Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Science

Scientists Reconstruct Millennium's Coldest Winter 290

Posted by timothy
from the it's-only-a-model dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "In England they called it the Great Frost, while in France it entered legend as Le Grand Hiver, three months of deadly cold that fell over Europe in 1709 ushering in a year of famine and food riots. Livestock died from cold in their barns, chicken's combs froze and fell off, trees exploded and travelers froze to death on the roads. It was the coldest winter in 500 years with temperatures as much as 7 degrees C below the average for 20th-century Europe. Now as part of the European Union's Millennium Project, Scientists are aiming to reconstruct the past 1000 years of Europe's climate using a combination of direct measurements, proxy indicators of temperature such as tree rings and ice cores, and data gleaned from historical documents."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Reconstruct Millennium's Coldest Winter

Comments Filter:
    • by will_die (586523)
      Unlike what wikipedia states the frost fairs did not stop because of global warming.
      The rate of flow and the layout of river have changed which are the primary reason you don't have the Thames freezing any more, the BBC has pictures of parts of the Thames frozen during from this and previous years but that is in slow moving areas.
      Also during the years they had some of the longest lasting fairs they were doing construction on the river and daming up parts or slowing the flow of sections and those were the
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday February 09, 2009 @06:57AM (#26781657)

    Scientists Reconstruct Millennium's Coldest Winter

    I hope this is a lab or computer model, and does not involve spraying particulates into the upper atmosphere.

  • Apparently, winter of 2009 will be one of the coldest in the last 30 or 40 years. Many people is saying that we should find such extreme temperatures increasingly common as a result of global warming.
    Is it impossible that this particular result is being publicised to remind the general public that we have been like this before in history, and that global warming may not be to blame as regards are current weather? At the very least, I am afraid this piece of news may have this as a result.
    • by VShael (62735) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:08AM (#26781711) Journal

      The article may be a contributing factor to global-warming denialists, but they'd have continued denying anyway. The fact that they might seize on this, and twist it to their aims, is neither here nor there.

      The great frost was a relatively little known event historically, to the point that wikipedia only recently got a page about it, and as of this moment, it still hasn't appeared in the page detailing the events of 1709.

      Even for those who want to claim it somehow invalidates global warming, it should be noted that the great frost was followed over the next few years by a period of rapid temperature increases. If they want to somehow draw a comparable link between 1709 and 2009, you can throw that back at them as another meaningless statistic.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:38AM (#26781893)

        My biggest issue with the global warming debate, is that it's not a debate. It's religion. Your side calls the other "denialists", the other side call yours "fanatics" or "hysterics".

        It doesn't help that scientists/politicians/news have claimed the onset of catastrophic climate change in both directions several times before in recent history. The burden of proof is just huge ("yeah, right, like we'll believe you _this time_"), and that cannot be ignored by deriding the ones that point out flaws.

        In all other scientific theories, if a prediction is proven wrong it requires updating or invalidating the theory. When it comes to global warming it is never anything but "the denialists reading it wrong".

        You can't first claim "this is probably the last year you can ski here". Then, after several years of record snow fall, change it to "this is extreme weather, just like we said global warming would lead to!" and expect that to convince anybody that disagrees with the theory.

        This "the world is flat", "no it isn't" bickering is what makes me not give a damn. Come back when this is no longer a religion and I'll reconsider.

        • by MrHanky (141717) on Monday February 09, 2009 @08:06AM (#26782085) Homepage Journal

          There has never been a "this is probably the last year you can ski here" statement from climate scientists. It's straw man attacks like these that make denialists into denialists: instead of criticising the models, the predictions and the findings, you come up with your own stuff. Or you choose to criticise moonbat environmentalist hippies instead of the science.

          • by VShael (62735) on Monday February 09, 2009 @08:16AM (#26782153) Journal

            There has never been a "this is probably the last year you can ski here" statement from climate scientists. It's straw man attacks like these that make denialists into denialists: instead of criticising the models, the predictions and the findings, you come up with your own stuff. Or you choose to criticise moonbat environmentalist hippies instead of the science.

            Exactly right.

            For example, the oft-troped canard that scientists claimed we were heading for a new ice age back in the 70's.

