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Are we heading into global cooling?

What the science says...

Claims have recently surfaced in the blogosphere that an increasing number of scientists are warning of an imminent global cooling, some even going so far as to call it a "growing consensus". There are two major flaws in these blog articles, (i) there is no scientific basis for claims that the planet will begin to cool in the near future, and (ii) many of the listed scientists are not predicting global cooling.

Climate Myth...

We're heading into cooling

"The climate of this planet oscillates between periods of approximately 30 years of warming followed by approximately 30 years of cooling. Rather than 100 years of unprecedented global warming as predicted by IPCC, the global temperatures have leveled off and we seem to be heading for cooler weather." (Matt Vooro)

In the face of the immense amount of evidence that the anthropogenic warming signal is driving the long-term temperature trend, it's hard to believe that any scientists would be predicting that this trend will suddenly reverse despite ever-increasing human greenhouse gas emissions.  For example, according to NASA GISS, 2009 was tied for the second-hottest year on record, and 2010 will likely be the hottest in the past 130+ years.  The first decade of the 21st century was the hottest decade on record, the evidence is overwhelming that humans are the dominant cause of the warming trend, climate scientists have even quantified the anthropogenic warming, and heat continues to accumulate in the planetary system:

Figure 1: Build-up in total Earth Heat Content since 1950. The data comes from Figure 6b in Murphy 2009. The ocean data was taken from Domingues et al. 2008

With all of this evidence that humans are causing rapid global warming with no end in sight, one has to wonder how on Earth any scientists would suddenly predict imminent global cooling.

Who Are these Scientists Predicting Cooling?

Some of the names on the lists of 'scientists predicting global cooling' have been predicting imminent cooling for years now, like Don Easterbrook, Syun Akasofu, Habibullo Abdussamatov, Joe D'Aleo, and Nicola Scafetta.  Many of these and other names on these lists are not climate scientists, which is no doubt why the claims specify that an increasing number of scientists as opposed to climate scientists are predicting imminent cooling. 

One also has to wonder how long the planet must continue to warm while these individuals predict imminent cooling before they lose credibility.  Don Easterbrook, for example, has predicted that we should see a global cooling of 2 to 5°F (1.1 to 2.8°C)  from 2000 to 2030 based on a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.  We're now one-third of the way into this supposed cooling period and the planet has warmed approximately 0.1°C.  The accuracy of this prediction is not looking good.

Several other listed scientists have predicted that we should expect global cooling due to solar effects, like Scafetta, Abdussamatov,  Landscheidt, Archibald, and D'Aleo.  However, consider the fact that the longest solar cycle minimum in a nearly century just ended, and as mentioned above, the past two years have been among the hottest in the instrumental temperature record.  Solar activity has been flat for the past 50 years, and yet the planet warmed approximately 0.6°C during that period.  And now we're expected to believe that solar activity is not only going to significantly dampen the anthropogenic warming signal, but cause substantial cooling?  These claims strain credulity.

Perhaps the worst part of these lists of 'scientists predicting global cooling' is that they attribute global cooling predictions to numerous scientists who have not made such claims.  Let's look at some of the names on these lists.

Mojib Latif


Dr. Latif predicted that between 2010 and 2020, the planet would warm approximately 0.4°C, and has said we risk "an unprecedented warming in the history of mankind if no measures are taken to cut global carbon dioxide emissions."

Noel Keenlyside 

Dr. Keenlyside is the lead author on the Latif study referenced above which predicted 0.4°C warming from 2010 to 2020.

Anastasios Tsonis and Kyle Swanson 

Regarding the supposed global cooling prediction in their study, Swanson has written "If this hypothesis is correct, the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will not resume until roughly 2020....What do our results have to do with Global Warming, i.e., the century-scale response to greenhouse gas emissions? VERY LITTLE, contrary to claims that others have made on our behalf....humanity is poking a complex, nonlinear system with GHG forcing – and that there are no guarantees to how the climate may respond."

Mike Lockwood 

The Lockwood quote supposedly about global cooling simply discusses that decreased solar activity may impact winter weather in Europe, and has nothing to do with global temperatures whatsoever.  Lockwood has performed numerous studies concluding that the Sun is not responsible for a significant amount of the recent global warming, and has not predicted global cooling.

James Overland 

As with Mike Lockwood, the James Overland quote supposedly about global cooling refers to winter weather, in Europe and the USA.  Dr. Overland has neither predicted global cooling, nor disputes anthropogenic global warming.  In fact, in the article linked above, Overland discusses how rapidly the Arctic is warming due to anthropogenic global warming, and that this will cause shifting weather patterns, leading to the snowy and cold winters in Europe and the USA.  Not only is Overland not predicting global cooling in this article, he is explicitly talking about global warming.

