J. A. Abreu et al: Is there a planetary influence on solar activity?

Posted: October 25, 2012 by Rog Tallbloke in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cycles, methodology, Solar physics, solar system dynamics, Tides
Tags: , , , , ,

Here is an important step forward in the progress of the Solar-Planetary theory.  Some big names in the paleo-proxy field are starting to get behind this now. Beer, McCracken and Steinhilber and Ferriz-Mas are all co-authors on this new paper published in Astronomy and Astrophysics.  The great news is that it is open access so well done AandA! No need for me to spend ages formatting the paper’s relevant plots and text, just click and download for discussion.

H/T Ian Wilson

Is there a planetary influence on solar activity?
J. A Abreu1;2, J. Beer2, A. Ferriz-Mas3;4, K. G. McCracken5, and F. Steinhilber2
1 ETH Zurich Institut fur Geophysik, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland. e-mail: jose.abreu@erdw.ethz.ch
2 Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Postfach 611, CH-8600 D¨ubendorf, Switzerland.
3 Departamento the Fisica Aplicada, Universidade de Vigo, Spain.
4 Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia (IAA/CSIC), Granada, Spain.
5 University of Maryland, USA.
Received 17 Mai 2011 Accepted 17 Mai 2011


Context. Understanding the Sun’s magnetic activity is important because of its impact on the Earth’s environment. Direct observations of the sunspots since 1610 reveal an irregular activity cycle with an average period of about 11 years, which is modulated on longer timescales. Proxies of solar activity such as 14C and 10Be show consistently longer cycles with well-defined periodicities and varying amplitudes. Current models of solar activity assume that the origin and modulation of solar activity lie within the Sun itself; however, correlations between direct solar activity indices and planetary configurations have been reported on many occasions. Since  no successful physical mechanism was suggested to explain these correlations, the possible link between planetary motion and solar activity has been largely ignored.

Aims. While energy considerations clearly show that the planets cannot be the direct cause of the solar activity, it remains an open question whether the planets can perturb the operation of the solar dynamo. Here we use a 9400 year solar activity reconstruction derived from cosmogenic radionuclides to test this hypothesis.
Methods. We developed a simple physical model for describing the time-dependent torque exerted by the planets on a non-spherical tachocline and compared the corresponding power spectrum with that of the reconstructed solar activity record.
Results.We find an excellent agreement between the long-term cycles in proxies of solar activity and the periodicities in the planetary torque and also that some periodicities remain phase-locked over 9400 years.
Conclusions. Based on these observations we put forward the idea that the long-term solar magnetic activity is modulated by planetary effects. If correct, our hypothesis has important implications for solar physics and the solar-terrestrial connection.
Key words. solar-terrestrial relations, dynamo, solar wind, helioseismology, planet-star interactions, magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
There is another paper Steinhilber has been recently involved in which is worth a look. This one examines solar activity in relation to variations in C14 and 10Be, and finds an important periodicity on the timescale of around a 1000 years. (It’s 974 actually guys) :)

Here’s the abstract:
Context. The variations of solar activity over long time intervals using a solar activity reconstruction based on the cosmogenic radionuclide 10Be measured in polar ice cores are studied.
Aims. The periodicity of the solar activity cycle is studied. The solar activity cycle is governed by a complex dynamo mechanism. Methods of nonlinear dynamics enable us to learn more about the regular and chaotic behavior of solar activity. In this work we compare our earlier findings based on 14C data with the results obtained using 10Be data.
Methods. By applying methods of nonlinear dynamics, the solar activity cycle is studied using solar activity proxies that have been reaching into the past for over 9300 years. The complexity of the system is expressed by several parameters of nonlinear dynamics, such as embedding dimension or false nearest neighbors, and the method of delay coordinates is applied to the time series. We also fit a damped random walk model, which accurately describes the variability of quasars, to the solar 10Be data and investigate the corresponding power spectral distribution. The periods in the data series were searched by the Fourier and wavelet analyses.
Results. The solar activity on the long-term scale is found to be on the edge of chaotic behavior. This can explain the observed intermittent period of longer lasting solar activity minima. Filtering the data by eliminating variations below a certain period (the periods of 380 yr and 57 yr were used) yields a far more regular behavior of solar activity. A comparison between the results for the 10Be data with the 14C data shows many similarities. Both cosmogenic isotopes are strongly correlated mutually and with solar activity. Finally, we find that a series of damped random walk models provides a good fit to the 10Be data with a fixed characteristic time scale of 1000 years, which is roughly consistent with the quasi-periods found by the Fourier and wavelet analyses.
Conclusions. The time series of solar activity proxies used here clearly shows that solar activity behaves differently from random data. The unfiltered data exhibit a complex dynamics that becomes more regular when filtering the data. The results indicate that solar activity proxies are also influenced by other than solar variations and reflect solar activity only on longer time scales.

  1. Ninderthana says:

    I am waiting for Leif to step in tell us that this paper is a case of the blind are leading the blind….

    Seriously, the “established consensus” on solar activity is starting to crumble around the edges.

  2. Ninderthana says:

    Congratulations to Rog Tallbloke and his wonderful blog site. Always at the cutting edge of important scientific issues.

  3. tallbloke says:

    Hi Ian,
    Leif Svalgaard knows that argument by assertion isn’t tolerated here, so he stays away.
    Anyhow, he’s in Norway to see his family.

    So what do you see as groundbreaking here, apart from the rigorous statistical analysis which blows Leif’s bullshit about “the correlations are poor” out of the water ?

