Skip to content

We Live In Cold Times

April 6, 2014

By Paul Homewood


According to ice core samples from Greenland, as we learnt the other day, temperatures were much higher in Greenland 4000 years ago.

There are, however, many other studies which come to similar conclusions elsewhere. The list below summarises some of these.


1) Ribeiro et al.

Analysis of marine sediments in Disko Bay, West Greenland finds that:

a) The past 1500 years have been identified as one of the coldest intervals of the last 7000 years in Disko Bay.

b) This period is inserted in the context of the Neoglacial Advance of the Greenland Ice Sheet starting at c. 5000 years BP and culminating in the Little Ice Age.

c) The late Holocene cooling trend is also consistent with marine and terrestrial records from several records in the N Hemisphere.


2) Kelly & Long

Study of marine shells, moraines etc finds:

a) The Greenland Ice Sheet may have receded tens of kilometers within its present day margins during the early and mid Holocene.

b) This ice sheet recession was likely a response to the warmer temperatures of the Holocene Thermal Maximum (9-5 ka) (e.g., Kaufman et al., 2004), which is registered by Greenland ice cores as ~2.5°C warmer than at present.

c) In many locations the ice sheet and mountain glaciers reached their maximum extents since the early Holocene during the Little Ice Age.


3) Caseldine

Study of lichens on Icelandic glaciers reveals that “in all cases the LIA maxima of the glaciers date to the last half of the 19th C, and probably marked the maximum Neoglacial extent of the glaciers”


4) Vinther et al

Ice cores in Greenland show that “our new temperature history reveals a pronounced Holocene climatic optimum in Greenland”


5) Levac et al

Analysis of sediments in Baffin Bay :

“suggests conditions at least as warm as at present. From ca. 6400 to ca. 3600 14C yr BP, transfer functions indicate warmer conditions than at present, with SST in August fluctuating up to 5.5°C. After 3600 14C yr BP, the dinocyst record suggests a trend of decreasing temperature toward modern values, marked by recurrent cooling events.”


6) Larsen et al

From lake sediments in Iceland, they conclude:

a) The Langjokull ice cap began to expand about 5500 years ago.

b) The LIA contained the most extensive glacial advance of the neoglacial interval, concluding that "the LIA was the coldest period of the last 8 thousand years."


7) Ingolffson et al

Study of glaciers in Iceland reveals:

a) During the mid-Holocene climate optimum some of the present-day ice caps were probably absent.

b) Ice caps expanded after 6.0–5.0 cal. kyr BP, and most glaciers reached their Holocene maxima during the Little Ice Age (AD 1300–1900).


8) Thompson

Ancient plant beds, radiocarbon dated to 5000 years ago, are being uncovered as the Quelccaya glacier recedes in the Peruvian Andes.


9) Missouri Botanical Garden

From examination of the tree line in the Andes, they find:

During the period from 7500 yr BP to ca. 3000 yr BP temperatures rose about 2°C more, causing another upward shift in the forest line of about 300-400 m higher than today, and thereby reducing the area occupied by páramo.  Finally, at about 2900 yr BP, there was a noticeable lowering of the temperature that marked the last downward movement of the forest and páramo belts to their present-day positions.


10) Novenko et al

Using pollen and macrofossil evidence in the Don Basin region of Central Russia for the time span ranging from the mid-Atlantic period [7.2-5.7 cal. kyr B.P.] to the present., they find:

temperatures during the mid-Atlantic period "were warmer than the present, mainly due to the higher winter temperatures," while noting that mean January temperatures were "about 3-5°C higher than the present climatic conditions." They also state that in the late Atlantic period, "the mean July and the mean annual temperatures rose to about 2°C higher than the present," after which, in the middle and late Subboreal period, they indicate that summer temperatures were "about 1-3°C higher than present values," while noting that that period’s "mean annual temperatures could have been 1-2°C higher."


11) NIWA (National Institute for Water & Atmospheric Research)


Figure 2: New Zealand’s estimated mean yearly temperatures since the last ice age. From Fig 5.6 of Ministry for the Environment (1997), based on Salinger (1988).

Rather says it all really!


12) Thompson et al

More ice cores from another glacier, the Huascarán in the north-central Andes of Peru, show that:

the climate was warmest from 8400 to 5200 years before present, and that it cooled gradually, culminating with the Little Ice Age (200 to 500 years before present). A strong warming has dominated the last two centuries.”


{Note the comment about the “last two centuries”. Clearly most of this warming cannot be caused by Mann-made warming.]


