Does Global Warming Theory Predict Record Cold?

January 6th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.


57 Responses to “Does Global Warming Theory Predict Record Cold?”

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  1. RickA says:


    However, they changed the name to climate change for that very reason.

    If it is colder (today) – has not the climate changed?

    What is at fault?


    I have heard CO2 touted for warmer, colder, drier, wetter, snowier and every other kind of condition you can name.

    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Rick A,

      When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. When all one has is a “green house” theory to account for directional temperature changes in the Earth’s climate all climate temperature trends look like GLOBAL WARMING. Temperature change is binary. It can either increase or decrease. Temperatures seldom remain the same for any significant stretch of time. If temperatures decrease that will be seen as a minor reversal in an otherwise increasing global temperature trend. If temperatures increase that confirms the general theory. The perceived job of today’s climate modelers is to fit facts within the general theoretical framework. Fortunately for them the UAH MSU satellite data reveals a small (less than one half a degree centigrade on average) increase in globally averaged temperatures since 1979. Moreover, measured atmospheric CO2 levels appear to increase every year. If increasing green house gas concentrations (CO2, CH4, (O3 supposedly decreases), etc.) prove to have any effect on climate it will likely be to warm it. The alarmists attitude reminds me of an old joke:

      -A guy asks a girl “will you sleep with me for a billion dollars?” The girl replies with a favorable “yes.” He then asks “will you sleep with me for a dollar?” Grimacing, she replies in disgust “what kind of girl do you think I am?” He responds “we already established that we’re simply dickering over the price.”

      Likewise, the climate alarmists at the UN/IPCC claim we’ve already established AGW and we we’re only dickering over the scope of government coercion required to address it. This leap in logic proves problematic on many levels. For example:

      1. It’s not at all clear that government can address it. The 1990’s Kyoto Protocol proved ineffectual at even reducing European carbon emissions to 1985 levels. Not that it would make any difference since the rate of atmospheric CO2 level increase ~2-3 ppm/yr didn’t differ much if at all from the 1990’s. Nevertheless, billions were squandered on this useless program. Remeber, atmospheric CO2 levels have increased as far as anyone knows since measurements began in the 1880’s. To stop increasing atmospheric CO2 levels we would at least need to reduce current human emissions (population 7 billion and growing) to levels not seen since our great grand parents roamed the earth and it’s population fell around (1.3 billion). No one has provided a plan as to how that can be done. Yet many have made proposals to re-distribute other people’s wealth in their favor with vague promises anyways.

      2. It’s not at all clear that government should address it now. Is their any real consensus as to what the average global temperature not to mention atmospheric CO2 levels should be? Or what the cost born by everyone shoud be? Does anyone really trust any government to throw their own personal resources around in a vague attempt to DO SOMETHING without having any clue as to what the goal their trying to achieve is or how or why it should even be achieved? Unfortunately the answer seems to be yes. There are people still trying to enforce the Affordable Care Act which seemingly few if any have read and no one understands because it seems to change by executive order daily. The original legislation was 2000 pages and apparently 15000 pages of additional executive orders have been added to the law by executive order since, if I remember correctly. It seems many people want their leaders to “wing it” with their lives and property.

      Many other problems exist but I don’t have time to address them now.

      Have a great day!

      • Andrew says:

        Given annual CO2 increases are about half of total emissions, we’d actually only have to cut our emissions to just under half and the sink that absorbs half of them very year would presumably act to start lower the level, immediately.

        Still a drastic upheaval, though.

        What’s interesting is that the carbon cycle models currently in use suggest otherwise, that the concentration would remain elevated even if our emissions dropped to zero immediately. How does nature suddenly know to stop soaking up CO2 equivalent to half of what emissions had been the previous year? Why, in models, does the bet negative natural CO2 mass flux drop to zero when emissions do? Could it be that, because they don’t understand how it (the net natural sink) they just use an ad hoc adjustment where the sink is proportional to emissions?

        • gray says:

          “…cut our admissions to half…”

          OUR emissions?

          If by this you mean USA, Britain etc. they will have to cut to ZERO


          the rest of the world is going to DOUBLE THEIR EMISSIONS.
          That is the PLAN, to keep their teeming masses half-way contented..