    Your professional opinion is highly valued here.

  4. Ninderthana says:

    I think the first thing that this paper gets right is that planetary influences cannot directly drive the solar dynamo – this something that many of us have been saying for quite some time.

    However, the authors of the paper have minds that are open enough to recognize that there is overwhelming evidence that planetary factors must play a role in modulating the level of solar activity. All be it with some form of amplification mechanism being involved.

    They recognize that the most logical mechanism for influencing the solar dynamo is planetary
    tidal-torquing of a-spherical layers at the base of the solar convective zone (i.e. the region near the solar tachocline – were the solar dynamo is generated). This is essentially just a variant of the VEJ tidal-torquing model that I have been posting at my blog site and that others on this blog site have also long proposed.

    The sequence of events are:

    Long term resonances in the Jovian planetary configuration —> determine terrestrial planet orbital periods —> asymmetries near the Tachocline that are induced by the tidal influences of Venus-Earth alignments —-> the combined planetary torques of the Jovian planets (dominated by Jupiter) acting on the asymmetries near the tachocline —-> modulation of the solar dynamo.

  5. Ninderthana says:

    Another important point that needs to made is that we now have a group of well respected main stream researchers who are doing their level best to catch up with the ideas that have been discussed here on this site for many years.

  6. tallbloke says:

    Well, three years anyway. :)

    I think we’d better write a couple of summary posts to help them along then. You do the planetary harmonics and solar effects, and I’ll cover the terrestrial resonances.

  7. tallbloke says:

    Regarding the second paper, do you think the authors might be interested in lgl’s plot of the integral of Steinhilbers TSI plotted against Mann’s 08 reconstruction?

    Seem like there’s plenty of sub-millennial correlation there.

  8. Brian H says:

    It has long been established that car drivers cannot possibly be in control of cars’ motion. They are far too heavy, and it would be impossible for the drivers to impart significant momentum changes to their motion. Some, at the wheel of the purported “power steering” models, have even been reputedly seen driving with one finger on the wheel. All true scientists, like me, consensuate that this is impossible.

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    So some credible scientists have “discovered” that some outside force, maybe the planets, modulates the solar output! Does this mean we can quit arguing “IF” and move on to “HOW”?
    The TINY planets can not cause the changes in solar output, but like Brian’s “nut behind the wheel” will guide the changes of that output. pg

  10. tallbloke says:

    Some time ago, Tim C ran the Steinhilber TSI reconstruction through his amazing cycles analysis software and produced this curve.

    This analysis matches what is being said by Steinhilber in the above papers. A strong modulation at the length of the De Vries cycle (207 years) and another at around the millennial timescale (974 years) which matches Semi’s calculation of the cycle of angular momentum exchange in the solar system.


  11. Paul Vaughan says:

    Are you aware of any related studies using the 5th power of distance?

  12. Hi Roger,

    I would like to reply here to your comment on WUWT


    it is important to clarify some issue here.

    About Tim Channon’s graph. It shows that Steinhilber’s TSI has a quasi millennial oscillation and a bisecular one. This result is not really surprising nor new. Steinhilber’s TSI is based on typical nucleotide records. These oscillations were noted far before Steinhilber. For example Bond et al 2001 on Science.

    The novelty of my paper

    Scafetta N., 2012. Multi-scale harmonic model for solar and climate cyclical variation throughout the Holocene based on Jupiter-Saturn tidal frequencies plus the 11-year solar dynamo cycle. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 80, 296-311.

    is not to have found a quasi-millennial oscillation in the solar record and the other oscillations, which was already well known, but to have deduced theoretically those oscillations in both phase and timing. In fact, my model is a hindcast of the data, not a simple fitting of the data.

    About “key frequencies were found by Bart” etc.. I need to disagree. What happened is that Leif who was chosen as a reviewer of my paper had the “honest” idea to put on WUWT some of the results of my analysis without saying that he got them from my paper.

    Several of his comments show that he knew too much about my paper.
    For example, he says referring to me:


    (But are you now abandoning your view that the planetary influence is
    tidal [spring tides Saturn-Jupiter and perihelion tides from Jupiter]?)

    (Except that Scafetta believes his solar variations have a tidal origin
    and is not related to solar velocity.)

    (Scafetta believes solar activity is caused by tides)

    (I’ll try to paraphrase what I think you are saying: the planets raise
    tides in the sun’s interior. These tides modulate [or even cause] solar
    activity. Solar activity thus have cycles driven by the planets.) (please note that this is quite correctly what I say in my papers)

    (Even your own work on tidally induced solar cycles was already done by
    Brown 111 years ago.) (note that Leif is explicitly referring
    to my own “work” on planetary tides on the sun also if he adds a
    ridiculous comment regarding Brown)

    Finally, in

    he shows the following figure uploaded to his web-site


    in this figure he repeats my spectral analysis showing that
    the Schwabe 11-year sunspot number cycle can be decomposed in three peaks
    two of which close to the 9.93-year Jupiter and Saturn spring-tide and
    the 11.86-year Jupiter tide. Plus a middle peak close to my 10.9-year,
    which is the major finding in paper on which I build my model.

    Bart apparently took the idea from Leif’s comments and figures that were taken from my paper.

    Note that the behavior of Leif (disseminating in internet my results and ideas taken from my paper that he was refereeing) is a seriously break of the ethical code of the journal.

