Cycles of Rapid Climate Warming


By Jim Steele

Published in the Pacifca Tribune May 28, 2019

What’s Natural

Cycles of Rapid Climate Warming

The globally averaged temperature rose 1.5°F from 1880 to today. Various narratives suggest the rise since 1950 was driven by increasing concentrations of CO2. The rising temperature before 1950 was considered natural. Since 1990, Arctic temperatures rose 2 to 3 times faster than the global average. So, are rapidly rising Arctic temperatures evidence of an impending climate crisis?

Astute students of climate history recall rapid Arctic warming has happened often and naturally. During the last Ice Age when CO2 concentrations were just half of today’s, 25 abrupt warming events happened. Arctic temperatures rose 9°F, and sometimes as much as 14°F in just 40 years. These rapid warming episodes are now called Dansgaard–Oeschger events (D-O events) in honor of the researchers who first detected them in Greenland’s ice cores. These D-O episodes affected global climate, changed ocean currents along California’s coast and altered the range of European forests.

What caused such abrupt warming? Basic physics dismisses changes in greenhouse gases or solar insolation because neither radiative effect induces such rapid warming. The most reasonable explanation suggests episodes of ventilating heat, that had accumulated in the Arctic Ocean, rapidly warmed the air.

The notion of stored heat in a freezing Arctic Ocean seems unfathomable to many laypeople. But it is scientifically well documented. Tropical Atlantic waters experience intense heating and evaporation. This results in warm salty water that is relatively dense. The Gulf Stream and its branching currents then transport that warm water northward. Because the water is salty and dense it sinks below colder and fresher surface waters as it approaches the Arctic Ocean. As a result, there is a layer of warm Atlantic water stored at depths between 300 and 2,700 feet below the Arctic Ocean’s surface. Arctic researchers report, “the total quantity of heat is substantial, enough to melt the Arctic sea ice cover several times over.”


Sea ice and a layer of cold fresh water normally inhibit subsurface heat from ventilating to the atmosphere. But as the incoming heat increases and accumulates, the warm Atlantic Waters can eventually melt the overlying ice cover. Other times, changes in the direction of Arctic winds will blow sea ice out into the Atlantic, as it did in the late 1990s. Either way, without insulating ice, a burst of heat ventilates from the ocean and warms the atmosphere.

Recently, anthropologists studying past Arctic cultures found the pre-Dorsett culture periodically abandoned then recolonized the Arctic coast as changes in sea ice affected temperatures. When sea ice covered coastal waters for 2 months longer than today, temperatures became 3-7°F cooler. Arctic people then abandoned the coast and moved south. A few hundred years later they re-colonized the coast when periods of open water, lasting 4 months longer than today, allowed heat to ventilate and raise temperatures 10°F warmer than today. Such changes alternated over several hundred years. And that raises the question, is the Arctic still experiencing similar cyclical warming?

Over the past several hundred years, melting Arctic sea ice corresponds with observed periods of increased intrusions of warm Atlantic waters. The dramatic Arctic warming during the 1920s and 1930s corresponded with increased intrusions of warm water accompanied by Atlantic fish species normally found further south. As the 1922 newspaper clipping reveals (see above), the warming of the Arctic was so dramatic it raised concerns the frigid Arctic would soon be converted to a warmer “temperate zone”.

When warm water inflows began retreating around 1950 so did the Atlantic fish. Sea ice then increased. Such cycles have been recorded in fishery data for hundreds of years. The most recent cycle of melting Arctic sea ice likewise coincided with intruding warm Atlantic waters with patterns of invading fish very similar to the 1920s-1930s warming episode.

So, we are now in the midst of an instructive natural experiment. If the loss of Arctic sea ice and warmer temperatures are due to rising CO2 concentrations, we should soon see a total loss of Arctic sea ice as predicted by some climate scientists. In contrast, if natural oscillations are controlling intrusions of warm Atlantic waters, Arctic sea ice will soon rebound. Indeed, a recent shift in ocean oscillations is now decreasing warm water intrusions. Temperatures should fall as less heat ventilates into the atmosphere. Based on earlier 20th century patterns when lost sea ice rebounded in the 1960s and 70s, Arctic sea ice should begin rebounding by the year 2030. But then again, warmer temperatures did last for 300 years during cycles a few thousand years ago. Either way, natural climate cycles predict Arctic temperatures will not experience further accelerated warming. We will soon see which theory is most accurate within the coming decade.

Jim Steele is retired director of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, SFSU

and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

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Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
May 30, 2019 6:34 am

“Arctic sea ice should begin rebounding by the year 2030.” … whereupon, as we all know, the climate cult will then seize upon it as more proof of human caused “climate change” (by then totally ignoring they were predicting warming).

What will be even more annoying, is that we’ll get all the same rubbish (cults don’t care about contradicting themselves) but rather than the nice weather we have right now, it’ll be noticeably cooler.

