Archive for May, 2012

From the IOP website:
May 31, 2012
Tushna Commissariat

A method that uses laser frequency combs to calibrate astronomical spectrographs to unprecedented accuracies has been developed and successfully tested by researchers in Europe. The method could be used to find Earth-sized exoplanets by detecting their tiny influence on the motions of their companion stars. The comb was tested on the European Southern Observatory’s High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Astronomical spectrographs separate light according to wavelength and the spectra that they produce play important roles in many aspects of astronomy. As a result, astronomers are constantly looking at ways to make their spectrographs more accurate, stable and precisely calibrated. Currently, the best spectrographs, such as HARPS, use thorium-argon lamps or iodine cells for calibration – however, these do not deliver the precision to detect the tiny shifts in the wavelength of starlight caused by the presence of an exoplanet.


This repost is from Clive Best’s Excellent blog. In it, he frames an interesting and plausible argument for interplanetary dust being responsible for ice ages. Part of the argument rests on the switch in frequency from ~41Kyr (Milankovitch cycle of Obliquity) to ~100Kyr (Milankovitch cycle of orbital eccentricity), and the fact that the TSI variation caused by the latter is small of itself.



The real cause of Ice Ages – Resonant dust clouds?

Posted on December 16, 2011 by Clive Best

This post proposes that regular variations in interplanetary dust between the Earth and the Sun is the primary cause of  recent ice ages whose oscillations have been parameterised here. The Milankowitz theory of insolation is able to well explain the continuous 41,000y climate oscillation but it cannot explain why a 100,000y cycle became prevalent during the last million years, even though it is in phase with orbital eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. A different origin for the emergence of the 100,000y cycle of major ice ages is proposed. This is based on the hypothesis that a large comet broke up close to Earth’s orbit about 3.3 million years ago, leading to an increase in inter-planetary dust whose density eventually phase locked to variations in Earth’s eccentricity. This process is able to explain the cooling trend starting 3 million years ago eventually leading  to major eccentricity driven glaciations with persistent modulation in insolation from the obliqueness cycle. Evidence in support of regular cycles in inter-planetary dust density have been found in ocean sediments, and there is some evidence of a comet fragment impacting with Earth at 3.3 million years ago.


There’s that ~60 year cycle again. Rediscovered photographs taken from aircraft show that glacier retreat in the warm 1930′s matches the rate observed in the 1990′s. Something is collapsing, but rather than glaciers, it’s the AGW narrative.

H/T Ned Nikolov

An aerial view of 80 years of climate-related
glacier fluctuations in southeast Greenland

Anders A. Bjørk et al 2012


Widespread retreat of glaciers has been observed along the southeastern margin of Greenland. This retreat has been
associated with increased air and ocean temperatures. However, most observations are from the satellite era; presatellite
observations of Greenlandic glaciers are rare. Here we present a unique record that documents the frontal positions for
132 southeast Greenlandic glaciers from rediscovered historical aerial imagery beginning in the early 1930s. We combine
the historical aerial images with both early and modern satellite imagery to extract frontal variations of marine- and
land-terminating outlet glaciers, as well as local glaciers and ice caps, over the past 80 years. The images reveal a regional
response to external forcing regardless of glacier type, terminal environment and size. Furthermore, the recent retreat was
matched in its vigour during a period of warming in the 1930s with comparable increases in air temperature. We show that
many land-terminating glaciers underwent a more rapid retreat in the 1930s than in the 2000s, whereas marine-terminating
glaciers retreated more rapidly during the recent warming.


Some interesting and relevant science is underway at my university. I wonder if any interesting datasets will be generated which might be useful to us planetary theorists. A recent Russian paper posited the idea that cosmic dust arriving in the Earth’s atmosphere is modulated by planetary motion.

Scientists at the University of Leeds are looking to discover how dust particles in the solar system interact with the Earth’s atmosphere.

Currently, estimates of the Earth’s intake of space dust vary from around five tonnes to as much as 300 tonnes every day. A €2.5 million international project, led by Professor John Plane from the University’s School of Chemistry, will seek to address this discrepancy.

The Cosmic Dust in the Terrestrial Atmosphere (CODITA) project will investigate what happens to the dust from its origin in the outer solar system all the way to the earth’s surface. The work, funded by the European Research Council, will also explore whether cosmic dust has a role in the Earth’s climate and how it interacts with the ozone layer in the stratosphere.


