Headlines over solar cycle 25 and potential global cooling

There’s a story about solar cycle 25, and a potential “mini ice age” in the UK Daily Mail by David Rose that is making headlines today, even hitting the Drudge Report. The headline is:

Forget global warming – it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again)

Met Office releases new figures which show no warming in 15 years

The graph (from the Daily Mail article) below looks familiar.

From the story:

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a  92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

Readers may recall that WUWT had this story on January 25th via David Archibald: First Estimate of Solar Cycle 25 Amplitude – may be the smallest in over 300 years The graph he provided matches almost exactly.

He wrote then:

Using the Livingston and Penn Solar Cycle 25 amplitude estimate, this is what the solar cycle record is projected to look like:


And, yes, that means the end of the Modern Warm Period.

The Daily Mail article also says:

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

That’s essentially true, as we can see in this woodfortrees.org graph of HadCUT3 data.


Of course, the linear trend line may be sensitive to the endpoints, and it has an ever so slight rise to it, but there’s no denying that that have not been peaks larger than 1997/98 which was an super El Niño event. The 2010 El El Niño didn’t come close.

When 2012 data is added, I suspect that trend line will be downward much like the trend for the last ten years:


The Daily Mail article continues:

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

Yet, in its paper, the Met Office claimed that the consequences now would be negligible – because the impact of the sun on climate is far less than man-made carbon dioxide. Although the sun’s output is likely to decrease until 2100, ‘This would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08C.’ Peter Stott, one of the authors, said: ‘Our findings suggest  a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases.’

These findings are fiercely disputed by other solar experts.

‘World temperatures may end up a lot cooler than now for 50 years or more,’ said Henrik Svensmark, director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at Denmark’s National Space Institute. ‘It will take a long battle to convince some climate scientists that the sun is important. It may well be that the sun is going to demonstrate this on its own, without the need for their help.’

He pointed out that, in claiming the effect of the solar minimum would be small, the Met Office was relying on the same computer models that are being undermined by the current pause in global-warming.

The solar Ap geomagnetic index is the lowest in the record, and suggests the sun is lagging:


Nature (the reality, not the journal) will be the final arbiter of truth in this. We live in interesting times.


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John F. Hultquist

Henry James said something like “To have a choice and not make it — is still a choice.”
These so called climate scientists have a choice – they could admit they don’t know much and just shut up.
Last week would have been a good time to have made that choice; or last year; or the year before that; . . .

Nick in Vancouver

Despite spending millions of pounds on AGW the UK is still at the same latitude as Labrador, what gives???? I don’t know what climatic events caused the LIA but the geological record suggests that they were not “a very rare and exciting event”
“Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past”. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become ”a very rare and exciting event.

yes we do live in interesting times hopefully interesting enough to put James Hansen ET AL out of work permanently.


To the extent that the proponents of AGW are also interested in the controls they think are necessary to tax and bend humanity to their whims, let’s not let them jump off the warming wagon and onto the cooling wagon to continue their need to control.

Has any body seen whatever it is the Met Office has published? I have had a quick look but the site was so slow I ran out of time. I really would like to know what the Met Office is saying and what is Daily Mail hyperbole.


John F. Hultquist says:
January 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm
“These so called climate scientists have a choice – they could admit they don’t know much and just shut up.”
No, there’s too much at stake for them. They have to stonewall it.


I can almost hear heads imploding over this. But hoping that Hansen et.al. will be out of work is silly, they’ll come up with some magical pixie dust formula that has the sprinkling of unicorn meat to prove to the world that this is wrong.


I’m happy to learn my grandchildren will know and experience snow after all, but they may be perplexed by the global warming taxes they will be paying and which were imposed before they were alive let alone old enough to vote.
Anyone know what kind of range a Chevy Volt gets in a December knee-deep cold snap? Battery fires might prove to be a blessing on a crowded turnpike.
On the topic of subsidized lifestyles, anyone care to venture a guess how long it will be before signs are posted for Diamond lanes requiring buses, 3 or more occupants, or electric and hybrid cars only?
Another interesting thing – with CO2 as a threat we could have adapted. With global cooling as a threat we’re going to have to consider mass migrations and reworking our shipping/container port strategy. Coastal and island aquifer lenses are going to draw down as sea level falls. Fishing fleets will need to relocate. It will take more than an old icebreaker and Russian tanker to feed fuel into Nome. It will be a bad time to live in Hawaii, a place very vulnerable to service interruptions and where everything essential for life comes in on a ship or a plane. They can turn off the pumps in New Orleans. Russia might want Estonia back. Canadian grain will be but a memory and any resistance to tar sand development will be quickly pushed aside. Bolivia will be vacated. Frakking will be mandated.
Is any of this a topic in town hall meetings in your area?
I’m just guessing, of course – kind of like Hansen does.