          As has been mentioned here before:

          In 2012 the USA reduced its burn of coal by 47 million tons
          and the Peoples’ Republic of China increased its burn by 67 million tons.

          So just what is the point of talking this nonsense of “must take action before it is too late”? The time to take action was when I was born in 1945. I should have been the last one!

          • Andrew says:

            Our meaning humans. Sheesh, I was merely discussing what would be necessary to cause CO2 levels to drop, not saying doing so is actually desirable.

        • Sharpshooter says:

          Of total CO2 emissions, what percent is man-made?


          • Andrew says:

            This is an incorrect statement. You are comparing all positive sources of CO2, to anthropogenic emissions, while ignoring that fact that nature also has *negative* sources of CO2, ie “sinks.”

            If you actually bothered to do an analysis of the actual mass flow, you would find that:

            from 2004 to 2005 atmospheric CO2 increased by about 15.8 billion metric tons (of CO2), and humans emitted, from land use and fossil fuel burning, about 35.1 billion metric tons of CO2 (note that, emissions are usually reported excluding emissions from land use, and in metric tons of *carbon*, so you need to convert to tons of CO2). In other words, nature “emitted” about -19.3 billion metric tons of CO2. Mankind actually emitted about 222% of total emissions.

          • J Fog23 says:

            222% ??!!

          • Andrew says:

            Yes, I can provide sources for the numbers if you like.

          • Bill Sparling says:

            While you may be trying to draw a relative comparision, you need to be accurate in your statement. You simply cannot have 222% of total emissions. As for the original statement that you took issue with, the statement is correct and was obviously about emissions NOT sinks.

        • darrylb says:

          Not that I think CO2 emissions are a bad thing but–
          All we need to do is Cut the emissions in half— well not exactly.
          I do believe that in any equilibrium system not in balance (more emissions than sinks) the greater the imbalance, the greater the rate of flow from the side in excess.
          If the excess in emissions was lessened, the rate of flow of CO2 to various sinks would predictably decrease.
          You remember the dynamics in chemistry of a faster reaction rate when more contacts of reactants per time exists.

          • Andrew says:

            Darn, I never liked chemistry. It’s an interesting thought, it would actually explain why carbon cycle modelers act as though if emissions returned to preindustrialization levels, sinks would, too.

            It doesn’t really explain why they appear to assume something similar happens in the future when emissions are even higher.

      • mosquito says:

        You apparently don’t know what it means to say that something is binary. The fact that temperature can either increase or decrease does not imply that it is binary.

    • David A says:

      When did the IPCC change its name from the IPGW?
      Or the UNFCCC?

      Are you aware of the Frank Luntz memo to Republicans, suggesting they use the phrase “climate change” instead of “global warming” because it was less scary?

  2. Andrew says:

    Just observationally, in the US in particular, the supposedly anthropogenic warming of the late 20th Century was characterized primarily by warming of the coldest days of the year. I found this using a reanalysis dataset, Knappenberger, Michaels, and Davis found it using station data. It’d be interesting if you could also qualitatively verify this, Roy, with your analysis of the International Surface Hourlies data.

    The original paper is here:

    My “update” performing a similar analysis is explained here:

    This would actually make a strong argument that global warming should drastically decrease extreme cold, with much less impact on extreme warmth.

    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for the link. Very likely data will continue to reflect the trend indicated. However, the August, 2010 record East Antarctic temperature low of -135.8 degrees F seems to be an anomaly.

      Have a great day!

      • Andrew says:

        I don’t know, Antarctica seems relatively immunized against warming so far anyway, or at least in the vicinity of that record in particular I think there has been little if any trend in recent decades.

        The strongest warming since 1950 was in the cold, anticyclonic air masses of the Northern Hemisphere cold season, ie warming of Siberian Winter. There is a strong effect in Alaska, too, but that looks like a sudden shift in 1976, probably natural.

  3. Dr. Spencer: Thank you for that concise, to the point answer.

    But as we both know, those who continue to push the alarmist view have been making it up for years and aren’t likely to stop now.

    I’d like to know how a carbon tax would prevent the great freeze we are currently witnessing.

