Guest post by David Archibald
When I started out in climate science in 2005, the prevailing view in the sceptic community was that carbon dioxide-caused global warming was real but it wouldn’t be anything as bad as it was painted by the AGW crowd. Sceptics generally thought that climate was a random walk and at that stage we hadn’t quantified the carbon dioxide heating effect. Roy Spencer’s paper finding negative feedbacks from warming was at that stage two years off. At the time, I thought that climate was controlled by the Sun and set out to find the relationship. The relationship had been found by Friis-Christensen and Lassen in 1991, and I extended their work to use solar cycle length as a predictive tool.
Now has come the first paper from Northern Hemisphere scientists to use solar cycle length to predict climate. Three Norwegian researchers, led by Professor Jan-Erik Solheim of the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the University of Oslo, have just published a paper entitled “Solar Activity and Svalbard Temperatures”. It is available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1112.3256
What these eminent scientists are predicting is significant: “We predict an annual mean temperature decrease for Svalbard of 3.5°C from solar cycle 23 to solar cycle 24 (2009–‐20) and a decrease in the winter temperature of ≈6°C.”
A 6°C temperature decrease in under ten years from the present day! This is significant at two levels. Firstly, it is going to get really cold very soon. This predicted cooling is calculated to have a 95% confidence level. Secondly, it gives the sceptic community a climate forecast that is based on physical evidence, with a statistician signing off. When the predictions of these three wise Norwegian are borne out, that is going to be a big thing.
Figure 3 from the Solheim paper is above. Forecasts for SC24 temperatures based on length of SC23 are given with 95% confidence intervals (diamonds with bars) for the year and winter temperatures. Temperatures over the rest of the decade will return to the early 20th Century.
This figure is from Willis Eschenbach’s post of 12th May, 2010. Location of Svalbard is marked by a snowflake and the North Pole is shown as a red star.