Anthony Watts has posted another alarmist article, this time about how England might suffer from an ice age some time soon. The guest opinion was penned by John Hardy (UK), and was posted under a painting by Abraham Hondius: “The Frozen Thames” 1677 (during the Maunder minimum) (archived here).
One of the important messages from this article is that one would be very unwise to pay any attention to anything written at WUWT. I don't know why deniers have such an aversion to learning about climate. Nor do I know why they are so shameless about showing their ignorance. Nor why they are apparently unwilling or unable to do basic fact-checking or research.
Thames freezing over?
Do deniers really think that the Thames is about to freeze over again? It looks like it. John Hardy wrote:
Two separate indicators of climate change suggest that there is a risk of substantial cooling from 2017 onward. There is also likely to be a gap in energy production worsened by hasty climate change policies, making it three unrelated problems at the same time. In the worst case we could have rolling blackouts in Europe in the next few years.
Why might we expect the climate to cool? Both sides in the climate change debate (see for example this document from CRU) acknowledge a number of factors which appear to correlate to some degree with global temperature:
- The concentration of water vapour, methane, carbon dioxide and some other gases (“Greenhouse Gasses” or GHGs) in the atmosphere
- Solar cycles (specifically sunspot cycles)
- The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
- Aerosols (from volcanic eruptions and other sources)
- Milankovitch cycles
He added, presumably to declare himself as a science denier, or science ignoramus:
[Note – “correlate” i.e. both change in step. There is violent disagreement on “causation”, i.e. whether one actually causes the other. It is possible for example that rising temperatures cause an increase in carbon dioxide rather than the other way around]
He doesn't give any examples of his supposed "violent disagreement on 'causation'". He obviously doesn't know that science unequivocally shows that all things being equal:
- a rise (fall) in temperature from causes other than an increase in greenhouse gases will cause more (less) CO2 to be expelled from the oceans, which will in turn cause temperatures to rise further; and
- an increase in greenhouse gases causes a rise in temperature.
The impact of solar cycles and ENSO on UK weather (is very little)
Number 4 in our list – Aerosols – are rather unpredictable. Number 5 – Milankovitch cycles – are very long. No one credible on either side of the argument maintains that GHG will cause a step change in climate in the near term.
This leaves number 2 – Solar cycles, and number 3 – ENSO. Historical data and present trends suggest that both may be heading for a strong downturn at more or less the same time.
What John is referring to when he talks about solar cycles isn't the 11-year solar cycle. He posted a chart of sunspots from 1990 to the present and said that it was similar to the pattern at the start of the Dalton minimum. He also said it might be coincidence.
ENSO and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
In regard to ENSO, John linked to a chart of the multivariate ENSO index (MEI). He didn't show it in the article, but claimed, on the basis of nothing at all, that:
If (and only if) previous patterns are repeated, we are now headed into the “La Nina” part of the cycle. If this occurs we would be likely to see a reduction in global average temperatures, although the correlation with temperature appears to be different in different locations.If he means that there's likely to be a La Nina soon, then there's a 50:50 chance he's correct. On the other hand, if he's arguing that in the immediate future there will be a shift to a period where La Nina's dominate, then the chances of him being correct are much slimmer. It is more likely that the Pacific has just recently entered a warm phase of the PDO, which is dominated by El Nino conditions, not La Nina conditions.
John only included a link to the MEI. Here is the chart from NOAA. I've added shading to indicate the phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) - warm phase (pink) and cool phase (blue). It might be too soon to categorically say that the PDO has entered a warm phase. A couple more years will probably confirm it or otherwise.
|Figure 1 | Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) with PDO phases superimposed by HotWhopper. Chart source: NOAA|
If the PDO is now in a warm phase, then the Pacific will be dominated more by El Nino conditions than La Nina, and this will push up the rate of global warming for a while.
From global to the UK
In John's article he kept shifting from global to UK local, without pause. He also shifted from very long term to annual changes. It was therefore hard to make sense of what he wrote. The equatorial Pacific is a long way from the United Kingdom. Although what happens in one part of the world can have an impact on the weather in distant parts, there are other things happening closer to the UK that will have a bigger impact. On the Met Office blog, I found this:
However, does it follow that if 2016 is another record year that the UK will experience record weather too? Jeff Knight is a climate scientist with the Met Office Hadley Centre. He said: “Global mean temperatures are not a good way of forecasting the year-to-year variations in UK climate, which depend much more on a range of local factors including pressure patterns, wind directions and sea temperatures around the UK.
“Furthermore, evidence from published research for links between the Tropical Pacific and UK summer weather is limited.”
The North Atlantic influence on European weather
Looking closer to home (if your home is the UK), what's happening in the North Atlantic is probably a better indicator of what to expect with the weather. From UCAR/NCAR:
The NAO [North Atlantic Oscillation] is a seesaw in atmospheric pressure that helps direct the flow of winter storms across the Atlantic. When the contrast between high pressure over the Azores and low pressure in the far north Atlantic is stronger than normal, the NAO is said to be in a positive phase. This usually drives mild Atlantic storms into northern Europe but keeps the Mediterranean region comparatively dry.
