By Paul Homewood
A study, by Larsen et al in 2005, looked into the uplift of Southeast Alaska due to retreating glaciers. It’s main finding was that the uplift began around 1770, therefore confirming that glacier retreat began well before any input from humans could have had any effect.
The paper makes one other interesting observation:
“Our best-fit models indicate that the region has regained about one-half of its LIA subsidence”
In other words, there had been a massive expansion of glaciers during the Little Ice Age, to cause such subsidence.
None of this should come as any great surprise, as many other studies, using various methods, have come to similar conclusions.
By Paul Homewood
As the waters thankfully begin to recede on the Somerset Levels, it is time to take stock of the last three months.
After a drier than normal November, the rain began falling in earnest in the second week of December, and only began to abate in towards the end of February.
Met Office regional statistics for SW England & S Wales extend back to 1910, and according to these, the December to February period just ended recorded the highest precipitation on record, with 670.6mm. However, this does not tell the whole story, since other years have recorded higher 3-month totals, as Table 1 shows.
|Nov 1929 to Jan 1930||812.2|
|Oct 2000 to Dec 2000||700.8|
|Dec 2013 to Feb 2014||670.6|
Altogether, there have been six winters including this one, where precipitation has exceeded 600mm over a 3-month period. As well as the three above, there has also been 1959/60, 1960/61 and 1989/90. It could therefore be argued that what we have seen this year is a once every 15-20 year event.
By Paul Homewood
For anyone who cannot download the article, the script is below.
The East Anglian Daily Times ran an article on 20th January, “East Anglia: ‘Dice is loaded’ against region in fight against impact of climate change”, which reported on a talk given by Asher Minns of the Tyndall Centre, based at the University of East Anglia.
The article described how “Global carbon emissions that have rocketed to record levels mean “the dice is loaded” against East Anglia in its battle to resist the most dramatic effects of climate change”, and went on to say that recent extreme weather events such as floods and droughts were probably linked to climate change, and would get worse in years to come.
We are all familiar with the various cataclysmic predictions about what might happen if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. But it needs to be stressed that these predictions arise solely from computer models, rather than real world observations, and that such models have notably failed to either forecast or account for the fact that global warming stopped 16 years ago.
However, rather than dwell on what might happen in the future, I would like to put East Anglia’s present climate into some sort of historical perspective.It is common for people to believe that events nowadays are “worse than they used to be”, and weather is no exception. But bad weather has always been with us, so is it really worse now?
Take, for instance, the example of the recent storm surge. The Environment Agency report that this was the most serious tidal surge since 1953. We can take from this two messages:-
a) It was no worse than the 1953 surge.
b) Such an event is still extremely rare.
There is consequently no evidence that these sort of storm surges are becoming either bigger or more common.
Mr Minns correctly states that sea levels around East Anglia have been rising slowly for centuries. Indeed, sea levels around the world have been steadily rising for most of the time since the end of the Ice Age. Over the last century or so, sea levels along the east coast have risen by about 8” per century. About a quarter of this is due to the land sinking, rather than sea rising.
If anything, this rate of rise has slowed lately. For instance, tide gauges at Lowestoft show no increase at all for the last decade.
As for coastal erosion, the Norfolk and Suffolk shorelines are littered with examples of how the sea has eaten in the coast for many centuries past. The village of Dunwich is a classic case. Once one of the most important medieval towns in England, it has, bit by bit, been lost to the North Sea over the centuries, and is now reduced to the handful of houses we see today.
Mr Minns also talked about “increased winter rainfall and less summer rainfall”. In fact, winter rainfall in East Anglia has actually been reducing in recent years. According to Met Office data, the wettest winter on record was 1914/15, and the wettest decade was the 1910’s.
There is also no evidence of any trends, either up or down, in summer rainfall. Last summer was the driest since 1995, yet there have been nine summers that have been drier since 1910, again according to Met Office records, while the driest one of the lot was in 1921.
And, as for wet summers, none have been remotely as wet as the summer of 1912. Citizens of Norwich may well have heard about the disastrous floods of that year, when an incredible seven inches of rain fell in one day.
