Study finds: 'severe cold snap during the geological age known for its extreme greenhouse climate'

Illustration originally from Wikipedia article “Geologic temperature record”, annotated by A. Watts

The Arctic: Interglacial period with a break

Reconstruction of Arctic climate conditions in the Cretaceous period

FRANKFURT. Scientists at the Goethe University Frankfurt and at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre working together with their Canadian counterparts, have reconstructed the climatic development of the Arctic Ocean during the Cretaceous period, 145 to 66 million years ago. The research team comes to the conclusion that there was a severe cold snap during the geological age known for its extreme greenhouse climate. The study published in the professional journal Geology is also intended to help improve prognoses of future climate and environmental development and the assessment of human influence on climate change.

The Cretaceous, which occurred approximately 145 million to 66 million years ago, was one of the warmest periods in the history of the earth. The poles were devoid of ice and average temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius prevailed in the oceans. “A typical greenhouse climate; some even refer to it as a ‘super greenhouse’ “, explains Professor Dr. Jens Herrle of the Goethe University and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, and adds: “We have now found indications in the Arctic that this warm era 112 to 118 million years ago was interrupted for a period of about 6 million years.”

In cooperation with his Canadian colleague Professor Claudia Schröder-Adams of the Carleton University in Ottawa, the Frankfurt palaeontologist sampled the Arctic Fjord Glacier and the Lost Hammer diapir locality on Axel Heiberg Island in 5 to 10 metre intervals. “In so doing, we also found so-called glendonites”, Herrle recounts. Glendonite refers to star-shaped calcite minerals, which have taken on the crystal shape of the mineral ikaite. “These so-called pseudomorphs from calcite to ikaite are formed because ikaite is stable only below 8 degrees Celsius and metamorphoses into calcite at warmer temperatures”, explains Herrle and adds: “Thus, our sedimentological analyses and age dating provide a concrete indication for the environmental conditions in the cretaceous Arctic and substantiate the assumption that there was an extended interruption of the interglacial period in the Arctic Ocean at that time.”

In two research expeditions to the Arctic undertaken in 2011 and 2014, Herrle brought 1700 rock samples back to Frankfurt, where he and his working group analysed them using geochemical and paleontological methods. But can the Cretaceous rocks from the polar region also help to get a better understanding of the current climate change? “Yes”, Herrle thinks, elaborating: “The polar regions are particularly sensitive to global climatic fluctuations. Looking into the geological past allows us to gain fundamental knowledge regarding the dynamics of climate change and oceanic circulation under extreme greenhouse conditions. To be capable of better assessing the current man-made climate change, we must, for example, understand what processes in an extreme greenhouse climate contribute significantly to climate change.” In the case of the Cretaceous cold snap, Herrle assumes that due to the opening of the Atlantic in conjunction with changes in oceanic circulation and marine productivity, more carbon was incorporated into the sediments. This resulted in a decrease in the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, which in turn produced global cooling.

The Frankfurt scientist’s newly acquired data from the Cretaceous period will now be correlated with results for this era derived from the Atlantic, “in order to achieve a more accurate stratigraphic classification of the Cretaceous period and to better understand the interrelationships between the polar regions and the subtropics”, is the outlook Herrle provides.



Jens O. Herrle, Claudia J., Schröder-Adams, William Davis, Adam T. Pugh, Jennifer M. Galloway, and Jared Fath: Mid-Cretaceous High Arctic stratigraphy, climate, and Oceanic Anoxic Events, in: Geology, 19 Mai 2015, 10.1130/G36439.1 Open Access


Over the past decades, much research has focused on the mid-Cretaceous greenhouse climate, the formation of widespread organic-rich black shales, and cooling intervals from low- to mid-latitude sections. Data from the High Arctic, however, are limited. In this paper, we present high-resolution geochemical records for an ∼1.8-km-thick sedimentary succession exposed on Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago at a paleolatitude of ∼71°N. For the first time, we have data constraints for the timing and magnitude of most major Oceanic Anoxic Events (OAEs) in brackish-water (OAE1a) and shelf (OAE1b and OAE2) settings in the mid-Cretaceous High Arctic. These are consistent with carbon-climate perturbations reported from deep-water records of lower latitudes. Glendonite beds are observed in the upper Aptian to lower Albian, covering an interval of ∼6 m.y. between 118 and 112 Ma. Although the formation of glendonites is still under discussion, these well-dated occurrences may support the existence of cool shelf waters in the High Arctic Sverdrup Basin at this time, coeval with recent geochemical data from the subtropical Atlantic indicating a drop in sea-surface temperature of nearly 4 °C.

