Saturday, June 8, 2013

Flashback to 1922 - World Growing Warmer

Sou | 1:57 AM Feel free to comment!

From The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Saturday 23 September 1922

Whilst many people have been bemoaning the cold weather of June and July it is rather questionable comfort to be told by a weather optimist in the London "Daily Mail" that the world, and particularly the Northern Hemisphere, is growing warmer. The process, he says, is rather a slow one but it is none the less steady, and of late it seems to have accelerated to some extent. If we possessed records of the weather since the beginning of the Christian era it is certain that the temperature over the whole of Europe and North America would show a startling rise. Unfortunately the thermometer is a comparatively modern invention while weather recording is a still more recent innovation. Yet for all that we can find plenty of proof, both in history and in other ways. For instance in Cesar's account of the Gallic Wars we find frequent mention of frosts so intense that whole armies were able to cross broad rivers on the ice. We know, too, that in those days Germany's winter was almost Arctic in its severity. These are conditions which have long since passed away, and it is not more than twice or thrice in a century that a river like the Seine freezes up. We are also aware that no farther back than the sixteenth century the winters in England were, on an average, much more than they are nowadays. Another interesting proof is obtained from the records of the Hudson Bay Company. We learn from them that within the last two centuries the average interval between the setting in of the winter frost and the coming of the spring thaw has decreased by no fewer than ten days. Again, European glaciers are everywhere receding. The ice fringes of both Poles are retreating. Even during the comparatively short space of time that the Antarctic has been visited by man the ice has retired some 40 miles. So let us cheer up. In process of time this country of ours will once more be growing palms and orange trees!

The Weather Optimist from London's Daily Mail

I'll let you be the judge of whether the Daily Mail weather optimist was prescient, whether he knew the eventual impact of the inventions of Somerset, Savery, Newcomen and Watt, or whether he was merely another Daily Mail weather optimist.  It does seem as if he was basing his speculation about past climates on very limited geographic locations and limited historical sources.  (Does that ring a bell?)  I was unable to find out who he was.  If anyone knows I'd be grateful if you'd tell me.

No-one in 1922 would have had access to a comprehensive set of instrumental temperature data for the northern hemisphere, but if they had, this is what they would have seen:

Source: HadCRUT4

Had they a record of global surface temperatures, this is what they would have seen:

Source: HadCRUT4

And if they'd only had access to land surface temperatures, this is what they would have seen:

Source: Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures

Whereas had they access to a comprehensive set of proxy data, they would have been able to see much farther back in time, even back to the Gallic Wars they mentioned:

Source: Marcott et al (2013)

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