Man, volcanoes and the sun have influenced Europe's climate over recent centuries

Jan 19, 2011
This is a photograph of Mount Etna in Italy. Credit: Gaeti

An International research team has discovered that seasonal temperatures in Europe, above all in winter, have been affected over the past 500 years by natural factors such as volcanic eruptions and solar activity, and by human activities such as the emission of greenhouse gases. The study, with Spanish involvement, could help us to better understand the dynamics of climate change.

Up until now, it was thought that Europe's climate prior to 1900 was barely affected by external factors, but now a group of scientists has shown that such as volcanic eruptions or , as well as human emissions of and , have had an impact on the of Europe's climate over the past five centuries.

"The influence of the increase in levels of greenhouse gases, in particular, can be clearly seen since the end of the 17th Century", Jesús Fidel González Rouco, a physicist at the Complutense University of Madrid and co-author of the study, which has recently been published online in the journal Nature Geoscience, tells SINC.

The researchers studied how natural and human factors affected temperatures across Europe throughout the seasons in the years from 1500 to 2000. The results show that winter is the season in which changes in levels of greenhouse gases and aerosols from manmade sources can be seen to have the clearest influence.

As reliable temperature records do not go back any further than 150 years, the team carried out simulations using three climate models and reconstructed past climate scenarios based on old instrumental observations, information recorded in historical documents and by studying tree rings.

Lessons for climate change

"For the first time we are able to attribute causes to how the climate has evolved over several centuries, working at continental and seasonal scale", says González Rouco. "And the relevance of this approach is based on the fact that the impact of any possible can be greater for societies and ecosystems within the range of these spatial and time-based scales".

Scientists say that Europe's climate "has in the past been sensitive to variations in radiative forcing from natural and human sources (changes in the energy received from the Sun, in volcanic activity, or in levels of greenhouse gases), so it is to be expected that the intense current and future variations in these forcings will play a significant role in the future evolution of Europe's climate".

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More information: Gabriele Hegerl, Juerg Luterbacher, Fidel González-Rouco, Simon F. B. Tett, Thomas Crowley y Elena Xoplaki. "Influence of human and natural forcing on European seasonal temperaturas". Nature Geoscience, 16 de enero de 2011 (avance on line). DOI: 10.1038/NGEO1057

Provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

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madrigal
4 / 5 (4) Jan 19, 2011
A very interesting piece. There has been correlation to solar output and global temperatures in the past but this ceased from the 1970's onwards. 2010 tied as the warmest year recorded but coincided with a prolonged solar minimum (as well as a strong La Nina from June/July).
Europe's climate is very susceptible to changes in the North Atlantic Drift and Gulf Streams, the effects of deviations form the 'norm' do seem to be more apparent during winter, especially noticeable the last two winters. Interesting research.
geokstr
1.5 / 5 (8) Jan 19, 2011
Up until now, it was thought that Europe's climate prior to 1900 was barely affected by external factors...

Up until NOW?

WTF! Didn't that phony hockey stick go back 1,000 yrs?

I thought a decade ago the debate was already over, consensus reached, all "denialists" shills for Exxon, because we had the science down COLD (pun not intended). Last week an article gets published here saying that finally they're going to study "irradiation", like, the effect that big yellow ball in sky has on climate, because they didn't really do it yet.

And now, holy cr*p, Batman, they apparently didn't know that "volcanic eruptions or solar radiation" had any effect on "climate".

These "scientists" have no shame. They've been calling skeptics foul names for over twenty years, claiming that if we didn't do exactly as they said, we were all gonna die in X years.

There really does need to be a thorough objective investigation of this issue, and not a whitewash a la East Anglia and Michael Mann.
jsa09
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2011
Up until now, it was thought that Europe's climate prior to 1900 was barely affected by external factors, but now a group of scientists has shown that natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or solar radiation, as well as human emissions of aerosols and greenhouse gases, have had an impact on the evolution of Europe's climate over the past five centuries.


I have to agree with sentiments of geokstr but not with conclusion. I think the authors of this article either have different interpretation on the word "barely" than most people or the authors have ignored all other research.
Caliban
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 20, 2011
I have to agree with sentiments of geokstr but not with conclusion. I think the authors of this article either have different interpretation on the word "barely" than most people or the authors have ignored all other research.


You might want to rethink even that level of agreement. The so-called hockey-stick graph was for averaged global temperature -emphasis on global- whereas this research focuses on European climate over the past few centuries. A considerable difference is inherent.
madrigal
3 / 5 (2) Jan 20, 2011
I agree Caliban, my post at the top does distinguish between global temperatures and European.
geokstr
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 20, 2011
You might want to rethink even that level of agreement. The so-called hockey-stick graph was for averaged global temperature -emphasis on global- whereas this research focuses on European climate over the past few centuries. A considerable difference is inherent.

Yes, the so called "hockey stick" assumed that the Medieval Warm Period didn't exist, which has since been debunked, and was not just in Europe and Greenland. It shows the MWP as just average temps, when it was in reality warmer than the IPCC predicts it's going to get if we do NOTHING.

We know it was warmer not only from tree ring proxies and ice cores, but from contemporaneous accounts of farming and herding in Greenland and vineyards in England. (But it can't be discounted, 1,200 years ago, maybe the Earl of Shell and the Viscount d' Exxon faked those accounts because they didn't want their descendants stock prices to plummet.)

Because Greenland was named after Eric the Green and had nothing to do with greenery.
Skepticus_Rex_
2.5 / 5 (4) Jan 21, 2011
But the vikings grew bananas and papya in Greenland before the ice sheets in the little ice age covered them up in 5 mile high ice sheets. I have the links but Physorg won't let me use them...eco fascists :)
Howhot
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 21, 2011
But the vikings grew bananas and papya in Greenland before the ice sheets

Thats just a fictional delusion. Prove that one. Prove that they even grow at that latitude!

Yes, the so called "hockey stick" assumed that the Medieval Warm Period...

Lets see; now you site tree ring proxies and ice cores which you have so desperately tried to debunk in earlier arguments. So when was Greenland hot? AGW seems to explain it's current state now.

geokstr
1 / 5 (4) Jan 21, 2011
Lets see; now you site tree ring proxies and ice cores which you have so desperately tried to debunk in earlier arguments. So when was Greenland hot? AGW seems to explain it's current state now.

I guess you having trouble identifying the deniers without a program. I never argued against tree ring proxies and ice cores. Must have been someone else, but of course, they are useful for warmists, but only so long as they fit the hockey stick. Otherwise they're just discarded, unless they can cherrypick the right tree out of a whole forest.

I see you missed my whole point, that we have, in addition to the proxies, actual contemporaneous written accounts about what was grown and herded in Greenland and England. Try wiki, a known warming apocalyptic site. Their page on the MWP admits it. It certainly must have been warmer than it is now, given all they can grow there now is lichen and air ferns.

I take that back, you didn't miss it, you just wanted to dishonestly ignore it. Typical.
Skepticus_Rex
1 / 5 (5) Jan 22, 2011
Howhot,

You have been taken-in by a MikeyK sockpuppet. Don't feel bad. Welcome to the club.

People who have known me long enough know better than to think that I believe that pineapples and papaya were grown in Greenland in historical times. I don't.

As to the hockeystick, it is outside of perspective. Broaden that perspective via the ice core proxies and interesting things can be seen regarding temperatures in Greenland.

You also should take a look at some stuff written by H.H. Lamb. A good starting point is his somewhat dated but still pertinent "Climate, History and the Modern World." Pages 157-159 are a good start. It is not a cheap book by any means but it is required reading as a starting point when dealing with past Greenland temperatures.

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