AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on climate predictions of 1970’s

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on September 11, 2009

This list contains papers on climate predictions made in 1970’s so that everyone can see themselves if scientists thought that there is going to be an ice age. So far I haven’t found any papers predicting an ice age during the seventies, but one below at least mentions it as an option. However, I do think that there probably are some papers suggesting an ice age, so I’ll add them if I find any. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

UPDATE (September 12, 2009): The “modern papers on the subject” section added. Peterson et al. (2008), Rasool & Schneider (1971), Bryson & Dittberner (1976) added. Thanks to Paul Middents for pointing out the relevant information for these (see the comments section below).

1970’s papers

Influences of mankind on climate – Kellogg (1979) Review article. “The best estimate of the “greenhouse effect” due to a doubling of carbon dioxide lies between 2 and 3.5°C increase in average surface temperature (Schneider 1975, Augustsson & Ramanathan 1977, Wang et al 1976), and both the models and the record of the behavior of the real climate show that the change in the polar regions will be greater than this by a factor of from 3 to 5, especially in winter (van Loon & Williams 1976, 1977, Borzenkova et al 1976, Manabe & Wetherald 1975, SMIC 1971). When the level of carbon dioxide has risen to 400 ppmv from its present 330 ppmv, the rise in average surface temperature is estimated to be about 1°C.” [Link to PDF (follow the PDF-link given there)]

West Antarctic ice sheet and CO2 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster – Mercer (1978) “If the global consumption of fossil fuels continues to grow at its present rate, atmospheric CO2 content will double in about 50 years. Climatic models suggest that the resultant greenhouse-warming effect will be greatly magnified in high latitudes. The computed temperature rise at lat 80° S could start rapid deglaciation of West Antarctica, leading to a 5 m rise in sea level.”

The climatic future – Lockwood (1978) “Flohn (1977) has suggested that essentially three alternatives seem to exist for the probable climatic development during the next century: 1 preservations of the present state with variations similar to those observed during the last 200 years; 2 transition to another balance state: that of an ice-age; 3 overwhelming growth of man-made effects: rapid transition to a warm age.” However, see below what Flohn actually thought of the matter in 1977.

Global Air Pollution and Climate Change – Kellogg & Schneider (1978) “Carbon dioxide increase from the burning of fossil fuels at a continuingly increasing rate can cause a 1°C rise in mean surface temperatures by 2000 A.D., and 2-3°C rise by the middle of the next century. There are uncertainties in this projection of mean temperature rise of perhaps a factor of two; and the polar regions are expected to experience an increase several times larger. Other anthropogenic influences, such as the addition to the atmosphere of chlorofluoromethanes, nitrous oxide, and possibly aerosols, may contribute still further to this global warming. The mean surface temperature of the earth by 2000 A. D., if our projection is correct, will be warmer than at any time in the past 1000 years or more.”

Climate and energy: A scenario to a 21st century problem – Flohn (1977) “A dominant role of an increase of CO2 by a factor 2–5 in the next century, accompanied by side effects acting in the same direction, seems to be most likely.”

Global Cooling? – Damon & Kunen (1976) “Because of the rapid diffusion of CO2 molecules within the atmosphere, both hemispheres will be subject to warming due to the atmospheric (greenhouse) effect as the CO2 content of the atmosphere builds up from the combustion of fossil fuels.”

A Non-Equilibrium Model of Hemispheric Mean Surface Temperature – Bryson & Dittberner (1976) “By more completely accounting for those anthropogenic processes which produce both lower tropospheric aerosols and carbon dioxide, such as fossil fuel burning and agricultural burning, we calculate an expected slight decrease in surface temperature with an increase in CO2 content.”

Climate and energy: A scenario to a 21st century problem – Flohn (1976) “Under the assumption of constant natural factors anthropogenic warming and its effects on the Arctic sea-ice may successively lead to climatic states as in 1931–60, in the early Middle Age (900–1200) and in the climatic optimum period ca. 5000 BP. Finally it may result in a complete destruction of the Arctic sea-ice with a drastic shift of all climatic belts towards north, extending even to the interior Tropics.”

The Global Carbon Dioxide Problem – Baes et al. (1976) “Estimates of the consequent warming (“greenhouse”) effect indicate increases in the average surface temperature of the earth that range from possibly acceptable to catastrophic.” [Link to PDF]

Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming? – Broecker (1975) “If man-made dust is unimportant as a major cause of climatic change, then a strong case can be made that the present cooling trend will, within a decade or so, give way to a pronounced warming induced by carbon dioxide. By analogy with similar events in the past, the natural climatic cooling which, since 1940, has more than compensated for the carbon dioxide effect, will soon bottom out. Once this happens, the exponential rise in the atmospheric carbon dioxide content will tend to become a significant factor and by early in the next century will have driven the mean planetary temperature beyond the limits experienced during the last 1000 years.”

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate – Rasool & Schneider (1971) “It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth. Because of the exponential dependence of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content. An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 ° K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.”

Modern papers on the subject

The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus – Peterson et al. (2008) Review article. “An enduring popular myth suggests that in the 1970s the climate science community was predicting “global cooling” and an “imminent” ice age, an observation frequently used by those who would undermine what climate scientists say today about the prospect of global warming. A review of the literature suggests that, on the contrary, greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists’ thinking as being one of the most important forces shaping Earth’s climate on human time scales. More importantly than showing the falsehood of the myth, this review describes how scientists of the time built the foundation on which the cohesive enterprise of modern climate science now rests.” [Link to PDF]

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7 Responses to “Papers on climate predictions of 1970’s”

  1. Paul Middents said

    An excellent paper on this topic appeared lst year:

    “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus”

    TC Peterson, WM Connolley, J Fleck – Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2008

    http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf

    Connolley blogs as “Stoat”

    Paul

  2. Ari Jokimäki said

    Yes, definitely worth a mention, thanks. It also lists some papers that predicted cooling so I’ll digg some of them to my list in order to show the other side of the issue too. At any case, it is quite clear that the consensus then did not predict cooling (or an ice age). As I was digging the papers for my list, I was actually quite amazed how accurate some of those predictions were. It is a shame that some people today try to belittle the level of knowledge of the scientists back then.

  3. Ari Jokimäki said

    I went through the 6 cooling papers Peterson et al. (2008) found. Some of them didn’t give much information about this subject in their abstracts. One paper (Twomey, 1977) seems to be only about cloud forcing causing cooling. But I was able to identify two papers predicting cooling but only one of them (Rasool & Schneider, 1971) suggested ice age. The other one (Bryson & Dittberner, 1976) suggested slight decrease to surface temperature. I added both of them to the list above.

  4. PeterPan said

    This paper deals with this same subject:

    The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus – Peterson et al (2008)
    “A review of the literature suggests that, on the contrary, greenhouse warming even then dominated scientists’ thinking as being one of the most important forces shaping Earth’s climate on human time scales. More importantly than showing the falsehood of the myth, this review describes how scientists of the time built the foundation on which the cohesive enterprise of modern climate science now rests”
    Original paper:

    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2F2008BAMS2370.1&ct=1

    Pdf:

    http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf

    *There is also a good summary by John Cook:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s.htm

  5. PeterPan said

    Sorry for the repetition, I’ve just seen it’s already there (it seems my search function distniguish capital letters :P )

  6. Ari Jokimäki said

    Don’t worry about it, these things happen to everybody every now and then… :)

  7. WatchedClock said

    I seem to remember a NYT article in the early 70’s (1973?) referring to a UN report, which itself referred to research done on greenhouse gases, climate change, etc., with predictions (warnings) on global warming. Might have been late summer, early fall.

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