Full paper:

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May 28, 2015 8:39 am

“Herrle assumes that”
I really love the way studies that have absolutely nothing to do with CO2, have to drag in the assumptions that CO2 alone is the master control knob for global temperatures.
Why not just show what you found regarding arctic temperatures without speculating on something on which you aren’t qualified to speak?
Regardless, there is no need to “assume” anything, since others have created proxies that measure global CO2 levels during the periods in question.

Reply to  MarkW
May 28, 2015 9:05 am

Is not greater solar activity the most likely culprit? If CO2 had anything remotely to do with a world that had no icecaps and 35 Celsius sea temperatures, where does the concept of CAGW fit in? I think the answers to both these question are obvious.

Reply to  andrewmharding
May 28, 2015 2:37 pm

You just don’t understand the ‘treeness’ of the thing…

The interview may seem disconnected from this discussion… however, it is quite apropos.
There is ‘good’ in the CAGW believers and their ’cause’ [so to speak], it’s just misdirected and misapplied.
The leaders… the tone setters… the Al Gores… the ‘authorities’ who are appealed to, however… are wholly corrupt.

Reply to  MarkW
May 30, 2015 12:04 pm

I think what Herrle was saying is that during this hot period with high co2 concentrations in the atmosphere, some geologic changes happened which gave rise to a large sink of co2 out of the atmosphere thus leading to the 6 million year cold period.

May 28, 2015 9:04 am

“Herrle assumes that due to the”
When one scientist assumes, it makes an ass out of him. When more scientists assume it begins to make an ass out of science. The politics of AGW is ruining science.

Eustace Cranch
May 28, 2015 9:06 am

The poles were devoid of ice and average temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius prevailed in the oceans. “A typical greenhouse climate; some even refer to it as a ‘super greenhouse’ “
And then it cooled. No thermal runaway feedback. Imagine that.

Reply to  Eustace Cranch
May 28, 2015 10:09 am

Why didn’t the oceans eventually start to boil?

Reply to  Eustace Cranch
May 28, 2015 5:59 pm


May 28, 2015 9:12 am

So, global warming causes glacial periods.
I recall years ago how one renegade scientist described in an interview that the global climate was so interwoven that rising temperatures could easily result in a new “ice age” caused in part by colder melt water entering the ocean currents. (It’s been awhile, but something along that line)
He also said that the silly notions of what mos commonly call “ice ages” doesn’t really mean what they think it means.
Yes, large deposits of ice and snow starts advancing over the northern hemisphere gobbling up arable lands, but the major glacial periods also create huge expanses of land due to ocean level ‘s dropping while also making the current deserts bloom with greenery and dotted with lakes. So you start getting some extremes get swapped out in a trade off.
Time to move to the Sahara, folks! How’s the real estate market there?
All in all it’s a mixed bag: six of one and half a dozen of the other.
Of course, humans might get inconvenienced and annoyed either way, warm or hot, I say roll with it. None of the “global” climate changes will be “overnight” by human reckoning. No, day after tomorrow scenarios.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-Robert Frost

Reply to  Kuldebar
May 28, 2015 10:13 am

“while also making the current deserts bloom with greenery and dotted with lakes”
Contrariwise. Deserts grow and become hyperarid during ice ages. It is during the warmest intervals that Sahara “blooms with greenery”. The last time it happened was during the Holocene climatic optimum, about 4,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Reply to  tty
May 28, 2015 12:34 pm

Thanks for the correction. I guess I was “seeing” a connection between the last part of the glaciation and the Sahara climate change.
A timeline of Sahara occupation:
* 22,000 to 10,500 years ago: The Sahara was devoid of any human occupation outside the Nile Valley and extended 250 miles further south than it does today.
* 10,500 to 9,000 years ago: Monsoon rains begin sweeping into the Sahara, transforming the region into a habitable area swiftly settled by Nile Valley dwellers.
* 9,000 to 7,300 years ago: Continued rains, vegetation growth, and animal migrations lead to well established human settlements, including the introduction of domesticated livestock such as sheep and goats.
* 7,300 to 5,500 years ago: Retreating monsoonal rains initiate desiccation in the Egyptian Sahara…

Bruce Cobb
May 28, 2015 9:17 am

I know this study makes me want to herrle.

jim hogg
May 28, 2015 9:19 am

“To be capable of better assessing the current man-made climate change” . . . they blew it completely right there . . . This is never gonnae end!

