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

  1. I have included information from Scafetta’s paper here:

    I have added a link to your (this) blog on my web site (

  2. tallbloke says:

    Alan, that’s a useful page. Thanks for the link, I’ll return the compliment by linking to your site, which has been in the vanguard of truth for a long time now.

  3. Douglas DC says:

    Hey Tallbloke! I think there is something to the
    planetary/Solar theory. should be interestng to follow on
    Watt’s up with that?

  4. slimething says:

    Dr. Roy Spencer hasn’t completely discounted solar/GCR effects but appears to think the climate is largely chaotic and cannot be predicted or quantified. His view is it may warm in the next 30 years, or cool….nobody knows.

    I’ve been somewhat agnostic on the subject, but don’t think things just happen. In all the chaos and noise, there must be an underlying cause and effect. Spencer attributes clouds, which is plausible, but what modulates cloud dynamics?

    IMO, to say emphatically the sun is basically an incandescent light bulb and has no appreciable effect on earth’s changing climate is a bit hubris. We don’t know what causes the sun to behave as it does, and despite efforts to discount the sun’s influence, I don’t think we have the ability yet to understand our universe in even the most little bit.

    The current El Nino (RIP) seems to have released an enormous amount of heat into the atmosphere. Surely there must be something other than chaos responsible for these events. In my view this is not an indicator of a warming planet, but one that is setting up for a period of cooling. The next 12-24 months should be an interesting time to test the various hypotheses.

    Of note, this El Nino differs from 1998 in that OHC has been on the decline for the last several years. Personally I think the latest Levitus/Willis et al rendition of OHC from 1993-2008 is another in a string of confirmation bias (at best) articles, but upon peeling back the bark from the tree, the real truth is they haven’t the foggiest idea. A few months back we were told the heat was hiding below 700m. Faced with the problem of common sense telling us that would mean the oceans are heating from below, now they (Willis et al) expect us to believe the very unphysical looking leap from 2002 to 2008 is legitimate. That SST does not correlate in any way to their analysis should raise some red flags, but at least it “vindicates” Hansen’s model :). Do they actually expect even casual observers not to spot these inconsistencies?

    My 2c. What says you?

  5. slimething says:

    That should be 2002 to 2003.

  6. Tenuc says:

    This paper from Nicola Scafetta is an excellent empirical summary of the effects celestial bodies have on our climate, I think.

    Perhaps mall sudden nudges from a multitude of small overlapping quasi-cycles and black swan events can either reinforce or cancel each other out. This causes the climate oscillations observed, with the whole system driven by the resulting deterministic chaos.

  7. tallbloke says:

    Hi Slimething. Yes, the OHC jump from 2002-3 is odd, and happens at the splice of XBT/ARGO data. I did some calcs on OHC compared with the thermal expansion element of sea level rise and discovered that there must have been an additional forcing of around 4w/m^2 during the 92-02 decade. This is far more than co2 is capable of and must be down to lowered cloud cover and high sunspot numbers.

  8. tallbloke says:


    Scafetta is nudging the climate community in the right direction I think. 🙂

  9. P.G. Sharrow says:

    To a point of possable confusion. Heat energy is storied in the ocean as energized molecules and very little as measured temperature and is liberated as evaporation from the surface. When the vapor condenses the heat is released to the atmosphere. A cold ocean can warm a cool atmosphere. A volume of water can contain molecules that have a signature of 212F and 32F while the total measurement average is only 40F and a satalite may measure a cloud top of 60F over the cold water at night.
    The oceans contain thousands of times the heat energy of the atmosphere above. Solar energy going into the oceans may take many years to be liberated to the atmosphere above.
    Very confounding to determine cause and effect timing.

    Thousands of years of human study have shown that the warm yellow thing in the sky has something to do with it as well as that cold white thing and there is also some effects caused by the wanderers in the night sky as well. :-]

  10. tallbloke says:

    Hi PG. Excellent observations, thanks. I try to refer to Ocean Heat-Energy as a reminder to all that sensible heat isn’t the only way energy manifests.

  11. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Glad to read the Tallbloke again, the last few weeks have been too quiet. pg

  12. Paul Vaughan says:

    In the focus on peripheral “60 year” NH nonlinear continentality, the “90 year” maritime circulatory core is being overlooked.

    This is what is being missed:

    These guys were on to something:

    1) Adams, J.B.; Mann, M.E.; & Ammann, C.M. (2003). Proxy Evidence for an El Nino-like Response to Volcanic Forcing. Nature 426, 274-278.

    Click to access Adamsetal-Nature03.pdf

    2) Kerr, R.A. (2003). Volcanic Blasts Favor El Nino Warmings. Science 299, 336-337.

    Click to access Kerr%282003%29_VolENSO.pdf

    But it’s not just SOI, it’s SOI+L90 (in recent times, at least).

    Generally, stratospheric eruptions occur when Southern Ocean (SO) & Southeast Pacific (SEP) sea surface temperature (SST) is high. (In interpreting the graph, bear in mind that MSI records end at 1970, whereas SAOT & IVI2 go to 2000.) The largest SAOT events occur when SO & SEP SST is highest. Also, as is well known, stratospheric eruptions lead to cooling via optical extinction.

    The spinning southern maritime hub and stratospheric eruptions appear to be coupled as mutual coolants.

    [Abbreviations/details: (update added June 7, 2010)]

    In summary:
    We should be focused on lunisolar tides.

    [Note to diehards: If there’s something planetary &/or solar, it might have to wait until forces/factors of larger magnitude are first understood.]

  13. tallbloke says:

    Loud and clear Paul. Ian Wilson is headed the same way too, along with Richard Holle, Harald Yndestad, William Turrell, and Vladimir Ozhigin, among others.

    One of the first posts on my blog was:

    But I’m going to hedge my bets here and say that both Lunar and Solar-planetary dynamics should be pursued with equal vigour, because it’s a wide open field and there is much to be discovered.

    Regarding the sixty year cycle (and it’s capriciousness).
    In some ways it is unfortunate that one of the most important parts of Nicola Scafetta’s paper is in the appendix on coupled oscillators, outside the main body of the paper.

    Every third conjunction of Jupiter/Saturn takes place in the same spot in the sky to within a very small angle. There is a slow precession such that it takes some hundreds of years before the conjunction once again returns to the same point. The phasing is coincident with the major historically observed climate changes Roman Warm Period – Cold Dark Ages Period – Medieval Warm Period – Little Ice Age – Modern Warm Period.

    Could it be that the periodic alignment of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction with the galactic centre might provide the external perturbation which explains both the sixty year cycle whch doesn’t necessarily strongly feature at all historical epochs (every third conjunction lining up with the galactic centre – or not) and the longer term climate cycles we observe in the Earth’s climate (gradual precession of the conjunction)?

    As Mike Lorry pointed out on WUWT:
    “Escape velocity from the Solar System is 42.1 km/sec, but velocity to escape from the galaxy is 551 km/sec, rather significant. The solar systems velocity around the galactic center is about half that speed.”

  14. Paul Vaughan says:

    Does everyone here understand what I mean by SOI+L90?

  15. tallbloke says:

    SOI = Southern oscillation index.


  16. Paul Vaughan says:

    The short answer:
    L90 = the 90 year harmonic of the lunisolar harmonic spectrum

    …but if tallbloke (who generally picks up everything) is not aware of this from my communications, this is valuable feedback indeed. Depending on funding & competing obligations, I might isolate & refine the L90+SOI message moving forward, because this is no trivial point.

  17. tallbloke says:

    Heh, thanks Paul, I’d just found the explanation on the page you linked on WUWT.

    You have done a phenomenal amount of work in the last few years on this stuff, and I know how it feels when you can’t see the forest for the trees.

    I think you should climb a mountain, sit back, let it mull, enjoy the uncluttered view, and the best way forward will come to you.

    My best to you.

  18. Paul Vaughan says:

    tallbloke, I’m very curious to know what you figure might account for any 90 year cycles (such as those which Ulric Lyons, Ian Wilson, & I have been mentioning recently).

  19. tallbloke says:

    Hi Paul, I think it may be another of those ‘evident for a few cycles then submerges for another few’ type signals. It is approx half the U and N cycle, so I’d look at what J and S have been up to at times of U and N opposition and conjunction recently.

    Landscheidt had quite a lot to say about the Gleissberg cycle, but I can’t remember exactly what at the moment.

    What about your LNC – LAC combination? The lunar connection may be strong because the Icelandic volcano next door to the one which has been causing the air traffic problems tends to blow around every 90 years.

  20. Paul Vaughan says:

    My way of thinking involves Earth’s actual features and related turbulence & eddies. That’s why I plot the harmonics here:

    There are just so many ways that the vibrations can fold into 180 — and is there any good reason to speculate that folding patterns wouldn’t vary spatiotemporally? Not based on my experience with fluids.

    I’m not selling notions of stationary cycles. Far from it. More like I’m on the alert for ALL of the harmonics – strung together in whatever ephemeral patterns turbulence dishes up locally.

    I’m simplifying a bit for the sake of brevity, but I suspect folks will get what I’m saying without further elaboration.

    180, 90, 60, 45, 36, 30, 26, … in whatever local combos – and keep in mind that harmonics beating together hit other harmonics. In time we might understand the variations in spatiotemporal manifestation better.

    The parent cause can be the planets for the reasons anna v explains, but I see lunisolar factors as being more immediate in driving harmonic folding here & now. I accept that others will choose to see it differently.

  21. tallbloke says:

    Ray Tomes observes this regarding your LNC-LAC

    “If I’m not mistaken, that lunar cycle is half 179.3 years because there are two nodes (as 9.3 is used not 18.6).

    In the 11,400 year C14 record (considered a solar proxy), the 89 year cycle is the strongest one.”

    Or is that why the divide by two occurs here:

    (LNC/2)*(LAC) / (LNC/2 – LAC)
    = (9.306474)*(8.847358) / (9.306474 – 8.847358)
    = 179.3396597 years

    I’m confused. As usual. 🙂

  22. Paul Vaughan says:

    It appears Ray’s thinking may be converging with that of Ian Wilson & I on this 90 year thing.

    I don’t buy that 10Be & 14C are telling only about solar activity. We know way too little about the terrestrial hydrologic cycle.

    Are you familiar with Ian’s recent work on Southern Australia summertime median temperature extremes? It dovetails with all this other stuff. There’s one of his graphs in particular that might help clear some of this up for you.

    But again: I’m not selling any notions of stationary cycles. There’s more than one way the harmonics can fold – and then there’s spatiotemporal variation.

    It seems L90+SOI was relevant in the Southern Ocean in recent times. I thank Bob Tisdale for his notes & graphs. It became apparent right away that there was something special about the heavy, fast-spinning southern maritime hub.

    Bear in mind that there’s a 90 pattern in the NH in recent times too. It shows up crystal clear in the integral of NAM (northern annular mode).

  23. Paul Vaughan says:

    I’ve added an update (June 11, 2010) here:

    I’m not proposing mechanisms involving the sun – just noting association. Note the near-confounding or I(R) & L90. When I have more time, I’ll take a look into I(R)+SOI.