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Guest post by J Storrs Hall

There are several ways to predict what the temperature trends of the next century will be like.  The standard method of prediction in science is to create a theory which embodies a model, test the model experimentally, and then run it into the future for the prediction.  There is another way, however, which is simpler in some ways although more complex in others.  That’s simply to remember what’s happened before, and assume it will happen again.

Here’s a record of what’s happened before, which most WUWT readers will be familiar with.  It’s the GISP2 Greenland ice core record, shown for the Holocene:

I have shamelessly spliced on the instrumental record in red (by setting the temps in 1850 equal); it is the HadSST record.

When I first started looking at GISP2 it seemed to me that there were several places in the record that looked very much like the sharp spike in temperature we’re experiencing now.  The obvious thing thing to do seems to be to overlay them for an easy comparison:

Here I’ve plotted the 400 years following each minimum in the record that leads to a sustained sharp rise.  There were 10 of them; the first five are plotted in cyan and the more recent 5 in blue.  You can see that in the latter part of the Holocene the traces settle down from the wilder swings of the earlier period.  Even so, every curve, even the early ones, seems to have an inflection — at least a change in slope — somewhere between 200 and 250 years after the minimum.

The hatched black line is the average of the 5 recent (blue) spikes.  The red dots are the uptick at the end of GISP2 and HadSST, spliced at 1850.  Note that ALL the minima dates are from GISP2.

Prediction of the 21st century is left to the reader as an exercise.

Read ’em and weep.


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John A

Am I the only one hoping for more global warming?


Thanks! A great comparison!
Personally i believe the Grand Minimum – the coming Eddy minimum – will send us 5 deg C lower like the Wolf minimum did after the MWP within 20 years. That’s what i’m planning for. Wished i had gloves on the bike this night coming home from the pub in July in Germany at 0:30. Cooling is already imminent here IMHO. “Inflection” in your words….
(Notwithstanding fake statistics by GISS and NOAA)


We are cooling, folks; for how long even kim doesn’t know.


You are learning, Grasshopper. Now you must apply for huge grant. Sensei gets honorable movie rights.


The standard method of prediction in science is to create a theory which embodies a model, test the model experimentally, and then run it into the future for the prediction. There is another way, however, which is simpler in some ways although more complex in others. That’s simply to remember what’s happened before, and assume it will happen again.
Whether you remember it in your brain….or remember it in a computer
it’s still the same…….we can’t predict the future
Great post J, and something to think about…………


I think your graphs show that we will likely see a much colder climate over the coming decades. Since that means problems with growing food, and we now have over 7 billion people to feed; it don’t look good to me.


To add to the above …
A useful prediction is one that contains sufficient detail to reduce the number of explanations. Even better is a prediction that will rule out competing explanations.
Prediction is unhelpful if it leaves the field open to competing explanations as it does nothing to reduce scientific controversy.
A poor prediction is to claim that temperature will rise because it does nothing to favour one reason or to challenge other reasons.
The big red spot is an example of a much more acceptable prediction. Temperature might rise, but the big red spot is a very particular pattern of warming related to claims of the enhanced greenhouse effect. Other reasons for warming might cause a different pattern, as Chapter 9 of AR4 takes the time to explain.
Likewise, if that particular pattern of warming is not observed, the correct response is to conclude that the enhanced greenhouse effect is falsified.


Interesting way to look at the data. I hope you will be able to plot the next couple of red datum- to see what the slope is up to.


Is there a way to calculate sun activity for the same periods ?

Rod Gill

Great example of heavy use of common sense. Are you an Engineer (it takes one to know one!)?
I know predicting the future by looking in the rear view mirror is not recommeded, but for the well established cycle you’ve highlighted, it’s going to take a significant change in something to produce a different result. A minor change in a trace gas doesn’t qualify as that something in my book.

Lew Skannen

Quite clearly the end of the world is up next…

Did somebody say “unprecedented”?


The 2nd graph is how it’s done. It shows what the weather/climate feels like: Going down real soon, hard by the bow.
In fact, the present curve looks just like a yearly cycle, January to December.
The 1850-present record, though it is a splice-on, looks spent. If Mann and others are going to present warming biased splice-ons, and keep recycling them as proof of warming, that 2nd graphic is the way to go. Relativity is honest.

Please note:
(1) HadSST is not local to Greenland so the red extension here may in fact be a larger peak.
A claimed nearby T reconstruction from Greenland itself has been presented (http://www.skepticalscience.com/10000-years-warmer.htm), a simplified version of which I made here:
(2) A similarly long ice core from Antarctica (Vostok) does not correlate to this one:
Unless you address these claims, here and on the SS web site, AGW enthusiasts will only scoff, mightily, and thus I no longer use the Greenland ice core in my usual package of arguments, since I don’t yet have a strong come back.


rbateman @ 4:44
I like your yearly cycle. And here we are on July 1. Perhaps CAGW was just a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.