Bryan A
Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
May 30, 2019 10:03 am

It’s all about saving the Rolly Poley Bears and Furry Wurry Seals
(2 species that have survived both Warmer and Colder temperatures over the last 15,000 years)

Reply to  Bryan A
May 30, 2019 11:21 am

More like 4 million years!

Bryan A
Reply to  Pittzer
May 30, 2019 12:11 pm

WELL, yeah but Modern Man hasn’t been Modern Man for that long so it doesn’t count

Reply to  Bryan A
May 30, 2019 7:25 pm

For the warmists, anything before about 1970 doesn’t count.

Richard M
May 30, 2019 6:44 am

Looking more like we could see the AMO go negative in the early 2020s. In fact, the process could already be underway. It’s possible the current solar minimum might be helping it along. If we should get a strong La Nina that might also assist the process. A touch of natural cooling on top of a cooling cycle.

I don’t think any of this is tied to D-O events. Just a result of natural ocean currents.

Reply to  Richard M
May 30, 2019 9:03 am

Based on r^2=0.73 correlation between the CET and the North Hemisphere temperature, working back to 1660 (start of the CET data) it can be concluded that the N. Hemisphere’s temperature is on the rising slope of a multi-centenary cycle, cross-modulated by the multi-decadal (AMO) 60 year cycle.
If my hypothesis is correct, the multi-centenary cycle will peak around 2080, the temperature rise will be somewhat ameliorated by the AMO’s fall during the next 30 years, but subsequently boosted during the following 30.
Influence of the solar activity could be a significant factor if a Maunder type minimum occurs. Going back to 1660 and the CET effect of the MM on the N. Hemisphere temperature was estimated to be – 0.7C, depending on the latitude (from nearly no change in the tropics, about -1.0C for mid latitudes and twice as much for the Arctic)
This chart
shows the overall effect on the N. H. anomaly, which is dependant on the timing of the possible Maunder minimum start in relation to the other two (multi-centenary and multi-decadal) cycles. In short term a MM start with the SC25, the effect would be greatest since it would coincide with the AMO downturn, in which case we would see significant increase in the Arctic ice mass/area coverage. A MM start with SC26 and SC27 would have less effect on the initial condition due to the AMO recovering from its low ebb.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  vukcevic
May 30, 2019 11:02 pm

In other words you don’t know.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
May 31, 2019 12:08 am

‘more research required’ 🙂

Reply to  vukcevic
May 31, 2019 1:23 am

“the possible Maunder minimum”
What makes you think there will be another MM anytime soon?

Reply to  vukcevic
May 31, 2019 4:33 am

A MM type Grand minimum is only important natural event that might temporarily affect more regular climate cycles, thus I thought it is worth considering.
Possible, but is it likely?
Grand minima occurrences and duration are unpredictable, but it appears that we might be due for one, approximate years of the recent GM were:
1660 Maunder
1470 Sporer
1300 Wolf

charles nelson
May 30, 2019 6:52 am

“The globally averaged temperature rose 1.5°F from 1880 to today.”
I simply do not accept this.
Take a look at a map of the globe in 1880 and you will find that much of it is as yet unexplored.
Much of Africa and Asia had NO scientific instruments to measure temperature.
The oceans we being traversed by sailing ships and it would be twenty years before anyone arrived at the Poles.
The term ‘globally averaged temperature’ is next to meaningless even the the satellite era…but to ‘nail it’ with an accuracy of 1˚C in 1880 is risible.
Why doesn’t anyone stand up and state this most obvious fact?

Reply to  charles nelson
May 30, 2019 7:30 am

I think it has just become a part of the dogma that seems to pervade everything. I do not buy the argument that you can get a higher degree of accuracy from aggregates of hundreds of temperature measurements than the accuracy of any individual thermometer.

But this whole sham is largely a secular religious faith. It’s not falsifiable and its dogma is upheld by zealots that accuse anyone who does not accept the faith of heresy.

Reply to  xenomoly
May 30, 2019 9:09 am

Given the massively greater effect of such recorded natural events as these on temperatures, the idea that CO2 changes of 0.5 % over 80 years will be catastrophic, driven by any mechanism: either human or natural, is totally discredited.
And before our warmist zealots jump up and say the temperature rises in that time will be more like 10%, let’s educate them in advance.
Existing average global temperatures over the year is very approximately 15 degrees C. Warmist temperature rise by 2100, caused by current CO2 levels and resulting in catastrophic events, as predicted by CAWG/Climate Change theories is roughly 1.5 degrees centigrade.
Converting temperatures back to the absolute zero temperature, i.e. not cherry picking an artificial zero temperature zero; a 1.5 degrees K rise in (15+273) = 288 degrees K equals very roughly a rise of 0.5%

Reply to  Peter Wilson
May 30, 2019 10:45 am

Typo error, 2nd Line,
for “CO2 changes of 0.5%” read “temperature changes of 0.5% created by CO2 changes”

Reply to  xenomoly
May 30, 2019 11:37 am

“xenomoly May 30, 2019 at 7:30 am
I think it has just become a part of the dogma that seems to pervade everything. I do not buy the argument that you can get a higher degree of accuracy from aggregates of hundreds of temperature measurements than the accuracy of any individual thermometer…”

I am in basic agreement except for one quibbling point:
“you can get a higher degree of accuracy from aggregates of hundreds of temperature measurements than the accuracy of any individual thermometer”
Normally, it is believed that one can not achieve greater accuracy than the least accurate measurement device.

