Chinese 2,485 year tree ring study shows natural cycles control climate, temps may cool til 2068
A blockbuster Chinese study of Tibetan tree rings by Liu et al 2011 shows, with detail, that the modern era is a dog-standard normal climate when compared to the last 2,500 years. The temperature, the rate of change — it’s all been seen before. Nothing about the current period is “abnormal”, indeed the current warming period in Tibet can be produced through calculation of cycles. Liu et al do a Fourier analysis on the underlying cycles and do brave predictions as well.
In Tibet, it was about the same temperature on at least four occasions — back in late Roman times (those chariots!), then again in the dark ages (blame the collapse of industry), then in the middle ages (the Vikings?), then in modern times (blame the rise of industry).
Clearly, these climate cycles have nothing to with human civilization. Their team finds natural cycles of many different lengths are at work: 2-3 years, 100 years, 199 years, 800 years, and 1,324 years. The cold periods are associated with sunspot cycles. What we are not used to seeing are brave scientists willing to publish exact predictions of future temperatures for 100 years that include rises and falls. Apparently, it will cool til 2068, then warm again, though not to the same warmth as 2006 levels.
Now some will argue that skeptics scoff at tree rings, and we do — sometimes — especially ones based on the wrong kind of tree (like the bristlecone) or ones based on small samples (like Yamal), ones with aberrant statistical tricks that produce the same curve regardless of the data (Mann’s hockey-stick), and especially ones that truncate data because it doesn’t agree with thermometers placed near air-conditioner outlets and in carparks (Mann again). Only time will tell if this analysis has nailed it, but, yes, it is worthy of our attention.
Some will also, rightly, point out this is just Tibet, not a global average. True. But the results agree reasonably well with hundreds of other studies from all around the world (from Medieval times, Roman times, the Greenland cores). Why can’t we do solid tree-ring analysis like this from many locations?