Archive for July, 2011

WUWT contributor ‘Bart’ has used a powerful mode of analysis of the sunspot record to reveal periodicities and also devised an elegant algorithm which can produce a time series very similar to the historical sunspot record. Bart does not explicitly link the two periods found to planetary periods as I have in the title of this thread to make it easy for Google to find us, but the two periods are very close to twice the orbital period of Jupiter and the synodic period of Jupiter and Saturn, which when averaged are close to the Hale cycle period. I got Bart’s permission to make an article, and Bart told me in comments here, that adjusting the two values to the exact planetary periods would make little difference to the result.

Modeling the historical sunspot record

I observed four significant peaks in the PSD of the SSN process at 10 years, 11.8 years, 10.8 years, and 131 years (unfortunately, the one at 131 years is obscured in the PSD I showed because I had to make the usual tradeoff between bias (resolution) and variance in my plot, and I chose to present a smoother version, the better to resolve the higher frequency peaks).

I made the assumption that the Sun spot number is a proxy for the magnitude of the process which is occurring. I redid the estimate using the magnitude squared because the autocorrelation function for the square of a Gaussian process is well known, as I related here:

Preliminary PSD analysis informs me that the solar cycle is governed by two quasi-periodic processes with periods of roughly T1 = 20 and T2 = 23.6 years.

The physical basis of the solar cycle was elucidated in the early twentieth century by George Ellery Hale and collaborators, who in 1908 showed that sunspots were strongly magnetized (this was the first detection of magnetic fields outside the Earth), and in 1919 went on to show that the magnetic polarity of sunspot pairs:

“Hale’s observations revealed that the solar cycle is a magnetic cyclewith an average duration of 22 years. However, because very nearly all manifestations of the solar cycle are insensitive to magnetic polarity, it remains common usage to speak of the “11-year solar cycle”.’

Is always the same in a given solar hemisphere throughout a given sunspot cycle;
Is opposite across hemispheres throughout a cycle;
Reverses itself in both hemispheres from one sunspot cycle to the next.

Figure 1


S&T committee want

Posted: July 30, 2011 by tchannon in Politics

El Reg. is reporting “The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee has called for greater integrity and data disclosure in peer-reviewed literature. It recommends that all UK research institutions should have “a specific member of staff leading on research integrity”.

S&T call for honesty

Click on image to go to S&T web page.

Want and get are of course different but nevertheless this surprising call is welcome.

I doubt much is going to change until society itself changes.

Also visit the HoC S&T web pages to find July 19th “Committee announce new inquiry into the Science in the Met Office

Well, I’m almost speechless. :)
After another intemperate exchange of views on WUWT, Leif suddenly comes out with this after I gave him a lesson in Newtonian mechanics:
tallbloke says:

Leif Svalgaard says:
July 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm
What you should have learned by now from the various exchanges is that if the planets generate, control, or modulate solar activity it is by tidal mechanisms [which includes W&P]. That means that all the barycentric [and solar velocity, angular momentum, etc] stuff is out, and we should [as W&P] concentrate on finding how tidal forces can do this.

Wolff and Patrone say:
“Using a classical method, we have estimated the spatial distribution of regions within a
star that contain previously-unknown potential energy per unit mass (PE) that exists solely
because the star is orbiting the inertially fixed point (barycenter) of its planetary system.”

Are you seeing the word ‘tidal’ in there Leif?
I’m seeing the word ‘barycenter’.

They go on to say:
“the only externally-caused net-force sensed by the stellar fluid
is the tidal force. It raises a tide ∼ 1 mm high at the solar surface, which is ∼ 10−11 to ∼ 10−9
times the vertical displacements of convective flows that will be involved in our mechanism.
We ignore tidal effects in the rest of this paper.”

Anyway, I’m not going to argue it with you right now, because this is a most welcome and refreshing change in your approach.

There may be subtle things going on in the interior that we don’t know about: the sun might not be symmetric on the inside, for example, in which case tidal forces may cause a torque on the sun, perturbing the sunspot generation, or other more exotic things. The usual problem is one of magnitude, so that has to be overcome for tidal mechanisms to work.

A physical asymmetry in the Sun would introduce a quadrupole moment which should be detectable. Any likely places in existing data that might be found?


A new paper by Nicola Scafetta and Craig Loehle has been published in the Open Atmospheric Science Journal 5:74-86.
Building on Scafetta’s previous recent papers it posits that 60 and 20 year cycles linked to the solar barycentric orbit affect the terrestrial climate and coupled with a trend possibly due to co2 corresponding to the non-feedback value and a low end climate sensitivity, explains the historical surface temperature record. They then provide a projection to 2100 which predicts a 0.66C/century warming due to co2. However, in comments on WUWT, Nicola says:

We clearly state in the paper that there are other cycles such a the millennial one explaining the MWP and LIA. However, in this paper we are dealing only with the data since 1850. The first approximation that can be done with this data is a linear one which yields to an upper estimate for our 21st forecast.