    So, I do not think that my paper was based on ideas took from your web-site in some way. On the contrary, I have indirectly originate some of the ideas published on your web-site, even if you did not knew it.

    Note that the first version of my paper was submitted on Dec/22/2010, by the way, and the first referee was not able to find any error. Then the hostile editor started looking for biased reviewers and after that I demonstrated that the second reviewer was an idiot, the editor was forced (also by the manager editor, I think) to reject him and sent the paper to Leif to be sure to get another biased review.

  13. tallbloke says:

    Hi Nicola,

    Hi Nicola, and thanks for calling by at the talkshop.

    Don’t worry, I’m not accusing you of anything. We have all been pushing forward with solar-planetary research and we have reached many similar results independently. In all honesty, I was unaware that you had submitted your paper at that date (Dec/22/2010).

    But preceding the July 2011 WUWT article you quote from, there was this in June from Bart and Leif:

    Bart says:
    June 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    “…two quasi-periodic processes with periods of roughly T1 = 20 and T2 = 23.6 years…”

    Interestingly, I tossed this out assuming it was probably common knowledge. A brief web search tells me it may not be. But, the spikes in the PSD tell me it is a reasonable presumption, as they appear at all four of the frequencies associated with the periods 0.5*T1, 0.5*T2, T1*T2/(T2+T1), and T1*T2/(T2-T1). Furthermore, the fact that the solar magnetic field reverses orientation tells me that the fundamental periods are, indeed, these T1 and T2.

    What about it, Leif? Is this new?

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    June 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm
    Bart says:
    June 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm
    What about it, Leif? Is this new?
    Yes, it is, but in a negative sense. There are hundreds of sophisticated analyses by acclaimed professionals that do amazing things [so they say]. Fortunately they all find different results, and none to my knowledge have claimed that “solar cycle is governed by two quasi-periodic processes with periods of roughly T1 = 20 and T2 = 23.6 years.”
    The other periods [10 years, 11.8 years, 10.8 years] regularly crop up but are just splitting of the basic ~11 year period because of long-term amplitude modulation.

    Now, Leif either didn’t realise that 23.6 is 2×11.8 and 20 is 2×10 or just obscured the issue as usual. And Bart didn’t explicitly link the periods with planetary motion at that time (nor for a good while afterwards). I didn’t follow that thread after the first exchange of comments and didn’t become aware of Bart’s findings until later, which is when I posted his ideas on the 31st July.

    I had realised immediately that the two periods related to Jupiter and Saturn, and followed up with my post in early August.

    Meanwhile, Tim had posted on the possible link between the bicentennial de Vries period and the Quasi-Millennial 974 year period found in Steinhilber’s reconstruction and the solar-barycentric periods. We already had that specific period (not found by Bond in 2001) from Semi’s work all the way back in 2009.

    So as you see, we have been working along parallel avenues, but where you specialised in the tidal possibilities, we were generally orientated to the timings coincident with Solar Inertial Motion, although Ian Wilson’s input had re-awakened interest in tidal hypotheses as well.

    It is important that we are united in our aim to bring the solar-planetary theory to the attention of the world. It is also important that we maintain our integrity and scientific independence. We have been working hard to keep the ideas bubbling in the public domain, and you have made great achievements by getting your papers published in impactful journals such as JASTP.

    I’m glad you clarified things here today, and hope we can continue to move forward in friendship, openness and trust.

  14. tallbloke says:

    Here’s the comment from WUWT Nicola was referring to.

    tallbloke says:
    October 29, 2012 at 12:24 am
    Nicola Scafetta says:
    October 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm
    By the way, a correlation between planetary harmonics and Steinhilber’s TSI was first noted in my paper:
    Scafetta N., 2012. Multi-scale harmonic model for solar and climate cyclical variation throughout the Holocene based on Jupiter-Saturn tidal frequencies plus the 11-year solar dynamo cycle. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 80, 296-311.

    Hi Nicola, it’s an excellent paper and I’m really delighted you got it got published in such a prestigious Journal as JASTP.

    Just for the record, outside the literature, the correlation between planetary harmonics and Steinhilber’s TSI was first noted at the talkshop in July last year by Tim Channon in this comment,
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/tallbloke-and-tim-channon-a-cycles-analysis-approach-to-predicting-solar-activity/#comment-5019 when he published this plot of his model using planetary harmonic frequencies: http://daedalearth.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/sbf-tsi-a.png

    He then confirmed it was linked to the Sun’s motion at the talkshop in July 2011

    The key frequencies were found by Bart in his maximum entropy method study of the spectra of sunspot numbers, when he created a model of solar activity here:

    Which I then followed up with my analysis of these key planetary frequencies in August 2011 here:

    I appreciate you linking to my blog in two of your previous non-journal-submitted publications and I’m grateful that you have acknowledged our contribution to this field of study.



  15. “I’m glad you clarified things here today, and hope we can continue to move forward in friendship, openness and trust.”

    Sure Roger, no problem.

    I know well that you are doing a great job.

    The problem is Leif who now started claiming on WUWT that it was him to discover the planetary influence on the sun and that I took the ideas from him!

  16. tallbloke says:


    Is this in a recent comment? Give us a link. This is too funny. I’ll write an article so we can have a good laugh. So, it’s Brown 111 years ago when you put it forward, but it’s Leif when he decides??
    :) :)

  17. tallbloke says:

    Nicola, I’m following up on this, and clipping a few of Leif’s statements on the way, just for the record. I’ll be writing up a report in due course.

