Lockwood, Hudson, Beeb, Maunder. Sigh

[Update 2013/11/01: Solar Activity and the so-called “Little Ice Age” is sufficient evidence of Lockwood's opinion].

Sigh. Paul Hudson (remember him?) says Real risk of a Maunder minimum 'Little Ice Age' says leading scientist, and the person he purports to rely in is Mike Lockwood, who is sane. However, if you look closely there is no direct quotation of ML in the article, so I think I'd be very cautious in interpreting it.

But if you want to know what ML actually thinks on the subject of future solar variations and their probable effects on climate, then reading a recent paper of his, Jones, G. S., Lockwood, M. and Stott, P. A. (2012) What influence will future solar activity changes over the 21st century have on projected global near-surface temperature changes? Journal of Geophysical Research, 117 (D5). D05103. ISSN 0148-0227 looks like a good idea. And the abstract is (my bold):

During the 20th century, solar activity increased in magnitude to a so-called grand maximum. It is probable that this high level of solar activity is at or near its end. It is of great interest whether any future reduction in solar activity could have a significant impact on climate that could partially offset the projected anthropogenic warming. Observations and reconstructions of solar activity over the last 9000 years are used as a constraint on possible future variations to produce probability distributions of total solar irradiance over the next 100 years. Using this information, with a simple climate model, we present results of the potential implications for future projections of climate on decadal to multidecadal timescales. Using one of the most recent reconstructions of historic total solar irradiance, the likely reduction in the warming by 2100 is found to be between 0.06 and 0.1 K, a very small fraction of the projected anthropogenic warming. However, if past total solar irradiance variations are larger and climate models substantially underestimate the response to solar variations, then there is a potential for a reduction in solar activity to mitigate a small proportion of the future warming, a scenario we cannot totally rule out. While the Sun is not expected to provide substantial delays in the time to reach critical temperature thresholds, any small delays it might provide are likely to be greater for lower anthropogenic emissions scenarios than for higher-emissions scenarios.

[Oh, yeah, and the bit in the blog about Mann is stupid, too. As he says "Hey Beeb (@BBC). Yes "I AM 'vociferous advocate' of global warming.. & relativity, quantum mech, all 3 laws of thermo,.."]

[Update: Lockwood thinks he was misrepresented:




[Looking further down, we get a comment from PH:

"Paul Hudson Has anyone actually read my article? It makes it very clear that the main effect would be regional. It says that most scientists believe global impact - along the lines of research my Michael mann in 2001 of 0.3c to 0.4c cooling (research I specifically link to) - would be temporary and 'swamped' by global warming. That element wasn't even attributed to my interview with mike who did only discuss with me regional impacts. I added the mann research.I think you guys need to take a deep breath and calm down. Anyone point to any inaccuracies in the article do please tell me I'd he very curious to know where they are."

Now this is quite interesting. If you re-read the original piece (here web-cited) then it does indeed say:

"It’s known by climatologists as the ‘Little Ice Age’, a period in the 1600s when harsh winters across the UK and Europe were often severe. The severe cold went hand in hand with an exceptionally inactive sun, and was called the Maunder solar minimum. Now a leading scientist from Reading University has told me that the current rate of decline in solar activity is such that there’s a real risk of seeing a return of such conditions."

So arguably the piece is only about regional temperature. I'd still be pretty dubious that Lockwood has predicted a chance of LIA-type severe winters for Europe. Hopefully he'll clarify what he really thinks in a somewhat more citeable forum than facebook.]

More like this

Lockwood was talking about a local effect of reduced solar output on Northwest Europe, something that this BBC story makes clear.


Hudson writes "there would be global implications too", which seems to be his own interpretation.

And of course the headline could well be taken by the denier blogs to mean global cooling, even if he does qualify it to the UK and Europe in the first line of the text.

Hudson. Sigh.

Whoa, I missed this line: "...global temperatures may fall enough, albeit temporarily, to eliminate much of the warming which has occurred since the 1950s."

That is not what Lockwood said to the other journalist.

"Professor Lockwood was keen to stress that "blocking" only affected a limited geographical region, and would not have a widespread impact on the global climate system. "

Either Lockwood has changed his views, or Hudson has seriously misunderstood or misrepresented what he was told.

[Well, its hard to know whether those are ML's words or PH's. My guess would be PH's based on his misunderstanding of what ML said -W]

Mike Lockwood says he was misrepresented.