            Most predictions of an impending ice age came from the popular press (eg - Newsweek, NY Times, National Geographic, Time Magazine). As far as peer reviewed scientific papers in the 1970s, very few papers (7 in total) predicted global cooling. Significantly more papers (42 in total) predicted global warming due to CO2.

            But of course, the denialists (yes, I'll use that term, because that's what they are) still repeat this debunked claim. In that way, they are damn similar to creationists: Repeating old discredited arguments based on misinformation to back their points.

            This means YOU, Anonymous Coward above ("It doesn't help that scientists/politicians/news have claimed the onset of catastrophic climate change in both directions several times before in recent history.")

            (Source : http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s.htm [skepticalscience.com] )

            • Well, this is all about how would you expect the street man to make himself an opinion, if it worth him to have one, but it should since credits are somewhat dependants on him and his peers, if the first line information channel is itself biased, incomplete or worst totally incompetent? Then, even if this channel is working well, how would you expect the street man without any scientific culture at all to be able to understand and analyze for himself this information?

              I think it is just not possible at all

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by russotto (537200)

            There has never been a "this is probably the last year you can ski here" statement from climate scientists.

            There were some rather dire predictions about the 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by MrHanky (141717)

              Yes, and one of the reasons for those predictions was in fact the natural cycle of hurricanes, mentioned here [newscientist.com], and explained away here [earthsky.org] (note that Christopher Landsea actually thought there was no evidence for linking hurricanes with global warming when he withdrew from the IPCC in 2005).

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            There has never been a "this is probably the last year you can ski here" statement from climate scientists.

            Who made the claim is irrelevant. It was all over the media, and the media is what people go by, not scientific papers. If any scientist stepped forward to say "that's bull", they got a tiny little block of text on page 27. If any scientist stepped forward to confirm it, they got the cover.

            That's how skewed the coverage is. It's not "allowed" to voice any other opinion but the "correct" one. That's not a good trend, regardless of topic. As this example would seem to show rather well.

            So how does the media re

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by UnknowingFool (672806)
          The situation with climate change is the same as evolution. In the field itself, there's not really any debate about whether it exists. There is some limited debate about whether man-made activities are to blame but the general consensus is that man-made activities are to blame. However outside of the field, there is lots of debate. It's not religion; it's a bunch of outsiders who have a vested interest and are trying to create a controversy where it does not exist.
        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          You can't first claim "this is probably the last year you can ski here". Then, after several years of record snow fall, change it

          And who is the "you" you are quoting here? Name a specific person (or committee, whatever) that made such a prediction. Or is it just another straw man, or journalistic hyperble misquoted as if it were a statement by a scientist?

          This "the world is flat", "no it isn't" bickering is what makes me not give a damn.

          So you will refuse to look at the evidence until there is 100%

      • I'm a physicist. I happen to doubt some of the claims that AGW proponents think represent the behaviour of the climate.

        Why do you claim the right to call me a 'denialist'. I'm not calling you a 'believer' am I?

        One of the huge problems with this whole climate change discussion is that it's gone way beyond science, and has become religion!

    • that if they can show periods of both cooling and warming that they actually publish it any get past the hyperbole of the groups who profit of the global warming industry. The problem with every generation is that they think they are unique. It has all happened before and will happen again.

      Still it is a great thing to announce during a cold snap.

    • by MrHanky (141717)

      What? Winter isn't a global phenomenon. It occurs on one hemisphere at a time. AFAIK, Australia has a particularly hot summer this winter. And it's not a particularly cold winter here.

      • by jamesh (87723) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:35AM (#26781875)

        Australia has a particularly hot summer this winter

        Worst. Understatement. Ever.

        It got to 46 degrees C (114F) here two days ago, and temperatures all over southern Australia broke records. Over 100 people have died in fires and over 600 houses have been lost (in Victoria - i don't know about other states)

        On the northern side of the country they are having some pretty bad floods.

        • Can't blame the climate for the arsonists.

          Forest fires are a natural forest rejuvenation mechanism. Temperature isn't so much the cause as is drought (although they often go hand in hand).

          However, if the news is trustworthy, the current fires are most all set by insane criminals.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by mqduck (232646)

            However, if the news is trustworthy, the current fires are most all set by insane criminals.

            Or their descendants.