But when the contrast is lower than normal, the NAO becomes negative and opens the door to cold, dry Arctic intrusions into northern Europe and wet, slow-moving systems across the south.
The graphic below from that website illustrates what happens:
|Figure 2 | Positive and negative phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). When the NAO is in positive phase (left), the contrast between high pressure over the Azores and low pressure in the far north Atlantic is stronger than normal, which leads to mild storms over northern Europe and drying over the Mediterranean. But when the contrast is lower than normal, the NAO enters negative phase (right), leading to cold, dry weather in northern Europe and wet conditions across the south. Image by Pablo Ortega. Source: UCAR NCAR|
I'm not in a position to analyse this, but it does look to me as if the NAO may be now in a positive phase, which suggests a wetter, warmer UK. You'll notice the strongly negative index in 2010 which coincided with a very cold year in the UK (relative to other recent years).
For a more comprehensive overview of the impact of the North Atlantic, there's a really good website by the State Climate Office of North Carolina.
I haven't mentioned the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and neither did John at WUWT. Changes in that will also affect weather in Europe. I've written about that previously and included some references to HotWhopper articles below.
Lots of ifs before much colder winters come to England
John included lots of if's. He mentioned the drop in temperature in Greenland in the event known as the Younger Dryas. Then he wrote:
We would be extremely unfortunate to be hit by a Younger Dryas magnitude event; but two of the main factors correlating to earlier climate changes appear to be heading for a strong downturn at the same time. If we are hit by a combination of a very strong La Nina at the same time as a repeat of something like the Dalton minimum we could be in for some cold winters.
There are two points to be made about that. (I'll leave the Younger Dryas for another day.) The first is that there is nothing to suggest a very strong La Nina is on the horizon. Even if one were to arrive, it is unlikely to have much of a direct impact on UK weather. Nor would it lower the globally averaged temperature by much. Below is a chart of global average temperatures since 1997 with ENSO years marked:
|Figure 4 | Global mean surface temperature showing ENSO years. Data source: GISS NASA|
The strongest La Nina was the one from 2010-2012 and there wasn't a huge drop in global surface temperature. In fact the globally averaged temperature then was higher than it was in any other previous La Nina year.
The other point is that it wasn't the change in incoming solar energy that caused the cold years around the time of the Dalton minimum (1790–1830). The drop in global temperatures was largely because of volcanic eruptions.
Central England is getting warmer
Below is a chart showing Central England temperatures. If you hover over the chart you can see that the lowest of the Dalton minimum period (1790–1830) was from 1807-1816. However the decade from 1837 to 1846 was almost as cold and that was outside the period known as the Dalton minimum:
The other main point about the chart above is that it shows that for there to be a comparable cooling in the near future, there would have to be a huge drop in temperature in the region. The two most recent ten year periods have been the hottest in the entire 360 year record by quite some margin.
UK electricity security and greens killing grannies?
What John is mostly worried about is that there won't be enough electricity generated in the UK in the future. He thinks that the UK needs to open more coal-fired and/or nuclear power plants. Again, he doesn't provide any data to substantiate his concern. All he says is:
The uncertainty of the power supply, caused in part by green opposition to coal and nuclear, could make it a triple whammy. Rolling blackouts are a possibility, particularly on cold, still, evenings. To some pensioners, alone in the dark on a freezing night with heating inoperative, it would mean a lonely death. Folk with the honourable intention of “saving the planet” may instead be killing their grannies.There have been recent articles indicating that the UK may be facing power shortages this year and for the next few years. There was an article last month at ArsTechnica by Sebastian Anthony, who wrote about a recent report by research company Enappsys. The report said how there weren't enough new electricity generating facilities coming on line to make up for the closure of coal-fired power plants, and that next winter there could be power cuts. The Carbon Brief also has an article by Simon Evans, which looks at a separate report from Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). That article also suggests that the UK has its work cut out for it to make a smooth transition while phasing out old coal. There was also an article by Madeleine Cuff in BusinessGreen, which indicated the supply would be stretched this coming winter, but after that the situation would ease. From that article:
According to Grubb, the risk of electricity shortage may be high this year but will ease off following the introduction of reserve capacity under the capacity market and the delivery of new interconnectors and demand response solutions that are due to come online next year. "This coming winter is the last one for which we don't have the added incentive for stuff to be available under the capacity mechanism," he explained.
But although measures are in place to deal with the immediate effect of the coal plant closures in the UK, industry insiders are warning a failure within government to present a long-term roadmap to decarbonise the power sector means problems are being stored up for later down the line.
Paul Massara, former chief executive of energy giant RWE npower, believes repeated market interventions and the lack of a long-term decarbonisation strategy is causing serious problems across the energy market, hampering the ability of developers to step in and bridge the gap left by necessary coal closures.