    • Andrew says:

      Prevent? No, in more ways than one it would make it worse.

      Way number one: if there is any significant warming from CO2, then any effort to reduce it’s warming impact will exacerbate cold events.

      Way number two: even if there is no effect, most people heat their homes during such spells using energy that comes from sources that produce CO2 emissions, and therefore would have to pay the Carbon tax. You can illustrate the effects of this by constructing some simple demand tables: partly, the energy producer produces less to cut their tax cost, partly, they raise the price. But the end result is that consumers pay more and get less for the taxed thing. So for energy, with the Carbon tax, the result is that people pay more money and get less energy, meaning they can heat their homes less, thus suffer more from the cold.

      Um…I guess it’s just the two ways? Well, still more than one way, anyway.

  4. Christian says:

    Hi Roy,

    No is wrong, jes its have to be.

    Just Look at GISS_ModelE

    Unter 2x Co2 it forecast a cooling in the North-Atlantic between America and Europe

    Or see here:

  5. Christian says:

    thats so amazing, global warming can cause regional cooling


    • Andrew says:

      Must be all the Greenland melt water getting into the Ocean.

      Or something, I don’t know.

      But notably, there are no land areas where the GISS model shows any such thing.

      It’s also worth noting that the spatial pattern of temperature trends doesn’t seem to resemble what has happened so far on the actual Earth very well.

      • Bart says:

        Moreover, the globe isn’t warming, and hasn’t been for 17 years, so the entire question is moot.

        • David A says:

          1) the surface isn’t the “globe”
          2) the surface has warmed in the last 17 years:
          GISS: 0.13 C
          HadCRUT4: 0.10 C
          NCDC: 0.09 C

  6. Jim Cripwell says:

    sarc on/ Now that we are in a period of catastrophic natural cooling (CNC), the dice are loaded so we can expect to see more cold periods such as is now occurring in Canada and the USA. This does not mean that we can conclude that the current cold spell was caused by CNC. Only that as we progress into the 21st century, and the expected Eddy solar magnetic minimum, such occurrences will occur more frequently. Undoubtedly this cold snap was correlated with CNC. sarc off/ No apologies to Jim Hansen.

  7. Thanks for asking
    Does Global Warming Theory Predict Record Cold?
    If I got right more CO2 leads to warmer planet, all around, in average.
    I say NO.

  8. RW says:

    LOL. Good one, Roy.

  9. ri says:

    Didnt you see that movie the day after last week or something? Gigantic freeze hurricanes in some places and fire tornadoes in other places. Common pay attention guys.

  10. stevek says:

    I don’t have scientific background except for high school but my thoughts are that it is very hard to contain heat.

    So heat will find a way out, if there is a way out.

    On Venus there is no way out because 98% of atmosphere is co2 and that is distributed everywhere. Also the planet rotates 1 every 200 or so earth days.

    With earth water vapor is not distributed everywhere so heat can get out. Also earth rotates so heat is moved by rotation of earth from location of low temperature gradient ( during day ) to high temperature gradient (night). Also ocean currents provide huge heat transfer conduits.

  11. stevek says:

    Also with regards to above sunlight is not like heat. If sunlight is blocked or reflected by cloud it will NOT find another way in. BUT heat will find another way out.

    • fonzie says:

      steve, i don’t know if you were aware of it but you actually had doctor roy thinking that you were bart starr the other day! he made an initial comment apologizing to bart and rebuking me for posing as meredith. when i asked him if it was really starr he pulled his comment and replaced it with the one that’s there now… (he moved fonzie’s question down to the bottom where you eventually saw it)

      • stevek says:

        I’m thinking Dr. Spencer knew I was kidding, he is a skeptic after all 😉

        • fonzie says:

          if you had seen his origional comment, you’d think otherwise. it was the funniest thing. i think he was too embarrassed to leave it up there. i wish he had because i think people would have enjoyed the exchange. i especially wanted my dad to see it…

  12. gray says:

    “If sunlight is blocked or reflected…”

    That is partially correct.

    Sunlight blocked in the atmosphere – by symmetry, half goes straight out to space and half is radiated down to earth.

    Reflected sunlight – yes, gone. That is why the albedo of our planet is most important.