Have Loehle and Scafetta played a clever card to gain a foothold in the literature for barycentric cycles linked to climate change, or are they rebranding themselves as lukewarmers to curry favour with the mainstream climate science institutions? Judging by initial reaction on Judy Curry’s blog and WUWT, Steve Mosher may have a point when he says:

Since I know you both believe in radiative physics as your paper indicates, your estimate of sensitivity, puts you at the lower end of luke warmer. your bumper stickers are in the mail. prepare to be savaged by both sides.

Steve knows a thing or two about that situation, so we should tread lightly as we assess this interesting paper.


Ed Fix has been back in touch about his solar activity simulation model. Ed couldn’t reveal too much last time around as the paper was pending publication in an Elsevier book. My thanks to Ed for being true to his word and returning here to the talkshop armed with a full explanation of his model and data. The spreadsheet and supporting info are here.

A couple of months back, David Archibald generated a bit of commotion with a post on WUWT about an as-yet-unpublished paper of mine.  At the time, I said I’d talk more about it after the paper had actually been published.

The book _Evidence Based Climate Science_, Dr. Donald Easterbrook, ed. (Elsevier, 2011) has been published as an e-book (hardcover to follow in Sept), and a preview is available on Elsevier’s website, (   So now I am prepared to talk about my paper, included as chapter 14 (beginning on page 335 in the preview).  The paper’s title is “The Relationship of Sunspot Cycles to Gravitational Stresses on the Sun: Results of a Proof-of-Concept Simulation”.

This paper presents what I believe is a new approach to linking the motion of the sun around the barycenter of the solar system to the sunspot cycle.  I consider this paper to be a progress report after the preliminary phase of a work in progress.  This effort differs from earlier work in three main respects.



Figure 1

Rogers, Richards & Richards paper

This 2005 paper from Penn State is a superb work where the authors are astrophysicists and a statistician.

A lot of very interesting items in the paper for those trying to untangle the solar problem and it goes as far as mentioning a forbidden word, barycentre.

If showing the image from the paper is excessive fair use under copyright I apologise and it will be removed on request.

Solanki 2004 is a widely cited reconstruction of solar activity based on INTCAL98 (1998) 14C as a proxy. Nature abstract

I have used INTCAL09 (2009) as a basis and a trivially simple method to reconstruct the Solanki et al result, with differences and excluding the older portion of their result. (14C record deteriorates to coarse sampling about 9500BP).

All following plots are time left to right and adjusted to AD calendar.


Figure 1


14C as a proxy, but for what exactly?

Posted: July 18, 2011 by tchannon in climate, Solar physics

Figure 1

How is 14C data turned into a solar or radiative proxy?


Does sunspot number calibration by the “magnetic needle” make sense?

K. MursulaaCorresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding Author, I. Usoskinb and O. Yakovchouka1

 aDepartment of Physical Sciences, University of Oulu, Finland

bSodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Finland

Accepted 18 April 2008.
Available online 10 May 2008.


It has been suggested recently that early sunspot numbers should be re-calibrated and significantly corrected using the observed daily range of the geomagnetic declination (so-called rY values). The suggested “correction” method makes an a priori detrending of the rY series and then extends the linear regression between rY and sunspot numbers established for the last 25 years to earlier times. The suggested “correction” of sunspot numbers by roughly 30% goes far beyond the traditional estimates of observational uncertainties of sunspots. Concentrating here on Zürich sunspot numbers (Rz), we demonstrate that the rY values do not actually imply that the observed Rz values in the 19th century are systematically underestimated. Rather, we find that the Rz numbers are fairly uniform after mid-19th century. The suggested “correction” is largely induced by the detrending of the rY series, which enhances the rY-based sunspot activity in the 19th century relative to later times. We also show that while the annually averaged declinations have a rough relation between sunspots and other related solar parameters, this relation is strongly seasonally dependent and, therefore, not sufficiently accurate or uniform to allow annually averaged rY values to be used as a very reliable proxy of solar activity in early times.

The paper can be purchased here:
If anyone knows of another location where it can be downloaded legally let me know.

H/T to  Vuk for the paper. My comment below the break.


I think Ulric might like this one. It turns out, according to a new study, that minor planets in the asteroid belt have a chaotic effect on Earth’s orbit.

This from

Astronomy & Astrophysics is publishing a new study of the orbital evolution of minor planets Ceres and Vesta, a few days before the flyby of Vesta by the Dawn spacecraft. A team of astronomers found that close encounters among these bodies lead to strong chaotic behavior of their orbits, as well as of the Earth’s eccentricity. This means, in particular, that the Earth’s past orbit cannot be reconstructed beyond 60 million years.