This is just another one of basic measurement truths that climate alarmists gloss over when forecasting their extrapolated dooms.

Tim Groves
Reply to  ATheoK
June 1, 2019 2:41 am

I am in basic agreement except for one quibbling point:

Read xenomoly’s entire sentence again. I think you will find that you two are in total agreement on the point of the accuracy of aggregates of temperature measurements.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  xenomoly
May 30, 2019 12:26 pm

xnomoly, you are correct. You don’t get a higher degree of accuracy from multiple measurements, you get LESS ERROR in the mean of those measurements. It works like this: say you take a single measurement of the temperature at a location, and you read 4.5C. Let’s also say that the measurement error is ±0.5°C. You measurement would be stated as 4.5±0.5°C.

Now let’s take a hundred measurements. Now you can calculate a standard deviation and standard error (the error in the mean). Let’s say our mean is once again 4.5C, and the standard deviation is 2.9. Because we have multiple measurements we can calculate the standard error as well, which is the standard deviation/ sqrt(N) (N being the number of measurements). N in this case is 100, so the square root of 100 is ten, and the standard error becomes 2.9/10 = 0.29 = 0.3. Now our calculated mean is 4.5±0.3°C.

A couple of things to mention. Since our raw data had only one decimal place, our calculated values can be no more precise. The standard deviation gets only one place, and so does the standard error. If N=10000 instead of 100, the standard error would have been 2.9/sqrt(10000) = 2.9/100 = 0.029 = 0.03. The mean would be expressed as 4.5±0.03°C. The mean hasn’t magically become more accurate; it’s just had its error reduced from ±0.3°C to ±0.03°C.

Reply to  James Schrumpf
May 30, 2019 3:47 pm

Its different for each measurement device. A alcohol thermometer only has 1c divisions. Best might be to split the difference. Multiple readings cannot make it more accurate than its capability. Hence historical readings larger uncertainty than modern digital types,

Reply to  James Schrumpf
May 30, 2019 9:33 pm

James Schrumpf
“you get LESS ERROR in the mean of those measurements”

So, if a hundred different people measure the height of a hundred different trees with a hundred different tape measures, the average height of those hundred trees will be know to a greater accuracy than any of the measurements?

If one person measures the exact same thing with the exact same instrument, with the exact same procedure 100 times, you have a quite different argument.

richard verney
Reply to  AndyHce
June 5, 2019 6:23 pm


Robert B
Reply to  James Schrumpf
May 31, 2019 2:03 am

My analogy is rounding heights to the nearest half metre. If the average height of men is 176.0 cm and the median 175.0, rounding each to half a metre and you get an average of 175.0 cm. Even with a billion measurements, it will still be 1 cm off the true value.

Only works with a perfectly symmetrical distribution, only random errors, so silly using it for a time dependent variable as well as something measured with a poor resolution that needs correcting – without calibration.

Robert B
Reply to  Robert B
June 2, 2019 5:24 pm

Re AndyHCE ; you should assume a skewed distribution of measurements in the former while its safer to assume its not in the latter, but still could be off because of a systematic error.

Reply to  charles nelson
May 30, 2019 8:11 am

Agree. It goes further. 70% of the earth’s surface is water. What percentage of that area was patrolled in 1880? Even today, what percentage of the 510 million square km of the earth’s surface is measured by satellites? Even if there were 510 million measurement points, how far much variation is there within a square kilometer? And then there’s the question of using the midpoint of high low measurements as an average. The more you think about it, the less plausible the concept of a global average temperature becomes.

Reply to  GregB
May 30, 2019 9:12 am

But the BBC said that by trawling through all the Victorian ship log archives and finding their bucket temperatures taken with a seaman’s elbow, they could discern 5 trillion Hiroshimas of global ocean warming to 0.01C accuracy!

Reply to  charles nelson
May 30, 2019 9:58 am

Precisely. There is simply no such thing as an averaged intensive variable like temperature. To talk about the “average” temperature of the Earth is nonsense.

Jerry Palmer
Reply to  Graemethecat
May 30, 2019 3:06 pm

Correct. Nobody, now or ever, can state what the global average temperature is right.. “now”, let alone what it should be.

Exit, pursued by a polar bear.