Non Nomen
Reply to  jim hogg
May 28, 2015 10:09 am

“…the current man-made climate change”

That’s just the secret password to get to the troughs of public money.

Reply to  jim hogg
May 28, 2015 11:30 am

Steady there, Jim. CAGW is just a fad. New, undiscovered demons will rise.

May 28, 2015 9:39 am

This post at Powerline was linked by Instapundit this morning:
Behind Science Fraud, Chapter 4
Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, the pre-eminent medical journal that was stung by one of the worst science frauds of the last decade (Andrew Wakefield’s phony vaccine-autism link paper), has a fascinating note reporting on the conversations at a recent conference of scientists in the UK about the problems of scientific review. A few of his statements are genuinely eye-popping:
“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted . . . this symposium—on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome Trust in London last week—touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. . .
The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. . . nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system. [Emphasis added.]

Reply to  John in LA
May 28, 2015 1:49 pm

I would think a climate skeptic group would be a little more sympathetic to the Wakefield study. Here is someone presenting a science study against a very politically connected industry that ends up getting wrapped up in a smear campaign. Sounding familiar to anyone? My understanding of the original paper is, it did not claim an MMR/autism link, but the evidence warranted more study. If Wakefield is in fact wrong, it should be real easy to show the autism rate among a vaccinated group is no more than a control group. Duke it out with the data; Not media headlines.

Reply to  taz1999
May 28, 2015 3:31 pm

“If Wakefield is in fact wrong, it should be real easy to show the autism rate among a vaccinated group is no more than a control group.” – This has been done, conclusively.

Reply to  taz1999
May 28, 2015 3:40 pm

James H-T,
After reading many of the comments under your linked article, there are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered. That study was not an apples to apples comparison.
One question (that I didn’t see asked) was: what is the cost/benefit analysis of vaccinations? Maybe it wasn’t asked because the answer is so obvious.

Reply to  taz1999
May 28, 2015 7:35 pm

The full expose of Wakefield’s fraudulent research is rather easy to find. Let me restate that: he was not “wrong”. He fabricated his data. He tried to ‘prove’ that a subset of children were at risk for autism due to the MMR vaccine, by acquiring a syndrome he named autistic entercolitis (which he named BEFORE he ‘discovered’ it!). He developed a simple test to identify that risk group. He held the patent on that test, and had entered into a deal with others to mass produce the test kit. His objective was to have government require all children who had received the vaccine be tested, reaping millions of dollars on the sale of the kits. Fraud perpetuated simply for financial gain.
Considering that parents made grossly wrong decisions, leading to some preventable illnesses and deaths, based on Wakefield’s fraud, I think he should be charged with negligent homicide. He must have been aware of the probable consequences of his acts.

Reply to  taz1999
May 29, 2015 6:19 am
Don’t know about Wakefield, but when there is someone claiming to have been a party to covering up an autism link, then the science here is not settled, either.
Skepticism: it’s not just for climate any more.

Theo Goodwin
Reply to  John in LA
May 28, 2015 6:21 pm

Judith Curry has a post on Horton’s note.

Reply to  Theo Goodwin
May 29, 2015 7:14 am

Skepticism: it’s not just for climate any more.
mellyrn thank you for stating my point better than I did. (sigh)
Frequently it’ s pointed out that many CAGW arguments/conclusions actually contradict the CAGW hypothesis. I see some of this in mandatory vaccination arguments.. If as claimed vaccines are totally safe and totally effective then you don’t care about herd immunity. Herd immunity would only be a side effect (positive) to the unvaccinated. The unspoken other side of that equation is that if herd immunity is required then the vaccine is to some extent unsafe or ineffective; should lead to the question of how safe and how effective?
As mentioned there needs to be an honest cost/benefit study. (Again sound familiar?)
Had my son vaccinated (don’t remember which one) that was supposed to prevent certain pneumonias. He spent 10 days and surgery on his second birthday with a particularly antibiotic resistant pneumonia. The strain was never determined and the pediatrician response when we told him of the vaccination was literally “hmm”
Recently my father got the “free” shingles vaccination. Two weeks later he had shingles.
Seemingly we’ve been very unlucky or maybe the bad outcome probabilities are not as low as advertised.