[Thanks. And just to copy it here so I can find it:

"Mike Lockwood It amazing how one can be misrepresented no matter how clear one tries to make it! One point I made to Hudson is that many of the so called bits of "evidence" for solar influence on global temperature actually come from Europe in winter (cf Eddy and all that) and so are not global at all. Depressing."


"Mike Lockwood Ron. since 1985. I've explained below I am only talking about a possible (stress possible) solar influence on European blocking events and not at all about global temperatures. But it is a fact that solar activity HAS declined since 1985, the "exceptional" long and low solar minimum of 2008/9 and the current very weak cycle 24 are both part of that trend and we are now back to conditions last seen around 1920. See http://solarphysics.livingreviews.org/Articles/lrsp-2013-4/"


"Mike Lockwood Hi David, Bru - too right I am only talking of regional effects!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On the global front I refer you to Jones, Stott and Lockwood (JGR 2012 doi: 10.1029/2011JD017013) in which we showed that even a Maunder minimum would have almost no effect on global temperatures - very similar to the result in Stefan's paper. I have always made it clear (and did make it absolutely clear to Paul Hudson - I couldn't have stressed it more!) that I am only talking about blocking events so for example if such an event brings cold Arctic air to central Europe in winter, it takes warm moist air up to Greenland. The offending web pages had disappeared when I looked so I have no idea how badly I am being misquoted and misrepresented here. I'd point you at a review I wrote last year Lockwood, M. (2012) Solar influence on global and regional climates. Surveys in Geophysics, doi: 10.1007/s10712-012-9181-3 which also makes it absolutely clear that although there is some (as yet not cast iron) evidence for European winters of some solar effects theres none on a global basis."


[...So arguably the piece is only about regional temperature...]
I can't square that with Paul Hudson's final paragraph:

"But should North Western Europe be heading for a new "little ice age", there could be far reaching political implications - not least because global temperatures may fall enough, albeit temporarily, to eliminate much of the warming which has occurred since the 1950s."

His commenters also seem to find it hard to accept this is primarily about regional variations. Though having said that they are more interested in the surrealist comedy that is Piers Corbyn.

I read Paul Hudson's piece a number of times and although it does mention regional effects, it could easily be mis-intepreted as implying a return to LIA climate conditions. Far be it from me to suggests that this was intentional or not, but it does seem as though the article could easily be interpreted in a way that would not be consistent with what Mike Lockwood would suggest the likely consequences of the Sun returning to Maunder minimum-like conditions (or least, my understanding of Mike Lockwood's views).

One issue is that - as far as I'm aware - what Mike Lockwood would argue is that if the Sun were to return to Maunder Minimum conditions it would make the anthropic influence much more obvious. So, if anything, not only will it have little effect on global temperatures it would also make it very clear that the warming of the climate system is anthropic and not a consequence of solar forcing. Rather odd that the article failed to mention this quite important conclusion.

By wottsupwiththatblog (not verified) on 29 Oct 2013 #permalink

"So arguably the piece is only about regional temperature."

It seems Hudson has not misrepresented Lockwood, but added his own (rather dubious) interpretation of Mann's paper without making it clear that these statements are his and not Lockwood's.

In fact, given that the post begins "Real risk of a[n] Ice Age says leading scientist" and ends with "global temperatures may fall enough, albeit temporarily, to eliminate much of the warming which has occurred since the 1950s", it gives the distinct impression that this is what Lockwood believes.

Which is why the Watties are all excited out a major climate scientist breaking with the IPCC predicting global cooling.

I've only skimmed the 'Mann' paper Hudson is basing his claim of potential to 'eliminate much of the warming which has occurred since the 1950s' on, but I couldn't see anywhere discussion of the rate of this cooling. Unless it's more or less instantaneous Hudson appears to be ignoring the rather significant element of anthropogenic warming - or is he saying that we will have a measure less of warming in the future than we would otherwise expect, that measure being 'much of the warming which has occured since the 1950s'?

I do hope Mike Lockwood finds the time to complain formally to the BBC about this misrepresentation. As keen circus-goers know, Paul Hudson has got form (eg see Stoat). Enough form for a formal bollocking, IMO. He would be getting one if he worked for me.