"What we've seen is an incoherent set of strategies which is causing problems in the marketplace," he said. "So, yes, the coal phase-out is good... [but] the problem is that we have created this environment where the free market is not working."
Nevertheless, to blame "greens" for killing grannies is going too far in my opinion. Remember the UK is governed by the conservative party at present, not by leftist, warmunist, commie, fascist, socialist, Lysenko, bleeding-heart liberal greenies. None of the reports referred to was opposed to closing the old outdated coal-fired power stations. They were more about how to get enough electricity to meet ongoing and future electricity needs for the country. I suspect that leaving the EU won't help in that regard. Whether it will hinder, I don't know.
The other point is that UK taxpayers have to pay a lot in subsidies to keep the old outdated and costly coal-fired power plants going. As far as I know they are not owned by the government, so it's not the government directly shutting them down. I think it's happening because the government will stop paying the companies to keep them open. If anyone has information on this, do let us know. There's a report of one station that was due to close being kept alive by government handouts.
From the WUWT comments
Resourceguy, like me, wondered why John didn't mention the Atlantic.
July 28, 2016 at 12:43 pm
So the Atlantic Ocean didn’t make the cut?
vukcevic put up a messy chart and proclaimed, very dubiously:
July 28, 2016 at 12:45 pm (excerpt)
...decline in the CET is already under way.
lsvalgaard put up a much clearer plot and disagreed, saying:
July 28, 2016 at 1:09 pmTony Brown, aka climatereason, who regards himself as an expert on England temperatures shot back with:
decline in the CET is already under way.
No, it is not:
July 28, 2016 at 1:19 pmYou can decide for yourself from Figure 5 above or from the chart below. Since 1950 the linear trend is almost as high as the global, rising at 1.6 °C a century.
Yes it is, just
https://archive.is/cQRaM [replaced link with archived version, Sou]
When Leif Svalgaard disagreed, climatereason said words to the effect that an ice age must be coming because his tomatoes aren't doing too well this year :) Well, not quite. What he did say was that it has only been warm because it was warm.
July 28, 2016 at 1:54 pm
The last full year was 2015 and whilst 2014 was the warmest year in CET the trend to the end of 2015 was still slightly down, with different seasons showing different trends as per my article.
The warmth of 2016 is down to a warm january and February but other months have been coolish.its not been at all a good summer over here and my tomatoes and runner beans are suffering!
cirby has the answers and says, in any case the world is about to cool down. I wonder how long he or she has been saying that?
July 28, 2016 at 12:49 pm
If I were a power production hardware company, I’d do a little pre-planning. Sketch out the requirements for building and selling a LOT of gas-fired turbine power plants, for example. They wouldn’t have to be state of the art, but they would need to be built in a short time frame.
On the other hand, the world is going to be a few years into the cold before most folks realize just how bad their bet on AGW was…
markstoval fully expects an ice age to cometh any day. Would he bet on it? (He'd lose.) He also thinks that silly progressives want to take down western civilisation. What planet does he live on, can anyone tell me?
July 28, 2016 at 1:03 pm
I fully expect the climate to get much colder in the near future, based on many factors. But the one factor that I would mention first is that the climate has been cycling hotter and colder for a long, long time. Why should it stop now? Just because silly progressives want to tax CO2 and take down Western civilization?
I think Mother Nature will continue to be the dominate force in climate — not puny mankind.
All these free market deniers who are presumably wanting the UK government to step in and pay companies to stop them from closing power plants. climatereason, again:
July 28, 2016 at 1:07 pm
Sorry, forgot to mention that you are of course right about our lack of energy supplies. Successive govts seem to have wilfully ignored the need to provide sufficient amounts of affordable base power. Our latitude makes us unsuited to solar power and our wind is too intermittent to be reliable , especially during a cold windless winter high pressure event.
Should Hinckley point nuclear power station, approved today, actually go ahead, it will be a dozen years until we feel the benefit. In the meantime perfectly useable power stations are closed in order to meet our carbon reduction strategies. We must hope that the coming winter is as mild as the last one, second warmest in CET. The warmest was over 150 Years ago.
References and further reading
If the world has another record warm year, will everywhere be warmer? - Met Office Blog April 2016
UK could face power shortages this winter - article by Sebastian Anthony at Ars Technica
Analysis: The UK’s ‘looming’ electricity supply gap - article by Simon Evans at Carbon Brief
Will UK coal-fired plant closures leave a gaping hole in the energy system? - article by Madeleine Cuff at Business Green
From the HotWhopper archives
- European temperature at WUWT - Finland, the UK, teleconnections and more - December 2014
- Slowing ocean circulation prompts more Mann bashing from deniers at WUWT - March 2015
- Denier Cherries: Big changes to come in climate or same old same old? - September 2015
- Circulating ocean waters of the past confuse Eric Worrall in the present, at WUWT - July 2016
- An AMOC early warning signal prompts panic at WUWT - December 2014