Over on Deltoid, things have been pretty unpleasant and noisy, so I’m answering Jeremy the snob here. :)
@290 Jeremy (who thinks you have to be C.ENG to merit being called an engineer and I.ENG isn’t good enough).
“How the heck do you get a link from that to measuring solar levels at the earth environment boundary and then observing the effect of solar actvity levels on the earth’s environment???”
Well Jeremy, there are several distinct engineering problems to be addressed here which I deal with at length in various posts around my blog. If you pick your way between the stuff people ridicule here because they can’t understand it or don’t appreciate sceptical humour, you’ll discover something about my investigations of this fascinating area of study.
NASA scientists Wolff and Patrone posit a viable mechanism for the link between the motion of the Sun relative to the centre of mass of the solar system and the release of extra energy from overturnng convection cells inside the Sun which will modulate solar activity levels.
This is great because a small number of scientists have been searching for the mechanism for a long time. They searched for it because there are apparent relations between the motion of the planets which determine the Sun’s barycentric motion and the timing and magnitude of the solar cycles and activity such as flares and coronal mass ejections, but no physical mechanism could be found. Tides too small, Sun apparently in freefall etc.
So, if I can model the Wolff-Patrone mechanism and successfully hindcast the sunspot record, then we can predict future solar activity levels with some yet to be determined level of confidence, since the motion of the planets is well known.
The amount of solar energy arriving at the top of the atmosphere is known to within a watt per square meter or better, although there has been controversy within the field as to how well small intercycle variations can be used to project back to determine the secular variation over the period of record. Chief Solar physicist at the Planck Institute Sami Solanki thinks it’s around 1.5W/m^2 since the end of the little ice age. Dr Leif Svalgaard thinks it’s less from his study of geomagnetic records back to 1840.
Prof Nir Shaviv in his JGR paper on using the oceans as a calorimeter shows that the solar variation is amplified by some yet to be determined terrestrial mechanism by a factor of around seven to ten times. Engineering issues around OHC measurement prior to 2003 with XBT and 2003-2004 with ARGO float calibration means it’ll be some time before we have enough good data to settle the issue.
This means before too long we can potentially account for a good proportion of warming since 1710 with solar forcing and potentially predict future surface temperature levels give or take any co2 effect which might, eventually, be properly determined once the other major factors are correctly accounted for.
I see investigating this as a good way forwards to better determining climate forcings and calming the debate down a bit so we can get on with proper science which produces objective outputs in a less highly charged environment again.