Archive for August, 2010

Open Thread

Posted: August 27, 2010 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics

There have been some great comments and links from contributors to their original research here in the last few days. Thank you all. I’m taking my fiancee away for the long bank holiday weekend to celebrate our engagement. Please continue to post your additional comments to existing threads, and get something interesting going on this open thread. I look forward to catching up on our return.

solar system planets

solar system planets and orbits - NOT TO SCALE ;-)

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Solar rotation speed and sunspot asymmetry

Posted: August 24, 2010 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics

I am lucky to have such great contributions from my regular visitors. I’m trying to get te parameters right for my investigation of the relationship between planetary alignments and solar activity To help get a handle on changes in solar activity, visualisation of the data is all important. Tim C and M Vukcevic have come up with the goods.

Here is Tim’s plot of the F10.7 radio flux (a strong indicator of solar activity level) in the vertical axis, against time over six solar cycles from 1947 to 2010, against solar rotation speed. This is still work in progress, I’m hoping Tim will tell us more about the history of the satellites and proxy records this data comes from, and how he has worked with the data to produce this fabulous 3D plot:


Vuk has this plot (originally from David Hathaway I think) of the asymmetry in sunspot production between the two solar hemispheres:

sunspot asymmetry

I hope Vuk will tell us more about the formula he has developed which relates to planetary motion and encapsulates the north-south dominant periods.

Vuk also has this intiguing plot of the sunspot production areas of the sun which seem to display an inhomogeneity:

solar longitude

He says the ‘lump’ slowly rotates on a decadal scale. What causes that??


People following this blog closely will know that Roy Martin’s excellent analysis of the tidal relationship of Jupiter, Earth and Venus alignments with the solar cycle has led me to test the possible electro-magnetic relationship using a modified copy of his original database, which he very kindly sent me earlier this week. The initial result was interesting, but still had the divergences in timings between the alignment cycles and the solar cycles.

I still need to find a good reconstruction of solar windspeed variation over the period of record under test which I can integrate into the database, but in the meantime, I have done a quick and dirty engineers approximation to test my hypothesis that the relationship is partly electromagnetic as well as tidal. Both are operative.

I realised that if the relationship is partly electro-magnetic, this would mean the alignments of the planets along the curve of the interplanetary magnetic field needed to be checked, in addition to the gravitational/tidal alignments in straight radial lines from the sun already covered by Roy’s analysis. This is because according to NASA, the flux tubes and magnetic ‘ropes’ which reconnect with the planetary magnetospheres are embedded in the stream of radiation emanating from the Sun.

The curvature of the IMF is affected by variation in solar wind speed, so I further realised that I needed to test the timings of the alignment cycles in relation to the solar cycles at higher and lower solar wind speeds and approximate the past conditions. This insight has proved fruitful. I ran the data twice, once at a solar windspeed of 450km/sec, and then at 350km/sec, and did a cut’n’paste of the two graphs produced to get a rough idea of the effect of variation in solar wind-speed on the viability of the hypothesis. Here is the result:

JEV solar composite-solar-windspeed-adjusted

I realised after I made this plot, that the rotation rate for the sun I used wasn’t correct. When corrected, that will improve the correlation further, when I integrate a time series of solar wind speed variation which has a higher average during the late C19th, early C20th, than the 350km/sec I tested.

I believe this represents a major step forward for the solar planetary theory and strengthens the case for the hypothesis that the motion of planets in the solar system has a strong modulating effect on the solar cycle.

When dynamologists disagree…

Posted: August 13, 2010 by Rog Tallbloke in Astrophysics, solar system dynamics

Also, fresh from the BBC:

New research suggests that the longer-than-expected period of weak activity may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun.

The study, conducted by Dr Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and her US colleagues, is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The new research suggests that one reason for the prolonged period of weak activity could be changes in the Sun’s “conveyor belt”.

Graphic of Sun's conveyor belt (Source: Nasa)
The Sun’s conveyor transports plasma across its surface to the pole, where it sinks before rising at the equator

Similar to the Earth’s ocean currents, the Sun’s conveyor transports plasma across its surface to the pole. Here, the plasma sinks into the heart of the Sun before rising again at the equator.

During the 23rd cycle, these currents of fire extended all the way to the poles, while in earlier cycles they only extended about two thirds of the way.

Dr Roger Ulrich of the University of California, Los Angeles, a co-author of the study, said the findings highlighted the importance of our monitoring of the Sun.

The research team used sophisticated computer simulations to show how changes in the conveyor might have affected cycle duration. They found that the increased length of the conveyor and its slower rate of return flow explained the prolonged 23rd cycle.

However, Dr David Hathaway, a solar physicist from Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, who was not involved in the latest study, argued that it was the speed and not the extent of the conveyor that was of real importance.

The conveyor has been running at record high-speeds for over five years. Dr Hathaway said: “I believe this could explain the unusually deep solar minimum.”

