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Is the Global Warming Bubble About to Burst?
Volume 6, Number 37: 10 September 2003

In a recent discussion published in the Russian journal Geomagnetizm i Aeronomiya (Vol. 43, pp. 132-135), two scientists from the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences challenge the politically-correct global warming dogma that vexes the entire world. Bashkirtsev and Mashnich (2003) say that "a number of publications report that the anthropogenic impact on the Earth's climate is an obvious and proven fact," when in actuality, in their opinion, "none of the investigations dealing with the anthropogenic impact on climate convincingly argues for such an impact."

In the way of contrary evidence, they begin by citing the work of Friis-Christensen and Lassen (1991), who first noted the close relationship (r = -0.95) between the length of the sunspot cycle and the surface air temperature of the Northern Hemisphere over the period 1861-1989, where "warming and cooling corresponded to short (~10 yr) and prolonged (~11.5 yr) solar cycles, respectively." They then cite the work of Zherebtsov and Kovalenko (2000), who they say established a high correlation (r = 0.97) between "the average power of the solar activity cycle and the surface air temperature in the Baikal region averaged over the solar cycle." These two findings, they contend, "leave little room for the anthropogenic impact on the Earth's climate." In addition, they note that "solar variations naturally explain global cooling observed in 1950-1970, which cannot be understood from the standpoint of the greenhouse effect, since CO2 was intensely released into the atmosphere in this period," citing in support of this statement the work of Dergachev and Raspopov (2000).

With respect to original work, Bashkirtsev and Mashnich conducted wavelet-spectra and correlation analyses of Irkutsk and world air temperatures and Wolf number data for the period 1882-2000, finding periodicities of 22 (Hale cycle) and 52 (Fritz cycle) years and reporting that "the temperature response of the air lags behind the sunspot cycles by approximately 3 years in Irkutsk and by 2 years over the entire globe."

Noting that one could thus expect the upper envelope of sunspot cycles to reproduce the global temperature trend, they created such a plot and found that such is indeed the case. As they describe their results, "the lowest temperatures in the early 1900s correspond to the lowest solar activity (weak cycle 14), the further temperature rise follows the increase in solar activity; the decrease in solar activity in cycle 20 is accompanied by the temperature fall [from 1950-1970], and the subsequent growth of solar activity in cycles 21 and 22 entails the temperature rise [of the last quarter century]."

With respect to the future, Bashkirtsev and Mashnich say "it has become clear that the current sunspot cycle (cycle 23) is weaker than the preceding cycles (21 and 22)," and that "solar activity during the subsequent cycles (24 and 25) will be, as expected, even lower," noting that "according to Chistyakov (1996, 2000), the minimum of the secular cycle of solar activity will fall on cycle 25 (2021-2026), which will result in the minimum global temperature of the surface air (according to our prediction)."

Are there any indications the prediction of Bashkirtsev and Mashnich will prove correct? They themselves say "the available data of observations support our inference about the cooling that has already started [our italics]," noting that "the average annual air temperature in Irkutsk, which correlates well with the average annual global temperature of the surface air, attained in 1997 its maximum equal to +2.3C" and then "began to diminish to +1.2C in 1998, +0.7C in 1999, and +0.4C in 2000."

Another indication of the likely validity of their prediction is provided by the work of Chavez et al. (2003), who document major changes in the biology of the Pacific Ocean that are associated with an oscillating climate cycle of about 50 years' periodicity. According to their findings, a warm-to-cool regime shift may already be in progress, having begun in the late 1990s, as is suggested by the temperature data of Bashkirtsev and Mashnich. Likewise, the study of Freeland et al. (2002) reports the invasion of the California Current by subarctic waters that in July 2002 were more than 0.5C colder than the historical summer average for the period 1961-2000 off the coast of central Oregon, USA. In fact, at the most offshore station they studied, the upper halocline was more than 1C colder than normal, which was "about 0.5C colder than any prior observation," while in the Gulf of Alaska they report that "conditions in June 2002 [were]well outside the bounds of all previous experience," and in the summer of 2001 they were already "at the lower bound of previous experience."

Within this context it is also interesting to note, as reported in our Editorial of 16 April 2003, that three of North America's Great Lakes -- Superior, Erie and Huron -- froze over completely this past winter. Within the period for which reliable ice cover data are available for the five Great Lakes (1963 to the present), this is the first time all three of these lakes have simultaneously experienced 100% ice cover, according to the study of Assel et al. (2003).

In light of these several sets of real-world observations, we would not be at all surprised to find that Bashkirtsev and Mashnich will indeed be proven correct in their prediction of imminent, if not already-in-progress, global cooling.

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso

Assel, R., Cronk, K. and Norton, D. 2003. Recent trends in Laurentian Great Lakes ice cover. Climatic Change 57: 185-204.

Bashkirtsev, V.S. and Mashnich, G.P. 2003. Will we face global warming in the nearest future? Geomagnetism and Aeronomy 43: 124-127.

Chavez, F.P., Ryan, J., Lluch-Cota, S.E. and Niquen C., M. 2003. From anchovies to sardines and back: multidecadal change in the Pacific Ocean. Science 299: 217-221.

Chistyakov, V.F. 1996. On the structure of the secular cycles of solar activity. In: Solar Activity and Its Effect on the Earth (Chistyakov, V.F., Asst. Ed.), Dal'nauka, Vladivostok, Russia, pp. 98-105.

Chistyakov, V.F. 2000. On the sun's radius oscillations during the Maunder and Dalton Minimums. In: Solar Activity and Its Effect on the Earth (Chistyakov, V.F., Asst. Ed.), Dal'nauka, Vladivostok, Russia, pp. 84-107.

Dergachev, V.A. and Raspopov, O.M. 2000. Long-term processes on the sun controlling trends in the solar irradiance and the earth's surface temperature. Geomagnetism and Aeronomy 40: 9-14.

Freeland, H.J., Gatien, G., Huyer, A. and Smith, R.L. 2002. Cold halocline in the northern California Current: An invasion of subarctic water. Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL016663.

Friis-Christensen, E. and Lassen, K. 1991. Length of the solar cycle: An indicator of solar activity closely associated with climate. Science 254: 698-700.

Zherebtsov, G.A. and Kovalenko, V.A. 2000. Effect of solar activity on hydrometeorological characteristics in the Baikal region. Proceedings of the International Conference "Solar Activity and Its Terrestrial Manifestations," Irkutsk, Russia, p. 54.