Sea ice triggered the Little Ice Age, finds a new study

Posted: September 18, 2020 by oldbrew in Natural Variation, research, sea ice
Tags: ,

Arctic sea ice [image credit:]

One of the researchers said: “These results strongly suggest…that these things can occur out of the blue due to internal variability in the climate system.”
Oh, really? Now fast forward to the 21st century…

On the question of a ‘regional’ Little Ice Age, Encyclopedia Britannica says: ‘Little Ice Age (LIA), climate interval that occurred from the early 14th century through the mid-19th century, when mountain glaciers expanded at several locations, including the European Alps, New Zealand, Alaska, and the southern Andes’. That’s a big *region* 😎
– – –
A new study finds a trigger for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe from the 1300s through mid-1800s, and supports surprising model results suggesting that under the right conditions sudden climate changes can occur spontaneously, without external forcing, reports

The study, published in Science Advances, reports a comprehensive reconstruction of sea ice transported from the Arctic Ocean through the Fram Strait, by Greenland, and into the North Atlantic Ocean over the last 1400 years.

The reconstruction suggests that the Little Ice Age—which was not a true ice age but a regional cooling centered on Europe—was triggered by an exceptionally large outflow of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic in the 1300s.

While previous experiments using numerical climate models showed that increased sea ice was necessary to explain long-lasting climate anomalies like the Little Ice Age, physical evidence was missing. This study digs into the geological record for confirmation of model results.

Researchers pulled together records from marine sediment cores drilled from the ocean floor from the Arctic Ocean to the North Atlantic to get a detailed look at sea ice throughout the region over the last 1400 years.

“We decided to put together different strands of evidence to try to reconstruct spatially and temporally what the sea ice was during the past one and a half thousand years, and then just see what we found,” said Martin Miles, an INSTAAR researcher who also holds an appointment with NORCE Norwegian Research Centre and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Norway.

The cores included compounds produced by algae that live in sea ice, the shells of single-celled organisms that live in different water temperatures, and debris that sea ice picks up and transports over long distances. The cores were detailed enough to detect abrupt (decadal scale) changes in sea ice and ocean conditions over time.

The records indicate an abrupt increase in Arctic sea ice exported to the North Atlantic starting around 1300, peaking in midcentury, and ending abruptly in the late 1300s.

“I’ve always been fascinated by not just looking at sea ice as a passive indicator of climate change, but how it interacts with or could actually lead to changes in the climate system on long timescales,” said Miles. “And the perfect example of that could be the Little Ice Age.”

Full report here.

  1. saighdear says:

    I hardly bother reading the details anymore: Asking what is the DIfference between Study & Research….
    ‘a researcher said..’ – so he didn’t STUDY then? ‘to Study’ is to reinforce what has already been learnt ( usually or simply put) in preparation for an Examination.
    Huh, I’ve studied a lot of researchers and found them wanting. …. just the way the Country is going again – so depressing

  2. hunterson7 says:

    The reality that climate can vary widely from benign to adverse was in the pre-climate panic age well accepted. Only when it became profitable and powerful to sell climate fear was intrinsic climate variability disregarded.
    Great post. Thanks.

  3. Gamecock says:

    Baloney. Sea ice is a result, not a cause.

  4. Stephen Richards says:

    It appears they look only for NH data and then said that he LIA was regional. Have I read that wrong

  5. Bob K says:

    This sentence is as far as I bothered to read. “This study digs into the geological record for confirmation of model results.”

    The point of the exercise was to find some time period that looks like the model.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Sites like Wikipedia and all the other warmists like to pretend earlier climate swings were ‘regional’, despite blindingly obvious data showing they weren’t. If they backed down from such deceptions they would have to admit, or it would be hard to deny anyway, that natural variation was in play now, and their assertions of human causation would be even more worthless than they already are.
    – – –
    an exceptionally large outflow of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic in the 1300s

    But that can’t happen nowadays unless humans do things? Absurd.