Read the rest on the BBC website here.

Paul the Weatherman strikes again

Posted: August 13, 2010 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics

My local TV weatherman Paul Hudson has stuck his neck out on his BBC blog again – Good Lad! You’ll get a mention in the ‘Hall of Fame‘ for this. :)

Should the sun’s role in weather and climate be re-assessed?

Paul 'The Weatherman' Hudson

Paul 'The Weatherman' Hudson

The idea that changes in solar activity can affect our weather and climate has very much fallen out of fashion in recent times. Most climate scientists’ efforts have been directed towards the impact of greenhouse gases on global temperatures, and what a warmer planet could mean to weather and climate.

Most, but not all, meteorologists dismiss the idea that the sun could play an important role in determining our weather, and hence climate.

This may, at least in part, be down to the fact that forecasts these days are heavily reliant on powerful supercomputers that can’t incorporate the influence of the sun, simply because the precise mechanism of how the sun impacts our weather is either not understood, or impossible to model.

But it wasn’t that long ago that eminent climatologists such as Professor Lamb at the University of East Anglia conducted research which showed, amongst other things, a link between low solar activity and pressure patterns over Greenland.

In his day forensic analysis of weather data was the only way to forecast the weather, but sadly much of his work, and work like it, has been mostly forgotton, as the weather industry becomes more and more reliant on computer simulations of the atmosphere.

But it seems that it may becoming a fashionable area of research once more.

Read the rest here.

Relations Between Solar Activity and Solar Tides Caused by the Planets Defined
Roy Martin

copyright 2009 Contact author for permission to republish.

The database established by Martin (1) is analysed. The database has monthly values for the
alignment index representing the tidal influence of the planets Venus, Earth and Jupiter on the sun.
The index values are plotted over long and short time scales. A pattern of five separate repeating
long waves is discovered, each wave having a period of 55.1533 years. The long wave (LW) peaks
and troughs are found to occur in a repeating series of intervals in the sequence: 10.3818-12.0039-
10.3818-12.0039-10.3818 years. The peaks of these waves are found to have a long term average
period of 11.0307 years. Each LW is found to be formed by the connection of 34 shorter periods
(SP), each 1.6222 years long. The interlacing of the five LWs results in five smaller intervals within
each SP, each with a period of 0.3244 years. It is found that the timing of the features observed
within sunspot cycles correspond very closely with the SPs and 0.3244 year intervals within each
SP. This includes the times of minima and maxima, and significant features of the shape of each
cycle. The significance of these several findings is discussed, and it is concluded that they show
convincingly that the combined tidal influence of the planets Venus, Earth and Jupiter is a primary
factor in the formation of many observed solar events.

click image for larger version
Update:Graph for 1650-1675 added for comparison.

Roy-Martin1650-1675 VEJ

Observations from long term plots.
The alignment index calculated by Martin (1) was plotted for two periods: from 1750 to 1900,
Figure 1., and 1900 to 2050, Figure 2. The cutoff level of 1.88 used by Martin is shown. These plots
are included mainly to show that, on this time scale, the crests of waves appear at intervals of
approximately eleven years, coinciding with the peaks of the planetary tidal influence curves
calculated by both Hung and Martin. In these plots the form of many waves is not at all clear. Some
are just visible down to an index level of about 2.2, but the lower part of the plot appears to be quite
The analysis done by Hung and Martin has extracted information from only the upper part of this
alignment index data, but, as pointed out by Martin, that does not show a very convincing case for a
cause and effect relationship with solar activity because the phase difference is sometimes lagging.
The alignment index data must therefore be analysed in some other way before it can be fully
accepted that tidal influences of the planets cause variations in solar activity.
Construction of shorter term plots.
Plots were made of the data with the time scale reduced to twenty five years each, covering the
periods from 1800 to 1825, and 1900 to 2050. Averaged monthly sunspot data is also plotted. The
plots are reproduced in Appendix A. The peaks of the waves seen in the long term plots are clearly
visible, and between each of those peaks a series of high points at regular intervals with a period of
~1.62 years. These are referred to as short period markers (SPM). The elegantly simple procedure
of joining-the-dots was used to first draw the shape of each LW peak, and then track the occurrence
of successive SPM down to between the 2.0 and 1.5 index levels. It was found that below an index
level of 1.5 the SPMs relate to low rather than high points within the pattern of SPs.


This is really exciting. Roy Martin followed up on Ching Cheh Hung’s analysis of planetary alignments and their apparent relations with Solar cycles and improved the correlation in a big way. By building a new database of days on which alignments between the planets took place, and tweaking a few parameters, he has come up with this stunning result:

Roy Martin: Venus Earth Jupiter - solar cycles

Roy Martin: Venus Earth Jupiter alignments vs Solar cycles

Roy is too involved with other matters to join discussion at present, but I’m putting this post up for open review so we can work out some pertinent questions for Roy when he gets the chance to call by.

