Global Warming On thin ice

Published on February 15th, 2011 | by Joshua S Hill


Climate Variation During Greenhouse Conditions

Researchers from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, England, have concluded that man-made global warming would probably not greatly change the influence had on the environment by inter-annual climate instances such as El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) or the Arctic Oscillation/ North Atlantic Oscillation (AO/ NAO).

“Even in the warm Cretaceous period, the patterns of these climatic oscillations changed over longer decadal timescales,” explained Professor Alan Kemp of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. “It is therefore difficult to predict whether anthropogenically driven warming will lead to systematic changes such as persistently milder European winters (a positive AO/ NAO) as some have suggested.”

All indications suggest that the Arctic will be ice free in the next 15 to 50 years, but what that means for the environment as a whole seems to be anybody’s guess.

“A key question is how an Arctic without permanent ice cover will affect atmospheric circulation and climate variability, particularly over high and mid-latitudes,” said Kemp.

The researchers headed back in time, to the Late Cretaceous period, in an attempt to see what our own future could be like. This was the time when dinosaurs roamed the planet, and the Arctic Ocean was ice free almost all year round.

“Understanding Late Cretaceous climate should inform debate about future climate trends and variability under greenhouse conditions,” said Kemp, whose team’s new findings are published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The team’s analysis of sediment cores from a marine ridge in the Arctic Ocean revealed that the Arctic climate of the Late Cretaceous period varied, with some periods of time closely matching those currently observed in the Arctic. This suggests that the Arctic of the Late Cretaceous period was subject to some of the same climatic influences of current day Earth, including the El Niño – Southern Oscillation.

This research has been long needed, as there has been an ongoing debate over whether natural modes of climate variability like ENSO and AO/NAO would continue or be enhanced by anthropogenic global warming.

Within the scientific world, particular controversy has surrounded the suggestion that current warming would eventually cause a permanent El Niño state or milder European winters.

“Based on our findings, it seems unlikely that man-made global warming would cause a permanent El Niño state,” concluded Kemp.

Source: National Oceanography Centre
Image Source: U.S. Geological Survey

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

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  • http://Web Al Gore

    Why are the scientists not marching in protest as republicans kill all CO2 legislation?
    Voters dictate public science policy, not news editors or lab coat consultants or pandering politicians.
    Resulting cold from predicted warming after 25 years of saying it wouldn’t happen proves the prediction was 100% wrong. Real planet lovers are happy. The rest of you? History will deal with you.
    Real planet lovers are happy about this good news. The rest were just human haters from the start. We former believers are the vast majority now and all support has vanished from voters for all climate change legislation. Pollution legislation yes, taxing the air to save the planet from SUV gas, no.
    Obama has walked away from the world’s biggest emergency (unstoppable climate change warming) by not mentioning it even once in the Stat of the Union Speech. The “voted” in republicans are removing all funding for the IPCC as we speak and all general funding for more research into the “effects” (not causes) of the climate change mistake have plummeted.
    If there really were thousands of consensus scientists, WHERE ARE THEY? Why are they not fixing their sinking ship? Why are the thousands of consensus scientists not defending their promise of doom and why are THEY not leading the charge of the climate change emergency instead of the politicians promising to lower the seas with taxes? The deniers have won. Be happy. Your kids are safe after all. The future is bright. We welcome progress with courage and optimism. This is a good day.
    Now we arrest the lazy copy and paste news editors and lab coat consultants and charge the with treason, for leading us to a Bush-like false war of climate variation. Call the courthouse.

    • Zachary Shahan

      fake “Al Gore”: thank you for your ridiculous paragraph of claims that are untrue or just inane. the scientists, even the highest general scientific bodies, have been calling for action on climate change (not against it ) for a long time now.

      don’t blame them for the massive, successful BS campaign funded by the richest oil billionaires in the world. and America’s lack of interest or ability in finding out who is actually telling the truth (the scientists or big oil/big coal).

      the scientists are speaking out, Obama is working to address climate change, and the world is warming. 2010 was the hottest year on record. believe it or not, no one has said winter was going to turn into summer in one year, or ten. but i don’t expect you’ve actually looked at the scientific literature

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