Gary Pearse
May 28, 2015 10:03 am

“and average temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius prevailed in the oceans”.
Modern measurements seem to indicate that SSTs have an upper limit of 31C, most likely due to increased evaporative cooling and convection of heat upwards in the atmosphere with the rising water vapor. I think we should be looking for a quantitative physical relation that calculates this seemingly precise finding so that we don’t make stupid statements about ocean temperatures in the past. It would seem that even if the sun increased its radiant energy, all this would do would be to accelerate evaporation and move even more water vapour upwards to cool.
The same thing about finding a calcite crystal habit that forms below 8C. Why would 8C be such an indication of a cold period when the lack of incident warming from the sun in the polar regions are unlikely to make it very much warmer. The heat engine still worked then, I would suspect. Also, presumably a palaeontologist knows that the poles and land masses were in different places than they are now? Do they know what paleo latitude their samples came from?

richard verney
Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 28, 2015 10:35 am

I have examined hundreds of thousands of entries in ship’s logs and have seen sea temperature measurements recorded of up to 36degC, and 32 to 34degC commonly recorded in some oceans. These measurements would have been taken by drawing sea water from about 6 to 10metres below the surface.
As I explained to Willis on one of his ARGO articles, the cap on ocean temperatures is not due to evaporation. Evaporation is one factor but if evaporation placed a cap one would never see ocean temperatures above 30/31 degC and yet these are commonplace. In one of my comments, I posted links to about 10 (or so) geographical locations (Gulf of Mexico, South China Sea, Indian Ocean, West Coast of Africa, Red Sea, Indonesia, West Coast off Japan) where the port authority was recording a daily temperature or hottest that year in excess of 31degC.
Whilst evaporation and winds play a role, the substantial factor capping temperatures is ocean currents both lateral whereby the warm equatorial and tropical ocean is circulated polewards, and vertical by ocean overturning carrying warm surface waters to depth.
Back in the Cretaceous period the distribution of land masses was very different and hence the circulating currents would have been very different. There is no reason why the equatorial and tropical oceans cannot reach a SST temperature of 38 degC and I have no reason to question the claim of 35degC.
The ocean isn a selective surface and the atmosphere serves to cool it.

Reply to  richard verney
May 28, 2015 11:45 am

Some evidence exists for remarkably hot tropical SSTs during the warmest intervals of the Cretaceous. I’ve seen an estimate of 40 degrees C!
Please see paper “Amplification of Cretaceous Warmth by Biological Cloud Feedbacks” linked below. Thanks.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  richard verney
May 30, 2015 11:13 am

The sea temperature in the Persian Gulf reaches 40C now. And coral survives in it.

Don K
Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 28, 2015 2:45 pm

Possibly the best current guess at mid-Cretaceous geography is at Like today, the Arctic is a closed ocean although the Atlantic is narrower, the Bering Strait wider and a sea connects the Arctic and Carribean over the area now occupied by the Rocky Mountains. And Antarctica is still polar albeit much more offset than now. The major difference I see — a belt of probably tropical sea that girds the entire planet.
Paleo latitudes are determined from the orientation of magnetic fields in lavas and probably correct assumptions about which rocks have moved about and by how much. What might not be correct is the underlying assumption that magnetic poles are always roughly aligned with the planet’s rotational poles.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
May 30, 2015 12:24 pm

“do they know what paleo latitudes their samples came from?”
The article above says 71 deg. N

Bill Illis
May 28, 2015 10:09 am

There were certainly some periods of colder temperatures in the Jurassic and the Cretaceous.
I have a database of the temperature estimates which is calculated in much the same way as the temperature history chart at the top of the article.
There was actually a short-lived ice age 156 Mya when continental drift had moved Siberia across the North Pole. Other cold periods occurred around 128 Mya. (The 112 to 118 Mya period, however, doesn’t show up as cold in the database.)

richard verney
Reply to  Bill Illis
May 28, 2015 10:16 am

Do you have one which also plots the estimate for CO2?