On the other hand if you want to consider what would happen to our civilisation if some if the more extreme temperature spikes in the record were repeated, go right ahead.
Let’s look for example at cereals like rice and wheat. As suitable temperature zones for these crops move towards the poles, what happens to the amount of land available? Since the earth is a sphere it likely goes down. Seems like Russia and Canada are going to be big winners.


I don’t believe those graphs. I mean it’s impossible to believe them because just one look at them, especially the first one should be enough to convince any sane person that current temperatures are not outside of natural variation. Why on Earth would anyone think otherwise?
Am I going mad or what?

Alpha Tango

Interesting post, thank you. “shameless splicing” – now where have I seen that before? When you look at the bigger picture the current trends all look precedented.

Pamela Gray

But…isn’t GISS Arctic temps “borrowed/filled-in/call-it-good” from a non-local source? If they can do it and call it appropriate, how come we can’t say HadSST is good enough for Greenland?


You don’t have a strong comeback? Listen to yourself. A skeptic does not think like that. A skeptic follows the evidence – even if it is mixed.
The idea the Greenland temps are a proxy for global temps is absurd. That’s why there is no comeback! The evidence is clear the GHG’s are warming the world. Follow the science. Hint: science is done by scientists not blogggers.

John F. Hultquist

Hope you are wrong!

Theo Goodwin

This is not prediction. It is extrapolation. You are picking up the debased language of the Warmista. It will bite you in the behind.
Scientific prediction is a matter of having some reasonably well confirmed physical hypotheses and some set of initial conditions describing observable fact. Together the hypotheses and the initial conditions imply sentences describing observable phenomena in the future, unless you are retrodicting the past.
Looking at past graphs for patterns that resemble existing patterns is harmless enough and might give people some good ideas. However, it is not different in principle from reading chicken bones.
Finally, models are not found in theories or hypotheses. Models are analytic tools that can be used for investigating unknown assumptions in a theory. Using models to forecast the future is reading chicken bones.


Well I’ll use NASA for a proxy and state that the colder it was said to get the farther out to space NASA got. Later, when it got presumably warmer the less interested NASA to got to get out into space.
It’s really the coincidence that when NASA took on Hansen and let him bloom and come out and behave how ever, the higher the temperature got, the less NASA could sustain being a space faring organization, the more tax payers’s hard earned cash was needed to sustain a non space faring space organization model their way into even more of the tax payer’s hard earned cash. Go figure. :p

Jim D

Splicing a global average temperature onto a point site is an interesting trick. Do you think the global-average variability is a valid comparison with this point variability?


What is the long term average temp on that top chart?

John Q. Galt

Nightly lows in upstate New York are getting ridiculous. I had to close the windows last night as it was absolutely frigid.


have tried for ages to post this on Tips today with no luck. cannot get my cursor activated in the message box. it’s been happening a bit this week.
anyway, heard the following on germany’s deutsche welle radio last nite and they specifically said they would be framing action against “climate change” as a “NATIONAL SECURITY” issue. that is why it is not a left/right thing, and why sceptics can get no traction in the MSM, and why half the GOP presidential candidates declare they are pro-CAGW and why Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel are just as gungho as any so-called leftist govt. and that is why we must fight even harder to uphold the scientific method.
1 July: Deutsche Welle: Author Nina Werkhäuser, Editor: Andreas Illmer: Germany takes up chairmanship of the UN Security Council
Every presidency holds an ‘open debate,’ and Germany has selected climate change as the topic of their debate. It will be about the security implications of climate change, said Ambassador Wittig.
“Key points of the debate will be about the rise of sea levels and the disappearance of entire states,” said Wittig. “From the United Nations 192 states, for the first time several states could completely disappear,” he added.
The issue is not exactly new, but fits in with Germany’s profile within the United Nations as a pioneer of environmental and climate protection…


Your Y axis is change in temp, no? So we should actually expect temps to continue rising for the next 150 years, no? (your hatched black line never makes it back to zero, much less negative temp changes.) Either I’m reading that incorrectly or about those commenting about seeing “a big upcoming cool down” in the graph are reading it incorrectly.


strike the “about” from the comment above

Ethan Brand

Mike says:
July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm
“Hint: science is done by scientists not blogggers.”
Hint: Science is done by skeptics, not consensus.


