Models Confirm “The Day After Tomorrow” Was Bad Science Fiction

Guest “why even bother”? by David Middleton

From the American Association for the Advancement of Science of America and YouReek Alert…

But, is a total *collapse* likely?

From the totally fracking useless files…

Simulations by scientists from the University of Groningen and Utrecht University showed that it is unlikely that the current will come to a complete stop, due to small and rapid changes in precipitation over the North Atlantic. However, there is a 15 percent likelihood that there will be a temporary change in the current in the next 100 years. 

Eureka Alert

So… There’s an 85% probability that nothing happens and a 15% chance that something might briefly change a little bit for a brief period of time at some point in the next 100 years. How is this useful at all?

It gets more useless…

The idea was to use this box model to estimate the likelihood of small fluctuations in freshwater input causing a temporary slowing down or a total collapse of the North Atlantic Current. The current shows non-linear behaviour, which means that small changes can have large effects. The evolution of the physics described by the box model can only be obtained using simulations. ‘As the transitions we were looking for are expected to be rare events, you need a huge number of simulations to estimate the chance of them happening,’ says Wubs. However, the Dutch scientists found that a French scientist had devised a method to select the most promising simulations, reducing the number of full simulations required.

Sven Baars, a PhD student of Wubs, implemented this method efficiently and linked it to the Utrecht box model. Daniele Castellana, a PhD student of Dijkstra, performed the simulations. ‘These simulations showed that the chances of a total collapse of the North Atlantic Current within the next thousand years are negligible,’ says Wubs.

Eureka Alert

“However, the Dutch scientists found that a French scientist had devised a method to select the most promising simulations, reducing the number of full simulations required.”

This reads like the Weekly World News article about the World War II B-17 Flying Fortress bomber being spotted in a crater on the Moon, according to Russian scientists, as reported by Swedish scientists. Almost all Weekly World News “science” articles took the form of, “according to Russian scientists, as reported by Swedish scientists.” In this case the Dutch scientists found that a French scientist had discovered cherry-picking.

The really fracking hilarious thing is that even with the newly discovered Franco-Dutch cherry-picking method, they still couldn’t simulate The Day After Tomorrow

“‘These simulations showed that the chances of a total collapse of the North Atlantic Current within the next thousand years are negligible,’ says Wubs.”

“Today, we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

Not so fast! The cancellation of the apocalypse requires confirmation…

A temporary interruption in the delivery of relatively warm water to north-western Europe is more likely: ‘In our simulations, the chances of this happening in the next 100 years are 15 percent.’ Such temporary transitions may cause cold spells in the North Atlantic, although this needs to be verified in further studies. Therefore, the current study is just a first step in determining the risk. The model does not take into account considerable changes in freshwater in the North Atlantic, which can be caused by the melting of the ice sheets. Wubs: ‘Confirming our results through simulation with a high-resolution climate model will be the next challenge.’

Eureka Alert

Confirming model results with another model always seems to be the next step in modern climate “science.”

Had I just read the paper before reading the press release…

As is usually the case, the paper is not nearly so bad as the YouReek Alert press release. The paper is actually quite good, as far as models go.

Transition Probabilities of Noise-induced Transitions of the Atlantic Ocean Circulation
Daniele Castellana, Sven Baars, Fred W. Wubs & Henk A. Dijkstra
Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 20284 (2019)

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is considered to be a tipping element of the climate system. As it cannot be excluded that the AMOC is in a multiple regime, transitions can occur due to atmospheric noise between the present-day state and a weaker AMOC state. For the first time, we here determine estimates of the transition probability of noise-induced transitions of the AMOC, within a certain time period, using a methodology from large deviation theory. We find that there are two types of transitions, with a partial or full collapse of the AMOC, having different transition probabilities. For the present-day state, we estimate the transition probability of the partial collapse over the next 100 years to be about 15%, with a high sensitivity of this probability to the surface freshwater noise amplitude.

Scientific Reports

The full text is available. They basically determined that random climate “noise” could possibly briefly disrupt the AMOC.

