Climate Shifts as a Complex Systems Property
Via a post at the always terrific Watts Up with That, a pre publication version of this paper examines the non-linear coupling dynamics of the climate. Its hypothesis is based on the mathematics of synchronized chaos (sorry, no good introductory link available).
The essential idea is that certain complex systems exhibit coupling dynamics where different aspects of the system gradually synchronize over time. Then when the synchronization achieves a certain level, the coupling dissipates and the system gets thrown into a new regime. Of course, the synchronization gradually reasserts itself and the pattern repeats.
The authors show that, when decomposed in a particular way, the climate exhibits these coupling dynamics and they explain the shifts we’ve observed over the last century. Moreover, they show that these dynamics are probably intrinsic to the climate and not due to any external forcings (such as manmade CO2, though there may be a separate smaller CO2 warming signal of course).
The most intriguing bits are that their approach explains the shifts in the 1910s to warming regime (culminating in some of the warmest weather on record around 1940), the 1940s to a cooling regime (culminating in some of the coolest weather on record around 1970), and the 1970s to a warming regime (culminating in some of the warmest weather on record around 2000). Given the length of previous regimes, we would expect this one to have ended and a shift to a cooling regime to have begun. When applied to a state of the art climate model and run forward, their approach predicts additional shifts in ~2030 and ~2070.
It’s funny that just as things get their most extreme, the system resets. Way to mess with us humans and our cognitive biases Mother Nature. My prediction: the temperature gets gradually colder from now until 2025, there’s a major “global cooling” movement, and things start getting warmer again in the 2030s.