John A:
No, you are not the only one hoping for a bit of warming! Even my AGW-leaning wife is hoping that we – in Canada at least – will be blessed with a little warming…

Stephen Pruett

Mike illustrates the major problems in climate science. Arrogance and lack of critical evaluation of their own work. In the last few months Greenland glaciers melting has been cited as evidence of global warming. So, past behavior cannot suggest that global cooling might be next? At the very least, it is striking that the ancient patterns are very similar to the “unprecedented” warming that is causing the current melting. As a scientist in another field, it’s hard to take climate science seriously when the response to legitimate criticisms is contempt. This is even harder to understand when one realizes that the people held in contempt are funding climate research via their taxes. Warming may be real and mostly anthropogenic carbon dioxide driven, but the behavior of climate scientists makes me very suspicious. People with nothing to hide who have solid “unequivocal” evidence do not respond like cornered tasmanian devils (think, bugs bunny) when criticized. In biomedical sciences there was a period of frustration when a few scientists kept claiming that HIV was not the cause of AIDS. However, I don’t remember a lot of defensive angry outbursts. People working in that area knew the evidence was strong and getting stronger and their response by and large was simply to keep gathering data. However, they did consider the arguments offered by the opposition and responded in public (generally with restraint and at least some measure of respect, as I recall).


Mike says:
July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm
“The evidence is clear the GHG’s are warming the world. Follow the science. Hint: science is done by scientists not blogggers.”….
The “blogggers” only ask for data and methods.
“strong comebacks” may work in a debate, data wins the day.

Tom t

He who shamelessly splices the instrument record on to reconstructed data is looking for trouble.
Maybe you can tell I went to a Chinese Restaurant for dinner and am writing like a fortune cookie.

The IPCC claims that ALL natural cycles are canceled by a little CO2. So, why waste time hashing over the past? Those who do not learn from the past are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past in the future. The IPCC does NOT want anybody to look at the past, at least not beyond the last 60 years.
Without looking at the past, we would have no clue what the Sun is bound to do in the next 50 years. These predictions have much more validity than the climate models as they incorporate the natural cycles of the Sun and simply extrapolate to the future. They do not cobble up a model based on selected factors and then discount all others.


Mike says:
July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm
Follow the science. Hint: science is done by scientists not blogggers.
I expect many on this site are like myself, we have degrees in science, but like Hansen and Schmidt, these are not “Climate Science” degrees. Unfortunately most of us that graduated in science were good in math when that still counted for something, so we ended up with real science majors. Otherwise, having failed Fine Arts, we would have moved into Climate Science.
Climate Science is to science as Political Correctness is to freedom of speech. PC seeks to limit free speech through the application of political pressure. Climate Science seeks to limit the application of the Scientific Method to the study of climate through political pressure.
Unlike Science, “Climate Science” is not concerned with the search for truth. Climate Science already knows the truth. CO2 is bad – this is settled science as far as Climate Science is concerned.
Need more proof that “Climate Science” is not science? The concept of “settled science” does not exist in any other branch of science. Settled science is formally referred to as LAWS in the real sciences. Are we now to suppose that AGW has moved beyond hypothesis and is now a scientific law? Is that what “Climate Science” means by “settled science”? That AGW is now a scientific law?

Stephen Pruett

I disagree Theo. Long before the correct model of the solar system was developed, people extrapolated from past events that the sun would rise the next day. It is not unreasonable to propose that what seems to be a stable pattern will continue. Of course, a model based on a complete understanding of the physical system is preferable, but it seems that new previously unknown contributors to the climate system keep emerging (algae in the Antarctic, who’d a thunk it?), so it seems doubtful that our current understanding is complete.


John A
July 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm
Am I the only one hoping for more global warming?
No. An increase of about 4C would suit me fine!

Mike says:
“Follow the science. Hint: science is done by scientists not blogggers.”
Mike must be referring to the RealClimate blog, where they follow the science money.

Hint: science is done by scientists not blogggers>>>
Science is done by the scientific method.
No definition of the scientific method I’m familiar with prevents scientists from being bloggers.
In fact, the number of credentialed scientists on this blog both as writers and as commenters is staggering. There’s plenty of commenters with no credentials too, and when they talk science within the bounds of the scientific method, then its science.
When they talk gobbledygook, then it doesn’t mattter if they are bloggers, scientists or both, they’re just spouting gobbledygook. Very sad that so much climate “science” is gobbledygook dressed up as science. Even sadder are the blatant attempts like yours to discredit science based not on the method, but on where it is published.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

From Mike on July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm:

Follow the science. Hint: science is done by scientists not blogggers.