    • by Kokuyo (549451)

      Winter 2009 where exactly? I live in Switzerland and this has been a winter that has finally come close to what I was used to as a kid. I'm still waiting for one that will be on par.

      So where is this super-cold winter supposed to be?

      • by Mascot (120795) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:47AM (#26781953)

        Where I live we just broke a 70 year old record for snowfall in a given period. I see no sign of global warming making this place snowfree anytime soon.

        I keep my car running 24/7 to try to help it along, but I still have to shovel the snow _upwards_ when clearing it off the roof.

        Recently read that the ski resorts in the Alps are also struggling with the highest snow fall in a decade.

        We clearly need bigger cars.

      • Can I send you mine? The import duties might be expensive.
    • The key area of the debate of Global Warming is the fact that the math is based on statistics. While statistics calculations are relatively easy (especially with a computer) the problem is getting good random data, and factoring in additional effects. Then for most people the calculations used are not as intuitive by most people even the ones who are good with math. So it makes the entire concept and all the work done difficult for people to get. So if they don't understand it what will they do... Go with t

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      It's not for my locale.

      We had record snows... I remember them being the same in 1976, my parents remember winter being this way most of the time in their early lives.

      They also said that Detroiters and New Yorkers whined just as much about a little bit of snow back then as they do now.

      Call me when I have significantly colder days for longer. We had our very normal stint of 14-24 days below 10degF although none below 0DegF which is abnormal.

    • by iplayfast (166447)

      I had several feet of snow fall on Nov 12, (3-4 feet deep on top of the car). Usually it doesn't start coming down like that until Dec, and in 2007 we still had green grass at Christmas.

      The average temp would be probably around the -7%C this year, at a guess.

  • Not that cold (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:28AM (#26781817) Homepage Journal

    "On 10 January, Derham logged -12 ÂC, the lowest temperature he had ever measured. In France, the temperature dipped lower still. In Paris, it sank to -15 ÂC on 14 January and stayed there for 11 days."

    For the imperialists among us, -15 C is 5 F. That's really not that cold, and I don't know about the whole "exploding trees" and "combs falling off of chickens" stuff supposedly going on at that temp. I live in Virginia, which is considered the South. We're at a significantly lower latitude than France, and we've had at least 5 days of single digit F temps just this winter alone, and that is typical. Of course our cold temps pale in comparison to Canada, and the northern New England states Maine, New Hampshire, etc.

    So maybe those temps are atypical for parts Europe, but trees, and chickens and many types of livestock endure temps that low regularly every single year, which makes me wonder if there was some hyperbole going on back in 1709.

    • Re:Not that cold (Score:4, Informative)

      by oliderid (710055) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:34AM (#26781871) Journal

      We're at a significantly lower latitude than France, and we've had at least 5 days of single digit F temps just this winter alone, and that is typical.

      France and other western european countries enjoy (imho) the gulf stream effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Stream [wikipedia.org]

      Buildings, farms and livestock (especially in southern france) aren't designed for such temperature and certainly not for long period under such a temperature.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jwilty (1048206)
        "Before the year was out more than a million had died from cold or starvation"

        I'd like to see the actual breakdown of deaths from cold and from starvation. Even with buildings designed for warmer temperatures, I have a difficult time believing "Livestock died from cold in their barns..." at +5 F. The combined body heat of many livestock gathered in a small indoor space should have raised the temperature significantly.

        Perhaps many of the memories of the harsh winter were influenced by the poor crop and

        • It didn't necessarily say that all of it happened at -15 C everywhere. Remember the -15 C was only what was recorded in Paris. It was not that temperature everywhere. -15C is however usual for Paris for 11 days; elsewhere it was colder than normal.

          From the article it said that the unusually cold winter destroyed the winter crop staples like winter wheat which led to starvation in the summer (when it was to be harvested).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Reziac (43301) *

          Having lived in Montana during the Great Winters of the late 1960s/70s, when winter temps regularly hit -65F (and sometimes didn't get above -45F for several weeks in January) ... livestock deaths due to cold are rare even among stock that spend the whole winter out on the range, and the real cause of death is usually not so much cold as starvation due to being trapped away from feed (either grass being too far under the snow, or the rancher being unable to get hay to them) following a major blizzard.

