Can global warming cause global cooling?

I should be studying for my last final, but staring at the same material for hours causes a scatterbrain like me to poke around the web for something, anything, that isn’t Middle Eastern history. So I found myself on Wizbang today.

Haven’t visited there in a while. I looked through the posts and found one from yesterday, where Kevin wonders how global warming can cause few hurricanes by the end of the century, as an article he found is claiming. He sees this as being antithetical to the theory of global warming, but it’s actually scientifically sound. This isn’t some sort of common knowledge that I would expect people to know. Unless you’ve subjected yourself to a boring fifteen week course on climate change, these aren’t facts you’ll be able to rattle off the top of your head.  But since I suffer* through these courses for Kevin, Wizbanger readers, and you, I left this comment explaining the science behind global warming converting into global cooling:

Hi, liberal troll here, please be nice…

This makes sense, actually. It’s a domino effect of global warming, if you will. Here’s the process:

Global warming warms up ocean waters ->

This melts ice in regions like Greenland ->

This melted ice places more water in the ocean, but this water doesn’t have as much salt ->

Less salt in the water means the water is less dense ->

Water density is important, since the ocean’s belt of thermohaline circulation — which brings necessary warm water to the surface — depends on dense water to sink ->

If water isn’t dense enough to sink, the thermohaline circulation cycle stops ->

This would cool the oceans of the world — as well as making Europe an arctic tundra, lessen tropical storms, etc. If this sounds like an ice age, you’re almost right — think Younger Dryas period and you’re on the right track.

That, in a nutshell, is the science behind why global warming would eventually cause the oceans to cool. It is a direct result of the oceans warming and how that effects thermohaline circulation.

Let me amend this by mentioning that global cooling may not come at the end of this century — it all depends on the rapidity of global warming. If it’s slowed down, then the global cooling would happen two centuries from now. If global warming is slowed to a crawl, then it might not happen at all. But — scarily enough — at this point, global warming converting into global cooling by the end of this century is completely feasible. That, I know, is scientifically sound.

* – I’ve never, ever met an exciting science professor. 

5 Responses to “Can global warming cause global cooling?”

  1. Mick says:

    So was Europe an arctic tundra during the Roman Warming or the Holocene Max? Julius Caeser did not describe Gaul as such

  2. tas says:

    On the Roman Warming period, this graph shows that temperatures then didn’t go above the norm over 2C, but our global warming now could raise temperatures by 5C above the norm — so we’re dealing with two different things here. And Rome wasn’t around during the holocene max.

  3. Mick says:

    Still though, is there evidence Europe was a tundra during the Holocene? Surely the bronze age settlements would reflect that.

  4. Mick says:

    Still though, is their evidence Europe was a tundra during the Holocene? Surely the bronze age settlements would reflect that.

  5. tas says:

    Europe was a tundra just before the holocene — that was the Younger Dryas period. But that period wasn’t an ice age, it was too short and not induced by Earth’s rotation on its axis and how it faces the sun. It was induced by something else on Earth. What we’re not really sure of yet.

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