Reply to  Graemethecat
May 30, 2019 5:24 pm

I heard it quipped “The world’s average temperature is about as meaningful as the world’s average telephone number.”

Robert B
Reply to  Graemethecat
May 31, 2019 2:21 am

Not quite. The analogy with mining is that you can estimate the total amount of a mineral in the total amount of ore by averaging the concentration of samples from the ore. It isn’t going to be close to the concentration of the whole ore, except fortuitously, unless you take so many samples that you dig up the whole ore body.

You get a good enough estimate from a lot less sampling by assuming a profile of concentrations. Krigging. While it works for mining, you don’t need better than 1% accuracy (and with a 300K average, 1% is a huge error). And this where temperature is very different. The air around a station in the morning is not the same in the afternoon while concentration of minerals in an ore doesn’t change with time.

Sam Capricci
Reply to  charles nelson
May 30, 2019 10:03 am

your comment reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon of 3/10/19 where pointy haired boss tells Dilbert that they won a government contract to measure ocean temperatures.

Reply to  charles nelson
May 30, 2019 10:35 am

“The oceans we being traversed by sailing ships and it would be twenty years before anyone arrived at the Poles.”

However, oddly enough we probably have better data for the Southern Ocean temperatures in 1880 than in 2000 (before Argo buoys). In 1880 hundreds of sailing ships regularly sailed in the “roaring forties” and “howling fifties” in order to use the reliable westerly winds and to clear Cape Horn (the fastest route to the North Atlantic from the West coast of the Americas and Australasia was around Cape Horn).

This traffic practically ended in 1914 and since whaling ceased the Southern Ocean has been almost completely deserted, except for a very few research and eco-tourist vessels. I know, I’ve been down there and gone for weeks on end without seeing a single ship.

Reply to  charles nelson
May 30, 2019 10:39 am


I agree that using a global average temperature is fraught with many problems, but the purpose of this article is to encourage people here in San Francisco Bay Area to think about natural warming cycles. A huge problem is many laypeople simply think climate is, and has been, static and any change must be due to human greenhouse emissions. Going deep in the weeds about calculating a global temperature usually overwhelms people and they stop reading and thinking.

To argue there has been no warming at all makes skeptics look like total deniers and people stop reading and thinking about the issues we skeptics raise. Tree ring data suggests there was significant warming from 1850-1940, then a cooling, and then a warming, but that warming does not exceed the 30s and 40s. Instrumental data in the USA often shows a warming during the first half of the 20th century. I strongly believe to help people see past the propaganda that we are facing a climate crisis, we will be much more effective if we teach them about natural climate change.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Jim Steele
May 30, 2019 5:48 pm

{Note: Dr. Steele, I sure hope you get to see this – none of my comments are appearing on WUWT now, unless I manage to get a mod to sift through the sp@m bin or wait a looooooong time . I hope that, as the author of this thread, even if no one else can see this, you can, for my main goal in writing was to affirm you. Way to go, truth warrior! 🙂 }

Excellent, helpful, instruction by a gifted teacher, Dr. Steele. Thank you for all you are doing, month after month, year after year, to promote data-based science (in other words, science).

Truth and truth alone will protect all of us creatures (human and other) from the miseries inflicted by the Envirostalinists and the Enviroprofiteers (i.e., solar, wind, electric vehicle, cladding, etc., market-share-by-fiat sc@mmers, and greedy/power-mad scientists-for-hire).

Just a bit of encouragement (give some of the comments on this thread); you are in good company, the best, in fact:

1. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until his retirement in 2013. He is the author of over 200 papers on meteorology and climatology and is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and of the Academic Advisory Council of GWPF.

[I]gnorance of physics … impacts the ability of non-scientific politicians [and voters] to deal with nominally science-based issues.
The gap in understanding is also an invitation to malicious exploitation. Given the democratic necessity for non-scientists to take positions [or to vote on] on scientific problems, belief and faith inevitably replace understanding, [and] trivially oversimplified false narratives serve to reassure the non-scientists that they are not totally without scientific ‘understanding.’ The issue of global warming offers numerous examples of all of this.

I would like to begin this lecture with an attempt to force the scientists in the audience to come to grips with the actual nature of the climate system, and to help the motivated non-scientists in this audience … to move beyond the trivial oversimplifications.

October, 2018 Lecture

2. Christopher Essex, Chairman, Permanent Monitoring Panel on Climate, World Federation of Scientists, and Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario (Canada) in London, 12 February 2015

presents the actual state of the physics concisely and clearly here:

Video of Essex’s lecture is linked in above WUWT article and also here, on youtube:

Reply to  Janice Moore
May 30, 2019 7:18 pm

Thanks Janice for the kind words. I had not seen any comments b y you for a long while and was just wondering where you have been.

I trust all is well!