          I neve

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:35AM (#26781873)

      ... but trees, and chickens and many types of livestock endure temps that low regularly every single year, which makes me wonder if there was some hyperbole going on back in 1709.

      Are you suggesting Sir that our ancestors might be prone to exaggerating? Telling tall tales? Prone to jest?

      Hogwash I say! Pure unadulterated hogwash.

      Now if you'll excuse me I've an appointment with Baron Münchhausen.

    • Re:Not that cold (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jspoon (585173) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:46AM (#26781943)
      The chicken comb thing happens in the midwest. It's pretty much frostbite, and a caution that the same will happen to your ears if you let it. Of course, where I'm talking about the low temperatures are below zero, Fahrenheit, and the wind chills can be pretty extreme. Never heard of trees exploding-I wonder if someone had an ice storm and got confused about what actually happened.
      • Re:Not that cold (Score:5, Informative)

        by zehaeva (1136559) <zehaeva+slashdot ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Monday February 09, 2009 @09:43AM (#26783007)
        I've seen trees explode(well the aftermath) here in upstate NY. It usually only happens when you get a cold snap BEFORE winter. Before the trees have enough time to pull all the sap out of them selves. Trees with tons of sap still in their trunks, sap made up of mostly water that expands when it gets cold, that suddenly drop to teens F and single digits F will make a tree explode.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mdielmann (514750)

        A tree will explode if it freezes rapidly. If the tree doesn't have time for the sap to go to the roots, this is a risk. Of course, trees that have a higher sap content or lower sugar content will explode easier (greater expansion and less cold tolerance). Calgary, Alberta, Canada has this problem due to chinooks [wikipedia.org]. You can find a number of trees there with massive splits on the sides from sap rising from the roots during a chinook and then freezing just days later.

      • Re:Not that cold (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ivan256 (17499) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:11AM (#26784553)

        I had a huge pine tree explode in my back yard at the start of this winter. Usually happens if there's a big ice storm early in the season. The last time I remember widespread tree explosions was in the winter of 1997, which was much worse than this winter. This winter, power was out for four days, and there was a good 2" coat of ice on all the trees. In '97, power was out for weeks, and the ice was 6" thick on large trees and buildings.

        Yes, it's literally an explosion. There is a loud bang, and the tree breaks into very small pieces. There is still wood shrapnel across my back yard (since I haven't cleaned it up yet), and the next morning the whole area smelled like pine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dekortage (697532)

      Of course our cold temps pale in comparison to Canada, and the northern New England states Maine, New Hampshire, etc.

      Where I live in upstate New York, we've hit -15 F (-26 C) several days this year. Further upstate from me has gotten to -25 F (-32 C) below. Friends in Maine tell me they've seen -35 F (-37 C) this winter. These weren't just for a day, but for several, even more than a week at times, before returning to ever-so-slightly warmer temperatures.

      Even if things were cold back in 1709, methinks t

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Of course our cold temps pale in comparison to Canada, and the northern New England states Maine, New Hampshire, etc.

        Where I live in upstate New York, we've hit -15 F (-26 C) several days this year. Further upstate from me has gotten to -25 F (-32 C) below. Friends in Maine tell me they've seen -35 F (-37 C) this winter. These weren't just for a day, but for several, even more than a week at times, before returning to ever-so-slightly warmer temperatures.

        Even if things were cold back in 1709, methinks they doth protest too much.

        And here in London... well, I'll let Wikipedia say it:

        London has a temperate marine climate, like much of the British Isles, so the city rarely sees extremely high or low temperatures. Summers are warm with average high temperatures of 23 ÂC (73 ÂF) and lows of 14 ÂC (57 ÂF), however, temperatures can exceed 25 ÂC (77 ÂF) on many days.[76] Winters in London are chilly, but rarely below freezing with daytime temperatures around 2 - 8 ÂC (36 - 46 ÂF), while spring has mild days and cool evenings.

        We had 15cm of snow last week (on Sunday/Monday), the most in 18 years. Most years it snows maybe once or twice, if it settles it doesn't last more than a day. I'd protest if it got to -37C! I think I'd have to wear all my clothes.

        • by Dekortage (697532)

          In -37 C, you just don't go outside much.

