and minored in Philosophy.
We. are. Fed. Up. To. The. Point. Of. Violence.
I will go back for my Degrees when the system unf#$ks it self.

R. de Haan
R. de Haan

For those of you interested in more temperature details about Napoleon’s raid on Russia have a look at the map to be found at this link:

Stephen Wilde

The main lesson I take from that narrative is the way that cold winters can quickly segue into warm winters and back again within a generally cool period globally as compared to the late 20th century
Applying what we know about recent climate events such a changeable climate would be a consequence of more meridional jet stream flows with the longitudinal position of the main troughs and peaks varying over the years so that sometimes the UK (and every other mid latitude location in each hemisphere) experienced a period of anomalous northerly and/or easterly winds and at other times anomalous southerly and / or westerly winds.
So the key would appear to be the degree of meridional jetstream waving about (loopiness) and from historical records the greater the meridionality of jet stream movements the cooler the global climate and when jetstream positioning is less meridional the global climate seems to be warming.
That seems to fit a scenario whereby in a warming world the tropics and subtropics expand to push the jets poleward and reduce their ability to move about meridionally.
In contrast a cooling world involves the tropics and subtropics contracting to allow the jets more room to wave about meridionally.
In my opinion the extent of meridional movement can be affected either by a change in the size of the polar vortex (solar induced) at the surface or by a change in the rate at which previously captured solar energy is released by the oceans which can itself expand or contract the tropics and push against the then current influence of the polar vortex.
So more meridional jets (cooling) can be caused either by a larger solar induced polar vortex (inactive sun) or by a lower rate of energy release from the oceans (negative ocean cycles).
Less meridional jets (warming) can be caused either by a smaller polar vortex (active sun) or by a faster rate of energy release from the oceans (positive ocean cycles).
Sometimes the top down solar effect will supplement the bottom up oceanic effect and sometimes it will offset it hence the confusing lack of direct correlation for either forcing unless the ever changing balance between the two separate forcings is properly quantified over time.
Thus far no climate researcher or model has ever expressed latitudinal jet stream positioning as a function of the balance between the two separate (solar and oceanic) influences.
The solar influence on the size of the polar vortices would appear to be a consequence of solar particle effects on ozone chemistry above 45 km which I have explained in more detail elsewhere.

R. de Haan

Joe Bastardi’s latest European forecast:
Winters core will push further southeast this week and while its cold to start in the northwest, it does get milder for the late week, even above normal a few days over Ireland and much of the northern part of the United Kingdom
However this is not the end. The pattern is very similar Dec 14-23 to Jan 1-10 last year. If you remember, major cold engulfed much of China, the eastern US and Europe to open the new Year and another round of major cold appears to be lurking in the longer term in the areas in Europe that have suffered the last 2 weeks. I think what we are seeing here is the evolution southeast of the core of cold so for the heart of winter, it is where it will be later this week into part of next week, but enough blocking continues to pull this cold back so another round of UK covering snow and cold may be in the works the 15th, perhaps all the way to around Christmas. The lack of the true flip ( the warming coming is an island of warmth in the sea of cold) means this is likely to be the coldest December for the northwest since, well, we have to go back a long long time.
In the meantime, but the weekend the cold of the worst cold will be into the south of Europe ( relative to normal) with the core swinging from southern France into the Balkans by early next week as the northwest warms. Again I do not have the time to post on this the way I would like too, but felt this big ticket shift back and forth of extreme cold is something I should warn you about.
Side note: On the free site I have issued the Monday morning global ice report a day early to clear up any issues about the US based NSIDC reports. I explained this in an earlier post, but believe as sure as the sun rises in the east that in spite of an appearance of them running a bit low, it is a question of interpretation and calculation. Above all, I want to make sure that right or wrong, I speak to the truth as I see it, and after their email to me, I see exactly what they are saying and will make sure they are referenced as yet another objective tool to use in this debate, which to me, is what this is truly all about. I would have re-done this quicker, but was out of town.
For the record, I do believe alot of the people in this great climate debate are honest brokers, even some of my most harsh critics. In any case, if we let it play out, we will get our answer over the coming years, as long as we can continue to look at all the data in an objective manner.
In the meantime, some of the things I have been saying to look for from a few years ago are showing up. Does it mean I am right? Not yet. But it does mean I have a chance to be right, and at the very least, argue for an open mind. I think the rationale person would say yes. The start of a post nino fall in the earths temp and some of the intrusions of cold into areas that 10 years ago had people saying cold would not show up like this any more, make my argument one that is more palatable than one that says, that by growing colder, its a sign its growing warmer.