R. Gates

Interesting times ahead for sure. Dalton or Maunder minimum Take 2 versus the highest levels of CO2, methane, and N2O in at least 800,000 years. One thing for certain, one of the groups (warmist or skeptic) will have far fewer members by 2030, but the two psychologically different groups will no doubt have found some totally new topic to squabble about. Probably something to do with civil rights for robots or whether China has the right to claim territorial rights to Mars. This is a most exciting time to be alive!

Rhoda Ramirez

If the Met really said that the cooling wouldn’t be significant they should be defunded. Their function is to help their government react to weather/climate and to minimize the potential harm of a serious cold trend is … incompetent at best.

Paul coombes says:
January 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm
Has any body seen whatever it is the Met Office has published? I have had a quick look but the site was so slow I ran out of time.

Ben U.

So keep emitting that CO2 together
Raising the spirit of – green acres of crops
Politically we win though, climatically,
Here comes the sun
would be less harsh a fate for us.

Wes M.

The death of global warming is here as far as I can see. How can they defend 15 years of absolutely no warming? They keep claiming the world is practically on fire and the two biggest groups that advocated that warming was taking place release all the data showing there is none… that’s the end of any doubts whatsoever.
The science really is settled now my friends. Science trumped alarmism today and I believe they’ll have to go back to the drawing board now for the next new scare!

Phillip Bratby

Paul Coombes:
It’s at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2012/solar-output-research
It is very interesting that the results are based on a single climate model and this is described as research. There doesn’t seem to be much application of the scientific method in this “research”. But then the Met Office does “Policy relevant science”, so no surprise there.

More bad news for the ‘manmade global warming’ crowd. Sucks to be them.

Isn’t predicting the outcome of Solar Cycle 25 while we are still making our interesting way through 24 the equivalent of predicting a 6C rise in Global temperatures by the end of the Century on account of a trace gas in our Atmosphere?
Yours sceptically 😉


R. Gates – it would be best for all if your alarmist leanings were both based on science and a reality, but neither appears to be so. I’d rather the Met Office were right when they were banging the gong of global warming. I could deal with that. But now they’re jerking the clapper of global cooling and that’s going to be nasty.
As for the rest of your worries, I doubt non-leftists are going to be too preoccupied about robotic rights (they don’t exist and at least half the world doesn’t care) and extraterrestrial claims (they’re unenforceable and meaningless) won’t show up above the fold except as do crazy people who claim the world as we know it is ending. Bundle up. I wish it weren’t so.
Crazy in Seattle


Mashiki said: “hoping that Hansen et.al. will be out of work is silly”
Undoubtedly. Paul Ehrlich was wrong over and over again, and still has a considerable fan club, and public TV willing to do special episodes of Nature or Nova devoted to him. You can pretty much forget about debunking by mere facts.

Peak Warming Man

They had this on the Australian Broadcasting science forum today, they nailed it early.


The coming decades cold will shut the AGW brigade up.
I can hear Pachbauri saying “we used the precautionary approach back then, becusese of the possiblility, which now turns out to be wrong, of dangerous warming, but this is how science progresses etc etc”. A long way down from the pedestal of “voodoo science”.

R. Gates:
If you have nothing to say, please, don’t.

wayne Job

Seal fur futures may turn out to be a worthwhile investment at this time. Ditto for coal.


Gah! When i was a nipper studying geology (and there was much less geology about in them days) only a few weird quaternary geologists did anything much about climate. Now everybodies interested in studying it … And we still haven’t a clue.
P.S. I realise its probably an oversight, but I’m a geologist (at least by first degree) and I’m still waiting for my cheque from big oil. If any generous oil companies need to contact me I am happy to furnish an address.


I note that at the Guardian they have decided to ignore this story, instead they are going on the attack against the UK Prime Ministers reluctance to attend the Rio+20 summit taking place in June.
Personally I fear for the Guardian when it allows articles such as the one published yesterday, just take a look at some of the infantile sentences that litter the article:
“The Rio Earth Summit +20 will be the most important environmental summit, certainly since the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, and arguably since the first Rio Summit 20 years ago. President Obama is unlikely to be there as it is an election year and his Republican opponents regard anything to do with the health of the planet as a Commie plot”
The fact is that for this summit climate security is the final topic to be discussed:
The Financial Crisis
Food Crisis
Energy Crisis
Water Scarcity
Biodiversity and Ecosystem loss
Natural Disasters and the ability to prepare for and recover from them
Achievement of the MDGs
Health Security
Increased resilience at the national and global level
Climate Security
The hyperbole on display within the environmental movement in the UK is truly astounding, for many people the article in the Daily Mail has reinforced their personal experiences that climate change has nothing to do with the earth, instead it is just another snake oil money making scheme.