Aah, but the headline dear Paul Hudson, the headline:

"Real risk of a Maunder minimum 'Little Ice Age' says leading scientist"

There is always cooling on the horizon in "skeptic" land. No mention of regional or global impacts, just that there is a real danger of an ice age in the near future. People from all around the world read BBC Paul and most people remember only the headline. Rascally Paul knows that. Pretty alarmist headline from him too.

Interestingly, if "skeptics" buy this regional LIA nonsense that Hudson is pushing/advocating, does it mean that "skeptics" will finally concede and accept that the LIA and medieval warm anomaly were regional and not global ? ;) Vive le hockey stick!

As BBD says, Hudson deserves a formal bollocking from the BBC for this.

By MapleLeaf (not verified) on 29 Oct 2013 #permalink

I'm still leaning towards incompetence over malevolence:


Though that was a while ago, now so who knows?

[I'm not sure this is incompetence on a personal level; its more the std.training that reporter-types get: there has to be a story, after all. And if there isn't one, the temptation to make one up, or to embellish what one hears, is strong. Perhaps that shades into malevolence, in a way: the primary motivation of PH types isn't communicating science, I think -W]

Adam @10

Well, that is not much of a choice between "incompetent" and "malevolence"? After all, this is the BBC not Pravda.

The BBC and British expect (and deserve better) than incompetent reporters. They ought to be demanding the best science reporting out there.

What I'm saying is that Hudson has a history of "incompetence" when reporting on climate, and that alone is good enough reason for the BBC to sit him down and tell him to up his game.

Or is "incompetence" by journos (e.g., Rose, Corcoran, Revkin) and the media on the climate file now so commonplace that some think that we ought to simply accept it?

Of course the answer is "no". There is too much at stake for the BBC to turn a blind eye to Hudson's "incompetence".

By MapleLeaf (not verified) on 29 Oct 2013 #permalink

It's attention.

He would be obscure. Now he's not.

Comments at Hudson's blog have reached surreal new heights with the arrival of 'Monckton of Brenchley', or someone doing a very good impression of him.

[I don't think that can be his Lordship, he hasn't threatened to sue anyone -W]

@Mapleleaf #11

Yes of course it should be better.

I'm not justifying, his posts. He shouldn't have been given climate change as a bailiwick, it's as simple as that. He is a decent meteorologist, not a just a presenter, and possibly could have been in the central forecast room at Exeter as at the BBC. Meteorology is not climate science, and it is interesting how many people who are knowledgeable about meteorology are reluctant (or even downright hostile) to take on board climate science. They are often empiricists, which possibly doesn't help, mt has a line on that in climate science.

Some of the other journalists it is malevolence (Rose, Booker, etc.), but I always remember what Nick Davies said in Flat Earth News, journalists don't know what they're talking about.

The BBC are going through a poor patch at the moment, with Shukman, as well, not being very good on climate.

"I'm not sure this is incompetence on a personal level; its more the std.training that reporter-types get: there has to be a story, after all."

Yeah but he's not a journalist, he's a forecaster (he is employed by the BBC now. not the UKMO). He may well be getting advice from some of the other BBC journalists, though. Knowing how Look North (and maybe the BBC in general) wedge some of their forecasters into journalistic roles, it's quite possible he has intentions of moving into that line. He has some meteorological history books out.

The regional effects are a decent story enough without silly throwaway lines about global temps. As I said though, he should stick to the weather.

Good grief, Hank, we even have someone repeating the "remove colder stations = more warming" canard (comment from oldgifford).

I don't think there is any way that you can spin it that Hudson misrepresented Lockwood, either inadvertently or intentionally. Interestingly, despite Lockwood's comments on FB, he attacks directly only the Daily Express in his more formal reply on the Carbon Brief blog post. But even the Daily Express only talks about a regional impact.



By Jaime Jessop (not verified) on 02 Nov 2013 #permalink

When the BBC, after decades of pushing a warming scare story, which for at least 7 years (ie 28 Gate) they have known to be fraudulent, start falsely pushing a cooling scare there are 2 obvious conclusions.

There is no clear proof of any problem.

The BBC (
& the rest of the state funded "green" scare industry are wholly and completely corrupt totalitarian fascists willing to tell any lie to use false scare stories to enhance their paymaster's power.

But they everybody at "scienceblogs" already knew that because you have been pushing these lies for decades.

By Neil Craig (not verified) on 03 Nov 2013 #permalink

A bbc man who isn't "on message" -shock!!

By phil wright (not verified) on 04 Nov 2013 #permalink