Image from earthquakereport

This morning 29th May 2012 a second strong earthquake struck Northern Italy, M5.8 and with many strong aftershocks. Higher death toll and more damage.


This is a guest post from ‘Lucy Skywalker’ who has recently returned from a trip to Germany where she attended a seminar given by Roderich Graeff, the engineering concern owner who has been experimenting with equipment he has designed to test the Loschmidt gravito-thermal effect.  This line of research is highly relevant to the theoretical work of Hans Jelbring, and also Nikolov and Zeller, who have proposed hypotheses to explain the thermal gradient found in the atmosphere causing the near surface air to be warm relative to higher altitudes.

Lucy Skywalker – May 28 2012 

Few people know that in the last decade, there have been quite a number of serious challenges (as opposed to perpetual-motion challenges) to the hallowed Second Law of Thermodynamics. Dr Sheehan has organized conferences and written books about all this. He put me in touch with Dr Graeff, the one participant who has been running real experiments. These experiments appear to vindicate the theories of Loschmidt, who 150 years ago challenged his friend Maxwell’s belief that a vertical air column in equilibrium will be the same temperature top and bottom. Loschmidt maintained that gravity would cause the bottom molecules to be warmer than the top ones. But until Graeff, nobody had actually undertaken the experimental research needed to check these theories against measurements.

This work could be extremely important, not least for Climate Science, if it holds up to close scrutiny. After reading Graeff’s paper and his book, I went to Germany to join his seminar, and to examine for myself his apparatus that appears to measure vertical heat gradients in columns of air, water, and other substances in steady, non-convecting equilibrium, and appears to show that in isolation, they are warmer at the bottom than at the top.


Alpine weather is not tricked

Posted: May 28, 2012 by tchannon in climate, Cycles, weather


Gosselin at NoTricksZone has an article on a new Austrian paper which examines long instrumentation records and reports there is no change in the incidence of severe weather in recent years, where some warmists have asserted to the contrary. (click image for link or here)


In the at times bad tempered thread on WUWT  six weeks ago covering Cornelis  de Jager and Dirk Callebaut’s paper “The influence of planetary attractions on the solar tachocline” which attempted to dismiss the possibility of planetary tidal effects on solar activity we were assured by Leif Svalgaard that:

 Unfortunately no effects on planets around other stars on stellar activity have yet been found. See the final slides of
But this research is still ongoing, so perhaps one day we will get the final proof/disproff (sic) of this…

Leif went on to say:

 althoung (sic) I have already gotten arguments from various sides that our solar system is unique in just the right combination of planets, etc, and that therefore only in our system will the planets drive solar activity. So strong is the belief in the planetary hypothesis than it, almost by definition, becomes impossible to falsify. Go figure…

This is fairly typical of the rhetorical technique Leif Svalgaard uses to try to discredit our line of research, and does him little credit in my opinion. Be that as it may, it now turns out that he doesn’t know his own field as well as he thinks he does.

Nicola Scafetta has drawn my attention to a paper by Gurdemir et al which draws on research going back to the turn of the millenium. The paper discusses planetary induced variation in the host star’s chromosphere first directly observed in 2003 in various wavelengths. Here’s the cite and abstract:

Solar dipole has crossed to the other side.

Posted: May 28, 2012 by tchannon in Solar physics

Figure 1

Figure 1 centre trace has just crossed zero, solar axial magnetic dipole, another measure pointing to solar max.



From the BBC Environment website, something signalling a return to really important science? Maybe not, according to this other item there.

A decision is due later on where to site one of the great scientific projects of the 21st Century. Australia and South Africa have been competing to host the 1.5bn-euro (£1.2bn) Square Kilometre Array, a giant next-generation radio telescope. Its targets will be light sources in the sky that radiate at centimetre to metre wavelengths.

For Australia, the array would be centred on a site at Boolardy Station, about 500km (310 miles) north of Perth in Western Australia. For South Africa, the central location would be in the Karoo in the Northern Cape, about 95km from Carnarvon. But the sheer scale of the SKA means individual radio antennas would spread to New Zealand in the case of the Australian architecture, and into a number of neighbouring states and even Indian Ocean islands in the case of South Africa.