Janice Moore
Reply to  Jim Steele
May 30, 2019 8:47 pm

(3 hours later….. lol)

You are very welcome. How cool to know that you noticed my absence. How kind of you to say so.

All is not, really, “well.” Things are actually kind of grim.** However, I am healthy and all my needs are provided (and a bit more).

Bottom line: God knows. God cares. God will provide and change my life for the better… in His time.

**Without going into details, to be less cryptic, let’s just say, if you hear of a good job and a place to live that has running water and heat (for next winter — I made it through the last one up here around latitude 48N, but really hope not to have to do that again…) ANYWHERE in the U.S…, please let me know (just ask the mod to give you my email)! 🙂

(WUWTers, please forgive my putting out my little plea for help AGAIN, I hope you will overlook it… I really do need help…)

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Jim Steele
May 30, 2019 11:08 pm

Whichever way the Arctic turns will prove nothing. If it gets colder with no ice loss (ice gain) the alarmists will switch to the South Pole and cry wolf because the Antarctic peninsula is melting. If it gets warmer in the Arctic and we see massive ice loss, it wont be cause of atmos temp going up high, but the alarmists will still claim victory.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
May 31, 2019 1:12 am

And if they both fall simultaneously?

Reply to  Jim Steele
May 31, 2019 1:07 am

Arguing “that warming does not exceed the 30s and 40s” doesn’t help so-called skeptics either. Nor does taking a data set from one site on top of the Greenland plateau and extrapolating to the entire “Arctic”.

I see you’re basing most of this on the Arctic Iris Effect. There is a problem though:
“The signature of an Arctic Iris Effect is the opposing temperature trends in the ocean versus atmosphere.”

“By all accounts the recent warming of the 1990s and 2000 was likewise a ventilation event that also cooled the upper layers of the Arctic Ocean.”

Both the atmosphere and upper layers of the Arctic Ocean warming aren’t they?

Reply to  charles nelson
May 30, 2019 3:08 pm

The claim that “globally averaged temperature rose 1.5°F from 1880 to today” indeed deserves to be questioned on many grounds. Beyond the fact that many large regions of the globe simply lack reliable data going back that far lies another salient fact: by no means has the rise in well-covered regions been close to linear. On the contrary, quasi-cyclical behavior is strongly evident, with warming to a peak in the second quarter of the last, followed by cooling to a deep trough late in the third quarter–a feature of the global average nearly obliterated by various ad hoc data “adjustments” made by index manufacturers.

Currently the global temperature stands nearly 2°F above the 1976 low, with precious little advance seen in the present century. Despite the alarmist cries of those who view the Arctic temperatures as “the canary in the coal mine,” Steele has good grounds for expecting another reversal of “trend” in coming decades.

Reply to  1sky1
May 30, 2019 4:06 pm

My text should read: “…warming to a peak in the second quarter of the last century…”

John Peter
May 30, 2019 6:59 am

This looks important to me.

May 30, 2019 7:27 am

“The globally averaged temperature rose 1.5°F from 1880 to today.”

What’s the technical term for pulling temperatures out of your @ss for 90-95% percent of the world that didn’t have thermometers from 1850 to the early 20th century? Extrapolation?

Reply to  icisil
May 30, 2019 10:00 am

How about @sstrapullation?

Jerry Palmer
Reply to  stonehenge
May 30, 2019 3:09 pm


Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  icisil
May 30, 2019 6:28 pm


“The globally averaged temperature rose 1.5°F from 1880 to today.”

What’s the technical term for pulling temperatures out of Greenland’s ice cores for 90-95% percent of the world that didn’t have thermometers from 1850 to the early 20th century.

Steve O
May 30, 2019 7:51 am

“We will soon see which theory is most accurate within the coming decade.”

Not that it will matter. Models will either be adjusted to incorporate the trends, or they will be ignored as something not accounted for by the models.

Ed Zuiderwijk
May 30, 2019 8:14 am

It would be nice if statements like: ‘warm waters going under the cold surface waters in the Arctic’ were backed up with actual temperature measurements. Of course 4 degrees C is ‘warmer’ than -1 degree C just below the ice and that’s what it probably is because of water pressure. Should such waters suddenly surface then part of the enthalpy is used to expand the liquid and the temperature drops to 0 or lower at the surface. Hence no warming effect. Therefore the temperature below must be substantially above 4 degrees. Is it? My money is on it is not. Hence the proposed mechanism does not work. The warmer waters come in from the tropics with surface currents and their quasi cyclical changes cause the variation of ice cover.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 30, 2019 9:51 am

see isotherms in here
comment image

Reply to  vukcevic
May 30, 2019 11:07 am

Better temperature profiles here:

Generally speaking the temperature difference is about 4 C in Fram Strait sinking to 3 C in the Central Arctic Ocean.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 30, 2019 10:49 am

Ed, There is an excellent paper reviewing the effects of Atlantic Water but it is paywalled: Atlantic Water in the Arctic Circulation Transpolar System

They report, “According to the simple balance estimates [62], the amount of heat contained in the AW layer in the Arctic Basin is sufficient to melt all sea ice twice. However, this does not occur because in most of the Arctic Basin AW is situated at the depth of 150–1000 m and is separated from the ocean surface and ice cover by the high-gradient structural zones which complicate the vertical heat transfer.”