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 29, 2012 at 10:57 am
    Back in the 1880s, Wolf calculated the solar cycle period to be 11.295 years based on the 10 cycles he had reconstructed. There is an amusing numerological coincidence pointed out at the time by Charles Harrison: if you insert the periods p, masses m, and distances from the Sun d for the eight planets in the formula P = sum(p*m/d^2)/sum(m/d^2) you also get 11.295 years. Unfortunately the formula fails for the last ~100 years where the solar cycle period has averaged 10.6 years [In my report I point out the change from 11.3 to 10.6].

    One can use Kepler’s third law to eliminate either p or d from Harrison’s formula, to make it [d in AU and p in years to get units right]:
    P = sum(m/d^(1/2))/sum(m/d^(4/2)) or P = sum(m/p^(1/3))/sum(m/p^(4/3))

    One can go one step further:
    P = sum(A)/sum(A/p) where A is the angular momentum

    One last trick. It can be written 1/P = sum(A/p)/sum(A) or F = sum(A*f)/sum(A) or
    frequency of cycle = angular momentum weigthed average frequency of the planets

    Numerology is fun!

    This is just obfuscation to distract people fro the issue. He is also showing off his algebra skills to prove he is a clever man.

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 29, 2012 at 11:06 am
    Nicola Scafetta says:
    October 29, 2012 at 10:38 am
    See Leif, your dishonesty or incompetency is demonstrated by the fact that in your own power spectrum analysis of the sunspot record you found the three peaks that I found in my paper.
    I found the three peaks [and the 61-yr peak] long time before you did and showed that they were simply a consequence of the 120-yr modulation of the 11-yr cycle and did not require any planetary influence. Perhaps you picked the three-peaks idea up from me without attribution.

    This is where Leif is inconsistent. He also claims there are no resonant cycles on the sun longer than 5 minutes, but here he needs the ~120 year modulation of the [10.8-10.9 yr] cycle to avoid planetary influence and claim the ~9.93yr and ~11.86yr periods are just sideband harmonics of the 120yr and 10.9yr frequencies.

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm
    Nicola Scafetta says:
    October 29, 2012 at 11:58 am
    I thought that you opposed the planetary theory of solar variation because in your opinion no evidences existed!
    I oppose it because your so-called ‘evidence’ is just numerology. The 2nd referee [whom you called an 'incompetent idiot'] emailed me this:
    “Dear Leif,
    Congratulations on your very clear demonstration of the numerological origins of Scafetta’s “planetary effects”. It would make a great rebuttal of that paper if it is ultimately made public on some forum.
    On the other hand, as I just explained to the Editor, after getting more familiar with Scafetta’s activities in the blogosphere I have now revised my earlier suggestion and I do not think that a refereed journal would be the right place for the paper. The guy simply seems unfit to lead a rational debate; if his paper were published, no matter if it remains uncited or it is rebutted, he would be able to show it up as a refereed publication; he might even demand that a 2nd paper of his be published with his arguments” against the rebuttal etc. So now I would suggest the paper for plain rejection. I gather you would agree with this solution?”

    This is the behind the scenes politics of science. I wonder if the reviewer also got more familiar with Leif’s “activities in the blogosphere”.

  18. Roger,

    Leif is failing to realize that the harmonics found in the function of the orbit of the planets are now found in the actual solar data. As it is done in my works and in Abreu’s work.

    The old papers did not have good enough data or time series analysis technique to find the coherence, which we are finding.

    Leif simply does not get the point: the theory is now being supported by the data and possible physical mechanisms have been proposed.

  19. Leif has also published his review to my paper sent to the journal.


    If you like you may comment on it and give your opinion to see if those comments disprove my papers.

  20. tallbloke says:

    Reply to Leif:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm
    Nicola Scafetta says:
    October 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm
    What else do you want that it is published before you consider at least the possibility that the theory could be correct or at least interesting?

    There is no ‘theory’, but a host of equally disparate and mutually conflicting pseudo-scientific hand waves. Not even a communal set of predictions [spaghetti graph] for the 21st century where each proponent gets to plot a curve with a different color.

    The biggest hand wave of all is you saying at one moment that there are no resonances in the Sun lasting more than 5 minutes, then in the next moment invoking a 120 year modulation of a ~11yr ‘dynamo cycle’ in order to be able to claim that the other peaks in the spectrum at 9.93 and 11.86 are just sideband harmonics of the 120yr and ~11yr periods and only coincidentally the orbital period of Jupiter and the tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn’s synodic cycle. Your logic contradicts itself.

    Tallbloke volunteered to make one, but has not done so.

    This is a lie. What I said was that I would get around to it if and when Leif showed us a dynamologists plot forecasting the 21st century from dynamology theory.

    He made his excuses and left.

  21. tallbloke says:

    Leif has made this (lame in my view) response:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm
    tallbloke says:
    October 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm
    120yr and ~11yr periods and only coincidentally the orbital period of Jupiter and the tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn’s synodic cycle.
    The 120-yr ‘cycle’ has only been with us 300 years. The Abreu paper you refer to, does not mention or predict a 120-yr cycle, so its appearance at the present time is indeed a coincidence.

  22. tallbloke says:

    My brief reply:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm
    The Abreu paper you refer to, does not mention or predict a 120-yr cycle,

    Well clearly we need to convene some ‘workshops’ to get everyone singing off the same hymn sheet.

