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.


Another item from the IOP website. This clearly the power of the Talkshop at work, we were discussing this very issue a week ago. 😉

The chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), particle physicist Gregory Jaczko, has announced he is to resign. The announcement comes a year after congressional Republicans objected to his leadership in phasing out the proposed nuclear-waste repository in Yucca Mountain in Nevada. It is unclear when his resignation will become effective, with the Obama administration announcing its intention to nominate a new NRC chair soon, who must also receive Senate backing.

According to regulations, the NRC has five commissioners who regulate and license nuclear power, but the chairman has ultimate legal authority. Jaczko had spent seven years as a commissioner, including three as chairman, with his term set to expire in June 2013. “I have decided this is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum,” he declared in an official statement. “This is the right time to pass along the public-safety torch to a new chairman who will keep a strong focus on carrying out the vital mission of the [NRC].”

From the Institute of Physics Website we learn that:

A key part of a UK-led project to investigate the feasibility of injecting particles into the stratosphere with the aim of cooling the Earth has been cancelled. In what would have been one of the first trials of geoengineering, the Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE) project will now not undertake field tests. Instead, the project will be restricted to lab experiments and computer simulations.


Suzanne ‘pants on fire’ Goldberg

I had considered using the strapline ‘factual inaccuracy’ for this piece, as I did with Guardian reporter Leo Hickman in the wake of the raid on Tallbloke Towers by Lincolnshire police last December. But that doesn’t cover it. The Guardian’s smear campaign against the Heartland Institute has plumbed new depths with a May 22nd story (I use the word advisedly) from Suzanne Goldenberg about the ICCC7 conference hosted by the Heartland Institute.

It centres around the wire fraud committed by Pacific Institute Director and former American Geophysical Union Ethics Committee member Peter Gleick, in obtaining internal documents from Heartland using identity theft, and adding a forged document designed to smear the organisation to them before dissemination.

Goldenberg states:

The pressure point occurred last February when the scientist on the conference mugs, Peter Gleick, used deception to obtain confidential documents from Heartland, including a donors list and and plans to indoctrinate school children against belief in climate change.

my italics.

Goldenberg knows this last part of the statement to be untrue, which makes this a lie, rather than a factual inaccuracy. The ‘policy document’ containing the ‘plans to indoctrinate school children’ is a forgery unrelated to the real documents Gleick fraudulently obtained. It is unknown for sure at this stage whether Gleick wrote it himself, though it looks likely, given the similarity of the style to his other writing. It was included as a pdf document with a different production date to the real documents (which contain nothing remarkable).



Aral sea. Image credit FAO

Dust deposition in the Aral Sea: implications for changes in atmospheric circulation in central Asia during the past 2000 years

Xiangtong Huanga , Hedi Oberhänsli, Hans von Suchodoletz, Philippe Sorrel

Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 30, Issues 25–26, December 2011, Pages 3661–3674


“We investigated mineral aerosol (dust) deposition in the Aral Sea with intention to understand the variability of dust in central Asia and its implications for atmospheric circulation change in the late Holocene. Using an 11.12-m sediment core of the lake, we calculated bulk sediment fluxes at high time-resolution and analyzed grain-size distributions of detrital sediments. A refined age-depth model was established by combined methods of radiocarbon dating and archeological evidence. Besides, a principal component analysis (PCA) of grain-size fractions and elements (Fe, Ti, K, Ca, Sr) was used to assess the potential processes controlling detrital inputs. The results


Some Interesting Characteristics of Solar Cycle Lengths
G. E. Pease
The historical variation in solar cycle length has recently become a topic of interest to many.  This 2009 paper, in particular, has caught my interest:
A very complete tabulation of solar cycle lengths from 1610 to 1996 is in Table 2 on page 3 of the paper.  An un-trended scatter plot of the SSN lengths is included in Figure 5, page 5 and some plots of “normalized (O-C) Cycle Lengths”  on page 7 produced some very pronounced sinusoidal plots that do not bear any resemblance to the raw data.  The procedure for computing these plots involved computation of an “average cycle length of 10.95 years derived independently by the FFT and PDM analyses from the sunspot number data.”
Interesting, but I wondered if a more straightforward analysis could possibly yield similar results.  Using Excel on the raw data, updated to 2008.9 for the solar minimum times, I obtained this plot:

I’ve been on an intensive training course for the last three days and forgot to post this item I prepared last week. Apologies to all.

