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Absence of evidence for greenhouse warming over the Arctic Ocean-Mark Serreze 1990

March 23, 2020

By Paul Homewood


We are familiar with the incessant claims that the Arctic is one of the fastest warming regions on Earth, and that this is due to the polar amplification effect of greenhouse gases.

But scientists back in the 1990s found that this theory did not stack up then:




ATMOSPHERIC general circulation models predict enhanced greenhouse warming at high latitudes1 owing to positive feedbacks between air temperature, ice extent and surface albedo2–4. Previous analyses of Arctic temperature trends have been restricted to land-based measurements on the periphery of the Arctic Ocean5,6. Here we present temperatures measured in the lower troposphere over the Arctic Ocean during the period 1950–90. We have analysed more than 27,000 temperature profiles, measured by radiosonde at Russian drifting ice stations and by dropsonde from US ‘Ptarmigan’ weather reconnaissance aircraft, for trends as a function of season and altitude. Most of the trends are not statistically significant. In particular, we do not observe the large surface warming trends predicted by models; indeed, we detect significant surface cooling trends over the western Arctic Ocean during winter and autumn. This discrepancy suggests that present climate models do not adequately incorporate the physical processes that affect the polar regions.

The cooling between 1950 and 1990 is very evident at a whole range of land sites on the fringes of the Arctic, ranging from Greenland right through to eastern Siberia.

Below is a series of temperature charts for several Arctic stations up to 2000, which were collated by the CLIMAS Project set up to collect climate data in the Arctic around the turn of the century, but which sadly has not been continued:









Ironically one of the authors, Mark Serreze, is now one of the leading cheerleaders for Arctic death spirals and the like.

  1. Thomas Carr permalink
    March 23, 2020 12:37 pm

    There may be no hook to hang this on in the immediate future but your readers may wish to note that David Attenborough is doing his cause no good by writing in yesterday’s Telegraph that the transformation of the newly clear waters of Venice is somehow related to climate. For the first time for ages the waters are no longer made turbulent by the boat traffic allowing everything that has been in suspension to settle to the bottom.
    It will be interesting when the water clarity is lost this is attributed to another change in climate.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    March 23, 2020 12:48 pm

    News media quotes from 2008: “Sea ice also serves as primary habitat for threatened polar bears. ‘We could very well be in that quick slide downward in terms of passing a tipping point’ said senior scientist Mark Serreze at the data center in Boulder Colo. ‘It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now’ Within ‘five to no less than 10 years’ the Arctic could be free of sea ice in the summer, said NASA ice scientist Jay Zwally.
    Advisor to Al Gore?

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      March 23, 2020 1:05 pm

      A great pity there was no-one to say, “Yes, Mark, and by 2020 we *could* all be dead from some as-yet unknown virus but we probably won’t be. So b****r off and come back when you’ve got something better than scaremongering, fact-free waffle!”

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      March 23, 2020 1:18 pm

      Polar bears are not threatened. 39,000 from 7000 fifty years ago.

    • OldFogey permalink
      March 23, 2020 5:45 pm

      “Within ‘five to no less than 10 years ”
      When I parse this gibberish it becomes “between five and more than 10”
      which in turn becomes “in more than five”

      So, “nothing will happen for five years, then something COULD happen”

      That is so trite I have to ask whether the quote is actually accurate.

    • dennisambler permalink
      March 23, 2020 10:54 pm

      Sanders quoting Serreze in 2007:

      Tony Heller in 2017:

      A Serreze time line of melting doom…

  3. Broadlands permalink
    March 23, 2020 1:07 pm

    “We are familiar with the incessant claims that the Arctic is one of the fastest warming regions on Earth, and that this is due to the polar amplification effect of greenhouse gases.”

    “We” are unfamiliar with the temperature anomalies for either hemisphere that would support those claims. In 1999 Phil Jones et al. said that the NH was plus 0.6°C and the SH was minus 0.6°C leaving the globe at 14.0°C. Where are those hemispheric values today that would support this fast warming polar amplification? The globe is now at 14.8°C. The NH?

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 23, 2020 2:50 pm

      We are also unfamiliar with conditions in the Arctic. “Cold” is all most of us know. Making claims for a remote area works great, cause it’s virtually impossible to check or verify. Not much instrumentation in the 5 million square miles of cold ocean.

      Claims for Phoenix, we can check.

  4. The Man at the Back permalink
    March 23, 2020 2:03 pm

    Slightly off-topic – but highly related in the hysteria stakes.

    Willis has been at it again.

  5. March 23, 2020 2:13 pm

    A 2015 study of Arctic station records confirms what you are saying:

    “Arctic temperatures have increased during the period 1820– 2014. The warming has been larger in January than in July. Siberia, Alaska and Western Canada appear to have warmed slightly more than Eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Northern Europe. The warming has not occurred at a steady rate. Much of the warming trends found during 1820 to 2014 occurred in the late 1990s, and the data show temperatures levelled off after 2000. The July temperature trend is even slightly negative for the period 1820–1990. The time series exhibit multidecadal temperature fluctuations which have also been found by other temperature reconstructions.”

    The paper is:

    Arctic temperature trends from the early nineteenth century to the present W. A. van Wijngaarden, Theoretical & Applied Climatology (2015) here:

    Click to access Arctic-Europe-Paper-2015.pdf

    My synopsis:

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 23, 2020 3:32 pm

      “Arctic temperatures have increased during the period 1820– 2014.”

      Sorry, I don’t believe we know that.

      20th century data for the Arctic is sparse. For the 19th, it is virtually non existent. The Northwest Passage wasn’t documented until the 1850s.

      • March 23, 2020 3:41 pm

        Gamecock, the statement is based on the analysis of 118 weather station records around the Arctic circle. That is the data available, and it indicates a pattern of warming similar to long term data from Europe, ie. no arctic amplification. As you say, evidence going farther back in time is difficult to find.

      • Broadlands permalink
        March 23, 2020 4:18 pm

        Gamecock….RE: high latitude data. Phil Jones in 2009:

        “The 1999 paper is only the second attempt to calculate the number directly from observations. It is within about 0.5 deg C from the only other study in the 1969/70 period – by Crutcher and Meserve and Taljaard.

        The reason for the differences (and why the accuracy is only expected to be within +/- 0.5 deg C) is because of areas without data in the base period – see the maps in the paper. These areas include large areas of the Southern Oceans, parts of the Antarctic, the central Arctic, central Greenland etc. To get values for these areas you have to make estimates and these introduce errors. Lapse rate estimates have to be used for mountainous regions such as Tibet and Greenland. So the bottom line is that 14 C number for the globe is probably only accurate to +/- 0.5.”

      • Gamecock permalink
        March 24, 2020 12:36 am

        Broadlands, they use a decimal point to show they have a sense of humor.

        This is fake precision.

  6. March 23, 2020 2:59 pm

    Another forgotten study: Researchers Say Sun Cycle Alters Earth’s Climate (2009)

    If the energy from the sun varies by only 0.1 percent during the 11-year solar cycle, could such a small variation drive major changes in weather patterns on Earth? Yes, say researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

  7. Athelstan. permalink
    March 24, 2020 11:29 am

    Serreze is an utter alarmunist fruit loop, you’d be better getting climate prognostications from Homer Simpson.

    • dennisambler permalink
      March 26, 2020 5:11 pm

      I already do!
      Weather gets warm, weather gets cold, weather gets warm, weather gets cold. Doh!

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