52 thoughts on “Models Confirm “The Day After Tomorrow” Was Bad Science Fiction

  1. Currently, atmospheric heat transport exceeds ocean heat transport to the arctic by more than an order of magnitude. link

    • Are you sure? Why is it all the edges of Arctic sea ice are determined by the ‘warm’ water pushed north by the Gulf Steam?

      • I’m reasonably confident that the numbers are sort of correct. The class notes are clear that the numbers don’t balance.

  2. Climate research (it’s not scientific) continues to defy reality. Two things have to occur for the North Atlantic Current to stop: One, the sun stops shining and, two, the Earth stops spinning on its axis.


    • You could probably affect it with a small asteroid strike on the isthmus of Panama.
      Reconnecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at this point would certainly have a negative affect on the current

      • A monster underwater volcano erupting directly underneath the path of the THC could cause a problem.

  3. An other prediction of Rahmstorf doom scenario failed again.
    In his opinion, “The Day after Tmorrow” is showing a very possible scenario only within a wrong timescale, so fast as in the film is unlikely.

    • My opinion of Rahmstorf just fell another notch. I’m surprised I had more.

      My vote for the most ridiculous “science” in the movie was the downdraft that brought stratospheric air down so fast it didn’t have a chance to warm up. That violates thermodynamics, and would mean diesel engines can’t work.

      It’s a bit dated, and I haven’t checked the links, but my comments about that movie live at

      Oh good grief, the science advisor for the movie is now at a university in Australia.

      • Rahmstorfs view of The day after tomorrow

        On the other hand, given the rules and constraints of the genre, it is remarkable to what extent the film-makers have tried to include some realistic background. Early in the film a UN climate conference in Delhi is shown where Jack Hall gives a talk about the possible risk of a shut-down of the North Atlantic Current. I gave a very similar talk at such a UN conference in Buenos Aires in 1998 – I even showed the same diagram. In the film talk, Hall states that a shutdown might occur in a hundred years, or a thousand, or not at all. Many real climatologists have said the same thing. In this way, what climatologists think is presented in a realistic way in the film, and it is very clear that the rapid drama that later unfolds is counter to what any climatologist expected – it’s where the fiction starts.

        • And, I hate to admit, it’s a pretty entertaining movie… One of my favorite bad science fiction movies.

          • I’ve never watched it. Never will.
            I’ve got lots of books when shows fall below rational expectations.

            I do watch an occasional fantasy, but everyone over the age of eight including the authors, knows they are fantasies.

          • Bad science fiction is the best… Combining atrocious science with high entertainment value is an artform.

  4. From your comments, David, might I presume you won’t be contributing money for the follow-up study of a 15% chance of some disruption in the next 100 years? Norway, Sweden, and Finland are between 60 and 70 degrees north latitude (Iceland is at about 65 degrees north latitude). Sweden is considering eliminating all gas and diesel vehicles by 2030, because, you know, CO2 is bad and that’s why Trump likes it. Those people ought to be manufacturing CO2 and getting it into the atmosphere as fast as they can. Ditto for our neighbors in the Great White North, you know, the hosers?

  5. After having studied ocean currents for 20 years, one must assume they are very knowledgeable in this field. So it is not a surprise that the original paper makes sense. Where it goes wrong is when the press is involved to make a profitable story.

    • Exactly! The wording of the report signifies its non-scientific character:


      A simulation on a computer does not “show” anything. This is language corruption of the sort Orwell warned of. A simulation run of a computer model creates quantification of predictions made by the theory incorporated within the model.

      Only measurements of events in the real world can then either show or fail to show the prediction made by the model. This corruption of the English language is how an entire theoretical climate system barreling toward apocalypse has been sold to the public. Understanding the limits of computer simulation is not widespread. Simply: a model not yet validated by experiment and measurement does not “show”, it only creates a prediction, a prediction of uncertain value til validated.

  6. IMLO, the thermohaline circulation is a naturally occurring example of fluidics or fluidic logic, to wit:

    The THC is a is a continuous “jet” or stream of water that flows through all the oceans of the world ( see graphic ) and is powered by the “sinking” of cold water and the “rising” of warm water.

    It acts like a continuous train on a circular track which is both “pushing” from behind and “pulling” from ahead ……. and it would take a powerful “force” to stop, disrupt or “change direction” of the THC flow.