Thank you for your thorough dismissing of any scientific “research” done by Tamino, now I can be confident in my attempts to ignore him even more than totally. We can add Joe Romm as well, if he would do anything bearing a passing resemblance to science.
Also it’s been quite hard to determine if Gavin Schmidt is more scientist or blogger. Thus it would be fair to dismiss about half of the “science” he does as nonsense. At least half. The evidence has shown this to be well justified.
You’ve now dissed skeptic and (C)AGW-promoting bloggers alike. Ah Mikey, you hate everything. ☺


And once again ladies and gentlemen, THIS is why Wattupwiththat is the #1 science blog on the internet…

huishi says:
July 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm
I think your graphs show that we will likely see a much colder climate over the coming decades. Since that means problems with growing food, and we now have over 7 billion people to feed; it don’t look good to me.>>>>
The difference between animals and humans is that animals just do their best to survive when momma nature throws them a curve ball. They evolve, or they die. Humans don’t evolve. We adapt mama nature to us.
The most benevolent climate imaginable could not support 7 bilion people, let alone the actual climate we have. Greenhouses, dams, irrigation, rapid transportation, refridgeration, development of new crop strains, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, mechanised processing, immunization…. shall I go on? These are the things that enable feeding billions, and we can adapt them to warmer temps and we can adapt them to cooler temps. All we need is two things.
Free enterprise and oil.
The rest takes care of itself.


After looking at the data presented here and a lot of other places, I can predict with near certainty that temperatures will either go up a little or down a little in the 21st century.

Jim S

Theo’s comment is on the right track. Models based upon data that cannot be reproduced (i.e. the historical temperature record/ice cores/tree rings, etc.) are meaningless. Models do not make “predictions”.

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
July 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm
From Mike…..
You forgot Cook!!, Moonbat, a plethora of others, and all who don’t seek to falsify their assertions first. Mikey, I don’t give a rats azz what people call themselves or what credentials they tout. If they don’t seek first to find why they could be wrong, they’re not scientists. They are pretenders. Or, to be more current, posers. They are pathetic and exposed.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to pile on, but was too easy.

mike g

No, the evidence is clear that the models say GHG are warming the world. Those models were tuned based on corrupt team science as exposed by the climate-gate emails, among other things.

Chris Riley

This “Bastardian” approach makes a whole lot more sense than using models that assume instability , in a system that has never demonstrated runaway temperature increases.

Looking at all of Holocene is a waste of time if you are concerned with what is happening in the immediate future. Look at just two things: the satellite temperature record and a longer term, perhaps a century and a half, history of temperature that has not been smoothed by any running average. That is because you want to see the El Nino record that is destroyed by that running average. If you do that you will note the following. First, the twentieth century opened with a cooling trend that had started about 1880 and which lasted until 1910. This was followed by a warming trend from 1910 to 1940, the start of World War Two. The winter of 1939/40 brought a very sharp cooling that lasted through the war. Temperature curves showing a heat wave during World War Two are simply dead wrong. Postwar temperatures were approximately level even though some claimed to see a slight cooling trend and suspected an ice age on the way. This level temperature regime prevailed until 1he arrival of the 1998 super El Nino. We are now into the satellite temperature era that started in 1979. NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office show a warming trend that begins in the late seventies. That warming is totally phony because satellites cannot see it. The only real warming within the satellite era started with the super El Nino of 1998, in four years raised global temperature by a third of a degree, and then stopped. It was oceanic, not greenhouse in nature, and it was a step warming. There was no warming before or after it except for periodic El Nino peaks that have been with us since the Panamanian Seaway closed. The super El Nino interrupted these ENSO phenomena but they are back with us since the 2008 La Nina cooling restarted the temperature oscillations that existed before it. Our climate future is now again controlled by these ENSO oscillations, its alternating El Nino and La Nina phases with an approximate five year frequency. Since the 2008 La Nina we have had an El Nino in 2010 and are now into the descending phase of the La Nina that came after it. These oscillations are what we have to look forward to this century, not some dangerous greenhouse warming concocted by IPCC climate modelers.

John Blake

No-one is expert on the future. But with due respect to amplitude, frequency, and wavelength, recurring cyclical peaks and troughs reliably project patterns of activity not amenable to analysis in detail.
By c. AD 2050, riven by frigid depths of a new Maunder Minimum presaging the definitive end of Earth’s Long Summer, our current 12,250-year Holocene Interglacial Epoch, we think that technology will have advanced sufficiently to promote a mass exodus of humanity off-planet to giant intrasolar refugia immune to geophysical happenstance.
By analogy to medieval Italian city-states, such diverse socio-political/economic entities will represent an entirely new stage of human cultural evolution. Ossified cultists of all stripes may cling to Earth, but odds are that by AD 2500 our enterprising posterity will have reached the stars.