Furthermore many papers discussing subsurface temperatures specify potential temperature, so your enthalpy argument doe not hold in those cases.

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 30, 2019 4:28 pm

Fortunately, this can be calculated for pure water if we assume an adiabatic expansion where all the enthalpy change as expansion work comes from cooling the liquid. The enthalpy of fresh water at 4°C and 300 meters below the surface is approximately 19.71 kJ/kg. At the surface its enthalpy is 16.91 kJ/kg. The difference is 2.80 J/g. The average heat capacity of water is 4.20 J/g-K. The change in the temperature of the water is -2.80/4.20 = -0.67 K. The water will cool from 4°C at 300 meters depth to 3.33°C at the surface. Salt water will be close to this value since it is still about 96.5% water. Upwelling water from much deeper locations will cool as much as you estimated.

May 30, 2019 8:24 am

Well yes, Greenland was in fact a temperate zone 900 years ago, as witnessed by the fact that emigrants from temperate Denmark and Norway, with their accustomed farming habits, were perfectly able to exist there. When temperatures again dropped, they were forced out – whereas the aboriginal population (depending on fish and seals only) easily adjusted.

Reply to  AndyE
May 30, 2019 11:04 am

Actually they came mostly from Iceland and the Faeroes and they lived very largely by raising sheep and cattle with very minor arable farming (barley) and a lot of sealing, but even so it was definitely significantly warmer than now when barley does not ripen at all in Greenland.

Reply to  tty
May 31, 2019 12:31 am

That used to be true “but due to climate change – in southern Greenland, the growing season averages about three weeks longer than a decade ago – which has enabled expanded production of existing crops. At present, local production accounts for 10% of potatoes consumption in Greenland, but that is projected to grow to 15% by 2020. Similarly, it has enabled new crops like apples, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots to be grown and for the cultivated areas of the country to be extended.”
From various links listed on wiki’s Greenland page, eg

Reply to  Loydo
May 31, 2019 9:49 am

Potatoes have been grown for a long time in Southern Greenland, it will grow further north than just about any crop, even north of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia.

But barley still won’t ripen in Greenland, though it is actually grown there for green fodder.

So it’s still true Loydo, it was warmer during the MWP.

Reply to  tty
May 31, 2019 6:32 am

Any farming benefits from a short-lived warming cycle is likely over. As recent research shows

“Warming trends observed from 1986–2016 across the ice-free Greenland is mainly related to warming in the 1990’s. The most recent and detailed trends based on MODIS (2001–2015) shows contrasting trends across Greenland, and if any general trend it is mostly a cooling.”

Reply to  Jim Steele
June 1, 2019 3:33 pm

But is the “short-lived warming cycle” likely over yet?? It has only lasted about150 years. Is it not more likely that there will be another couple of hundred years of warming – probably helped by increasing atmospheric CO2?? This will also make the Dansgaard-Oestler cycle more similar in length to the average lengths of these.

May 30, 2019 9:02 am

David Dilley of Global Weather Oscillations postulates that the moon pulls warm water from the tropics to the arctic as it cycles from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere, he estimates it takes 13 years for the warm water pulse to circulate the arctic causing a melting phase which gradually dissipates until the next lunar cycle. That makes sense at least to me.

J Mac
May 30, 2019 9:52 am

The Anchorage Daily Times headline on November 2, 1922 perfectly illustrates
Linear Thinking In A Cyclical World. The headline extrapolates the modest warming trend into the Arctic becoming a ‘temperate zone’. It didn’t happen then, regardless of the alarmist headlines. It isn’t happening now, regardless of today’s alarmist headlines.

May 30, 2019 9:59 am

see isotherms in here
comment image
in the magnified image it appears that isotherms are at 0.2C. In the Arctic section therefore temp might be -1.2C, -1C, -0.8C and -0.6C in downward direction.

May 30, 2019 10:06 am

Some interesting information regarding the naming of Dansgaard-Oeschger events. Danish scientist Willi Dansgaard discovered the periodical sudden warming events when analyzing ¹⁸O and deuterium isotopic changes, a technique he had pioneered. He reported his finding in 1969 from his analysis of the first ice core from Camp Century:
Dansgaard, W., Johnsen, S.J., Møller, J. and Langway, C.C., 1969. One thousand centuries of climatic record from Camp Century on the Greenland ice sheet. Science, 166(3903), pp.377-380.
That year there was a meeting at Yale where Willi Dansgaard presented his abrupt climate change events. It was later published at:
Dansgaard, W., Johnsen, S.J., Clausen, H.B., and Langway, C.C., Jr. 1971. Climate record revealed by the Camp Century ice core. In: Turekian, K.K., ed. Late Cenozoic Glacial Ages Symposium 1969. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 37–56.