[Also not the date of this paper – 7th July 1995. Yes, 1995, well before AGW fever].


13) Hubert Lamb

Before the days of grant funded junk science, Hubert Lamb did some proper research and and his epic volume, “Climate Present, Past & Future” has this to say:


It was after 2000-1500 BC that most of the present glaciers in the Rocky Mountains south of  57 o N were formed and that major re-advance of those in the Alaskan Rockies first took place.

And at their subsequent advanced positions – probably around 500 BC as well as between 1650 and 1850 AD – the glaciers in the Alps regained an extent, estimated in the Glockner region, at about 5 times their Bronze Age Minimum, when all the smaller ones had disappeared.

Treeline studies, including Southern Hemisphere sites, paint a similar picture. Quoting a study by Markgraf in 1974, which encompassed the Alps, Carpathians, Rockies, Japan, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, East Africa and the Andes, Lamb writes :-

Summer temperatures in these regions were 2 C higher than now in the warmest postglacial times (around 5000 BC).

He then quotes a similar study by Lamarche in 1973:-

Study of the Upper Tree Line on the White Mountains in California, similarly indicates warm season temperatures about 2C higher than today all through the warmest millenia, from before 5500 BC until about 2200 BC.


What about the cooler periods Lamb mentions?

He describes this as the “Sub Atlantic Period” from about 1000 BC.

Glacier advances, changes in the composition of the forests, and the retreat of the forest from its previous northern and upper limits, indicate significant cooling of world climates, its start being detectable in some places (e.g. Alaska, Chile, China) from as early as 1500 BC.

In Europe, the most marked change seems to have been from 1200-700 BC. By 700-500 BC, prevailing temperatures must have been about 2.0C lower than they had been half a millenium earlier, and there was a great increase of wetness everywhere north of the Alps.

Another aspect of the centuries of colder climate around 500 BC in NW Europe was evidently their storminess. There was perhaps a final climax of the first of these epochs of marked storminess in the great North Sea storm, or storms, about 120-114 BC, which altered the coasts of Jutland and NW Germany in a great sea flood, “The Cymbrian Flood”, which set off the migration of the Celtic (Cymbrian) and Teutonic peoples who had been living in these areas.

The probable course of prevailing temperatures in Europe and the Far East has been presented in Fig 16.22. [Not shown]. In both regions, the last few centuries BC register some general rise in temperature, representing a recovery from the coldest conditions of the onset of the Sub Atlantic climatic period, which had culminated in great glacier advances in the Alps (HEUBERGER 1968), at various times between about 900 and 300 BC, and apparently a lower snowline in the high mountains of Lebanon and elsewhere in the Near East and Equatorial Africa.




Many studies, across much of the world, show that it was much warmer than now in the early and mid holocene, in other words just a few thousand years ago. This is particularly so in the Arctic region, where so much attention is paid to currently.

What is more, they also suggest a gradual, but definite, cooling of the Earth’s climate, known as the Neoglaciation, which seems to have started about 5000 years ago.

The evidence also points to this neoglaciation leading up to the 19thC being the coldest period since the end of the Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.

This period of neoglaciation has been interspersed with warming periods, such as the MWP and the RWP, which make the current warming look unremarkable.


We are told that current rates of warming will lead to irreversible and cataclysmic changes to our climate. Yet we have clearly had much warmer times in the recent past, without such consequences.

Furthermore, all the evidence suggests that the 19thC was perhaps the coldest since the Ice Age. The reality is that today’s climate is neither unprecedented, abnormal, nor about to lead to some sort of armageddon.

Of course, if you would prefer for the Neoglaciation to continue for another century or so, that is your prerogative!

  1. April 7, 2014 2:03 am

    Outstanding work here compiling all these links. This is a must bookmark!

  2. Andy DC permalink
    April 7, 2014 2:29 am

    Excellent, informative post.

  3. Christiane Grunenberg permalink
    April 7, 2014 7:44 am

    Great. Thank you for that!

  4. April 7, 2014 9:27 am

    When doing my M.S. in Earth science 10 years ago, I discovered papers of a generation before describing surveys of the West Coast of Malaysia. These studies documented relative sea level was 2 to 3 meters higher 5,000 years ago as compared with the present..

    Since Peninsular Malaysia is a stable craton, present day lower relative sea level was probably not caused by rising land, but by a fall in sea level since 5,000 years ago.

    This is consistent with global temperature 5,000 years ago being warmer than today. That warm period is called the Holocene Climate Optimum and it was worldwide.

    No study has ever suggested that the warmth of the Holocene Climate Optimum was caused by mankind.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: