Archive for June, 2010

Holistic Climate Theory – Part 1

Posted: June 29, 2010 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Climate is complicated. There are so many feedbacks affecting each other that it’s hard to sort out the muddle of cause and effect. To try to get a better handle on the problem of understanding which variations are more fundamental and important, we need to start from some simple observations and work outwards into the problem of understanding the interaction of all the myriad phenomena vying for our attention.

Nutshell: Energy comes from the Sun to the Earth, most of which is covered in oceans. The oceans absorb short wave solar energy and emit long wave radiation which heats the atmosphere and the  ‘greenhouse gases’ it contains. The atmosphere bounces the radiation down and up then loses the heat to space. A change in global temperature could have four basic causes, or a mixture of them.

1) A change in external forcing such as an increase or decrease in solar activity, or variation in cloud seeding cosmic rays due to the motion of the solar system through the local interstellar clouds, a nearby supernova or possibly the changing orbital configurations of the outer planets affecting the shape of the heliospheric current sheet.
2) An increase or decrease in greenhouse gases such as water vapour or carbon dioxide. (However, Miscolczi thinks an increase in co2 will cause a decrease in water vapour  to re-equilibriate the system)
3) An increase or decrease in albedo, principally cloud cover, wind patterns raising dust, and volcanic activity emitting particulates (aerosols), ozone destroying gases and ‘greenhouse’ gases.
4) Changes in Earth’s orientation parameters, orbital parameters, length of day, frequencies of anomalous motions (Chandler wobble) etc.

More detail: The amount of energy that reaches the Earth from the Sun, the  Total Solar Irradiation (TSI) is modulated by the Earth’s albedo (amount of reflectivity) which varies with changing cloud cover, ice area, flora colouration etc. This changes the amount of solar energy that actually makes it into the oceans, the Insolation at the surface.

The oceans are the biggest thing acting as a heat-energy battery on the Earth, or as Anthony Watts puts it, they are “One big assed heat flux capacitor” 🙂
There is as much heat capacity in the top two fathoms of the ocean as there is in the entire atmosphere above it. The tail does not wag the dog, because the long wave radiation bouncing back down from the atmosphere can’t penetrate the ocean beyond it’s own wavelength. The global ocean is the big dog on the climate block. However, the atmosphere does play a big role in redistributing the heat the ocean emits into it. Along with the ocean currents, the atmospheric currents move heat away from the equator towards the poles, and carry cold water and air from the poles down to lower latitudes. The Earth is a big heat engine, and much of the ‘internal’ climate action is due to the way the Earth (and more importanly ocean-atmosphere) is constantly trying to equilibriate the energy it is recieving from the Sun.

There are various ways of looking at the way heat-energy gets around the Earth climate system. Some new and fresh insights have been provided by people like Ferenc Miscolczi,  Erl Happ, Stephen Wilde and Willis Eschenbach, describing various ways the Earth’s climate system checks and balances itself in response to changing conditions. Miscolczi for example, demonstrates mathematically why the Earth climate system is in dynamic equilibrium, with a ‘saturated grenhouse effect’. Eschenbach describes how thunderstorms transport heat to the upper atmosphere, bypassing the ‘greenhouse layer’ and shading Earth from the Sun’s irradiance.

So if the Earth tends towards  equilibrium, why does the temperature fluctuate and precipitation vary so much over centuries? Well the first thing to observe here is that the temperature hasn’t actually varied all that much, maybe a degree or two over the last thousand years. And precipitation, although there decade long droughts in places, has been pretty stable globally too. Let’s look at some of the things which are affecting the sytem from the outside, before we consider internal variation.

Because it is subject to outside influences in the interplanetary space weather, the earth reacts to try to equilibriate with it’s surroundings as well as balance it’s internal energy budget. The Sun varies it’s output of  radiations and particle emissions over it’s various cycles, the ~11 year Schwabe cycle of rising and falling sunspot numbers. It’s ~22.1 year Hale cycle of reversing magnetic polarity. It’s ~205 year de Vries Cycles, and other longer periods we can see from looking at proxy records such as the C14 tree ring series and the Be10 deposits modulated by galactic cosmic rays, which are more or less repelled by the Sun’s varying activity. These longer cycles coincide with long term resonances in the orbits of the gas giant planets, an example is the 2245 year cycle of the changing synodic period of Uranus and Neptune, which is caused by the cycle of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions. UV from the sun has altered by 15% recently, and the speed of the solar wind varies considerably with the waxing and waning of solar cycles and the coronal holes which emit the particles. We are still learning about the effects these variations have on our planet and it’s climate system.

Also, the motion of the Earth itself as it approaches nearer to and retreats from the sun during it’s yearly orbit causes a big change in the proportion of TSI recieved at the surface. At this point in it’s ~25,000 year precessionary cycle, the Earth gats around 80W/m^2 more incoming solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere above the southern hemisphere’s vast oceans in it’s summer than the northern hemisphere gets. These seasonal variations drive a huge energy difference between different parts of Earth. As well as all this, our nearest celestial neighbour, the Moon, which has the largest variance in gravitational effect on our planet, follows a complex cycle of  Lunisolar conjunction and opposition, changing maximum declination, nodal procession and other longer cycles which at times in the history of the solar system have been in strong resonance with the motions of other planets, vastly amplifying their effects on the motion of Earth’s molten core and it’s associated magnetic field, as well as shifting ocean currents and tidal actions.

There are many more aspects to climate not even touched on yet, volcanos and earthquakes, thunderstorms and atmospheric waves, el Nino and la Nina, geomagnetism and the global electrical circuit, ocean salinity and overturning. I’ll start weaving them into part 2, along with extra details provided by people who visit and leave snippets of info in comments. Please join in so that we can create a fully inclusive “holistic theory of climate”.

Vale Carl Smith

Posted: June 24, 2010 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Today is the first anniversary of the sad loss of Vale Carl Smith. Carl was a great contributor to the study of solar-planetary theory and started the blog now continued and augmented by Geoff Sharp at Carl was anxious that his work would be continued and extended by others after him and not be forgotten. He can be sure of that.

It was the assistance Carl provided to Ray Tomes in his thread on this subject on another forum which enabled me to get to grips with some data and start discovering things for myself. Geoff is dedicated to carrying Carl’s work forward and I’m proud to be doing the same. Carl was a man with a rare clarity of vision and purpose, and willingness to share knowledge. I want to honour those principles he held and work towards a better understanding of  Cosmos.

I have reproduced below one of Carl’s graphs showing the relationship between Solar angular momentum and it’s motion around the centre of mass of the solar system.

sun-ssb angular momentum

sun-ssb angular momentum by Carl Smith

Smile if you are a climate sceptic

Posted: June 23, 2010 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

There is a buzz going round the sceptical blogosphere about a paper published by NAS which links to supplementary material carrying  a blacklist of sceptical scientists. One of the co-authors is one Stephen Schneider, the well known propagandist and alarmist.

There was a comment in response that maybe we’d end up wearing yellow badges. Anthony Watts responded saying:

“As for yellow badges, here’s what I’d like to see all skeptics wear. Maybe somebody can come up with a theme variation specific to climate skeptics.”

I like the smiley badge idea. Maybe we could make it specific to sceptics by making the mouth into a question mark.

Kind of asking the question and blowing a raspberry at the same time.

Stoaty has helped me with my idea and come up with this:


We could get badges made in each country and put them on ebay, profits to sceptical blogs tip jars. I can get 500 2″ buttons made here for £110

Good idea?

UPDATE: Anthony Watts has started a competition here:

One of the reasons the sun has been neglected in climate studies is because the amplitude of the sunspot cycles has been diminishing since the late 1950’s while global temperature has risen since the late 1970’s. This facile dismissal of the Sun’s importance is stupid, but there it is.

Now Willie Soon has produced a graph which takes into account the changing atmospheric modulation of incoming solar energy. It graphs sunshine hours in Japan against the surface temperature record in China.

sunshine hours vs temp

This should remove any doubts people had about a link between the Sun and our climates.

Let the arguments over how small changes in TSI and cloud cover can effect large changes in temperature commence. 🙂

From the ‘We shouldn’t say we told you so but we told you so’ dept.

Those of us interested in ‘Barycentric nonsense’ (T.M. Leif S.) have been saying for several years that the conjunction of Neptune and Uranus which has more or less coincided with the historical solar grand minima of the past indicated that there woud be a big slowdown in solar activity following their latest conjunction in 1993. I put up a post on predicting solar activity from planetary motion data some six months ago.  It seems mainstream solar physicists Duhau and de Jager have come to the conclusion that there is going to be another grand minium following the current solar cycle too.  There has been much debate over who this minimum should be named after if it comes to pass. Some say Landscheidt was the first to predict it, though he thought it would begin a cycle earlier. Other say Jack Eddy should get the honours, for his work elucidating the Maunder minimum and suggesting a Solar-activity-Earth-climate connection. Some even nominate Al Gore, just to extract the maximum irony.

Post your thoughts on this issue and the new paper form Duhau and de Jager  below.

Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 8, 1983-1999., June, 2010

The Forthcoming Grand Minimum of Solar Activity

S. Duhau, Ph.D.1, and C. de Jager, Ph.D.2,
1Departamento de Física, Facultad de Ingenieria, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1428, Bs. As. Argentina.
2Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research; P.O. Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, The Netherlands.


We summarize recent findings about periodicities in the solar tachocline and their physical interpretation. These lead us to conclude that solar variability is presently entering into a long Grand Minimum, this being an episode of very low solar activity, not shorter than a century. A consequence is an improvement of our earlier forecast of the strength at maximum of the present Schwabe cycle (#24). The maximum will be late (2013.5), with a sunspot number as low as 55.

Gleissberg cycle

N.B. There is a regrettable printing error in Section 5
(Summary and Conclusions). In line 2 of the 2nd paragraph please read: ‘In
turn, that cycle *precedes* the forthcoming Grand Minimum…
“Solar activity is presently going through a
transition period (2000 – 2013). This will be followed by a remarkably low
Schwabe cycle, which has started recently. In turn that cycle precedes a
forthcoming Grand Minimum, most likely of the long type.“

H/T to Paul Vaughan for the addendum.

NASA has kindly provided us with a new Earth Energy Budget diagram:

Earth Energy Budget

Which looks a lot like the old Keihl-Trenberth diagram, with snazzy colours.

But, wait a minute! What happened to ‘Back Radiation from the atmosphere’?? We have long been told of the impending apocalypse due to Co2 in the atmosphere increasing due to our emissions from our cars, homes, energy plants etc causing more heat to be re-radiated from the atmosphere back to earth.

Here’s the old diagram:

Keihl-Trenberth energy budget

See over on the right there, 324 Watts per square metre of back radiation from ‘Greenhouse Gases’. Where’s it gone?

Maybe it has something to do with the discovery by a trio of scientists that NASA gave up using the Stefan Bolzmann equation when they did the moon landings. Martin Hertzberg, PhD, Consultant in Science and Technology, Hans Schreuder, retired analytical chemist, and Alan Siddons, former radiochemist discovered NASA already knew the Moon absorbs a lot of heat and gives it up later, the daytime surface temperature turned out to be 20 degrees lower than expected, and the night-time temperature 60 (yes 60 Kelvin) degrees higher than expected from simple black body equations. See the paper ‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon?’ here.

I wonder why NASA never told the climate scientists…

I have been saying for a long time now that the oceans absorb a lot of energy direct from the sun (not from ‘back radiation’, as the longwave doesn’t penetrate the oceans surface beyond it’s own wavelength) and releases it when solar activity is low. The new figure of 51% of the sun’s radiation incident on the Earth being absorbed by the land and oceans means there is quite a few Watts/m^2 more than previously thought. I’ll need to revisit my calcs as this will affect my climate sensitivity calculations.

Assuming NASA still agree with Keihl and Trenberth’s figure for total insolation to the top of the atmosphere, here are how the new percentages compare to the old Watts per square metre figures:

Incoming shortwave  solar energy:
Total insolation arriving at top of atmosphere: Old: 342 New:342
Absorbed by surface: Old:168 New:174 Diff: +6
Absorbed by atmosphere: Old:67 New:55 Diff: -8
Absorbed by clouds: Old: zero New:10 Diff: +10

Outgoing shortwave  solar energy:
Reflected by clouds, atmosphere (inc aerosols): Old:77 New:89 diff: +12
Reflected by surface: Old:30 New:14 Diff: -16

Incoming longwave from atmosphere:
From greenhouse gases: Old:324 New: zero Diff: -324 !!!!!!!!!