  23. tallbloke says:

    Response to Geoff Sharp:

    Geoff, here’s the claim we’re supposed to have made. It’s another Svalgaard straw man. He’s just wasting our time. As Nicola has pointed out, the solar-planetary theory is gaining traction rapidly despite Leif’s attempts to misdirect understanding and kill it with his illogical arguments and rhetoric. Coming from someone who is on the blogs 21/7 pushing his own ideas, it made me laugh to see Leif claim it was Scafetta’s promotion of his work on blogs being the reason for Scafetta having written 4 out of 25 of Elsevier’s most downloaded papers. With people of Steinhilber and Scafetta’s quality working on the SPT, I expect further progress before long.

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm
    tallbloke says:
    October 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm
    Well clearly we need to convene some ‘workshops’ to get everyone singing off the same hymn sheet. /sarc
    That is what characterizes a mature science. But more importantly you need to get the various hymn sheet produced and compared. You claim you can predict with precision solar activity thousands of year in advance. Well, if every planetary prediction produces a unique, different curve from all the rest, then, of course, they are worthless and the theory is dead. So, get on with it, or admit you can’t.

    I have never made such a claim of course. It’s just Leif desperately flailing at the proponents of a theory who’s time is come. Once our various predictions from various methods tighten up and show stronger agreement than they already are, climatologists will show a sudden rekindling of interest in the Sun as a climate driver, because they’ll be able to run predictive models again after the failure of nature to conform to the co2 curve.

    Creating consensus in workshops isn’t something which “characterizes a mature science”. It’s something which characterises a corrupt science, led by the nose by the team who send each other emails behind the scenes, discussing how to keep new ideas out of the literature.

    Where did we hear that before?

  24. Ninderthana says:


    All ideas about the possible planetary mechanism that is modulating the solar dynamo are [still] up for grabs.

    You stated that ; “although Ian Wilson’s input had re-awakened interest in tidal hypotheses as well.”

    My model is a hybrid gravitational – tidal model. It is is the solar tides induced by alignments of Venus and the Earth near the Sun’s tachocline that are being acted upon by the gravitational [NOT TIDAL] force of Jupiter. Technically this is called a tidal-torquing model.

    The tidal influence of Saturn on the Sun is much less than that of Jupiter, Venus, Earth, and Mercury so I am not sure that the 19.858 year synodic period would indicate a tidal signal:

    see http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/planetary-spin-orbit-coupling-model-for.html

  25. tallbloke says:

    Ian, thanks for correcting me and clarifying the physical basis of your working hypothesis. One thing that I’ve been puzzling over is the different effects of the direct gravitational force and the tidal force at different depths in the Sun. Tides acting on an incompressible fluid like the Earth’s oceans will behave differently to tides acting on the fluid gaseous plasma layers at the Sun’s surface than how they will act on the denser material under higher pressure deeper down.

    Any thoughts on that?

  26. Ninderthana says:


    As you know, direct planetary gravitational forces falls-off as 1/R^2 while tidal forces fall-off as 1/R^3 where R is the distance of the planet from the Sun. This means that Jupiter dominates the planetary gravitational force that is acting upon the Sun. It also means that effects of Jupiter’s gravitational force at the Sun dominates over the effects of Jupiter’s tidal force at the Sun.

    Given that Jupiter dominates as the source of gravitational force acting on the Sun, this leaves Venus and Earth as the next two planets (after Jupiter) that produce the biggest tidal forces acting on the Sun.

    The alignments of Venus and Earth every 0.8 years produces the maximum tidal distortion of the internal layers of the Sun. It is the asymmetry in the shape the layers of the Sun near tachocline
    that is produced by the combined Earth-Venus tides that Jupiter’s gravitational force tugs on to produce systematic changes in the rotation rates of the layers near the Sun’s tachocline.

    The amount of distortion that is produced by the combined Earth-Venus tides is very small (~ a few millimeters) however these tides could be enhanced by orbital resonances between the revolution rates of Venus and the Earth in their orbits about the Sun with the rotation rates of the solar plasma near the tachocline. The actual amount of compression/distortion is a magneto-hydro-dynamical problem which is beyond my mathematical expertise at this point.

    However, it is essential that sufficient tidal distortion occurs near the Sun’s tachocline for Jupiter’s gravity to tug upon with its gravitational force.

    The Abreu et al. paper uses the combined gravitational force of all the planets tugging on a distorted (oblate/prolate?) sphere that has radius similar to the radius of the tachocline. However, if you remove Venus and Earth from sources of gravitational tugging on the Sun [given that they are being used as the source of tidal force], this leaves Saturn as the next biggest gravitational force acting on the sun. This means that alignments of Jupiter and Saturn (every 19.858/9.93 years) would play a role in enhancing the gravitational force tugging upon the tidal distortions inside the Sun.

  27. tallbloke says:

    rgbatduke says:
    November 10, 2012 at 10:13 am
    I like the fact that this paper connects (at least arguably) plausible physical mechanisms to observations. What it is basically saying is that things that happen within the thin shell of the thermocline — in particular the formation of defects, convective rolls — are the proximate cause of surface solar activity. Defects that form there nucleate magnetic flux tubes that much later emerge as sunspots and solar surface magnetic activity. Even small degrees of modulation of the nucleation process can make big differences at the surface, just as only micro-droplets of water nucleated around particles or aerosols reach the critical size necessary to grow into actual clouds or raindrops.

    In the case of rain, it is surface to volume plus some surface chemistry that largely determines the success of the process initially, but tiny modulation in terms of aerosol concentration makes a big difference in the probability of cloud formation because there are strong positive feedbacks once a cloud reaches the point where it starts reflecting sunlight and differentially cooling the interior and lower layers.