R. de Haan

In the mean time Vicky Pope, Met Office Head of Climate Change continues to sell her hubris. Listen to the radio interview here:
Article + comment from Piers Corbyn here:


Well, the 1940s were supposedly warm, yet the Russian winters were not any more pleasant for the invading Germans, who were stopped in their tracks while they were encroaching on Moscow. The German soldiers who made it through that winter in spite of their inadequate equipment and clothing were given a medal, which they referred to as “the order of the frozen meat” (Gefrierfleischorden).


Interesting read and a good article.
I do have a beef with the quoting of temps to two or three decimal places however. It’s not feasible that measurements were taken as accurate to that degree 200 yrs ago and it is not realistic to quote any calculated figures (averages) to a level significantly (i.e. 1000 times) different to the measured values! I realise that it is necessary for ‘effect’ – 8.749C is indeed different to 9.459C or whatever – but when you boil it down to measurement accuracy (perhaps 1C if we are lucky?) – it’s a little over the top. Just my opinion – we knock the ridiculous warmists and the IPCC for inaccuracy and doing the same thing, do we not?


Excellent summary. Thanks for that.

Bruce Cobb

According to WAG Environment Minister Jane Davidson, aka “Cancun Jane”, the current “cold snap” is just one more example of “extreme weather” due to “climate change”. She also says: “There is a clear scientific case that the change in climate is being caused by the behaviour of humans and that the rate of change has increased significantly over the last 200 years and since the Industrial Revolution.”
So, never mind all this LIA business; we warmed up due to the Industrial Revolution. Jane said so. I wonder if she could feel climate change as she flew to Cancun?

Jimmy Haigh

There was an English cricketer in the 80’s called Richard Ellison – a medium fast bowler, decent fieldsman and a decent lower order batsman. He could have been a top notch climate ‘scientist’. One of his contemporararies was an old Cambridgan – Derek Pringle. Derek was also a pretty decent medium fast bowler and on a good day could get a few runs. Derek writes, these days, for The Times. He makes the odd appearance on TMS” Test March Special”. I have spent my last 10 years working on oil rigs and ,as a contribution to the general good of mankind, trying to teach my very good friends from accross the pond the parallel universe that is cricket. Anyway Derek’s nickname for Richard was “plank”. Or was it ” Planck”? Either way. Richard asked Derek one day: “Why do you call me plank (Planck)?” To which Richard replied: ” Exactly”.

jack morrow

GISS records start at trough of 1880. Kinda typical of those guys.

P Walker

IIRC , and I might not , my readings of history led me to think that the LIA started in the 14th century and lasted into the 19th . Of course there were warm periods during that span as well as cold ones .

Jimmy Haigh

Gordon Bennett!
TMS – “Test Match Special”.
Not: “Test March Special”. There are hares for that sort of thing.

Tom T

I don’t think I can believe any of this. You rely solely on the instrument record and written accounts, there is not a tree ring used at all, unless you use Mike’s Nature trick and graft some tree ring data on to this how can we trust it?

R. de Haan

Stephen Wilde says:
December 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm
The solar influence on the size of the polar vortices would appear to be a consequence of solar particle effects on ozone chemistry above 45 km which I have explained in more detail elsewhere.
Except that the size of the polar vortex is determined by the atmospheric circulation at mid- and lower latitudes where “solar particles” usually don’t go.

Jimmy Haigh

Gordon Bennett squared. Richard didn’t reply to Richard’s question:Derek did.
Sorry about that Anthony and Mods. I’ve been on a bl**dy oil rig for 3 months and have just managed to sequester my CO2 quota in carbonated beverages… By the way, alcohol is a pretty efficient carbon sink? Is it not?

Stephen Wilde

“Mike says:
December 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm
Well, the 1940s were supposedly warm, yet the Russian winters were not any more pleasant for the invading Germans.”
It depends where the peaks and troughs are located longitudinally when the jets become more meridional.
When the jets are more meridional I suggest that the globe is cooling because cloudiness and albedo increase (due to more equatorward jets) at the same time as the transport of energy from equator to poles becomes more efficient due to that very meridionality pumping more warmth to the poles for faster ejection to space.
However the longitudinal position of the peaks and troughs of that more meridional jetstream moves over time to give extremes of warmth and cold in different locations in different seasons but overall with a gradual global net cooling effect.
It is well accepted that with poleward jets and a more positive polar vortex the air above the poles becomes more isolated and subject to more intense cooling but what does not seem to be generally recognised is that that isolation of the air at the poles reduces the efficiency of heat loss to space and is therefore typical of a warming period rather than a cooling period because it limits the rapid interchange between equatorial and polar air masses.
The more meridional the jets and the more negative the polar vortex the faster the globe can cool. We may see warmer poles and cooler mid latitudes but those warmer poles are throwing energy into space faster than solar energy is entering the oceans because more meridional jets also create more clouds and higher global albedo to reduce energy input to the oceans.
Find what causes more (or less) meridional jetstream positioning and there you have the answer to the question as to how and when the globe shifts from net warming to net cooling.
I have provided my suggestions elsewhere. If anyone has better ideas please share them.