  7. Gee, we haven’t had a snowball Earth event for while. If it weren’t for Hollywood’s silly ideas about such things, we might not even have Danger Heat propaganda going on now. They just have to have something to fuss about, from what I find here and in other places, with no idea how such cycles occur naturally with no input from land animals like us.

    Good article. The AMO is probably the ONE thing that is keeping the CLIMATE balanced right now. It has a mind of its own, too, so I hope that the Bright Idea Club and the Good Idea Fairies don’t try to come up with some way to meddle with it.

  8. This is the same sort of nonsense they came out with back in the 1970s when they were predicting a man made ice age. Look what happened. Here in the UK we get bombarded endlessly with climate scaremongering mostly by the BBC.

  9. Umm….

    I assume that the ‘temporary cooling’ expected would be of the order of a degree or so. Maybe 10?

    In the film, the temperature drop was sufficient to pull aircraft out of the sky by freezing their fuel, and then kill humans within a matter of a few seconds. I’m not sure that even flying through air at around -190C (the temperature at which it liquidifies) would do that…

  10. UAH and RSS and innumerable radio sonde measurements show global warming at 1.2degsC per century for the last 40 years. Entirely beneficial and no cause for panic. We are lucky to live when we do. Bin reading ‘bout Swiss starvation during the LIA.

    • Exactly. How did we ever buy into the notion that slightly warmer weather must be avoided at all costs?

  11. From the article: “The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is considered to be a tipping element of the climate system.”

    Well, the AMO seems to operate within certain bounds, at least for the time period this chart below covers. Maybe the authors are talking about the tipping point being within these bounds. It’s hard to tell sometimes when climate scientists talk about “tipping points” because sometimes they are talking about disastrous climate effects after such a tipping point.

    AMO chart:

    It looks very similar the the US surface temperature chart, Hansen 1999:

    • Very approximate and according to my Altzheimers:

      AMO seems to have a 66 year cycle. That is 6 cycles per 11 year each. Sunspots has a 100 year cycle. These cycles are out of sync (1:1.5).


      The AMO actually has a 55 year cycle (5 sunspot cycles) and sunspot has a 110 year cycle (last super-minimum in ~1890-1910)

      Which leads me to have thoughts of the AMO actually consisting of (at least) two oppositely moving cycles. Which may or may not every so often fall into sync…

      In that case, would it be possible that the conditions creating the Dry Europe (with fire bans) Summer 2018… Has been cyclically transferred to the Southern Hemisphere a year and a half (~18 months) later?

      Northern Hemisphere, very cold autumn, early winter 2019. I’ll be sure to watch this space for the Southern Hemisphere for spring 2021.


  12. These modellers, who create and study the models which are the works of their own hands, could be replaced by models of modellers that could, with 97% consensus, predict what models the modellers would model.

  13. One of Hollywood’s most egregious perversions of science, and most deliberate propaganda… at least at the time.

    Of course, NOW we’ve Godzilla the Climate Change Monster.

    • Although come to think of it the creators of Day After Tomorrow were the same jokers that gave us Godzilla the Transgender Iguana.

      They’ll pervert any material they get for their ends.

      • Don’t forget Independence Day and 2012… Woody Harrelson getting blown up by Yellowstone was worth the price of admission. They (Roland Emmerich) also did Midway… A very historically accurate depiction of USS Enterprise operations from late 1941 through mid 1942… Woody did a decent job playing Chester Nimitz.

        • Woody played Henry Fonda playing Nimitz in Midway?
          Good makeup! 😎

          PS After typing that I just did a quick search and found out they did a remake. Didn’t see it but decided to leave my comment up anyway. I’ll look for it. (Does it include the B-17’s attack?)

          • It mostly focused on VB-6, VS-6 (SBD Dauntless) and VT-6 (TBD Devastator) squadrons from the Enterprise air group. They did briefly depict the B-26 Marauder torpedo attack and I think the B-17’s.

  14. For me, the very best thing that came out of ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ was the OTT CGI of glaciers calving – which Gore then pinched (with no attribution or permission) for his ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ opening title sequence and then tried to pass the footage off as actual documentary evidence. Oh dear.

Comments are closed.