The seventh International Climate Change Conference got underway in Chicago on Monday. Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, the event has brought together speakers and other attendees from all over the world.

Organiser Jim Lakely emailed to say:

You can cover the conference remotely, as we’ll be live-streaming the event from the opening on May 21 to the close on May 23 on the conference Web site

The “Watch Live” link will be easy to find on Monday, May 21. And a video of every presentation will be available for sharing within a week of the close of the conference.

The previous ICCC to take place in Chicago, ICCC-4 in 2010, attracted nearly 800 scientists, policy experts, elected officials, journalists, and other guests. We expect another large turn-out due to recent developments in the international debate over climate change, a line-up of outstanding speakers, and the global focus on Chicago due to the NATO Summit.


From the suggestions page submitted by Tenuc and translated by Tim C:
UPDATE: Ed Caryl adds a link to the relevant Stozhkov_2008 paper in comments. 
Submitted on 2012/05/22 at 9:19 am

Interesting article on a Russian paper here “Global warming is over, Russian scientists believe.”

“Thus the number of incoming cosmic dust to us must depend on the relative positions of the planets, explained the scientist. “After all, depending on their location changes the trajectory of comets and their number in the space between the Sun and the orbit of Mars, where the zodiacal dust cloud. Based on these considerations, a change in the concentration of cosmic dust and, therefore, the Earth’s climate must be periodic, similar to those observed in the arrangement of the planets, “- said Stozhkov.”

[mod: Google translated text follows: –
Global warming ends: in the years to come the temperature drop across the planet, although its nature and will be sparing. So the forecast today with a shared corr. Tass, scientists from the Physics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences / LPI /.


Looks like summer at last, 21st May

Posted: May 20, 2012 by tchannon in Forecasting, weather


I’ve been watching the model forecasts, some good news for a change.



The novel aspect of Nicola Scafetta’s new paper which offers a viable physical mechanism which can potentially explain why we find correlations between planetary motion and changes in solar activity is its grounding in a well established observation concerning main sequence stars: The Mass – Luminosity Relation. In this post we’ll take a quick look at what it is, why it holds good for the class of stars which includes our Sun and why this is important to planetary-solar theory.

From Knoxville University:

Detailed observations, particularly in binary star systems where masses can be determined with some reliability, indicate that there is a correlation between the mass of a star and its luminosity.

The Relationship of Mass and Luminosity
The adjacent image illustrates for main sequence stars by plotting the logarithm of the luminosity (in units of solar luminosity) against the logarithm of mass (in units of solar mass).

We see that on this plot most stars fall very near a straight line. This is called the mass-luminosity relation for main-sequence stars.

The adjacent plot implies a very strong dependence of the luminosity on the mass, since the mass enters raised to the power 3.5. For example, if I double the mass of a main sequence star, the luminosity increases by a factor 2 3.5 ~ 11.3. Thus, stars like Sirius that are about twice as massive as the Sun are more than 10 times as luminous.

Magnitude 5.9 Northern Italy, serious damage

Posted: May 20, 2012 by tchannon in Earthquakes

Image credit Reuters, story at ITV, click image for story.

EarthquakeReport: Very strong shallow earthquake kills at least 4 people in the Ferrara area, Italy + video


Israeli news have a report, also mentions yesterday’s quake there.

Initial report magnitude 5.9, epicentre near Modena.

A few dead, no reports of a major toll.

The region is world famous for historic buildings and many have been damaged, with collapses reported. Given the dire state of Italian finances this bodes ill.

Italian blogger and Talkshop contributor Michele posted this earlier this morning

He wrote on his own blog “4 hours, I was asleep and the bed moved with the same force of the earthquake in Aquila years ago …”