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The Arctic Ocean began warming decades earlier than previously thought, new research shows

November 27, 2021

By Paul Homewood

A new study throws doubt on the theory that Arctic warming is man made:


The Arctic Ocean has been warming since the onset of the 20th century, decades earlier than instrument observations would suggest, according to new research.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, found that the expansion of warm Atlantic Ocean water flowing into the Arctic, a phenomenon known as "Atlantification," has caused Arctic water temperature in the region studied to increase by around 2 degrees Celsius since 1900.

Francesco Muschitiello, an author on the study and assistant professor of geography at the University of Cambridge, said the findings were worrisome because the early warming suggests there might be a flaw in the models scientists use to predict how the climate will change.

"The Arctic Ocean has been warming up for much longer than we previously thought," Muschitiello told CNN. "And this is something that’s a bit unsettling for many reasons, especially because the climate models that we use to cast projections of future climate change do not really simulate these type of changes."

The researchers used marine sediments in the Fram Straight, where the Atlantic meets the Arctic east of Greenland, to reconstruct 800 years of data that paint a longer historical picture of how Atlantic water has flowed into the Arctic. The marine sediments are "natural archives," the researchers wrote, which record data on past climate conditions.

Researchers found temperature and salinity, the saltiness of ocean water, remained fairly constant up until the 20th century — then they suddenly increased.

"The reconstructions suggest a substantial increase in the Atlantic Ocean heat and salt transport into the Nordic Sea at the beginning of the 20th century, which is not well simulated by (climate models)," Rong Zhang, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, who was not involved with the study, told CNN. "It’s important to understand the cause of this rapid Atlantification, as well as the discrepancies between the model simulations and the reconstructions."

Muschitiello said it’s not clear how much of a role, if any, human-caused climate change played in the early Arctic warming, and more research is needed.

"We’re talking about the early 1900s, and by then we’ve already been supercharging the atmosphere with carbon dioxide," he said. "It is possible that the Arctic Ocean is more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought. This will require more research, of course, because we don’t have a solid grip on the actual mechanisms behind this early Atlantification."

There is the inevitable attempt by the study author to link all of this to carbon dioxide, but as he himself admits there is no evidence for this.

But what this study does highlight is that it is the transport of warm Atlantic water which melted the sea ice and raised temperatures around the Arctic. GHGs only play a bit part.

As I have often pointed out, it is the world’s oceans which drive climate cycles. The study rather brushes over the Little Ice Age, , but it should surely have investigated whether the same Atlantification occurred during the MWP.

There’s a complex graph in the actual paper, but it’s worth homing in on the first section, the blue line (B), which plots “derived” sea surface temperatures in the Fram Strait.

Two things stand out:

  1. SSTs were higher than the 20thC for most of the AD 1300 to 1600 period.
  2. SSTs were as high in the early 20th as now.

We can also note the C chart, which measures the presence of sea ice around the Iceland coast. Climatologists, such as HH Lamb, have long known that the ice grew rapidly between AD 1600 and 1900. This is strong evidence that the LIA was an unusually cold era.

Lamb also believed that cooling began in Greenland as early as the 12thC.Therefore it is likely that SSTs would have been higher prior to the start of this new analysis in AD 1300.



Of course, the idea that Arctic warming since the 19thC is largely a natural phenomenon has huge ramifications. Not least the fear that the ice will one day return.

  1. November 27, 2021 10:58 am

    No no no no no, that’s wrong, we KNOW it’s all CO2 and now methane

    • Ron Arnett permalink
      November 27, 2021 11:29 am

      Actually, if truth be told, we have known for some time now that it is actually **your** fault. Greta Thunberg want me to pass on her comment about you. How dare you?

  2. November 27, 2021 1:03 pm

    The result of coming out of the last glacial episode.

  3. Penda100 permalink
    November 27, 2021 1:45 pm

    Look forward to hearing about this report on the BBC. I won’t hold my breath though.

  4. John Peter permalink
    November 27, 2021 2:14 pm

    “Lamb also believed that cooling began in Greenland as early as the 12thC.Therefore it is likely that SSTs would have been higher prior to the start of this new analysis in AD 1300.”

    And progressively drove out the Vikings?

  5. Broadlands permalink
    November 27, 2021 2:26 pm

    “We’re talking about the early 1900s, and by then we’ve already been supercharging the atmosphere with carbon dioxide,”

    Wonder where that idea came from? More to the point, why didn’t somebody stop all that supercharging? Where were the “green” protestors? All of this is so stupid, but it gets grant money I guess.