  7. gbaikie says:

    –The reconstruction suggests that the Little Ice Age—which was not a true ice age but a regional cooling centered on Europe—was triggered by an exceptionally large outflow of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean into the North Atlantic in the 1300s.–

    As far as I know, all cooling and warming centers on Europe.
    Or if Antarctica starts warming, probably means global cooling.
    Or Europe has to get quite cold before begins to have “global cooling” effect.
    Or Europe a/one canary in mine shaft.
    Or Little Ice Age was little. But a little which happenned pretty quickly, compared to big Ice Age or more correctly a glaciation period which is very slow cooling process, in which there thousands of years slow cooling.
    Or the 5000 year most recently, is what going to into glaciation period “looks” like. Or we could have been in the beginning of start of glaciation period, about 5000 years ago. Or left thousands of years of a more warmer global temperature, about 5000 year ago. And in another 5000 years it could become cooler than LIA got. {despite idiot claims human CO2 enhancement will extent our interglacial by 10,000, 50,000 or 75,000 years}. Though God knows what Human- the spacefering species will do. Certainly will more capable doing a lot more to our global climate- but how cold or warm it wants, is unknowable. Probably something “flashy” and more interesting if human remain somewhat human. Or making Cat 7 hurricanes because it’s fun. Or something as stupid.

  8. Gamecock says:

    ‘The cores included compounds produced by algae that live in sea ice, the shells of single-celled organisms that live in different water temperatures, and debris that sea ice picks up and transports over long distances.’

    I assume their algae thermometer is calibrated to a tenth of a degree.

  9. tom0mason says:


    Algae thermometers measure temperatures in very fine ‘tipping points’, these are converted through the normal process of applying the Beffen-Stoltsman theorem, and rounded up to the closest required 0.1°Fahrengrade, before checking that all result fit the ‘official’ homogenizing curve.

    I believe that I’ve made a more logical explanation in that one line than Martin Miles has made in the whole of his irrelevant study paper.

    Far East didn’t feel the effects of the LIA? Well these studies shows otherwise
    A proxy study of Laos finds natural variability in hydrometeorology, a little Ice Age, and other substantial climate changes in the pre-greenhouse gas era.
    Zheng et al., 2018 —
    There are many more from China but I can’t be bothered to hook them out.

    Or Western Quebec
    Bajolle et al., 2018 —
    Again I can’t be bothered with any more but there are plenty.

  10. pochas94 says:

    Another possibility is extended low solar activity (includes the Maunder Minimum).

  11. JB says:

    Glad to read scientific incredulity is alive and functioning.

    Crushed ice in my cup does manage to cool my soda–for a short while. But it doesn’t do much to the environment–my hands.

  12. Chaeremon says:

    Re: exceptionally large outflow of sea ice

    JPL ephemerides says for the centuries around 1150, solstices and perihelion were closest [Milutin Milanković thesis].

  13. oldbrew says:

    abrupt (decadal scale) changes in sea ice and ocean conditions over time.

    Aka natural variation. Somehow humans made that disappear, according to climate *experts* 🙄

  14. Phoenix44 says:

    I do love this idea of “regional cooling”. How is that possible in an essentially closed system unless somewhere else there was”regional warming”? Yet there’s no evidence of that, but plenty of evidence the cooling wasn’t regional.

    But let’s ignore all that context.

  15. oldbrew says:

    Alaska, New Zealand, Andes mountains, Northern Europe – one heck of a region 😏

  16. stpaulchuck says:

    oldbrew, I was about to slam their idiot “regional” nonsense too. I recall several studies in the Andes region verifying that it was southern hemisphere as well. Like others have noted: some region.

  17. Paul Vaughan says:

    Careful: The uniformity assumption is total BS.

  18. oldmanK says:

    QuotePV “Careful: The uniformity assumption is total BS.”

    Recall 2345 BCE (from Dodwell too) . Abrupt warming of the poles (in both Gisp2 and Vostok ice cores) and abrupt cooling of Quelccaya glacier (and Kilimanjaro ice cores) trapping fresh growing soft-bodied plants. It was global but not uniformly same.

    However the ice-cores do show at times synchronised changes and LIA appears to be one at around 1500CE. In the previous 50 yrs the Med suffered extensive droughts leading to recorded famines.

  19. Paul Vaughan says:

    Water latent heat and circulation: there are both global and sub-global modes.

    Thinking back a decade reviewing where have I seen sensible commentary on climate spatiotemporal pattern, only a few names come to mind — e.g. Jose Rial, Bill Illis, Nikolay Sidorenkov, Tomas Milanovic (provocatively exposing conventional theory deficiencies but not necessarily being real), Jean Dickey.