My first observations are that the way Roy’s analysis shows the planetary alignments relating to small changes such as secondary peaks on the downslope of the solar cycles put the link between the production of sunspots and the motion of the planets beyond doubt.The ‘moving out of phase’ at the modern end of this graph last happened around the 1780′s, followed a couple of cycles later by a big drop in solar activity and the low cycles of the Dalton Minimum. This can be clearly seen in Jean Pierre Desmoulin’s graph. Roy’s speculative curve for Solar cycle 24 may be overestimated taking this into account.

What the mechanism is; tidal, electromagnetic, or direct gravitation/angular momentum, is still open for discovery. I’m convinced there is something more than coincidental covariance going on here. I have a couple of ideas how the correlation may be improved even further, but I’ll keep my powder dry until we’ve had some discussion, this is Roy’s moment not mine.


The message in the clouds

Posted: August 9, 2010 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Tacking different datasets together is fraught with problems, so I’ve made sure the different datasets on this graph are clearly marked in different colours. Take note Phil Jones and Michael Mann…

cloud-earthshineUpdate: I have replaced the graph with this better calibrated one. There is still an unresolved vertical shift of around 0.3%. I think the ‘y’ axis scale on the leftmost graph has a two orders of magnitude error in it too, it should be 100 times bigger numbers. Such are the vagueries of the warmies blog.
Palle et al have been measuring the amount of Earthlight reflected onto the moon as a method of determining the albedo.
ISSCP is meteosat data collated and calibrated by a dedicated team.
CERES is a single satellite in a low orbit.


I graphed specific humidity since 1940 against sunspot number averaged over the solar cycle, and got this surprising result:

Specific Humidity vs Sunspot number

Since sunspot numbers don’t correlate so well as this with temperature, it raises the question of what it is which controls specific humidity in the atmosphere. How might the solar flux be affecting humidity?

Wikipedia says this about specific humidity:
Specific humidity is the ratio of water vapor to air (including water vapor and dry air) in a particular mass. Specific humidity ratio is expressed as a ratio of kilograms of water vapor, mw, per kilogram of total moist air mt .

That ratio can be shown as:

SH = mw / mt

Specific humidity is related to mixing ratio (and vice versa) by:

SH = omega / 1+omega

omega = SH / 1 – SH

Update: The correlation looks even stronger with the sunspot numbers smoothed at the length of the Earth-Venus cycle, 96 months. It also looks strong at around 82 months, half the length of the Jupiter-Uranus synodic period which coincides with flooding events, as noted by Ulric Lyons in comments.
Specific Humidity vs Sunspot numbers 96 month

Roy Spencer on Miskolczi greenhouse theory

Posted: August 6, 2010 by Rog Tallbloke in solar system dynamics

I have been waiting for someone to properly critique Ferenc Miskolczi’s papers on the greenhouse effect. Who better than Dr Roy Spencer? I hope Ferenc Miskolczi will respond.

Executive Summary

Using both radiative transfer theory and radiosonde (weather balloon) observations to support his views, Miskolczi (2010) builds a case that the Earth’s total greenhouse effect remains constant over time.

While this might well be true, I do not believe he has demonstrated from theory why this should be the case.

His computation of a relatively constant greenhouse effect with 60 years of radiosonde observations is tantalizing, but depends upon the reality of high humidities measured by these sensors before the mid-1960s, data which are widely considered to be suspect. Even with today’s radiosonde humidity sensors, the humidity accuracy is not very high.

On the theory side, much of what he claims depends upon the validity of his statement,

“for..two regions (or bodies) A and B, the rate of flow of radiation emitted by A and absorbed by B is equal to the rate of flow the other way, regardless of other forms of (energy) transport that may be occurring.”

If this statement was true, then IR radiative transfers cannot change the temperature of anything, and Earth’s natural greenhouse effect cannot exist. Yet, elsewhere he implies that the greenhouse effect IS important to temperature by claiming that the greenhouse effect stays constant with time. The reader is left confused.

His italicized statement, above, is an extreme generalization of Kirchoffs Law of Radiation, where he has allowed the 2 bodies to have different temperatures, and also allow any amount of extra energy of any type to enter or leave the 2-body system. No matter what else is going on, Miskolczi claims there is no net radiative energy exchanges between two objects, because those 2 flows in opposite directions are always equal.

This appears to fly in the face of people’s real world experiences.

Nevertheless, Miskolczi’s (and previous investigators’) calculations of a NEAR-equality of these IR flows are quite correct, and are indeed consistent with current greenhouse theory. Others trying to understand this issue need to understand that greenhouse theory already “knows” these flows are almost equal. If the imbalance between them was not small, then the temperature changes we see in nature would be much larger than what we do see.

But it is their small departure from equality that makes all the difference.

Read the rest of Roy’s article here