What is apparent, from looking at the graphs, is just how “normal” rainfall patterns have been in recent years, and in all seasons. Of course, there are ups and downs, and year-on year variability, but no more than can be seen throughout the record. It would appear that East Anglia’s climate is actually extremely stable.
Going back a little further to the 17thC and 18thC , the time of the Little Ice Age, when temperatures had been declining for 500 years or so, we find that the climate in East Anglia was much stormier than now. Hubert Lamb, founder of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, tells us how this led to huge sand storms across the Brecklands, burying valuable farmland under meters of sand, as at Santon Downham.
It was also during that time when a succession of huge North Sea storms, much more powerful than anything seen in the last century, barrelled in, altering much of the coastline of Northern Europe in the process. One of the worst was said to be the All Saints Day storm of 1570, which was estimated to have killed 400,000.
In retrospect, it could be argued that the present climate of East Anglia is actually fairly benign, when compared to earlier episodes. Despite being slightly warmer, the climate over the last century has remained very stable, and shows no indication of changing in the foreseeable future.
People have enough problems to worry about in life, without needing to worry unnecessarily about the climate.
By Paul Homewood
h/t Tom O Mason
When God saw that the world was so over proud,
He sent a dearth on earth, and made it full hard.
A bushel of wheat was at four shillings or more,
Of which men might have had a quarter before….
And then they turned pale who had laughed so loud,
And they became all docile who before were so proud.
A man’s heart might bleed for to hear the cry
Of poor men who called out, ‘Alas! For hunger I die …!’
—’Poem on the Evil Times of Edward II‘, c. 1321.
The Great Famine of 1315–1317 (occasionally dated 1315–1322) was the first of a series of large scale crises that struck Europe early in the fourteenth century. Places affected include continental Europe (extending east to Russia and south to Italy) as well as Great Britain. It caused millions of deaths over an extended number of years and marks a clear end to an earlier period of growth and prosperity between the eleventh to thirteenth centuries.
The Great Famine started with bad weather in spring 1315, universal crop failures lasted through 1316 until summer harvest in 1317; Europe did not fully recover until 1322. It was a period marked by extreme levels of crime, disease, mass death and even cannibalism and infanticide. It had consequences for the Church, state, European society and future calamities to follow in the fourteenth century.
During the Medieval Warm Period (the period prior to 1300) the population of Europe had exploded, reaching levels that were not matched again in some places until the nineteenth century. However, the yield ratios of wheat (the number of seeds one could eat per seed planted) had been dropping since 1280 and food prices had been climbing. In good weather the ratio could be as high as 7:1, while during bad years as low as 2:1 – that is, for every seed planted, two seeds were harvested, one for next year’s seed, and one for food. By comparison, modern farming has ratios of 30:1 or more.
The onset of the Great Famine coincided with the end of the Medieval Warm Period. Between 1310 and 1330 northern Europe saw some of the worst and most sustained periods of bad weather in the entire Middle Ages, characterized by severe winters and rainy and cold summers.
In the spring of 1315, unusually heavy rain began in much of Europe. Throughout the spring and summer, it continued to rain and the temperature remained cool. These conditions caused widespread crop failures. The straw and hay for the animals could not be cured and there was no fodder for the livestock. The price of food began to rise. Food prices in England doubled between spring and midsummer. Salt, the only way to cure and preserve meat, was difficult to obtain because it was more difficult to extract through evaporation in the wet weather; it went from 30 shillings to 40 shillings.
Because of the general poverty, even lower-than-average harvests meant some people would go hungry. In Lorraine, wheat prices increased by 320% and peasants could no longer afford bread. Stores of grain for long-term emergencies were limited to the lords and nobles. People began to harvest wild edible roots, plants, grasses, nuts, and bark in the forests.
There are a number of documented incidents that show the extent of the famine. Edward II, King of England, stopped at St Albans on 10 August 1315 and no bread could be found for him or his entourage; it was a rare occasion in which the King of England was unable to eat. The French, under Louis X, tried to invade Flanders, but being in the low country of the Netherlands, the fields were soaked and the army became so bogged down they were forced to retreat, burning their provisions where they left them, unable to carry them away.