    Two things I would like explained in more detail before I completely buy the argument, though, are:

    * The forces/torques involved are very, very small — I would like to see some sort of numerical magnetohydrodynamic computation that made plausible assumptions about the viscosity, density, lapse rate and UNinfluenced nucleation process (plausible enough to reproduce at least approximately observed surface phenomena) that, when the very weak planetary tidal torque was turned on altered the flux-tube nucleation rate as is asserted by the paper. Or COULD alter it, for some not unreasonable values of the parameters, across the critical boundary where the grow if the tidal forces are large, fail to grow if they are small. It’s one thing to say “this could be happening”; another to say “when we solve the equations of motion for a plausible model system, we observe that this happens”.

    Lacking this, their argument is much weaker.

    * I find myself vaguely disturbed by the fourier transforms above. Figure 5 is reasonably plausible — note well that the solar proxy peaks are broad and smeared out, with the long period peaks being much broader than the short period peaks and with a lot of undifferentiated “noise” in the short period high frequency domain. This can be understood very simply — the dataset being fourier transformed has a finite length, a length commensurate with (within an order of magnitude or so) the longest period peak displayed. Consequently those long period peaks are poorly represented in the sample, and the peaks are broad and accompanied by peaks that might well be entirely spurious, artifacts of the length of the dataset and the accidental noise. Basically, the fourier transform itself has artifacts that correspond to (inverse) Gibbs phenomena arising from the de facto decomposition of a Heaviside function representing the length of the data set, which broadens the longer period peaks and introduces irrelevant shorter period peaks both.

    The shorter period peaks have many more periods in the integral and hence are much narrower, although they are quite reasonably accompanied by a lot of short period noise because the Sun is a chaotic turbulent magnetohydrodynamic system and probably has internal e.g. breathing mode oscillations with a variety of frequencies that also modulate the phenomenon (if the hypothesis is correct, that small variations in the thermocline can and do produce macroscopically resolvable differences in surface output).

    Figure b is similar. Obviously they did a F.T. on the same interval as used in a) so that the peak at e.g. 506 years is similarly broad even though one would rather expect it to be quite sharp given that one is simply doing a fourier decomposition of the vector sum of a set of completely determined torques due to the periodic planetary orbits. If they’d done the F. T. on a much longer time interval (as they easily could have) one would expect the 506 year peak to be much sharper. This also explains why the widths of the 88 year peaks etc scale pretty well between a) and b), and shows that their hypothesis has a very hard time accounting for the largest peaks in the Be proxy in the broad zone between 200 and 500 years. Nor can these peaks in a) be easily explained away as Heaviside/Gibbs artifacts, as the artifacts would be expected to appear in figure b) as well.

    Again, perhaps these correspond to breathing mode oscillations, the sun’s internal furnace “chuffing” a bit due to some sort of resonance between gravitational force, fusion rate, and thermal expansion (a feedback loop where the sun contracts slightly, increasing the efficiency of the core fusion process, which heats the core a bit more, which then takes a long time to propagate to the thermocline, which expands the thermocline a bit, which decompresses the furnace so that its output cools/decreases a bit, which propagates outward to cause the thermocline to contract a bit, which recompresses the core a bit, resulting in a wave train of small modulations in output due to coupled breathing mode oscillations of solar density in the “critical” domain of the thermocline). Again, it would be lovely to see a model that reproduces this sort of coupled nonlinear phenomenon even qualitatively.

    So figure 5 is moderately convincing. The short period peaks line up very nicely with peaks in Be production, there is at least a peak at 508 years in both (along with a lot of unexplained structure in between), and yes, it could be true that small forces drive relatively big changes if there is any possibility of resonance, where 5a actually provides some evidence of undriven resonances as it is.

    What I don’t like so much is figure A.1. To be frank, it looks impossible. The peaks are far too sharp, far too localized, and utterly inconsistent with figure 5. The interval of integration is only around 20x the size of the longest period and yet the 508 year peak is sharp as an arrow in the radionucleotide data. If anything, the SHORT period peaks have widths. I would have rather expected this figure to look a lot more like 5 for all of the proxies, even if they did the FT of the torque over a long enough interval to sharpen up the long period peak(s). This F.T. looks more like a quantum spectrum, where there is actual physics prohibiting most of the possible frequences in the temporal signal, not the FT of a chaotic, noisy process.

    Where is all of the noise?

    To conclude — it convinces me that planetary tides are a plausible physical mechanism for modulation of the magnetic state, one that is empirically correlated with proxy derived data. Some of the data expressing the correspondence is “reasonable”; other data is rather puzzling although they may have some explanation for it and my intuition of the wrong shape and lack of noise of the FT on a 20x interval in multiple proxies may be wrong. Finally, this is probably not the only important factor — note the other peaks in figure 5 — and the entire argument would be greatly strengthened by even a crude model calculation that can reproduce the result qualitatively and demonstrate that small torques are indeed “capable” of producing the large modulations observed via nucleation and growth in an actual magnetohydrodynamic convective model of the Sun.


  28. tallbloke says:

    Bart says:
    November 10, 2012 at 10:13 am
    In many discussions with planetary perturbation advocates on these pages, especially involving Nicola Scafetta who no doubt will be making an appearance in 5, 4, 3… ;-), I have agreed that there could possibly be a link due to gravitational gradients, but that I doubt the argument can be made compelling enough for widespread acceptance.