Bill Illis
Reply to  Bill Illis
May 28, 2015 10:28 am

CO2 (from all estimates from reliable methods) at 3.0C per doubling so that it is comparable to temperatures from the dO18 isotopes. CO2 needs to be in the per doubling format because 4,500 ppm is 16 times higher than 280 ppm but it is only 4.0 doublings.

richard verney
May 28, 2015 10:15 am

“Over the past decades, much research has focused on the mid-Cretaceous greenhouse climate…”
Why is it referred to as a greenhouse climate? Warm yes, but why should it be referred to as a greenhouse climate? Is the expression ‘greenhouse climate’ a term of art having a well accepted definition? One cannot help but consider that the choice of language is emotive rather than scientific.
What was the proportion of so called ‘greenhouse’ gases in the atmosphere during the mid-Cretaceous ? It is interesting that you rarely see a plot of CO2 superimposed over reconstructions of past temperatures because there is little correlation between CO2 and temperature and many instances of anti correlation (ie., where CO2 levels are rising and temperatures are falling, or Co2 levels are falling but temperature is increasing, or temperature remains steady but Co2 levels are fluctuating etc).
Whilst we can have a stab at the levels of CO2 during this period (see for example: ), do we have any idea on the level of water vapour/RH during this period? This is very important for the positive feedback argument and the proposition of some runaway GHE.

Reply to  richard verney
May 28, 2015 11:46 am

I think you’re getting caught up in the new popular definition of “greenhouse”. They are not making any specific claim about so-called “greenhouse gas” levels. They are referrring to the climate itself, warm, wet, active water circulation…the ideal conditions for growing large amounts of vegetation.

Reply to  richard verney
May 28, 2015 11:50 am

I prefer “Hothouse” and “Icehouse” for warmer and cooler long intervals in earth history. Extensive glaciations may not always occur during Icehouses, but when they do, that’s when they happen. The Mesozoic Icehouse has typically been cited as lacking a glacial event, but as Bill rightly notes, that’s now known not to be strictly true. Previously it was thought that ice existed then as montane glaciers, but not continental-scale sheets.
I’ve wondered what role the (admittedly mild) Jurassic-Early Cretaceous Icehouse might have played in the evolution of feathers, which it appears developed for insulation and display before flight.

Reply to  sturgishooper
May 28, 2015 3:51 pm
Reply to  sturgishooper
May 28, 2015 9:52 pm

sturgishooper said:
I prefer “Hothouse”…
What we have now is Whorehouse Climate.

May 28, 2015 10:26 am

Climate change will be upon us when cold comes in waves and heat comes in snaps.

Another Scott
May 28, 2015 10:27 am

A six million year cold snap. Are you sure we’re talking about climate rather than weather given such a short time period?

Michael D
Reply to  Another Scott
May 28, 2015 11:08 am

I was going to say… even in Canada we don’r call it a cold snap when it’s six million years long. A lot can happen to land values in 6 million years.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Michael D
May 30, 2015 11:28 am

Michael D – yeah – especially when there are 2000 tons of ice on your land, per square metre.

Louis Hunt
May 28, 2015 10:33 am

So, if this research is correct, a ‘super greenhouse’ climate can be interrupted by a ‘severe cold snap’ lasting for a period of about 6 million years. There were no humans burning fossil fuels then, so it had to be due to some kind of natural variation in the climate. Doesn’t that mean that a similar event could cause the current ‘pause’ in warming to continue – or get colder – for another 6 million years, even if CO2 remains high? I guess it also means that it could take over 6 million years for alarmists to admit they were wrong if the extreme warming they predicted never happens.

May 28, 2015 11:11 am

Well, now I’ve read the paper, and it is a very pedestrian piece of stratigraphic research, where they try to identify and date the Cretaceous Ocean Anoxic Events (OAE’s) in the Arctic. CO2 and greenhouse effect is not as much as mentioned. And, yes there may be some indication of cooler conditions for a period of time after OAE-1a.
Incidentally, while OAE-1a and OAE-2 shows up clearly in the stratigraphy, the OAE-1b, 1c and 1d are absent or very dubiously identified, which means that the dating of at least the beginning of the cool interval to 118 Ma is rather shaky (the end is tied down by a U/Th-date) .
In short: another case of Press-Release Science where an author tries to score Brownie Points by claims that have no basis in the actual research.
It is worth noting that the OAE-1a has often been ascribed to increasing CO2 levels in the ocean (and atmosphere) due to the submarine eruption of the Ontong Java plateau c. 120 million years ago. Since the Ontong Java plateau consists of at least 100,000,000 cubic kilometers of basalt, i. e. sufficient to cover the entire surface of the Earth to a depth of 200 meters, some effects on ocean productivity and climate does seem reasonable.