  6. November 27, 2021 2:31 pm

    John Peter you are quite right !

    The Little Ice Age . . . 1450 – 1850

    A 500-year period of substantial Global Cooling. Once again, in the 1450’s, two Volcanoes rating VEI 6 erupting in relatively the same time frame. First eruption X in 1453; some suggest it could have been the notorious Krakatoa, again. The second was Kuwae (usually considered first), part of the island nation of Vanuatu, in 1457 just three years later. Analysis of these volcanoes is strictly from ice core data because they pre date written records and European exploration. They both show up in ice core samples extracted from Antarctica and Greenland. Predating these two however, is a recently identified Indonesian volcano dating from 1258 called Samalas in the Rinjani Volcanic Complex. It was a VEI 7, but has been described as what might have been the largest single eruption in the last 10,000 years. Again, famine, starvation and severe weather were being reported worldwide. This eruption was but a precursor for the environmental tragedy yet to come.

    This time, a stream of colossal volcanoes over a period of nearly 700 years kept the world suppressed under sharply lower temperatures and covering the planet in Glaciers in places not seen in 1000 years. In the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres vol. 118 Jihong Cole-Dai et al. suggest that “the most prominent century-scale climactic episode in the last 1000 years is likely The Little Ice Age”. Here is the list of consecutive VEI 6 or greater volcanoes that we are aware of in that 700-year period. 16 all together.

    Samalas, Philippines 1258 – 7, 1280 Quilotoa, Ecuador – 6, Unknown (Krakatoa?) 1453 – 6, Kuwae, Vanuatu 1457 – 6, 1477 Baroarbunga, Iceland, – 6, 1580 Billy Mitchell, New Guinea – 6, 1600 Huaynaputina, Peru, – 6, 1660 Santorini, Greece, – 6, 1660 long Island, New Guinea, – 6, 1783 Laki, Iceland – 6+, 1809 unknown south America – 6, 1815 Tambora, Indonesia – 7, 1835, Cosiguina, Nicaragua – 6, 1883, Krakatoa, Indonesia – 6, 1902, Santa Maria, Guatemala, – 6, 1912, Novarupta, Alaska – 6.

    That is 14 – VEI 6 volcanoes, and 2 – VEI 7’s. Just to add a little more emphasis to the climatological effects of Volcanoes, in or around the years where these Volcanoes erupted the following civilizations disappeared. Easter Island, The Great Zimbabwe, The Myan civilization and the Vikings of Greenland. The cumulative effect of Volcanic activity is enormous. The cooling peaked in1750. Slowly but surly by the mid 1950’s the cooling trend seemed to be over and the climate seemed to be returning to normal. At that time there was even a little temperature spike which, as we know, is continuing today.

    After such a protracted cooling trend, the worst in 1,000 years, why should the temperatures not rise? Dramatically even, as they are now? In the two previous Warming Periods the World was much warmer and for much longer, so why not now? Since 1950 there has only been 65 years or so of Natural Warming, we may still have 400 more years to go in this cycle, if we are in a new Warming Period. Knowing that glaciers once receded all over the world to heights 1200’ higher than what we see today, why is it not normal for them to recede just as far now? When Volcanoes heat the Ocean’s Currents from below, this Natural Warming must NOT be deemed Man-Made. What behooves Humanity to ascribe such blame to self?

    Natural Climate Change comes from Volcanoes . . . COLD Climate Change . . .

    When the stratosphere clears . . . Planet Earth returns to the ‘Norm of Warm’ . . .

    As it is warming today . . .

    • Lorde Late permalink
      November 29, 2021 8:57 pm

      Most impressive post! volcanic activity seems to have been somewhat undereported, unless I’ve been asleep in which case I apologize.

      • November 29, 2021 9:21 pm

        There has NOT been a Volcano above VEI 6 since 1912 . . . SOOO the planet keeps getting warmer until we get HIT again . . . It will be coming soon though . . . Environmentalists will blame that on CO2 as well I suppose ??

        Today in what is described as ‘An Inter Glacial Period’, The Holocene, we are having a reprieve from the incessant Violence brought upon the World by Volcanoes. Planet Earth is warm for only the second time in 250 thousand years. The last time was the Eemian 15,000 years ago. This Warming Period permits Food Production in the Prairies, Europe and China. Places where 10 kilometers of Ice would usually stand. For little more than 10 thousand years Humanity has had it good. Life for 7 billion people is possible. A mere 25 million souls occupied Equatorial regions of the Earth when Volcanoes and Ice Ruled the World. Let us learn to give thanks to Global Warming and learn to respect Nature as the Supreme Ruler of our Climate and of true Climate Change on our Little Blue Planet.

