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Winters may be about to get colder

18 Jan 2023 | Science Notes

New in the journal Nature-Climate and Atmospheric Science is a study (h/t Fritz Vahrenholt and NoTricksZone) making a projection we wouldn’t have expected climate models to produce or for a Nature group journal to publish: the world’s climate system is gearing up for a few decades of colder Northern Hemisphere winters, greenhouse gases notwithstanding. The authors argue that our climate system can be thought of as a set of large-scale slow-moving cyclical mechanisms that interact with each other through their effects on the oceans, sea ice, and other major components of the climate system. Every so often the cycles line up in such a way that the North Atlantic starts cooling, taking wintertime global temperatures down with it. It happened during the 1950s-1980s interval and it’s started again. Between now and 2050 you might need a sweater.

We’re not going to hang our thick fur hat with massive ear flaps on this model projection and demand politicians treat it as a slam dunk, just as we wouldn’t want them to treat RCP8.5 or other extreme climate warming projections as dead certainties. It’s a prediction, and we applaud the authors for making it. Because so often in climate science we don’t hear predictions from scientists who are offering a theory about how the system works and a way of testing their theory against reality, instead we hear fatuous claims of being able to explain what happened last week from scientists who never say in advance what will happen but after it’s over claim that it’s all your fault.

This new paper goes to some length to argue that most of the dynamics we’re observing are not your fault, instead they arise from systems internal to the climate that create long, slow warming and cooling climate cycles even if greenhouse gases don’t change. The authors do assume that there is a small underlying warming trend underway due to rising carbon dioxide levels. But the natural cycles are large enough in comparison that as the downward swing gets underway this decade, Arctic sea ice is going to expand, wintertime temperatures in Europe and Asia are going to fall despite increased greenhouse gases and we could see a global warming hiatus or even overall cooling out to 2050.

Which would coincide neatly with the scheduled destruction of our ability to heat our homes and fuel our economies under the plan of achieving Net Zero by 2050. So while we don’t endorse this particular climate forecast, we are prepared to predict that if Net Zero plans go ahead, people are going to find winters a whole lot colder and darker in the decades ahead, regardless of what the climate does.

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