          I had never studied London's climate (nor have I had the opportunity to visit, unfortunately), but that does seem mild. Even though we've had -15 F here in the winter, NY summer days can hit 90-100 F (32-37 C) with ease. A bit more extreme than your spot, I guess.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            In -37 C, you just don't go outside much.

            That's what I think of -5C! (People from Canada/USA/Scandinavia/Eastern Europe just laugh. They laughed at all the English people making a big deal out of "not much" snow, too.)

            It does tend to be damp and cold though, which is less pleasant than dry and cold.

            I had never studied London's climate (nor have I had the opportunity to visit, unfortunately), but that does seem mild. Even though we've had -15 F here in the winter, NY summer days can hit 90-100 F (32-37 C) with ease. A bit more extreme than your spot, I guess.

            Ocean currents bring water from the tropics (Gulf of Mexico) to western Europe. That warms western Europe in the winter, and cools it in the summer. The same happens (to a lesser extent) around Vancouver.
            It's predicted that if the Earth warms too much,

        • 15cm of snow? That's just shy of six inches. Here in Buffalo we call that "Tuesday morning".

    • We had a -20 F day a few weeks back one morning in Southern NH. A few hours north of here was even worse, -40 F I heard.

      Usually in the winter, Southern NH is in the 10F-30F range. We may have a day or two that drops below 0 or a day or two when it can get into the 50s, but those are fairly rare.

      We had couple weeks in a row this year of single digits to near 0 day time temps. It was really unusual for us in the southern part of the state.

      Of course, a few years ago, I remember a week of 60 degree temps in the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      non judicious trees that dont handle EXTENDED periods of sub 20 degrees temperature will freeze and "explode" as in very slowly split open from the expanding ice.

      the "cold snap" would have to last at LEAST 1 week and have no temperature rises or direct sunlight to cause bigger trees that have enough water in them to "explode".

      as for chicken combs freezing and breaking off, sounds like raging old coot embellishment to me, the chicken would have suffered frostbite and had it blackened and dead far before it

      • by zehaeva (1136559)

        non judicious trees

        not to be too much of a nazi but do you mean Deciduous Trees [wikipedia.org]?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Lumpy (12016)

          No I mean trees with non-sound judgment. Come on it's cold out and they are not wearing a sweater? What's up with that!

          Sometimes the spelling checker backfires, this is one of those times.

    • by VON-MAN (621853)
      The whole quote should be this:

      "On 10 January, Derham logged -12 ÂC, the lowest temperature he had ever measured. In France, the temperature dipped lower still. In Paris, it sank to -15 C on 14 January and stayed there for 11 days. After a brief thaw at the end of that month the cold returned with a vengeance and stayed until mid-March."

      Which means that it stayed at these low temperatures for 11 days, it thawed for 6 days, and then it froze again for 1 and a half month. So it mostly froze hard for
    • by jsiren (886858)

      -15 ÂC is nothing if you're dressed properly. If you're in the position of an 18th century peasant in having no properly heated place to stay and no way to dress properly for the weather, things can get ugly really fast.

      Considering the region's usual climate, the buildings most likely didn't much of a thermal insulation to speak of, so when it was -15 ÂC outside, it wasn't very warm inside either. (Somebody probably will correct me if I'm wrong.) Animal shelters probably had no heating at all. Mak

    • I can certify chicken are not freezing in place in an non-isolated and unheated barn by -30ÂC. I used to have many chicken in such a barn and the temperature often goes well below -20ÂC here and it can stay such for a week or so. Also, I never say an exploding tree in my whole life, for such a phenomenon to manifest, the tree must be full of water and the freeze being very fast.
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:38AM (#26781891)

    And with roads and rivers blocked by snow and ice, it was impossible to transport food to the cities. Paris waited three months for fresh supplies.

    OK, modern power transmission and transport infrastructure is much more sophisticated. But still very vulnerable to extreme weather conditions:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_storm#Notable_ice_storms [wikipedia.org]

    Modern 'just in time' supply chains have less stock everywhere in the pipeline, so are intolerent of the slightest disruption. How would we do if this kind of thing hit again?