        Milton Friedman said’

        ” The only test of the validity of a hypothesis is a comparison of prediction with EXPERIENCE”

        History IS experience when thoroughly reviewed.

  7. Gamecock permalink
    November 27, 2021 2:38 pm

    ‘said the findings were worrisome because the early warming suggests there might be a flaw in the models scientists use to predict how the climate will change’

    And, by dammit, he WANTS climate change!

    Imagine, a scientist worried about data. Not finding it fascinating, and pursuing it, rather finding it ‘worrisome.’

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      November 27, 2021 7:48 pm

      I think he means that somehow there’s warming all hidden away somehow.

      It’s obviously nonsense as the only warming came from warmer water, not “‘warming”. These scientists really don’t seem to care that they’ve discovered something interesting. They just want to confirm the dogma.

  8. Harry Davidson permalink
    November 27, 2021 3:13 pm

    A few days ago I stumbled upon a group of students leafleting passers by, “Stop Climate Change Now! Change the System!”. I said I became interested in AGW in 1983 and it was looking very good until 1998, but by 2001 it was clearly wrong. The bloke was quite interested and wanted to know why, but the two girls jumped in with,
    “How can you be so stupid!”, “Haven’t you got an actual brain!!”.
    I responded with “How can you be so racist! Racism is a deplorable mindset that you really should avoid, Take a look at yourselves and do better”.
    “You what?” was the response. The bloke was amused, I don’t think he had seen these two get a verbal slap before; he asked why.
    I explained that Chinese, Indian, South African, Japanese and other Asian scientists almost all do not believe in AGW, it is just the western guys that do, and that it was ‘guys’ because almost all western climate change people are male. I went on to point out that it was quite touching to see modern western girls taking received wisdom from white men and trusting it so deeply that they were willing to insult people who declined to agree with them, even to the point of airing their racism in the process. What price feminism?
    The bloke said “My dad’s a Solicitor, are you a Barrister?”. No.
    The moral of the story is that you won’t win by arguing the facts, they can’t work with facts. When dealing with fascist liberalism always find a moral high ground, and throw big rocks from it.

    • Gamecock permalink
      November 27, 2021 6:41 pm

      Correct approach, Mr Davidson. Facts are useless against sanctimony.

  9. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 27, 2021 3:47 pm

    There is something very different about the Arctic sea ice this year in one particular area, it is almost as if warm water has stopped flowing in between Alaska and Russia resulting in much quicker ice formation there than recent years – is it a long term current shift or just a freak effect of prevailing weather?

    • Robert Evans permalink
      November 27, 2021 4:54 pm

      I have noticed that the prevailing winds in this area` over the past few months have been
      from the arctic, normally low pressure in the North Pacific pushes warmer air into this region from time time, and Ice forms more slowly. this year the temperature has been well below normal. Alaska has also seen very low temperature for November.
      Arctic sea ice is almost back to normal levels. I do not think the BBC will be reporting that.

  10. avro607 permalink
    November 27, 2021 4:06 pm

    Remember Pauls p0st “The Changing Arctic Nov 1922” where the Temps. off Spitzbergen normally 3 deg. C ,were now measured at 15 deg. C.
    I tried to access the original paperwork by the American Consul,but to no avail.

  11. Tim Spence permalink
    November 27, 2021 4:41 pm

    Some maps of the arctic circle exist that were made by Vikings, they show a solid ice field but not a great deal of extension. So that would be over a thousand years ago. Looking at a thousand years of weather you might see climate change … but in this case you just see fluctuations of weather. The ice extent fluctuated then, the ice extent fluctuates now. The only problem is the politics.

  12. November 27, 2021 6:30 pm

    Is it known whether the the historical warming and cooling correspond with variations in solar activity?

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 27, 2021 7:43 pm

    I’m confused by their claims. If the Arctic ocean warmed because warm water entered, why do they even mention CO2? The warming was caused by warm water, not warming. The Atlantic was not especially warm so what caused the entry of the warm water?

    Once again this feels like half a paper because the CO2 cult stops them asking the right questions.

  14. avro607 permalink
    November 28, 2021 4:05 pm

    The Jim Steele web site:”Landscapes and Cycles”,has a good description of the ocean current flows ,to and from the Arctic.
    Plus for anyone new to this esteemed biologist,he is also the go to guy for wildfires and corals.

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