Whatever else happens, the Thames in London will not freeze – not with massive power stations like Didcot pumping waste heat into it.


The Bear quotes:
`Yet, in its paper, the Met Office claimed that the consequences now would be negligible – because the impact of the sun on climate is far less than man-made carbon dioxide. Although the sun’s output is likely to decrease until 2100, ‘This would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08C.’ Peter Stott, one of the authors, said: ‘Our findings suggest a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases …’
Nothing will change their minds. Nothing at all.
Aaaaaahhhhh …..

kbray in california

Alexander Feht says:
January 30, 2012 at 12:00 am
I’ll second that.

People reading this must bear two things in mind, firstly that the met office is a govt owned organisation and the govt concerned (UK) is legally obliged by its own legislation to reduce co2 emissions, so the case that such emissions are harmful needs to be continually ‘proved.’
The second is that whilst the Met office is a govt body it is being groomed for privatisation and has become extremely commercial and needs to sell its services by demonstrating that it has products worth selling. There are a lot of jobs, prestige and contracts involved and the push to do this is nowhere better exemplified by such non positions as one of the people mentioned in the press release whose job is ‘climate change detection scientist.’
I think that politically or scientifically it is impossible for such organisations as the Met office or Nasa to admit they may be wrong, as a lot of money, contracts and prestige depends on them being ‘right.’


The Met Office strikes back
The Met office has responded to the article, calling out Rose on his misrepresentations:
This article includes numerous errors in the reporting of published peer reviewed science undertaken by the Met Office Hadley Centre and for Mr. Rose to suggest that the latest global temperatures available show no warming in the last 15 years is entirely misleading.
Despite the Met Office having spoken to David Rose ahead of the publication of the story, he has chosen to not fully include the answers we gave him to questions around decadal projections produced by the Met Office or his belief that we have seen no warming since 1997.

Andy Mayhew

A shame the journalist totally ignored what the MetO told him and published a nonsense non sequitur story instead – because it suited his agenda (which clearly has nothing to do with telling the truth)

Steve Richards

In the same week that the Daily Mail reports cycle 25 with the possibilities of cooling, they also reported on our Government department DEFRA who have just produced an expensive report on how climate change (still warming for them) is going to effect every aspect of life in the UK.
It is good to see UK tax money spent by people who are all joined up….


The people who commented here are the composites of horror movie characters. Bluster and disdain while things are calm. Contempt for those who can think ahead for more than twenty minutes. When disaster strikes. The tough guy in calm times turns into a panicked child and it’s every man for himself. Parents depriving their children of food because it is short supply and too expensive. Starving the next generation to death to save them selves a few bucks as a downpayment on their future of dispair. Keeping taxes low by denying our irresponsible behaviour is having a detrmental impact on the earth and our quality of life is like saving money on our medical bills by denying we have cancer. All that we saved in denial can never be spent after we are dead, but we keep on denying and we keep dying in misery.


Dave A says:
January 29, 2012 at 11:22 pm
“Isn’t predicting the outcome of Solar Cycle 25 while we are still making our interesting way through 24 the equivalent of predicting a 6C rise in Global temperatures by the end of the Century on account of a trace gas in our Atmosphere?”
Jo Nova has an interesting post about this.

James Allison

R. Gates says:
January 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm
Gates Your current fence sitting will likely lose you the status of WUWt’s most favourite troll. Please don’t turn. There aren’t many like you left.


Personally I find the exaggerations of the ‘coldists’ just as irritating as the overblown ‘we are all doomed’ rhetoric of some of the CAGW crowd.
I am one of those boring people who like to check references, especially when faced with an article here which reports what the Daily Mail said that NASA said.
So here is what NASA actually said : http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2011/
and here is what the Met Office says : http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/met-office-in-the-media-29-january-2012/
Read and make up your own minds about the accuracy or otherwise of the Daily Mail

Just wait for a new Rahmstorf et al paper showing CO2 emissions will make the cooling worse…


I’d be interested to see what the climate models say if you were put the current prediction of solar cycle in. I’m sure the forecasts were based on a more active sun than we are currently experiencing.