There are likely many other examples of supposed global cooling predictions being misattributed to climate scientists  Most of the other 'scientists' on these lists are not climate scientists, but rather meteorologists, engineers, astronomers, etc.  And many of the other  supposed 'global cooling' quotes refer to local weather rather than global temperatures.


There appear to be very few examples of climate scientists predicting imminent global cooling on this list.  Perhaps that's because climate scientists understand that humans are and will continue to be causing rapid global warming for the foreseeable future.  The few scientists who are predicting cooling have generally been doing so for several years, and are going against a very large body of scientific evidence that the planet will continue to warm rapidly.

intermediate rebuttal written by Dana1981

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial


Additional video from the MOOC

Expert interview with Mike Lockwood


Last updated on 6 July 2015 by pattimer. View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

Argument Feedback

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Comments 1 to 25 out of 46:

  1. Keenlyside et al (2008) stated that internal variability in the North Atlantic sea surface temperatures may cause a temporary halt in the rise of global surface temperatures for the 2010-2020 decade. When I read the paper, it did not say that global temperatures would increase by .4 degrees celsius from 2010 through 2020. Where in Keenlyside's study does it say that global temperatures will increase by .4 degrees celsius this decade?

    [Daniel Bailey] Try looking in Figure 4:

  2. Re @1, "When I read the paper" It would seem not. Thanks Daniel, you beat me to it.
  3. In the graph you displayed above it is difficult for me to figure out what the lines represent. The keys provided don't say much about what the projected temperatures are. I need some assistance in understanding what the black, green, and purple lines show. Are they climate scenarios?
    Response: [Daniel Bailey] You could try reading the section of the post at top dealing with Noel Keenlyside and following the link therein. Or you could just go here.
  4. Karamanski @3, You said @1 that you had read the paper......
  5. We are now into a cooling phase, which will be followed by more warming. That is, if we are still in the glacial cycles. I think we are. We have not appreciably moved the continents or grown mountains enough to shake that little thing. The flip of the EPO and NAO is now taking effect, and we will see a period of about three decades or so of cooler temperatures. The N hemisphere will drive an overall cooling of the Earth during this time, just as it drove an overall warming over the last 30 or so years. Yes, this will be strong enough to overcome the added CO2. You all can get back to the AGW discussion in about 2040. Then we can talk about the cooling again in about 2070. Maybe you all will get tired of talking about it when it warms again in 2100. This warming is gonna keep going on till we get sea levels up high enough to interrupt some very important ocean circulations, and then we go into ice age again. Of course a few volcanic things could pop up and play havoc also. Have fun.
    Response: [Daniel Bailey] Do you have any peer-reviewed published sources as a basis for any of the above speculative statements? Any?
  6. Flipping out over the warmest temps in the last 130 years is about....silly. We are in a warming the end of a warming inter cycle. So, what might you expect. Yes, the warmest temperatures in a good long while. Till we have a big flipper, like a big volcanic event or something, we are going to keep warming in roughly the same thirty on and thirty off cycle for a while?
    Response: [Daniel Bailey] The multifactorial warming of the last 130 years is pretty well understood. That CO2 is the predominant source of the observed warming of the past 30 years of that period is clear. That continued release of anthropogenic-derived CO2 will continue to act as a forcing to global temperatures is also clear. If you have anything other than unsupported speculation as a source for your opinions expressed here, now would be the time to provide them as a linked source. They will need to be from published, peer-reviewed sources. Blogs not based on science do not count, do not pass Go.
  7. Some of the scientists who predicted the cool off jumped the gun a bit but it's still not off the shelf. just like some of the coldest weather of the last cool period came right after the PDO and NAO shifted, we got some of our warmest right after they both shifted again. It's called lag time folks. you throw the term around all the time and don't even appreciate what it means. There are plenty of scientists, including meteorologists, that think the warming is ending now. I am with them.
    Response: [Daniel Bailey] For the newcomers, cruzn246's last 40 comments here dating back to September 26 have all consisted of comments just like this: a derivative denial of the topic of the post, followed by other commenters chiming in to help correct the errors in his/her comments. Despite numerous pointers and links to sources, you persist in your misbeliefs. That is your right. But it is clear to all the position you come from.
  8. #5: "The flip of the EPO ... " EPO? OPE? POE? I get it now!
  9. @cruzn246: there is no indication we are in a cooling phase. 2010 was one of the warmest years on record. The vast majority of climate scientists believe the warming will continue, rightly, as the quantity of CO2 keeps increasing. You obviously have no idea how ice ages come about - then again, you seem keen on following the lead of meteorologists on climate... Please stop peddling your pseudo-science. Thanks.
  10. Does cruzn246 pop up every time it's cold outside where he lives ? Perhaps he should look up the difference between 'weather' and 'climate' and actually check some temperature records, rather than relying on what can be read in the Denialosphere.
  11. Well, we are going through our coldest winter in a heck of a long time in the Midwest. Why not pop up? Sorry about the EPO typo, you all knew I meant the PDO. Don't know what I was thinking. 2010 was one of the warmest? Big deal. 1977 was one of the coldest and it was during the beginning of last warm-up period. You get some contradictory times on the edge of periods. We are in a cooling period. you'll all admit it on about ten years.