In the spring of 1316, it continued to rain on a European population deprived of energy and reserves to sustain itself. All segments of society from nobles to peasants were affected, but especially the peasants who represented 95% of the population and who had no reserve food supplies. To provide some measure of relief, draft animals were butchered, seed grain was consumed, children were abandoned to fend for themselves (see "Hansel and Gretel"), and some elderly people voluntarily refused food in order to provide nourishment needed for the younger generation to survive.The chroniclers of the time wrote of many incidents of cannibalism.
The height of the famine was reached in 1317 as the wet weather continued. Finally, in the summer the weather returned to its normal patterns. By now, however, people were so weakened by diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and tuberculosis, and so much of the seed stock had been eaten, that it was not until 1325 that the food supply returned to relatively normal conditions and the population began to increase again. Historians debate the toll but it is estimated that 10–25% of the population of many cities and towns died.
While the Black Death (1338–1375) would kill more people, it often swept through an area in a matter of months whereas the Great Famine lingered for years, drawing out the suffering of the populace.
Climate geniuses nowadays tell us that heavy rain is caused by global warming.
By Paul Homewood
It appears that people have had letters to various newspapers not simply ignored but, on occasions, edited, or worse still added to, in order to change the meaning.
If anybody has this problem in future, just give me a shout, and I will publish.
By Paul Homewood
The East Anglian Daily Times have published a special supplement this week on climate change, and I have managed to persuade them to include my article, presenting a slightly less alarmist point of view.
Feel free to send letters to the paper! They can be contacted at:
By Paul Homewood
Although China have committed to a small reduction in coal’s share of its primary energy mix, down from 66.8% to 65% over the next 5 years, coal consumption will still increase. This is because China’s overall energy use will increase, as their economy continues to grow.
BEIJING, Jan 8 (Reuters) - China approved the construction of more than 100 million tonnes of new coal production capacity in 2013 – six times more than a year earlier and equal to 10 percent of U.S. annual usage – flying in the face of plans to tackle choking air pollution.
The scale of the increase, which only includes major mines, reflects Beijing’s aim to put 860 million tonnes of new coal production capacity into operation over the five years to 2015, more than the entire annual output of India.
While efforts to curb pollution mean coal’s share of the country’s energy mix is set to dip, the total amount of the cheap and plentiful fuel burned will still rise.
By Paul Homewood
Says the loss-making Guardian!
By Paul Homewood
Exeter Floods – 1960
In my look at winter rainfall, I noted that October to December 1960 was wetter, but it turns out that the wet weather lasted a lot longer that year.
From the Met Office monthly report for November that year.
According to the current England & Wales series, the wettest July to November was, in fact, in 1799, with 1960 in second place, so there may have been some revisions. Nevertheless, the 1960 total of 669.7mm has nor been exceeded since. Even in the extremely wet year of 2012, the total only came to 571.2mm, which ranks 14th since 1766.
Of course, July to November is just one of a number of permutations. You could just as easily pick June to October, for example. That is why reading some sort of significance into the latest December to February period, just because it is “winter” is unscientific and misleading.
By Paul Homewood
The Met Office have now issued the precipitation stats for last month, so what do they tell us about the winter as a whole in England, where the floods have caused such havoc? (I am concentrating on England for this reason, although there is a section on the UK as whole, which shows a similar picture)
(I will also be devoting a separate post to the situation in Somerset.)
After all of the hype and repeatedly proclaimed “possible links to climate change”, we find that December to February rainfall, although the highest since 1910, was just a measly 3mm more than recorded in 1914/15. If this winter’s record rainfall really has been the result of global warming, as has been claimed, is that really the only difference it has made, 3mm?
And has this 3-month spell been unprecedented? Nope, not even remotely so, I am afraid. As I have been pointing out for the last few weeks, there was a much wetter period during the winter of 1929/30. But, not only that, it also turns out that there were wetter periods in 2001/01 and 1960/61.
Let’s run through the numbers.
|Nov 1929 to Jan 1930||455.1|
|Oct 1960 to Dec 1960||396.3|
|Oct 2000 to Dec 2000||442.1|
|Dec 2013 to Feb 2014||395.6|
Of course, February is a short month, so this could account for about 6mm of the difference on a pro rata basis, but even then this winter’s precipitation is still much less than in 1929/30 and 2000.