The end of global warming? As if a new... ice age was coming

There is a puzzling gap in the well-known narrative about constantly rising temperatures and melting glaciers. Well, more and more distinguished scientists from various parts of the world claim, based on many years of research, that the Earth's immediate future is not global warming but... cooling.

Who to believe? Is it possible to find a middle ground in such extreme opinions? It won't be easy to say. All the more so, because the new perspective on climate change, especially in our part of Europe, coincides with the observations of researchers but also ordinary consumers who heat their homes longer and longer each year or plan the May weekend and holidays.

In Poland, we observe either prolonged winters or late frosts. The 2021 April cold snap also caused $2.4 billion in losses in France. Some vineyards lost up to 80 percent of their crops. Cold records were also broken in Switzerland and Slovenia. For many places in Italy, it was the coldest April on record. A year later, the situation was repeated. In southern Europe, temperatures dropped to 11-18 degrees Celsius below the norm. French meteorologist Guillaume Séchet wrote on Twitter that April 1-3 were the coldest three days of April in his country since at least 1930. Extremely low temperatures were observed in Germany and Austria.

Exceptionally cold May

May 2020 turned out to be a record-cold month in Poland, with a negative temperature aberration reaching approximately -2.3 degrees Celsius. It was the coldest May in nearly 30 years. A year later, we needed to face a similar situation. The May temperature in our country was lower than the average by almost 1.3 degrees Celsius. The entire spring of that year was recorded as cold. Not only did none of the three months exceed the long-term norm, but March remained within the thermal expectation, while April and May were colder. Poles also remembered May 2021 as exceptionally cloudy. The average number of hours with obvious sunshine that month was 170-200, while in 2021 in the southern parts of the country, the sun shone for only 120-150 hours. Although the average air temperature in May 2022 was +13.5 degrees Celsius and was only 0.1 degrees higher than the Polish long-term norm, it would be rather difficult to look for symptoms of climate warming based on this data.
People in a cave on the Rhone Glacier near Furkapass, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. Special white blankets protect the oldest glacier in the Alps to prevent it from melting. Photo PAP/EPA/Urs Flueeler
SIGN UP TO OUR PAGE This year's May in Poland was colder again by 0.8 degrees Celsius than the long-term average for this month; still warmer than the May record holder from 2020 by 1.7 degrees C. April 2023 was recorded as even worse in the long history of measurements. "From the analysis measurement data given by synoptic stations, we learn that this year's April can be considered a thermally extremely cold month, with an average area aberration - compared to long-term conditions recorded between 1991-2020 - of -3.4 degrees Celsius", wrote the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management in the first week of this cold month. Dr Michał Marosz, the climatologist at the Polish IMGW-PIB, said in a comment for Business Insider: "Thursday's (until April 6 inclusive) air temperature anomalies across the country was as much as -4.2 degrees Celsius, which currently classifies this month as extremely cold ".

It is worth mentioning that this spring, especially May, was record cold for Crete, northern and central Greece, Thessaly, and the Peloponnese.

In that part of Europe, it was the coldest May since 2010. In Poland, the beginning of June was also exceptionally cold. A particularly low temperature was measured in Lębork, where it dropped at the ground level to -5 degrees Celsius. Still, a much more serious frost affected the height of the weather cage, i.e. 2 meters. Even a -2 degree result was recorded in Szczecinek. Such measurements have been carried out since the middle of the last century, and there has never been a similarly low temperature in June. Based on the analysis of measurement data, the first three weeks of July for central and eastern Poland also show a negative deviation from the long-term norm.

Then what about glaciers?

Jay Zwally - a glaciologist at the Robert H. Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt and lead author of the ice sheet study – said that he and his team agree with the study's findings of increasing ice loss on the Antarctic Peninsula and the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers on West Antarctica. “But we mainly disagree on East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica. We see ice growth there that exceeds losses in other areas," he said.

And while other scientists assume that the gains seen in eastern Antarctica are due to recent increases in snow accumulation, Zwally used meteorological data from 1979. He also used data created in the past by other scientists based on ice cores. Thanks to this, he learned that the ice mass in Antarctica has been increasing for a long time, but - as he points out - everything may change in a few decades.

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At the same time, the scientist estimated that Antarctica does not currently contribute to sea level rise but absorbs it by 0.23 millimetres per year. So what is causing this increase if Antarctica is not responsible for it? Scientists must find an answer to this question as soon as possible because, according to another researcher, the effects of this state of affairs will radically affect the temperature of our planet.

Cooling in the light of science

Even though greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are still increasing, as you can see, temperatures in many places on Earth are decreasing for the third year in a row. This is confirmed by observations made by satellites and the results of ground and ocean research.

Prof. Malte Jansen from the University of Chicago claims that the currently observed melting of glaciers does not necessarily mean a period of warm climate change. The scientist and his team believe that increasing water levels in the seas and oceans may lead to a drastic cooling of the climate, which may even result in a new ice age.

Prof. Valentina Zharkova, a mathematician and astronomer from Northumbria University in England, also warns in her scientific works against the cooling of the climate on our planet. She studied the Sun's magnetic field and showed in last year's issue of the "Temperature" journal that this field significantly impacts temperature fluctuations on Earth. Thanks to the research, a climate model was created, according to which it was possible to demonstrate historical periods of climate anomalies up to 100 years back. The model correlated perfectly with the so-called solar minima, i.e. periods in which a weakening magnetic field and a small number of sunspots on the Sun's surface are combined with disturbances in atmospheric cycles, including drops in average air temperature. According to Zharkowa's model, we are at the beginning of the next solar minimum, which will last until 2053.

– Katarzyna Kasjanowicz

TVP WEEKLY. Editorial team and jornalists

– Translated by Katarzyna Chocian
Main photo: Glaciers surrounding the Lemaire Channel, straits off the coast of Antarctica, between the Kyiv Peninsula in mainland Graham Land and Booth Island, February 8, 2019. As much as 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, and 67% of the freshwater sources on Earth are located here. In winter, sea ice fields cover approximately 18 million square kilometres (in summer, they decrease by 2-3 million square kilometres). Photo. PAP/Abaca – Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency
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