  13. gray says:

    The main greenhouse gas, water, is responsible for most of the albedo in one way or another. Without water vapour, we would sizzle. Of course “we” wouldn’t be here anyway, so it is just an interesting point of view.

    As a geologist I have had to try to make sense of layered deposits where the sea rose and fell eustatically, literally dozens of time, within a short geologic span. It is the usual. Life has to adapt.

  14. OssQss says:


    Nice job Doc 😉

  15. The temperature trend from now to the end of this decade will be down, as the prolonged solar minimum establishes itself once again.

    The co2 /global warming theory is the most fundamentally flawed scientific theory , I have ever come across and fails over again and again.

    Some of the most notable failures.

    1. The hoax called for a more zonal atmospheric circulation(when it first came out) ,the reality is a more meridional atmospheric circulation.

    2. For an ever increasing global average temperature, the reality is there has been no increase for some 17 years.

    3. For a positive feedback to develop due to an increase in co2 with water vapor, which was supposed to manifest itself with a lower tropospheric hot spot in the tropics. The reality is NO hot spot to be found.

    4. The hoax said by default when they first came up with this theory that extremes in weather would be less due to the more zonal atmospheric circulation pattern they were calling for.

    5. They said Antarctic sea ice would be melting, the reality is record amounts of Antarctic Sea Ice. They said Arctic Sea Ice would continue to decline ,the reality is the decline has stopped.

    6. They said the stratosphere would cool and cool more in the higher latitudes.

    7. Recently they flip flopped in that they try to say they had all along called for more extremes in climate due to a more meridional atmospheric circulation which came about due to a lack of Arctic Sea Ice. A bunch of BS.

    It has been shown quite clearly that prolonged low solar activity ,and the way it influences ozone concentrations accounts for a more meridional atmospheric circulation. With ozone concentration changes due to this influence allowing the stratosphere to cool less at the polar regions in contrast to lower latitudes.

    8. Tropical weather to be on the increase. Hurricanes. No such luck.

    Just some of the more notable failures of this so called theory.t

  16. A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters debunks claims that “Arctic amplification” is causing an increase of extreme weather in North America or the North Atlantic, finding such claims are “an artifact of the methodology” and not real. The paper finds no evidence of an increased frequency of jet stream blocking or a decrease of jet stream speed, a result corroborated by a recent paper finding no significant changes of the jet stream over the past 140 years. The paper debunks claims by climate alarmists such as Heidi Cullen [and Jennifer Francis] that “Arctic amplification” is causing a “constipated jet stream” leading to increased extreme weather in North America.


    Heidi Cullen and Jennifer Francis are full of it, in that their theory(AGW THEORY)) called for NO SUCH ARCTIC AMLIFICATION when it first came out. It called for the opposite.

    Dr. Spencer ,you should bring this point out, in a future post.

  17. Sub solar activity is the CAUSE and will be the cause of future ARCTIC AMPLIFICATION, nothing related to the BS Heidi Cullen and Jennifer Francis try to convey.

  18. coturnix says:

    Could it be, that increasing weather instability signifies the approaching transition from our current (meta)stable climate state to some other climate state which we have no idea about ’cause we never seen any other climate but our present one? Our current interglacial temperatures are simlar to the ones at early pleistoce – late pliocene yet we know pliocene climate was moister than the present, with less deserts and much less extreme cold under the winter continental anticyclones (they may have been absent altogether during miocene). This suggests to me that general circulation then was just as different from now. What if further ‘warming’ will lead to changes in ciculation ather than temperatures, and current subarctic/subtropic weather swapping is just a transition beginning? Indeed, that swapping happens all the time but in stable climate it is rare to have large magnitude, while during transition its magnitude will grow, and huge perturbations will become as common as the smaller ones. I seen some paper online that predicted noticeable qualitative changes to circulation (albeit oceanic) to happen as soon as 420ppmco2 and that is just decades away!
    If you look at the proxypaleo- temperature charts and let your animal-derived search for pattern run wild, you’ll see that trend formed by the latest interglacial maxima does not continue back into pliocene but rather apper anew in mid-pleistocene. What was stable in pliocene turned into a metastable transitional “warm glacial” state that we pass through on our way to full glacial. As co2 rises, it may make our current interglacial trend unstable while raising warm-glacial temperatures to the pliocene levels. Our climate will have no choice but to ABRUPTLY switch to pleistocene regime, go through weirding transitional period where final state will be stable, with similar global temperatures but nothing like we could imagine.