    [Daniel Bailey] Wrong:

  12. Cool weather in your area does not cancel out global warming. I suspect in 10 years you'll still be saying "global cooling is going to start now" because it snowed somewhere during winter. There is no 60 year temperature cycle. This persistent "skeptic argument" needs its own article.
  13. Murph, I am studying climatology. I just finished a paper on the climatology of Tornadoes in Alabama over the past 60 years. I am not a graduate student so it was not up for peer review. It was my senior project though, and no scientific error was found by my professors. I have to admit that I do not seriously study the "whole world" thing yet, because quite frankly it's about way too complicated, but I know that many of the "it's never been" stuff we are seeing now is pure baloney. BTW, my study showed that we have been in a down period for tornadoes over Alabama. Activity peaked in that area in the mid 70s and declined from that point on till the mid 90s. It is now on the upswing and is back to where it was in the early 50s. Using ten year averaging I made a graph that almost looks like a sine wave that shows the trend. A colleague did Georgia and found the same thing.

    [Daniel Bailey]

    "I have to admit that I do not seriously study the "whole world" thing yet, because quite frankly it's about way too complicated, but I know that many of the "it's never been" stuff we are seeing now is pure baloney."

    Welcome to the field. If you want to get a degree in climatology you should spend more time learning the hard stuff and less time hand-waving.

  14. When discussing the global climate, it helps to study the "whole world".
  15. There are all kinds of cycles Bib. We have been in some multi decadal cycles over the past 30/60 years that we still do not fully understand. It seems the PDO NAO tandem may be driving this shorter term cycle we are in. There are more than a few scientists who see this multi decadel cycle as real. I know I saw some kind of 30/60 year cycle in my tornado data for Alabama. It sure looked like it lined up with the NAO/PDO cycles to me.
    Response: [Daniel Bailey] Then prove it: do the analysis, write it up, publish it.
  16. Are you studying it Bib?
  17. There are all kinds of cycles Bib. We have been in some multi decadal cycles over the past 30/60 years that we still do not fully understand. It seems the PDO NAO tandem may be driving this shorter term cycle we are in. There are more than a few scientists who see this multi decadel cycle as real. I know I saw some kind of 30/60 year cycle in my tornado data for Alabama. It sure looked like it lined up with the NAO/PDO cycles to me. Response: [Daniel Bailey] Then prove it: do the analysis, write it up, publish it. I plan to as a grad student.
  18. #15: "it lined up with the NAO/PDO cycles" Every time we go off topic on one of these NAO/PDO tangents, I have to wonder how an oscillation can give rise to a long period increasing trend. But that topic belongs to this thread.
  19. @cruzn246: " There are more than a few scientists who see this multi decadel cycle as real." "More than a few" means nothing. The reality is that proportionately very few climate scientists believe in this. In spite your unverifiable claims to be studying climatology, you have made several plainly false statements so far, such as the one where you claimed we were in a cooling phase. Daniel kindly showed you you were wrong. One of the first duties of the wise being admitting when they are wrong, will you recognize that you made an incorrect claim regarding the current temperature trend?
  20. @cruzn246: "Well, we are going through our coldest winter in a heck of a long time in the Midwest. Why not pop up?" Winter has been exceptionally mild so far here in Montreal. It's a global thing - but you already know that, don't you?
  21. I can see how people like cruzn246 can't understand global warming/climate change, especially if you live in a place that seems contrary. I just googled the weather at Lunch and Sunset, Smithton Illinois, -4.8 C, that is cold. Talk about shrinkage..
  22. cruzn246 wrote : "Well, we are going through our coldest winter in a heck of a long time in the Midwest. Why not pop up?" Is that Winter as in since 21 December ? So you're coming to a conclusion based on a couple of weeks ? Do you also pop up when the temperatures are record highs in your area ? If not, why not ?
  23. JMurph, I cannot remember the last record high temp in my area. Sure we had a warm summer, but it was the direct result of a nearly constant moist environment that kept nighttime temps abnormally high.
    Response: Enough with reports of local temperatures, especially ones based on personal memory. Stick to the topic of this thread.
  24. #23: "I cannot remember... " Short memory? Looks like you were probably in the red in November. But now its moisture that keeps it warm? Can you substantiate that, with maybe some data?
    Response: Please, no substantiation. No discussion of local temperature records.
  25. cruzn246, could you post your location on the It's Freaking Cold thread (even if only generally, but more detailed than "Midwest") so we can all check when you might have actually last had any record high temperatures ?

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