The last century warming and cooling was done by two naval wars.

Post: April 01, 2021

“What Does 2000 Years of Temperature Data Tell Us?”, is a good question in a recent essay by  Willis Eschenbach  at WUWT just one week ago.

The discussion can be separated in two parts: A) the time before the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA) about 1850, and B) From the LIA until today. The conclusion by Willis Eschenbach is simple and clear:


That is a fair assessment for the two millenniums before the end of the LIA. The listing of the mentioned up and downs of air temperatures may be interesting for some, but will unlikely ever be fully understood due to the absence of ocean data from the sea surface down to 10’000 meters depths. A much more differed point is how to assess the time after 1850 when the world started industrialization. In Willis Eschenbach list is the last point:  “Why has it warmed, in fits and starts, from the Little Ice Age up to the present?”

Here are Willis Eschenbach’s questions about this historical temperature record:

  • Why did the temperature start dropping after the Roman Warm Period? Why didn’t it just stay warm?
  • Why did the cooling start in 200 AD, and not say in the year 600 AD?
  • Why did the temperatures start warming around 550 AD, and continue warming up to the Medieval Warm Period peak at around 1000 AD? It could have stayed cold … but it didn’t.
  • Why was that warming from 550 to 1000 AD, and not from say 800 to 1300 AD?
  • What caused the steady cooling from about 1000 AD to the depths of the Little Ice Age, where temperatures bottomed out around 1700 AD?
  • Why was that cooling from about 1000-1700 AD, and not e.g. 1250-1850 AD?
  • Instead of stopping at the year 1700 AD, why didn’t the world keep cooling down to real glaciation? Given the Milankovich cycles and the lengths of the other warm interglacial periods, we’re overdue for another real ice age.
  • Why did temperatures start warming again at the end of the Little Ice Age, instead of just staying at the 1700 AD temperature?
  • Why has it warmed, in fits and starts, from the Little Ice Age up to the present?

Actually the last question should not be allowed to ask nowadays any longer. Beside from the fact that climatology has become a huge money-consuming machinery since the 21th Century, the up-and downs of global air temperatures, during the last 100 years, could have been more investigated and explained. For sure the oceans meanwhile would have been given a much more prominent role in assessing man-made climate change.  This will be discussed in the following.   

The overall consideration since 1850 can be subdivided in three aspects, natural, air pollution and human activities on and in the sea:

After the end of an Ice-Age the world had to get warmer, naturally. The real concern is what has pushed the temperature in one or the other direction, and about what man has caused or contributed. The human contribution would be brought in through two media: the atmosphere and the oceans.

  1. Science has been focusing on CO2 and air pollution since the end of the Second World War, and b advocates its thesis under the terms climate change and global warming. It represents its thesis under the terms climate change and global warming.

  2. The human contribution to the influence of the oceans on changes in weather patterns and the climate has so far played no role in science. Many, if not most, of the temperature changes since the beginning of the 21st century could be demonstrably explained.

In 2014 Judith Curry  complained that models fail to simulate the observed warming between 1910 and 1940, stating that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) does not have a convincing explanation for:

  • warming from 1910-1940

  • cooling from 1940-1975

  • hiatus from 1998 to present. The IPCC purports to have a highly confident explanation for the warming since 1950, but it was only during the period 1976-2000 when the global surface temperatures actually increased.

Had climate change research taken the oceans and the bulk of human-ocean activities much more into account, the whole debate on global warming would have since long on a very different level. Our brief assessment is as it follows.

Warming from 1910-1940: The warming commenced around Svalbard in the Atlantic section of the Arctic Ocean and the Barents Sea in 1918. These waters are heavily dependent on a Gulf Stream side-arm, passing Ireland in the West, while a small part flows through the English Channel and around Scotland in the North Sea and then northwards with the Norwegian Current. Four long years of intense naval warfare raged around England up to the North Cape between 1914 and 1918. Shifts in the flow properties and structure of the warm and salty Gulf Stream waters were inevitable. A direct connection can be established in numerous events. This is presented in detail in a book (2009) of approx. 100 pages; online:   

Cooling from 1940-1945: The global cooling time-frame is shown correctly. It began with a furious start in the winter of 1939/40 and was repeated in the following winters of 1940/41 and 1941/42. All three winters in Europe were the coldest in over 100-120 years, at a time the LIA had not ended. But soon air temperature decreased globally, which eventually lasted until the mid -1970s.

That had been caused by a devastating naval war in the North Atlantic (1939-1945) and Pacific. (1941-1945).

The three phases are easy to classify.

__ The three war winter in Europe: Naval war was largely confined to particularly the North and Baltic Sea and other coastal waters from the Mediterranean to the Barents Sea.

__ Since Pearl Harbor in December 1941, naval war covered the entire North Atlantic and the Pacific east of Hawaii.

In huge areas, the sea surface was plowed to depths of 200-300 meters, their temperature and salinity shifted. Billions of objects, whether as projectiles, torpedoes or ships, sank down to 10,000 meters to the sea floor. It takes many pages to discuss this, as was done with the book, pages 216 (2012), online:

Film Clip

Naval War in the North Atlantic

About 11 min


   Cooling from 1945-1970s

The Northern Hemisphere oceans are dominated by clockwise circulations. The North Atlantic needs from Cape Hatters to Cape Hatteras about four years. If huge areas of the oceans have been really mixed up, it takes years, probably 2-3 decades, until the old state is restored. In this respect, James Lovelock’s GAIA thesis could help to understand this.  See the recent MEDIUM Story.

Hiatus from 1998 to present.  A logical conclusion is, that after the LIA a global warming was inevitable, strongly accelerated by WWI, (warming from 1918-1939), interrupted a significant global cooling (1940-1970s) which can be linked to WWII. Once the effected  ocean-structure  had restored their usual structure (in mid -1970s), the general warming since the end of the LIA plus the extra warming push after WWI resumed, which lasted only few years. Since about 2000 the world may be back to the overall trend prevailing since 1850. At least it is possible that the main questions asked by Prof. J. Curry could in this way be answered. However, science must be able and willing to do the job.

The greatest unknown and urgent research

 More interest in the mentioned war-related climate changes should not be rutted by historical considerations, but rather to commit more research to man-made induced climate change. The illustrated influences of the two great naval wars would inevitably lead to more attention being paid to activities on and in the sea. Shipping, fishing, offshore wind parks and much more have contributed to global warming for over 150 years. Whether low of high, it should be understood thoroughly.

Case study: North and Baltic Sea – Climate and Human Activities

Author: Dr. Arnd Bernaerts


Willis Eschenbach:
Judith Curry 
Book 2009: 
Book: 2012: 
MEDIUM Story: James Lovelock; 
North and Baltic Sea – Climate and Human Activities:

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