    Of course, the primary control on our climate is geography, not co2 or anything like it, but who knows, maybe enough co2 can override geographical constraints such as tibet and panamian isthmuth

  19. Eliza says:

    Has anybody thought that an increase of 2 billion people in the last 15 years might actually have something to do with increased Anthropogenic C02? and hugely increased cattle populations since then as well etc? might just be that part of the total 3.5% above? NO effect on climate whatsoever me total AGW denier BTW. LOL

  20. Hops says:

    I’ve read that the polar vortex dropped into the U.S. because exceptionally warm water off Alaska pushed hot air north.

    So perhaps the answer is yes…

  21. rossbrisbane says:

    A giant hot bubble of air expanded at the North Pole outwards and PUSHED the Polar Vortex further south and DESTABILIZED it. In others words skeptics – listen up – HOT air expends. Cold Air contracts. It is obvious the top of our world has got “sunburn”. Deniers say it is not happening at all. Well —- prove it. If this is the beginning of woes upon the earth – then God help us all. Pray that the survivors of the next generations will undo OUR damage. And BTW – Roy – I don’t get the funny in your “bunny”.

  22. crakar24 says:


    Your an out of work comedian right? Surely no one in their right mind would seriously accept what you say above.

    You want me to prove to you that the hot air from the arctic forced the jetstream lower which then allowed all the cold air from the arctic (what cold air) into USA/Canada? Surely if your theory was true it would be warmer not colder. Dr Viner thought so at least.

    • rossbrisbane says:

      For a full explanation as to how the Polar Vortex can become unstable read the following:

      It does not cut with me a freezing winter in the USA means global cooling is on the way. This is just plain stupidity on the part of climate change denialists. I’m from Australia and our problem seems to be now our Summers develop a Heat Bubble in our outback interior that is now rising to 50 degrees Celsius and occasionally delivers record temperatures to the coastal cities. The hot interior air currents spill out to the coastline. It was 43 degrees Celsius outside in the shade only five days ago. This is not POSSIBLE on an ENTIRE implied cooling globe.

      Although Australia is slightly smaller then continental USA, Australia’s warming land areas are larger then of the freezing land areas of the USA at present. Which is bigger – just say it out aloud. Roy’s joke is on him.

      • RAH says:

        Actually it is kinda hard to take it seriously any scientific paper uses the term since it is not accurate nor even the original term used when the jet stream patterns around the poles were first described and documented It described as the “circumpolar vortex”. As far as I know there is no vortex or a jet stream that more or less continuously swirls over either pole. There is however in normal patterns a vortex pattern of a jet stream at each pole that more or less circles around it. Thus the original term of “circumpolar vortex” seems far more accurate and the one that should be used.

        But what the hell do I know. I just drive a truck for a living and the only vortices I’ve had to worry about lately were the ones being produced by the squall line chasing my ass up I-85 last Saturday when I was heading from Hartwell, GA to Charlotte, NC.

      • Chris says:

        Ross, Dont forget that after decades of runaway man made global warming, and tipping points being tipped – it is now …. cooler than it was in 1939. At least in the part of Australia that I live in. What is your explanation?

  23. Dan Pangburn says:

    The ‘time integral of sunspot numbers’ is a proxy for one of the two drivers that explain average global temperature since before 1900 with an accuracy of 90%.

    CO2 change is not one of them.

    • David A says:

      Correlation is not causation.

      • RAH says:

        Yet I kinda found it interesting that the time of disruption of the circumpolar vortex that brought arctic weather down to us correlated very well with a solar weather forecast of increased activity due to a massive sunspot area designated 1944 which had a CME and M class flare which caused the aurora borealis to be seen at lower latitudes than normal.

        The above coincidence aside. It does seem obvious that that the recorded longer term changes in solar activity correlate better with observed changes in earths climate than recorded carbon dioxide levels do.

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