The scientific world ignored Willi Dansgaard’s discovery of abrupt climate changes for over a decade, perhaps because it was not until 1976 when finally Milankovitch theory was rehabilitated and the explanation to glaciations, a more important issue, found in orbital changes. But then the frequencies found were not the ones expected.

The scientific world didn’t pay attention to Dansgaard’s discovery until Hans Oeschger, a Swiss scientist, started measuring CO2 in Greenland ice cores bubbles and found that the abrupt warming revealed by the ¹⁸O changes was accompanied by abrupt changes in CO2. Then everybody in the field became very interested. That’s when Dansgaard and Oeschger published several articles together and the events were named after both of them.

It is too bad that the CO2 changes in Greenland ice cores turned out to be a natural artifact:
Delmas, R.J., 1993. A natural artefact in Greenland ice‐core CO2 measurements. Tellus B, 45(4), pp.391-396.

So in the end Dansgaard discovered the events in 1969, and Oeschger didn’t discover anything about the events. I guess nobody has proposed that his name is eliminated from them given his lack of substantial contribution.

As Alexander von Humboldt said, scientific discoveries are first denied, then considered unimportant, and finally attributed to the wrong person. Willi Dansgaard died in 2011.
Willi Dansgaard

mr bliss
May 30, 2019 10:10 am

How long before Mann denounces Dansgaard and Oeschger as deniers?

David Tallboys
Reply to  mr bliss
May 30, 2019 12:17 pm

I got shouted down as a denier in The Guardian and FT for raising the issue of Dansgaard events.

There’s another article in The Guardian today blaming all heating since 1950 on human activity.

I also got shouted at in The Guardian for asking if anybody had worked out the effect on ice melting caused by the 91 volcanoes that were only discovered under the western antarctic a couple of years ago
and yet had somehow been missed.

William Astley
May 30, 2019 10:19 am

There is now Greenland ice sheet cooling, Greenland glaciers are starting to gain mass, and there is Atlantic Ocean cooling. That is evidence of cooling.

Calling the Arctic warming (1996 to 2007) Arctic ‘amplification’ assumes any warming is AGW warming and hides the AGW theory paradox that there has been almost no observed warming in the tropics which is a paradox, as that is the region that emits the most amount of long wave radiation to space.

If the Arctic warming was cause by AGW is should have continued rather than stopping warming and now it appears starting to cool.
Jakobshavn Isbrae: Mighty Greenland glacier slams on brakes

“It’s a complete reversal in behaviour and it wasn’t predicted,” said Dr Anna Hogg from Leeds University and the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM).

“The question now is: what’s next for Jakobshavn? Is this just a pause, or is it a switch-off of the dynamic thinning we’ve seen previously?”

In 2018, 26 of Greenland’s 47 largest glaciers were either stable or grew in size.
• Overall, the 47 glaciers advanced by +4.1 km² during 2018. Of the 6 largest glaciers, 4 grew while 2 retreated.
• Since 2012, ice loss has been “minor” to “modest” due to the dramatic melting slowdown.
• Summer average temperatures for 2018 were lower than the 2008-2018 average by more than one standard deviation.
• Since 2000, the extent of the non-snow-covered areas of Greenland has increased by 500 km² per year.

May 30, 2019 10:28 am

Climate change is so yesterday!
Liberals and the CBC say the new phrase is ‘climate emergency’.
According to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper — which recently updated its style guide, replacing “climate change” with preferred terms, “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global warming” with “global heating”.

J Mac
Reply to  E.S.
May 30, 2019 12:16 pm

A ‘breakdown’ is when you don’t have any Killians Irish Red Lager beer in your ‘fridge.
An ’emergency’ is when the local store doesn’t have any Killians in their cooler.
A ‘crisis’ is when you find out Killians is no longer available in the entire western Washington state area!

This is a chilling climate change! This is serious!

Reply to  E.S.
May 30, 2019 12:53 pm

“climate emergency” is, for those in the know, an abbreviation for ‘climate research funds emergency’. Same for the ‘crisis’ or ‘breakdown’

May 30, 2019 11:53 am

“If the loss of Arctic sea ice and warmer temperatures are due to rising CO2 concentrations, we should soon see a total loss of Arctic sea ice as predicted by some climate scientists. ”

Best science says, post 2040

Reply to  steven mosher
May 30, 2019 12:18 pm

Thanks Steven, best science of course, you’ve been looking at my chart
It is not the puny CO2 but the mighty multi-centenary and multi-decadal ocean cycles transporting accumulated heat energy into the Arctic.
If no Maunder type Minimum than the late 70’s early 80’s will be the nadir of the Arctic ice.