John Day

@steven richards
> Not sure I can agree with the diagram showing the LIA from 1480 to 1880.
> I thought it was accepted to be in the period 1640 to 1740.
You’re confusing the LIA (Little Ice Age) with the Maunder Minimum. LIA was a period of cool climate and the MM (1645-1715) was a 70-year period where very few sunspots were observed (but solar sunspot cycle activity continued according to other proxy records, such as carbon-14).
Although MM occurred during the LIA, it may surprise you to know that there is still no widely accepted theory which proves the connection between dimming sunspots and cool climate.

I found this paragraph interesting.
1816 was known as the year without a summer, snow fell very late and the summer never recovered. The winter proceeding it was severe. A volcanic eruption (Tambora: East Indies) disrupted wind patterns and temperatures greatly, affecting depressions, which tracked further south than usual, making the UK very cold and wet for the summer and beyond. In September the Thames had frozen and snow drifts remained on hills until late July.
Is anyone aware of northern hemisphere meteorological records that might exist from the early 1800’s. Pressure pattern records, ENSO, AMO and PDO if available would be invaluable.

Geoff Sharp says:
December 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm
Is anyone aware of northern hemisphere meteorological records that might exist from the early 1800′s. Pressure pattern records, ENSO, AMO and PDO if available would be invaluable.
Temperatures: http://members.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/europe.htm

John Day

@Geoff Sharp
> Is anyone aware of northern hemisphere meteorological records that might
> exist from the early 1800′s. Pressure pattern records, ENSO, AMO and
> PDO if available would be invaluable.
Thomas Jefferson kept a diary of meteorological observations. Contact the curator at Monticello.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Ah yes, the romanticized historical winters imagined of the good old days.
Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh…

Followed by being arrested for having an unsuitable off-road vehicle on public roads (metal runners damaging the road surface, no brakes etc, maybe without the required reflective markers), for animal cruelty (making the poor beast work in the cold, and run through snow!), and (depraved?) indifference to human life or similar (traveling at high speed with no helmets, no seatbelts, they’ll find something).
The news coverage of the trial with the protesting PETA supporter(s) will be memorable. Nice sign: Flog people, not horses!

Stephen Wilde

We resolved part of that issue previously.The solar particles themselves do not need to penetrate to mid and lower latitudes to have their effect. If the effect is primarily in high latitudes I am content with that.
There appear to be various solar/atmosphere reactions above 100km that produce a downward flux of materials which affect ozone quantities above 45km oppositely to the solar UV effect on ozone quantities below 45km. The effect may well be most pronounced at high latitudes because charged particles are involved and they are directed in at the poles by the magnetic field lines.
However I see that you have now introduced a new issue namely that the polar vortex is ‘determined’ by atmospheric circulation at mid or lower LATITUDES.
That would be logical from your perspective because you have said that you believe all climate change to be a consequence only of internal system variability generated from the bottom up.
I take issue with that and suggest that the polar vortex is also affected by solar induced ozone chemistry changes leading in turn to atmospheric circulation changes at HIGH latitudes at levels above 45km.
If you disagree then you need to specify how the size of the polar vortices at the surface can vary as much as they appear to do from observations. It is generally accepted that the models fail to explain the scale of observed variability on the basis of the current assumptions (which you seem to share).
I suggest that the scale of observed polar vortexvariability is enhanced (and sometimes offset) by a top down high latitude effect centred on the poles and which is directly related to the variable mix of particles and wavelengths from the sun acting on ozone quantities above 45km.
My contention can be falsified if the observed rise in ozone quantities above 45km between 2004 and 2007 fails to be sustained after 2007.


Before you get too carried away by Frost Fairs, remember that although it was undoubtedly colder in the 1600’s and 1700’s in London, that was not the only factor enabling the Thames to freeze – in those days the river was broader, shallower, and more slowly flowing because it had natural banks rather than the present artificial embankments.


The Thames was a sewer for London as well, pollution making it “thick and slow”
It has not been forgotten, but thats why so many artists documented it.
I t moves faster these days, and I would be wary of skating on it.


Kev-in-UK says:
December 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm
I think the point of all the extra decimal places is not to imply that the original measurements were that precise, but to avoid distorting them even further with rounding.
Whether it actually accomplishes anything is another matter, but I think that’s the reason.

Stephen Wilde says:
December 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm
That would be logical from your perspective because you have said that you believe all climate change to be a consequence only of internal system variability generated from the bottom up.
This is particularly true of the polar vortex.
It is generally accepted that the models fail to explain the scale of observed variability on the basis of the current assumptions (which you seem to share).
I think I showed you models that had excellent agreement with observations.
My contention can be falsified if the observed rise in ozone quantities above 45km between 2004 and 2007 fails to be sustained after 2007.
Not precise enough. E.g. for how long? thru 2008, 2009, 2010, 2030?