Reply to  tty
May 28, 2015 11:42 am

Are you familiar with this 2008 Science paper by Krump and Pollard? Their obeisance to CO2 notwithstanding, IMO it strikes to the heart of climate modelings, which of course don’t know what to do with clouds.
IMO it offers a plausible explanation for the degree of peak Cretaceous warmth and its climatic equability, ie low temperature gradient from equator to poles.
Amplification of Cretaceous Warmth by Biological Cloud Feedbacks
The extreme warmth of particular intervals of geologic history cannot be simulated with climate models, which are constrained by the geologic proxy record to relatively modest increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Recent recognition that biological productivity controls the abundance of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in the unpolluted atmosphere provides a solution to this problem. Our climate simulations show that reduced biological productivity (low CCN abundance) provides a substantial amplification of CO2-induced warming by reducing cloud lifetimes and reflectivity. If the stress of elevated temperatures did indeed suppress marine and terrestrial ecosystems during these times, this long-standing climate enigma may be solved.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  sturgishooper
May 30, 2015 11:35 am

Did you see that he was referring in the paper to the Cretaceous period?? And his explanation is that the was a time of ‘suppressed marine and terrestrial ecosystems’? He is claiming that there was a huge suppression of vegetative growth, for heaven’s sake! In the Cretaceous!
Does he know why it is called “The Cretaceous”? Good grief. And further, there is plenty of HS from the oceans to act as CCN. The whole notion in the paper is contrived. and ignores multiple facts from that era.

Joe Chang
May 28, 2015 11:30 am

so far past the 2C tipping point of no return, and yet we returned?

May 28, 2015 11:37 am

All of these kinds of studies will eventually lead to the obvious conclusion that neither humans nor CO2 have very much to do with global warming. Duh-oh!
“Cold snap?” Six million years is a rather long time… What do you call a warm period that interrupts 6 million years of catastrophic cold – a “warm snap?”

Reply to  jbird
May 28, 2015 11:47 am

That was a good point. This current Ice Age has lasted just less than 3 million years. I guess this is a 3 million year cold snap.

Ron Clutz
May 28, 2015 12:11 pm

Meanwhile, during our interglacial, the Arctic Ice Cap is fluctuating as it has always done, a dynamic between the ocean and the water.comment image

old construction worker
May 28, 2015 12:32 pm

“There were no humans burning fossil fuels then, so it had to be due to some kind of natural variation in the climate. Doesn’t that mean that a similar event could cause the current ‘pause’ in warming…..
For all we know a series meteorites impacts could have trigger the “cold snap” lasting 6 million years. Or, maybe the warm period was the anomaly cause by some comic force we are not aware of.

old construction worker
May 28, 2015 12:33 pm

comic = cosmic, sorry

Reply to  old construction worker
May 28, 2015 12:39 pm

You put “cold snap” in quotes, an attempt to suggest it didn’t happen. Your evidence?

old construction worker
Reply to  Poems of Our Climate
May 28, 2015 1:26 pm

“You put “cold snap” in quotes……” I’m not attempting to say it didn’t happen but calling a 6 million years of cold event a “snap” is a stretch, do you think.

May 28, 2015 12:44 pm

I just love sedimentology studies that look at a 100m section and derive results from a bed of minerals a few cm thick. Surely if there was an abrupt 6 million year cold period there would be supporting sedimentological, paleo, palyno, and geochemical evidence.

May 28, 2015 12:48 pm

Straw man set up. First and foremost, atmospheric and oceanic circulation during the Cretaceous have nothing to do with our present set up. Continents, oceans, mountains were completely different. Thus claiming Cretaceous aged rocks taken from today’s Arctic reflect an analogous dynamic to the Cretaceous Arctic is misleading.
The second straw man is of course the resolution over such long period that has nothing to do with the fine comb of our recent Quaternary period. 6 millions years is equivalent to the Pliocene & Quaternary together.
So what is truly the goal of this study and why do they try to compare it with what they claim is man made climate change on a 150 y period in their PR marketing?
The only goal I see here is to claim that cold snaps, cold periods are a normal occurrence under increasing greenhouse/global warming conditions. And in claiming so, they have some legitimate research published however with twisted conclusions, as handy proof for activist/scientists/financiers users that any cooling observed now or in the future will “be consistent with” runaway man made global warming.
As I suggested before, glaciations will soon be explained as periods of runaway global warming too…
I find this intellectually dishonest and now worry that Geology is beginning to be hijacked for the Green revisionism purpose.

Reply to  TomRude
May 28, 2015 6:29 pm

It looks that way to me, too.