Alan Millar

So the question is, when can the models be declared bust officially? Well surprisingly not long.
It suits the warmists to talk about 2030 or 2050, it pushes the day of reckoning back to when they are dead or long retired. However that is not so. When you are aiming to end up somewhere you have a journey to make along the way. I don’t think we are going to wake up one day in 2050 and find the temps have gone up 2.0C overnight!
Actually most data sets falsified the models back in 2006 as you will see when you continue with this post.
I have raised the issue of free parameters many times before in the AGW debate.
How many GCMs are there? 55 or so?
I have said on a number of occasions send me 1000 or so random spins of a roulette wheel and I will send you a model that will show you can win money when applied to the data you have sent me. Hell, send me 55 lots of data and I will send you models that will win you money against all of them.
Of course a lot of these models are going to be different, not majorly different mind you. They will all use the same parameters some will be fixed but some will be free, like bet size, frequency of bet etc. The value of the parameters will however be slightly different between the models again not majorly.
My models will be very similar to the GCMs except that there will be less free parameters and the difference between the value of the free parameters will also be very likely less than in the GCMs. For aerosols for instance there can be a factor of 4 in the value of the parameter between models!
Of course someone will say a lot of these models are different and at the absolute best, only one could be right. Well that is exactly what is said about the GCMs. So the models are averaged and their output, we are now assured, is very close to reality having averaged out any gross errors.
Well I just do the same to my roulette models and get an output that I could now claim is close to reality and that reality is that you can win money consistently playing roulette.
So what is the difference between the the two sets of models?
Well we know for certain that you can not consistently win money playing roulette, we are confident in the Laws of Probability. We know, though my math is sound in my models, that I have obtained the result by use of the free parameters and my assigning particular values to them. In short they are bollocks!
Of course we know for sure that climate modelers make use of many free parameters in their models, aerosols, black carbon, clouds, land use etc etc. However, because climate science is still in its infancy (and that is why there are so many free parameters!) I cannot declare them an absolute bust as I can with my roulette models.
Using the models to establish some sort of Law or theory of climate science is so arse about that I might as well use my roulette models to create a new theory of probability!
However, whilst they might provide talking points and allow you to draw up some interesting possible scenarios why would anyone imbue them with great credibility, notwithstanding that the math might stand up, when so many free parameters are in play?
Like the Nikolov and Zeller paper, the math may appear ok but with so many free parameters, how much trust can you have in the outcome?
Not a great deal in my opinion.
Like the climate models the paper makes some interesting talking points but is it anywhere near proof of anything?
Well like the GCMs clearly not.
Say the theory of probability was in the same state as climate science ie in its infancy with the working and measurement of the many connected processes and parameters by no means tied down. Well just producing another model of your own is no good, you are still having to rely on the same or similar free parameters and just assigning different values is not going to convince anyone.
This is the stupidity of the warmists argument that skeptics should produce their own models. Well I certainly could do it, given the time, and would definitely produce a model that would show what I wanted it to show, given the number of free parameters. It would all be a waste of time though as warmists would just argue that I have assigned values to parameters to fit my preconception. It would be just pot. kettle, black.
So what is the best way of showing that a model is almost certainly wrong whilst you wait for science to establish the true value of the parameters involved? Well just throw more actual data at them.
In the case of my roulette models doubling the data to 2000 rather than 1000 spins is almost certain to lead to a worse averaged performance. Some of the models might do a little better but most almost certainly will do worse. If I keep throwing the data at the models they will all eventually fail. Of course if my models were accurate then that process would be the exact reverse as I threw more data at them.
You could set a rule for models then, that stated, if more data produces a worse performance from the start, then the probability is that they are in error and if that trend continues with more data input then that probability will increase until it approaches absolute certainty.
So what position are we in with the climate models? Well clearly they have performed worse from the start of new data input and that trend has continued as more annual data has become available. So they are well on their way to be disproved with near certainty. When can we declare this? Well when you look at the model runs they produced a result that from 1990 to 2030 a new global temperature record would be set within 8 years at the 95% confidence level.
Now 1998 is still the record according to most data sets. That would mean the models could be said to have failed back in 2006. Most data sets falsified the models six years ago! However, the adjusted data set, under the control of Jim Hansen, GISS did show a marginal new record in 2005, ‘quelle surprise’ there!
However, the model runs showed that a new unambiguous record, by at least 0.1C, would be set within 18 years at the 95% confidence level. No data set has shown this since 1998 and therefore we have to wait until 2016 and if no new unambiguous record has been set by then, we can declare the models are bust. The confidence level, that they are bust, is already very high, over 90% actually, but not at the 95% level yet.
I wonder what the reaction will be of the warmists, if we get to 2016 with no new unambiguous record? Anybody think that they may suddenly decide that a 95% confidence level is no big deal in science anyway? Or perhaps GISS will suddenly discover, after a few adjustments, that 1998 wasn’t that hot after all!
So Mr Gates et al what are your current confidence level that temperatures are going to end up where the models predict?