    I will also go out on the limb a little and make a perhaps novel suggestion that causation could be the reverse – that solar activity, resulting in increased solar radiation pressure, might perturb planetary orbits. Satellites at geosynchronous orbit drift significantly due to this factor, as well as due to gravitational perturbations from the Sun, Moon, and Earth, and their orbits have to be periodically corrected via stationkeeping maneuvers to maintain position. If solar radiation pressure were the primary driver of the correlations between solar activity and planetary motion, it might explain stochastic variation in the phases and amplitudes of the cycles.

    In any case, the bottom line is that the cycles exist regardless of the mechanism. The warmist line is that the existence of such cycles must depend on some kind of unknown, and unlikely, deterministic driver, and those pointing to coincidence with planetary cycles are ceding the high ground in the battle to the opposition by accepting this premise. But, the premise is flawed. The danger is that the advocates of planetary influence may find evidence which proves the naysayers wrong, but they may not, and the naysayers will then claim that the hypothesis is disproved when, in fact, the hypothesis of natural cyclical climate behavior does NOT depend on the existence of a deterministic external driver.

    Oscillations in natural systems depend only on the ability to store energy in alternating states, e.g., potential to kinetic, and back again. Such oscillations arise frequently and naturally in systems which are governed by partial differential equations on a bounded domain, and can be continuously excited by purely random forcing. Such oscillations are ubiquitous in nature.

    The oscillations exist, and we are at the peak of an approximately 60-65 year cycle in the global temperature metric right now. The entire AGW scare was mounted on the back of the preceding upsweep in that cycle, and it is going to fail on the imminent downsweep.

  29. tallbloke says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    November 10, 2012 at 10:14 am
    Central to the torque mechanism is that the solar dynamo is working in the overshoot layer just beneath the tachocline. BTW, Abreu et al. accepts that a dynamo is creating the solar cycle.
    Central to many dynamo mechanisms is a shear layer across which the solar rotation speed changes. There is such a layer at the tachocline [that is what defines the tachocline which is about 30% of the solar radius below the photosphere]. Another important ingredient is a Meridional circulation that recycle surface magnetic flux back into the interior where it can be amplified for the next cycle. This is the idea of the ‘conveyor belt’. Modern observations seem to indicate that there is no such single large conveyor belt. There is a shallow belt just under the surface where, BTW, there is also a shear layer, so dynamo models may be moving to a shallow dynamo rather than the deep one needed for the torque mechanism to work.

  30. tallbloke says:

    tallbloke says:
    November 10, 2012 at 11:01 am
    Leif Svalgaard says:
    November 10, 2012 at 10:14 am
    dynamo models may be moving to a shallow dynamo rather than the deep one needed for the torque mechanism to work.

    Breaking news: Leif Svalgaard throws fifty years of mainstream solar physics under the bus in order to keep the solar-planetary theory at bay. :)

  31. tallbloke says:

    tallbloke says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    November 11, 2012 at 1:08 am
    Mike Jonas says:
    November 11, 2012 at 12:01 am
    Leif Svalgaard – You say to tallbloke “It is not credible that you have been aware of this.“. Looking back through my records, I see that I have been aware of this paper since at least March 2011, two months before its submission to A and A. It has been a long wait to see it finally published. Given that I have no involvement in solar physics etc, it is entirely credible that many others, such as tallbloke, would have known about it too.

    As Leif Svalgaard says when asked if he was a peer reviewer of the paper:
    “I’m not at liberty to deny or affirm….”

    Yet he casts aspersions on me because:
    “you have produced no evidence to back that claim up. Conclusion: you are a bit economical with the truth, perhaps.”

    You can have a look at the Steinhilber et al model reconstruction my co-blogger Tim C was working on before March 2011 and draw your own conclusions though. note the 2011/02 datestamps in these URL’s.


    Here is the comparison with the original data:

    And the Spectral analysis of the data and the model:

    Anyway, as you can see from Leif’s attempt to cast aspersions on the Abreu et al paper in his very first comment on this thread, he evidently believes that because the paper was received and accepted on the 17th May 2011 it therefore received no peer review at all, so how could he by his own account have been a reviewer for it, and why would he leave this as an open question? (Even though it was pointed out that the finally published paper contains reference to a 2012 paper, demonstrating that it underwent a series of revisions prior to publication 17 months later in Oct 2012).

    I’m not the one with the credibility issue here. We have been working on the solar-planetary theory for the last four years and put up with the constant abuse, misrepresentation and all round ignorant behaviour from the man who successfully brought about the demise of the forums at solarcycle24.com before doing his best to wreck WUWT. Many of the people who enjoy “discussion on a civil and scientific level” have already left.

    It’s a sunny day, I’m going for a walk.

  32. tallbloke says:

    vukcevic says:
    November 11, 2012 at 2:05 am
    tallbloke says: November 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm
    Also of interest is the plot Vukcevic made of successive Jupiter – Saturn alignments along the Parker Spiral at solar minimum.

    the above mentioned graph direct link is:
    This would suggest that the solar meridional circulation is a primary process with the secondary electro/magnetic feedback regulated modulation/synchronization
    Hence the Babcock-Leighton hypothesis may be partially correct if the magic ‘amplification’ (that no one can explain how it works) is rejected in favor of the feedback synchronization as proposed by Vukcevic.