Don Easterbrook
May 28, 2015 12:56 pm

Yes, it was warmer during the Cretaceous and CO2 levels were high, but that doesn’t mean that the high CO2 caused the warmer climate! If you look at the equilibrium of CO2 in the oceans and in the atmosphere, when the oceans warm, the atmospheric CO2 must go up, i.e., the warm oceans cause the CO2 to rise, not the other way around. It’s basic chemistry. Nowhere in the geologic record of the Ice Ages does rise in CO2 precede temp rise–CO2 always lags warming so it can’t be the cause of the warming!

May 28, 2015 1:03 pm

It’s interesting that new things keep being found in the field of Settled Science.

Walt S.
May 28, 2015 1:06 pm

I’m pretty sure the time frame of this cold snap coincides with the gas/oil rich (reservoir rock) zones known collectively as the Pearsall formation in south as well as east Texas.
The date range seems fairly close to the middle of three oil/gas shales, known as the Lower Bexar Shale, extending to perhaps the upper.
Worldwide glaciation and oceanic anoxic events which form oil reservoirs… coincidence or cause/effect?

May 28, 2015 3:03 pm

ls there really much to be gained looking at climate change this far back for insight into any current climate change. As the world was a very different place when you are looking back over a 100 million years ago. Surely looking at the most recent ice age would be a better use of time and money.

Reply to  taxed
May 28, 2015 3:35 pm

Yes. It’s quite useful. The laws of physics and chemistry do not change over time and we don’t yet know what all the laws are. So, our study of the chemical and physical processes of ancient events simply advances our (total) knowledge.

May 28, 2015 3:21 pm

Can’t say I trust any climate proxy of 135-65milion years ago. Whatever it is there is a good chance the researcher is squeezing way to much certainty out of it.

George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA
May 28, 2015 3:27 pm

These findings, even from a 100 m. stratigraphic section, were no surprise to me. In 1972, I attended a meeting and talked with a Canadian geologist I knew. He had been mapping in the Arctic for the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) and explained to me that they had identified CRETACEOUS glacial till. Unfortunately, when he returned the following summer, the helicopter crashed and all on board died.
I have often suggested that those interested should go to the GSC archives in Ottawa and find any field notes on record by Dr.Roger Dean to verify those findings. It would add further credence to the German/Canadian work.

May 28, 2015 4:05 pm

The likelihood of cooling is much greater than for warming:
[click in chart to embiggen]

richard verney
Reply to  dbstealey
May 29, 2015 2:40 am

If one looks at the Holocene, it appears that there is a downward trend, nemely that the Holocene Optimum was warmer than the peak of the Minoan Warm Period which in turn was warmer than the Roman Warm Period which in turn was warmer than the Viking (Medieval) Warm Period which in turn was warmer than the late 20th Century Warm Period.
Each of these peaks which punctuate the past 8,000 years is peaking at a slightly lower high. Of course, we do not know whether the late 20th Century Warm Period is over, that will depend upon what heappens long term following the end of the ‘pause’/current ‘hiatus’. But if the past is anything to go by (and warmists will argue that it is not since man has altered the CO2 balance), the immediate future (by which I mean the next few thosusands years) will be variable and interupted by temperature peaks slightly lower than the preceding one, ie., the next peak in the Holocene will be somewhat lower than the late 20th Century Warm Period.
Of course, as they say about stocks and shares, past performance is not a guide to future performance, so you can read what you will out of it. One thing appears reasonably certain, namely manmade emissions of GHGs did not drive the Holocene Optimum, the Minoan Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period or the Viking Warm Period and that point alone casts doubt on whether CO2 is a significant driver of temperature (especially as it appears that CO2 lages temperature on every time scale), and therefore sheds doubt on whether manmade emissions of CO2 have driven/are driving the late 20th Century Warm Period.

Reply to  dbstealey
May 29, 2015 6:37 am

I note that the warmups in dbstealey’s graph seem much faster than the cooldowns. Earth is normally warmer than at present. Does the swiftness of warming reflect a weakening of whatever agents cause cold conditions, and a “snap” (sorry) back towards normal warmth?

Reply to  mellyrn
May 29, 2015 9:20 am

Rain melts ice fast.
Evaporating oceans in cold to make snow buildup to ice is slow mass transport.
Or: Melt has gravity on its side, making snow in the sky fights gravity.

Reply to  mellyrn
May 30, 2015 1:07 pm

The earth is actually normally colder in the last 750,000 yrs.

John Gorter
May 28, 2015 5:40 pm

Glendonites, ice rafted boulders etc have long been known from the Australian Cretaceous in the Eromanga Basin, and even Cretaceous age glacial striations have been described from South Australia. Why is this news?