From the article:
“According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a 92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830.”
Hilarious. Not 91%, or 93%, but 92% precisely.
The people who issue these sorts of figures lack both a grounding in reality and a sense of the absurd.

Village Idiot

Met Office responds (29/1/12):
“This article includes numerous errors in the reporting of published peer reviewed science undertaken by the Met Office Hadley Centre and for Mr. Rose to suggest that the latest global temperatures available show no warming in the last 15 years is entirely misleading”.
“However, what is absolutely clear is that we have continued to see a trend of warming, with the decade of 2000-2009 being clearly the warmest in the instrumental record going back to 1850. Depending on which temperature records you use, 2010 was the warmest year on record for NOAA NCDC and NASA GISS, and the second warmest on record in HadCRUT3.”


Wishing for some Global Warming here, heating the house in winter can be expensive.

Stephen Wilde

This is becoming increasingly relevant:
The Death Blow To Anthropogenic Global Warming June 4th 2008
Nice to be getting support from the Met Office et al.


I do somewhat worry that the “snowball earth” stories are falling into the same trap as the “global warming” ones .. ie making a large claim on the basis of very flimsy evidence. It would be good to be demanding the same level of critical analysis of these stories as we demand of the others.

John Marshall

Sobering report, and the UK Met. Office cling to the ‘CO2 does it all’ claims. No Met Office it is the sun and the only heat source in this solar system that drives temperature and climate.


Only a fool would say CO2 has more “energy” than the sun.
Of course they’ve convinced themselves their “energy balance” is a sound starting point – my opinion is they’ve gotten it so wrong they are headed for total humiliation no matter what happens – warming or cooling.
The cooling could be serious and if temperatures start to decrease because of decades long reduction in the Sun’s activity I do not believe CO2 will make even a jot of difference.
If the warming were to recommence I do not believe CO2 will make even a jot of difference as surely the evidence is now overwhelming that the warming is natural, cyclical and THEY LIED about almost everything – including their pathetic excuses for “not showing their homework”.
Didn’t Arrhenius – the “godfather” of the greenhouse effect – continue to believe in the “ether” theory long after it was debunked ?


Hi noaaprogrammer,
If you really are a computer programmer working for NOAA, will you create a time series chart based on the data at http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/
NOAA provides data for each day, but inexplicably (!) they don’t compile it into a useful chart. And not coincidently they’ve made it awkward for anyone browsing their webpages to compile such a chart.
Obviously they didn’t want to show the USA weather getting colder and snowier from 2004 to 2011 in correlation with the SC23-24 minimum of 2007-2010

Peter Stroud

Last week we had the letter in the WSJ from sixteen sceptical scientists proclaiming the sensible view on the future of climate. Now this from a group of established and revered solar specialists. But nothing will change regarding our politicians. They will refuse to listen. They will continue to trust the Met Office, the IPCC and the likes of Dr David Viner of UEA (he of ‘the snow is a thing of the past,’ quote.) Pathetic, absolutely pathetic!

Sunspots are not likely to be the only cause of the natural 60 year and ~1,000 year cycles which are readily observed in the data and which are the only factors affecting climate, seeing that anthropogenic contributions are negligible and backradiation has no effect.
Sunspots may be just indicative of an independent cause for both solar activity and Earth climate. Remember that the last long-term maximum in sunspots was nearly 50 years before the 1998 temperature maximum, so correlation is far from perfect.
The ~1,000 year cycle is still increasing and its rate of increase only reduced from about 0.06 deg.C/decade to about 0.05 deg.C/decade in the last 80 years or so. If we are approaching a maximum in a roughly sinusoidal trend for that, we should see such a maximum in that trend by about 2200, roughly 1,000 years after the MWP and 500 years after the LIA. The previous two cycles, however, were a little longer, so the periodicity may be reducing, indicating a possible maximum closer to 2100, though this is not supported by the rate of decrease in the gradient.
Either way, that maximum in the ~1,000 year cycle should only be about 0.5 to 0.8 deg.C higher than present temperatures for the trend itself, with additional variations for the superimposed 60 year cycle. The latter is expected to rise again between 2028 and 2058 and the cooling since 1998 is just the start of a slight decline in that 60 year cycle until about 2028. After the long-term maximum the world can expect about 500 years of cooling, the next Little Ice Age not coming until then.