Geoff Sharp, re northern hemisphere meteorological records…
Raw Met records from 1794 in the north of Ireland: http://climate.arm.ac.uk/scan.html
(these might be a bit too raw for you)

About 50 years before that, it had began the secularization of science, positivism, the encyclopedists, the freemasons, the metric system, the 400 degrees circle, the square angle of 100 degrees,…all intended to alienate man from traditional symbols that convey truth, an effort of the insurgent financial elites to desacralize the world in order to achieve today´s “global governance”.
They “liberated” us, women and men, changed working hours “for the better”(no family gatherings anymore),etc.,etc. They, finally tried to cheat the world with the idea of the “global warming”; however, their “achilles heel” remains the same, in the same place, and their eternal and repeated defeat is still waiting for them, as always, around the corner. “Don´t ask, don´t tell”: You are a number. Get your implanted ID chip for FREE!

Thanks for the links, the Armagh barometric records are getting close to what I was looking for but what I thought might be interesting to research was if there were records available that might approach the current NAO or AO records.
The article eluded to recordings of unusual troughs/winds around the Tambora eruption. If there were records of blocking highs, unusual troughs or depressions during the Dalton we might be able to match them with SST’s of the era (if available) to see if a pattern is emerging with low solar EUV output. The 1880 area is also very interesting which also experienced low solar output.

Geoff Sharp says:
December 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm
The 1880 area is also very interesting which also experienced low solar output.
Solar output in the 1880s was not lower than 1900-1933 and cycle 20. See e.g. Figure 7 of http://www.leif.org/research/2009JA015069.pdf

Enneagram says:
December 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm
desacralize the world in order to achieve today´s “global governance”.
Global governance has in the past always been administered [rather successfully] through [sacred] religion.


History Channel has a documentary “Little Ice Age, Big Chill” that laid out most of the effects of cold during this period, including multiple (over 100) famines from crop failures, plagues made worse by flea infested rats going indoors to get out of the cold, whole European villages wiped out by glacier advances and “witches” killed for causing the catastrophes when Heavenly pleas failed. Shows what real cold can do. Just ignore the ending were they try to blame any future icing on AGW.


Geoff. I do know of weather records kept by a doctor in Natchez MS during the very late 1700’s and first quarter of the 1800’s. During the year w/o a summer the region was blasted with a never ending drought and above normal temps. Stuck weather pattern as it was. This was followed by an earlier than normal autumn freeze and a bitter winter.
Link of Interest Perhaps
The climate of early 19th century Mississippi
Robert D. Erhardt Jr., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, AL
Two outstanding weather records kept at Natchez, Mississippi from 1798 to 1819 are analyzed. In general, the climate appears distinctly cooler than modern values.
The average annual temperature for the era is 18°C, which is 1°C lower than 1961-90, and 0.5°C colder than 1884-1903, the coldest subsequent 20-year period of record.
The early 1810’s are remarkable for cold and wet conditions. Temperatures reached a nadir circa 1813, simultaneous with a well-marked wet period from 1812-1814. However, the famous “Year Without A Summer” of 1816 in New England was hot and dry in the Deep South.
Early 19th Century rainfall at Natchez averaged 84% of modern values. Wet (dry) periods occur inversely with warm (cold) periods.
Analysis of frost data imply a much shorter growing season. Some early autumnal and late vernal frost dates are unequaled in later years.

Leif Svalgaard says:
December 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm
Solar output in the 1880s was not lower than 1900-1933 and cycle 20. See e.g. Figure 7 of http://www.leif.org/research/2009JA015069.pdf

Doesn’t have to be lower. All 3 periods correspond with cool periods, all periods also low in solar output. But that is only one part of the puzzle with oceanic and atmospheric oscillations still to be resolved. The PDO in my opinion being the largest driver.


Since Charles Dickens is the lead for this story, I would like to recommend another literary source. “The Frozen Thames” by Helen Humphreys (2007) is a great chronicle of the 40 times that the river froze over between about 1100 and the present. In 40 vignettes she describes the people and the times of these events — the experiences of both ordinary and important people who found themselves on the frozen river. The book is fascinating reading and puts a human face on our ever-changing climate.

Geoff Sharp says:
December 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm
Doesn’t have to be lower. All 3 periods correspond with cool periods, all periods also low in solar output.
Point is that cool periods are not always times with low solar output e.g. it was colder during 1850-1870 with solar output on par with what is has been the past several cycles. Connecting 1880s with cold is just playing the cherry-picking coincidence game.