Rob Conway
May 28, 2015 8:49 pm

“Extended interruption in the “interglacial'” is either a poor translation or a geologist who doesn’t understand the term interglacial. Interglacial is a warm period between colder ‘glacial’ conditions. The research ‘may’ show that the climate went back into a more ‘glacial’ condition and colder temperatures that lasted (based on the tentative age dating of the sediment layer) 6 million years and produced conditions that led to the deposition of the black sediment layer. That is all one can state from this paper, which is generally characteristic of glacially driven climates (albeit shorter time intervals today between glacial/interglacials), and not significantly relevant to the Holocene/Pleistocene or AGW ‘climate’ discussion.

May 28, 2015 10:58 pm

Evidence of a Cretaceous glaciation or two has been around for a long time. You don’t get tillites without glaciers. Maybe just at the interglacial scale, like today.
We don’t have the first clue why climate change happened then, we don’t understand why it is happening now.
This paper follows Hansen’s weathering scenario for CO2 sequestration, while likewise ignoring the production side of the vulcanism that would drive India into Eurasia in Hansen’s case, and open the Atlantic in the above.
The Cretaceous is noteworthy for the “twin towers” of large igneous province production and the longest known period without a geomagnetic reversal.
comment image
Whatever actually causes glaciations trumps CO2, Milankovitch, continental drift, galactic cosmic rays, and the all the rest of bit players.
Chaotic, yes, nonlinear and chaotic…not. It is an elephant we have yet to discover in the room.

May 28, 2015 11:25 pm

What really happened in the Cretaceous is that the continents were mainly concentrated toward the equator.
ie there was no polar land glaciers and the sea ice just got sept/circulated rapidly away from the poles to melt in the warmer mid-latitude oceans. Less ice means less reflection of sunlight.
And sea level was much much higher in the hot periods of the Cretaceous because the newly formed Atlantic Ocean was much shallower than it is today. The average depth of all the oceans was only 3100 metres versus today’s 3350 metres and sea level was 265 metres higher than today. Ie. the ocean had nowhere to got except onto the low altitude land. Europe was under water, the Middle East was under a shallow ocean. The centre of North America was flooded from Texas to Inuvik. The Gulf Stream probably flowed right up this central sea. The majority of our shallow easily accessible oil came from this period when algae grew in the warm shallow oceans on the continents and made the sea floor bottom, very rich in Carbon organics. See it all fits together.
The combination of less ice and more shallow oceans meant that the Earth’s Albedo was lower at approximately 25% versus today’s 30% – I built an Albedo calculation spreadsheet which produces this value.
That is the Cretaceous Hothouse explanation which follows very logically and does not require any CO2 level to work.

May 28, 2015 11:58 pm

New palaeo climate data are always welcome, including with higher resolution.
What is not welcome is the obsequious, servile, ingratiating, sycophantic, fawning, boot-licking CO2 stream of consciousness, added irrelevantly and meaninglessly to the text.
“Herrle assumes…” = Herrle assumes the position.
When will climate scientists hold their heads up and show some self-respect?

May 29, 2015 12:03 am

The timing of the glacial periods – blue bars at the bottom of the above climate history – with 150 million year spacing, calls to mind Shaviv’s hypothesis of galactic orbit and dust clouds containing energetic cosmic ray emitters.

May 29, 2015 3:24 am

This is not new science. I remember reading this in an OU course in geology some years ago.

May 29, 2015 10:21 am

Why doesn’t heat ever come in snaps and cold come in waves? Now that would really be climate change.

Joe Dunfee
May 29, 2015 10:33 am

It should be pointed out that Palentology seems to be very much in the grips of “post normal” science.
I just saw a video about the whale skeletons that are proposed as the best example of evolution. It turns out the proposed transition fossil was a fabrication. In museums all over the world, there are life-sized Rodhecetus skeletons. But when they were first discovered, Phil Gingerich didn’t have the part of the skeleton where the proposed blow-hole, flippers, or fluke were located. He knew they must be there, so the discoverer simply made that part up. Now that a more complete skeleton reveals more of the skeleton, he has egg on his face. Here is more,
Radiometric dating has similar post-normal issues. When you send a rock to be dated, you generally must tell them the approximate date you expect the rock to be, so they can use a dating method that works in that range. But, if you tell them fake dates, you can get a different answer.

May 31, 2015 7:50 pm

Reporting from Snowball Earth….during the great CAGW warming, the main diet of warm blooded two legged animals was cabbage and beer, which were banned in 2015.

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