    99.9999% of climate commentary is based on false spatiotemporal assumptions — a consensus weather IT’s (inverted totalitarianism’s) left or right, much to the delight of IC (intelligence community) & military hammer-wielders worried orders of magnitude more about energy security than climate truth. They see suppression of truth as necessary. The political elite like using instruments of financial terrorism (on “rogue” regimes abroad and recently on citizens at home which underscores just how serious this is getting) to move IT where they’d like it to be, but no one being so merciless is safe without military backing and that is the bottom line for people who are abusively pushing so savagely hard to safeguard the inequalities conveying them advantage.

  20. oldbrew says:

    It’s very clear that the maximum Holocene Arctic sea ice extent occurred during the Little Ice Age. And this would have been accompanied by an increase in export of Arctic sea ice… However, it seems unlikely that the expansion of Arctic sea ice caused the Little Ice Age. It seems more likely that whatever caused the Little Ice Age also caused the sea ice expansion and “extreme export of Arctic sea ice.”

    The paper basically concludes that sudden, extreme climate change can result from natural internal variability, without external forcing.

  21. Paul Vaughan says:

    More ice does not necessarily mean more ice export…

    It’s when there are strong winds in the right direction that ice weakened from (usually spring) warming gets exported. Too many of the commentators are in places like California. Some of us grew up WITNESSING this annually. A bay can go from ice to ice-free inside of a day when the conditions are as I’ve described at the beginning of this paragraph. When its deep freeze NO ice gets exported. 0 degrees C is a critical point in the heat (including latent) circulation dynamics. When it warms to melting the ice weakens, but it’s THE WIND that rips it apart and determines the extent of export (direction constrained by geography).

    …and btw there are ice export records.

  22. Paul Vaughan says:

    When they say “internal” they mean circulation but their notion of what spaces and paces the circulation is not realistic. They do not debate fairly and honestly, so boycott remains.

  23. Paul Vaughan says:

    Let’s review the main modes:
    SAM: sunspot integral
    NAM: solar cycle deceleration (1/4-cycle synchrony between ice export and SST)
    ENSO: solar wind (SPATIOtemporal & dynamic)
    96: lunisolar pole-pole contrast in aggregate stats — ignorance of it derails sensible discussion of NAM.
    There is NO chance of getting people to discuss these things sensibly.

  24. Paul Vaughan says:

    “there are both global and sub-global modes”

    Another way to think about it is that ALL modes are GLOBAL BUT manifestations are accented by geography.

    …but as for the idea that every local manifestation has the same phase, that is blasphemous ignorance and/or deception.

    Curious as to why people still link to wuwt & ce after all the trouble they gave tallbloke. We knew those sites were corrupt back when we were still willing to link to them and tolerate them.

    So-called technocratic governance “experts” frequenting those sites have caused the world absolutely tremendous damage. IT’s USA’s way of parring censorship to levels naive innocents think of as “Chinese”. IT has been a lessUN ABout inverted totalitarianism.

    I know some of you think climate is an election key and that discussing sea ice is urgent. Actually Trump holds only one card: “I won’t lock you down.” Said the right way that and that alone could swing the psychology of DECIDED voters during the SECOND it takes them to mark a ballot. The base of ALL parties is fractured (FAR deeper than relatively wealthy people realize) by dire finances and the terror of lock-down. Climate discussion participants of all stripes made up their minds years ago that sensible discussion of sea ice does not exist. So far as I’ve been able to tell that’s a sign that inverted totalitarianism works as designers intended.

    IT’s a 2020 learning outcome:
    I may have new and important insights to share about sea ice ….but I’m inclining towards sharing such insights only immediately-after elections and never immediately-before. …And they think they’re shutting up “Russians”. They’re shutting up westerners. IT’s their see ice vision for west turn (down) democracy and freedom …weather left or right.

  25. Paul Vaughan says:

    OK, so I’ve decided to speak truth to power despite IT’s persistent, relentless ABuse:

  26. Paul Vaughan says:

    Here’s another:

  27. Paul Vaughan says:

    Teams right, left, center and everything else: remember that technocratic governance “experts” told you 2+2=5 because that’s what US IT (inverted totalitarianism) wanted (to help keep the public divided and conquered by spin-masters).

    So far as I can tell they think severe lies about climate cause energy security.