Outgoing longwave infrared energy:
Radiated by Surface: Old:390 New:72 Diff: -218 !!!!!!!!!!
Thermal conduction: Old:24 New:24 Diff: zero
Latent heat of evaporation: Old:78 New:78 Diff: zero
Radiated by clouds and atmosphere: Old:195 New:219 Diff: +24
Radiated direct from surface through ‘atmospheric window: Old:40 New:21 Diff: -19

I’ll put the figures in a spreadsheet and do some totals when I get a minute. One thing is for sure, the science isn’t settled. Here’s what Kevin Trenberth said in private email released with the rest of the ‘climategate’ material.

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Indeed Kevin, indeed. Maybe a few hours spent understanding the energy absorbative capacity of water relative to long and shortwave radiation might help?

Building on the work by Desmoulins and others, NASA scientist Ching Cheh Hung produced a paper in 2007 entitled

Apparent Relations Between Solar Activity and Solar Tides Caused by the Planets
(NASA/TM—2007-214817) Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio July 2007)

By calculating the incidence of ‘most aligned days’ for the planets Venus, Earth and Jupiter he produced the following graph:

Venus - Earth - Jupiter and the solar sunspot cycle

Most people can  see the obvious correlation here, except Dr Svalgaard, who needs to wipe his windows!
The formulas used by Hung to determine most aligned days are as follows:

formulae for most aligned days

It is interesting that Hung uses a relatively simple technique involving conjunction and opposition. Another part of his paper devoted to the incidence of solar flares compared to the position of planets notes that there is a good correlation when the planet is around 30 degrees from the location of the flare, as well as when it is directly overhead. Traditionally astrologers count 30 degree aspects among the ‘harmonious aspects’ along with 60 degree and 120 degree ‘triangular’ aspects.

This reminds us of Charvatova’s ‘harmonious’ and dis-harmonious periods of the sun’s motion about the barycentre; solar activity is high when the trefoils are regular and it’s ‘petals’ are spaced around 120 degrees apart, as in the epochs along the top row of the diagrams below. The bottom row shows the sun’s dis-harmonious motion during the periods when solar activity was very low.

Charvatova - Solar motion about barycentre of solar system

Desmoulins graph shows the alignments running out of phase prior to the Dalton Minimum around 1800-1820 (when Neptune and Uranus were coming to conjunction). It seems to tie up more neatly with the solar cycles and I wonder which aspects or angles Desmoulins used. It should be noted that in traditional astrology, the angles are relative to Earth, and are not heliocentric. It may be an interesting exercise to run some tables with harmonious aspects as seen from Jupiter, Earth and Venus as well as from the centre of the system. This might help determine whether the effect is electromagnetic or tidal.

New paper from Nicola Scafetta

Posted: June 4, 2010 by tallbloke in climate, solar system dynamics

Nicola Scafetta sent me a pre-print of his new paper yesterday. The full pre-print can be downloaded here: In the meantime, here is the abstract.

Scafetta, N., Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (2010), doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2010.04.015

We investigate whether or not the decadal and multi-decadal climate oscillations have an astronomical origin. Several global surface temperature records since 1850 and records deduced from the orbits of the planets present very similar power spectra. Eleven frequencies with period between 5 and 100 years closely correspond in the two records. Among them, large climate oscillations with peak-to-trough amplitude of about 0.1 oC and 0.25 oC, and periods of about 20 and 60 years, respectively, are synchronized to the orbital periods of Jupiter and Saturn. Schwabe and Hale solar cycles are also visible in the temperature records. A 9.1-year cycle is synchronized to the Moon’s orbital cycles. A phenomenological model based on these astronomical cycles can be used to well reconstruct the temperature oscillations since 1850 and to make partial forecasts for the 21st century. It is found that at least 60% of the global warming observed since 1970 has been induced by the combined effect of the above natural climate oscillations. The partial forecast indicates that climate may stabilize or cool until 2030-2040. Possible physical mechanisms are qualitatively discussed with an emphasis on the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators.

For me, the punchline is in Appendix A:

“Synchronization mechanisms can explain how small periodic extraterrestrial forcings can be mirrored by the climate system and contribute to a terrestrial amplification of a weak external periodic forcing.”

Velocity of solar motion about barycentre against global temperature

Velocity of solar motion about barycentre against global temperature