    • by cowscows (103644)

      It's an interesting side effect of the drive towards efficiency that our economy has leaned heavily on. We're seeing the results now that things are getting rough. You've got a ton of companies that were just barely profitable, and once things started going even a bad, it was only a matter of a couple months before many of companies started collapsing or having to cut big portions of their workforce and we end up in that downward spiral of economic tanking.

      In theory, it's good for the consumer to have compe

  • by smchris (464899) on Monday February 09, 2009 @07:57AM (#26782019)

    When oil will start to become as common as it was in 1709 and we'll have more homeless?

    -15 C? Give me a break. I live in Minnesota. -15 C is a _good_ night in January. I've seen more than -30F (-34C if I Qalculate! correctly) and over -100F (-73C) wind chill by the old calculations. I had to start the car once at -24F this year -- and that was what it got _up_ to by a sunny holiday 11 am.

    Dang. Never seen a tree explode though. That sounds exciting.

    • by xaxa (988988) on Monday February 09, 2009 @08:30AM (#26782283)

      I expect you're prepared for that. Happens every year?

      Living in London, I'm not prepared for -15C, but that's OK, it never happens. I'm not really prepared for -5C. When there was 15cm of snow last Monday most people didn't go to work: very little of the public transport was running, mostly because it's not worth spending millions on snow/ice clearing equipment that'll be used once every 20 years. They also ran out of salt/grit, the emergency stockpiles weren't big enough.

      The last time I took the "wow! it snowed!" photos was 2007. It seemed a huge fall of snow at the time. Looking back, you can still see the grass, and it only lasted a day.

      • by Vellmont (569020)

        I think the point the GP is trying to make is that cold isn't really as severe as the article was trying to make it sound. Reading the article it sounds like it got to near absolute zero, and everything was starting to super-conduct.

        I'm sure if the environment hasn't adapted to that kind of cold it can cause severe problems for people. But I've never seen a tree explode, and I've gone through -25F on an extraordinarily cold day in Minneapolis.

      • by SilverJets (131916) on Monday February 09, 2009 @10:54AM (#26784205) Homepage

        I'm not really prepared for -5C.

        Buy a sweater. There now you're prepared.

        Ok, maybe two sweaters in case one gets a hole in it.

    • by VON-MAN (621853)
      Yes, but almost non-stop for two months?
    • by Muad'Dave (255648)

      I don't know what a Qalculate is, but (as you probabably are aware) Google is great at unit conversion. You can 'search' for "-30F in C" which yields "(-30) degrees Fahrenheit = -34.4444444 degrees Celsius". You can also do things like "1 us gallon in cc" with gives "1 US gallon = 3 785.41178 cc".

      Similarly, you can do wacky things like "1 gallon per hour in hogsheads per fortnight" which yields "1 (US gallon per hour) = 5.33333333 hogsheads per fortnight".

  • it's all relative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @08:00AM (#26782043)
    I've seen several comments here saying "It gets colder than that here. Grow a pair, wusses!" I'd like to point out a few things to you idiots.

    First, cold is relative. If you're in a place that rarely goes below freezing, then having it suddenly go to -15C is a huge change. If you live somewhere that gets colder than that, well then good for you. But not everyone does. I suppose you'd tell people in Hawaii that they're morons for not keeping snow gear around for that once-in-a-lifetime snowfall that they might get.

    And second, we're talking about life 300 years ago. If it suddenly got that cold, you couldn't just turn up the heat, or run down to the corner store and get a thicker hat and blanket. These were different times. There was no electricity. Whatever supplies you had were pretty much what you lived with.

    So to say "But it gets colder where I live" really doesn't say anything of value. It just shows how self-centered and narrow-minded you can be.
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      So to say "But it gets colder where I live" really doesn't say anything of value. It just shows how self-centered and narrow-minded you can be.

      Most of the "But it gets colder where I live" are directed at the exploding trees, dying livestock, and chicken-combs falling off.

      • Trees that are prone to explode in cold weather don't grow up to be large trees, they get killed of rather soon.

        So, it is no miracle you don't see exploding trees in your cold locale.