  33. tallbloke says:

    A&A 509, A30 (2010)
    Long-term variations in the mean meridional motion of the sunspot groups

    J. Javaraiah
    Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore 560034, India
    Received: 23 July 2009
    Accepted: 25 October 2009
    Aims. We seek the long-term variations close to the length of a solar cycle in the mean meridional motion of sunspot groups (a proxy of the meridional plasma flow).
    Methods. Using the largest set of available reliable sunspot group data, the combined Greenwich and Solar Optical Observation Network sunspot group data during the period 1879–2008, we determined variations in the mean meridional motion of the sunspot groups in the Sun’s whole northern and southern hemispheres and also in different latitude intervals. We determined the variations from the yearly data and for the sake of better statistics by binning the data into 3–4 year moving time intervals (MTIs) successively shifted by one year. We determined the periodicities in the mean meridional motion from the fast Fourier transform (FFT) power spectrum analysis. The values of the periodicities are determined from the maximum entropy method (MEM) and the temporal dependencies of the periodicities are determined from the Morlet-wavelet analyses.
    Results. We find that the mean meridional motion of the spot groups varies considerably on a time scale of about 5–20 years. The maximum amplitude of the variation is about 10–15 m s-1 in both the northern and the southern hemispheres. Variation in the mean motion is considerably different during different solar cycles. At the maximum epoch (year 2000) of the current cycle 23, the mean motion is relatively strong in the past 100 years and northbound in both the northern and the southern hemispheres. This abnormal behavior of the mean motion may be related to the low strength and the long duration of the current cycle, and also to the violation of the Gnevyshev and Ohl rule by the cycles pair 22, 23. The power spectral analyses suggest the existence of ≈3.2- and ≈ 4.3-year periodicities in the mean motion of the spot groups in the southern hemisphere, whereas a 13–16 year periodicity is found to exist in the mean motion of the northern hemisphere. There is strong evidence for a latitude-time dependency in the periodicities of the mean motion. The north-south difference in the mean motion also varies by about 10 m s-1. During the recent cycles, the north-south difference is negligibly small. Approximate 12- and 22-year periodicities are found to exist in the north-south difference. The implications of all these results are briefly discussed.


  34. Volker Doormann says:

    Hi All,

    J .A.. Abreu et al. have analyzed in their work the spectrum of co author F. Steinhilber and notice following certain time periods: 88 yr, 104 yr, 150 yr, 208 yr 506 yr and 2200 yr. But also a period of 355 years can be seen in the analysed spectrum as a second strong peak.

    Although they can reconstruct these time periods in their torque model – anyway – in their work ‘Is there a planetary influence on solar acivity?’ there is no planet named and no astronomical parameter given.

    If you want to solve their problem, there are some prior problems to solve, but also a help.

    One prior problem is the timecalibration of 10Be and 14C time line. Here you can take E.g. a second spectrum E.g. the GISP2 spectrum of Greenland


    It is striking that the FFT spectra from samples exhibit each similar peaks, but that they have not the very same time periods. The Steinhilber periods have slightly larger values (green) as the GISP2 periods (blue).

    As it is well known here, that the astronomical accuracy of the tides function of Pluto and Quaoar can serve as time reference to thus calibrate the time periods of the samples, I have drawn a range of tides function with the FFT.

    This is the GISP2 spectrum timed better fit peaks to the GHI as the spectrum of Steinhilber. Also notice that with the astronomical GHI spectrum it can explain by the tides function a number of peaks that arise because of the big ellipticity of Pluto shows a complex range of tides produced as the next image shows.


    The astronomical tidal range of Pluto and Quaoar (blue) correlates well with the Spectrum by E. Zorita et al. ECHO, thick green), and there are highlights between 500 BCE and 1000 BCE identical spectrum is where the tides function (blue) is identical to the GISP2 spectrum (red).

    Also to see is that the two measured Spectra (GISP2 red / grey Steinhilber) are different in some time ranges and that even over 10,000 years. So it takes no wonder when defining parts of the measured spectra for 10000 years include inaccuracies due to various reasons.

    There is so much that the time periods are a bit smaller as the J.A. Abreu et al. identified periods of time (also the peak at 330 years) and that the FFT analysis (sine wave) are shares of the tides function on the Sun of the planets Pluto and Quaoar.

    The biggest peak at 900 (913.5) years is the fundamental frequency of the tides function and is known in the community as the period of the interglacial Warm or Cold periods with three Maxima or Minima like the ‘Little Ice Age’ LIA.

    This shows that with the astronomical tide heliocentric features both the climate for millennia can be calculated as shown also for years or months as shown now.

    Calculating other more faster heliocentric tide functions from Earth and Mercury you can see that it is in strong coherence with the sea level oscillations superimposed to the ‘linear trend’ ‘calibrated’ ad hoc to the measured satellites data from a ‘linear’ 50 year trend.


    There are even some coincidences of the solar tide function in the measured UAH or RSS temperature data


    These comparisons show, dispised what influence has the CO2 on global temperatures, there are heliocentric tide functions, which can be found in the spectra of global temperature and none of the analyzed temperature frequencies may be declared ba a content in the air spectra with a function of CO2.

    CO2 is a dead horse.

    The GHI has its 3rd birthday on 11th February 2013.




  35. [...] the Sun, published by: J. A. Abreu1, J. Beer, A. Ferriz-Mas, K. G. McCracken, and F. Steinhilber Is there a planetary influence on solar activity? A&A 548, A88 (2012) These spectra are based upon a time 9400 year time series of solar activity [...]