J Mac
Reply to  steven mosher
May 30, 2019 12:29 pm

Post 2040? An open ended ‘prediction’??? Or is that a ‘confidence interval’?
How assertive, for ‘best science’! So that could be “In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they may find….”
Zager & Evans – In The Year 2525

Reply to  steven mosher
May 30, 2019 1:17 pm

In 2010, Caldeira, Mann, Mark Cane and few others wrote to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to suppor the listing of the polar bear as endangered.

They explicitly stated, “Under current greenhouse gas emissions trends, Arctic summer sea ice has
been projected to disappear in the 2030s or before, as reported by several recent studies.”

So I am curious Mosher, who represents your “best science” prediction of 2040 0r later

Reply to  steven mosher
May 30, 2019 2:18 pm

There is no best science in this case. It is clear that it is all pretty bad science regarding Arctic sea ice predictions.

May 30, 2019 12:34 pm

Good post, Mr Steele. History (very recently climatically) is revealing & instructive. Stopping energy use isn’t going to affect such climatic shifts — thinking that it would is insane.

May 30, 2019 12:58 pm

There is a similar article in the NY Times for 1923 as the Anchorage paper of 1922. Except this was about the eastern arctic and Spitzbergen.

May 30, 2019 1:31 pm

Nice post jim which looks at the broad picture and puts things in contxt

I wrote an article carried here several years ago that carried numerous references to articles and science papers both contemporary to the 1920 period as well as those written after the event

We must remember that the warming started around 1908 and the years of warming helped calve the iceberg from Greenland that did for the titanic in 1914

It was a remarkable 25 year warming period which is little known. If something so recent can be forgotten or brushed aside it is no surprise that events of hundreds or thousands of years ago are ignored


John D Smith
May 30, 2019 1:46 pm

Mr. Steele, I want to thank you for your insights. Enjoy reading your essays, sir.
In your opening paragraph you stated that the average global temperature has risen 1.5 °F. Do you have the average rise since 1950. Since 1950 is the middle year, it seems to me that it should be possible to determine if the rate of change of the average global temp average has increased i.e. has the rate accelerated since 1950. Thank you.

Robert Stevenson
May 31, 2019 3:57 am

I wanted to include a piece about equilibria in an earlier post about exaggerating the roll of CO2 as a GHG compared with water vapour but the post was closed for comments. The ‘normal’ rules for phase equilibria do not fully apply with dissolution of CO2 in the oceans because of the chemical reactions that take place removing or sequestering the dissolved gas from the ‘equilibrium zone’. As can be seen an atmospheric pressure of 175 atmospheres would be required to account for the imbalance. Also sequestration would account for the low residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere (5-7 years):

CO2- Water Solubility

Henry’s-law constant H for CO2-water solutions is 1.42×10^3 atm/mole fraction at 20 C (10). Using simple Henry’s-law solubilities (p=H*x), the oceans should hold only 30% of the 2,900 giga tonnes of the atmospheric CO2 at equilibrium, but the actual figure is >50 times this amount. In fact, for an ideal vapour-liquid equilibrium system obeying Raoult’s law, an atmospheric pressure of 175 atmospheres would be required to contain this colossal amount (50*2,900=145,000 giga tonnes) of CO2 in the oceans. The majority share of CO2 is taken up by the oceans competing with the biosphere’s CO2 requirements for plant growth and food supply. Non-ideality accounts for its large solubility in water and clearly it is sequestered and fixed by chemical and biological reactions. They involve the formation of carbonate rocks and phytoplankton growth through photosynthesis. The reactions remove dissolved CO2 from the equilbrium equation, driving it to the right, thereby giving the oceans a near limitless ability to absorb CO2.

Ulric Lyons
May 31, 2019 3:11 pm

North Atlantic temperatures change inversely with changes in the solar wind temperature/pressure. Arctic warming is normal during a centennial solar minimum.

comment image

If rising CO2 forcing projects onto natural variability, increased positive NAO would drive a colder North Atlantic (AMO).

June 1, 2019 4:18 pm

The ice cometh and then it goeth -what is the problem? Seriously though Polar amplification is well known to be caused by water vapour from warming ocean currents – not from CO2. Is this too hard to understand? If man can cause the deep ocean salinity THC movments then i guess yes we are to blame /sarc

June 4, 2019 4:49 am

Such an insightful read! Rapidly varying external parameters could be the cause of rapid and abrupt climate change. Sudden discharge of freshwater from disintegrating ice sheets have been blamed for change in salinity levels. But, a major problem with these THC-based theories is that atmospheric models yield mostly local North Atlantic cooling. Atmosphere alone, cannot cause the extra-tropical influences for the rest of the world efficiently. The earth’s orbital parameters are often not accounted, in how distribution of solar energy has changed throughout the years.

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