        Now get the Amazon rainforest to -15C and I promise you a whole lot of snap, crackle and pop!
    • Unless you get everything right. Go look up the English translation for Mauna Kea. They do have snow skiing in Hawaii.
  • And into this mess the democratic revolution was born. Interesting, climate change leads to social change. (see James Burke's "After the warming")
  • Hang on a second, didn't the IPCC already study this? Its third report completely removed the medieval warm period from a series of graphs and statistics! Are you telling me that was all a load of rubbish and that we don't actually know the climate of the last 1,000 years? So if that's the case, why are Hansen and Gore running around the world with their trousers around their ankles preaching that current warming is unprecedented in the last 1,000 years?

    I invite knowledgeable sceptics to respond (this
    • Re:Warm? Cold? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Budenny (888916) on Monday February 09, 2009 @09:57AM (#26783257)

      We started out with the view, based on historical anecdote, that there had been a Roman Warming and Medieval Warming, that were roughly as large as today's warming. There had also been coolings, notably in between the warmings, and in the late 17th century when the Thames froze, and during the early 19C during Napoleon's famous retreat.

      The Hockey Stick proxy work appeared to refute this. It seemed to show that temperatures had not varied a whole lot until the 1980's, at which they took off in an unprecedented way. However, the HS work was exploded, primarily not because of misuse of PCA (though that happened) but because the key proxies it depended on were the Bristlecone Pines, which no-one seriously thinks are temperature proxies. This has been gone through ad nauseam, and you will often find people arguing that the results have been replicated independently, but if you look at the proxies used, and the people doing the studies, you'll find they are not independent.

      So this leaves us with a reinstated RWP and MWP and the cooling periods, in short, greater natural variability than the HS alleged. To the extent that the IPCC does not accept this, it is just wrong.

      We now get the interesting counter argument, which has become more popular as the HS has been discredited, which goes: Ah yes, but if the MWP existed, it proves that the climate is more sensitive than we have thought, and so we should be more worried rather than less about CO2. The attempt is now to make the existence of the MWP into an argument for higher climate sensitivity. This replaces the previous argument that its supposed absence was an argument for alarm, because it proved today's uniqueness. It is logically fallacious of course, since by hypothesis, we do not know what caused it, and so we cannot say anything about its magnitude, and so cannot reach any conclusions about sensitivity based on it.

      Where do we end up? We end up having to argue that todays warming is unique in having been caused by CO2. But this is now much harder to prove, since the problem is we have had two other comparably sized warming periods not caused by rising CO2. How do we exclude the cause of them from operating now, especially if we have no idea what it was?

      We also have another difficulty rarely alluded to. It is not just the warming due to CO2 that is problematic, it is the independent assertion that lowering CO2 would produce cooling. This has never happened before. Cooling has always preceded falls in CO2 in paleo times. In modern times it has always happened independently of CO2 levels. If we were to do it, at vast expense, how do we know it would work?

      And finally, there is the issue of feedbacks. That would take us too far afield, but its agreed that what warms the planet is not primarily the CO2. It is the feedbacks that supposedly amplify the initial warming, from CO2 in the modern case, but could be from anything. The existence of these feedbacks, and whether they are positive or negative, is heavily disputed.

      Its a mess. The best advice one can give is, the science is not settled. But another five years of cooling measured by satellite, that will settle it, if it happens.

  • There's some interesting theories out there that the extreme cold weather during the general time period TFA refers to is partially responsible for the sounds produced by Stradivarius violins - that the particular slower tree growth during the period resulted in a type of wood that brought about the unique sounds of those instruments. Probably a more music-savvy person can expound on the matter.
  • by mbone (558574) on Monday February 09, 2009 @08:25AM (#26782235)

    The cold winter in 1709 was towards the tail-end of the "Maunder Minimum [nasa.gov]" in sunspots and solar activity. Given that sunspot numbers are again unusually low [nasa.gov], maybe it will happen again [popsci.com].

    • Don't warry, we have already technology in place to shield us from cold due low solar activity. It is, basically, thick layer of CO2 [turning to sun my naked ass].

  • Little Ice Age (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JTsyo (1338447)
    The History Channel had a show about this over the weekend. There was also a year that it snowed in July in the Northeast US. The possible reasons they gave were: -solar min -volcanic activity releasing sulfur high into the atmosphere -fresh water from northern ice disrupting ocean currents

You had mail, but the super-user read it, and deleted it!

Working...