Nature Print Edition Features Solar Planetary Theory

Posted: January 31, 2013 by tallbloke in Analysis, Solar physics, solar system dynamics
Tags: , , , , ,

University of Montreal physicist Paul Charbonneau has written a short review of the Abreu et al paper published by ‘Astronomy and Astrophysics’, and featured on the talkshop last October. This is a good step forward for the hypothesis we have been working on here for the last three years, with important contributions from published scientists including Ian Wilson, Nicola Scafetta P.A. Semi and many other contributors. Although Abreu et al were not the first in modern times to publish in this area, the prominence they have achieved through publication of a review piece by Paul Charbonneau in Nature is helping to turn the spotlight onto an idea whose time has come. Hopefully the authors with prior publications in this exciting  area of investigation will now receive more of the recognition they deserve for their pioneering work in the field, bravely withstanding the unscientific criticism and ridicule of certain members of the mainstream solar physics community. As Charbonneau observes at the end of his article:

To sum up, what we have here is a fit to observations unmatched by any other exploratory framework, buttressed by a conjectural explanatory scenario that is testable at least at some level. It may all turn out to be wrong in the end, but this is definitely not Astrology. This is science.


Here is a quick screenshot of the figure which accompanies the piece. Having Steinhilber, Beer and McCracken as co-authors was a big help to Abreu, as their research on 10Be proxy’s and the TSI link is definitive.


Tim Channon used his clever software to model the Steinhilber, Beer and  10Be TSI proxy back in early 2011 when we wrote the article on his reconstruction of Lean’s TSI.


Nicola Scafetta also created a long term reconstruction using planetary periodicities in his paper :

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’

This was published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar Terrestrial Physics last year, along with another paper laying out a possible physical mechanism for a planetary effect on the Sun:

Does the Sun work as a nuclear fusion amplifier of planetary tidal forcing? A proposal for a physical mechanism based on the mass-luminosity relation.

Nicola Scafetta and hopefully some of the Abreu et al Authors will be presenting at the Solar System Dynamics Conference later this year.


Link to Nature’s online edition of the article

  1. tchannon says:

    11 year magnetic cycle?

  2. tallbloke says:

    If you don’t include the polarity and look only at the amplitude… 😉

  3. vukcevic says:

    Currently I have yet another exchange with Dr.S., this time about the Gleissberg cycle, as part of the planetary hypothesis
    evident in both solar and climate data:

  4. Paul Vaughan says:

    Curious to see how the article’s framed, but it appears — as so very often is the case — that we’re paywalled out.

  5. Sparks says:

    Have you guys had time to view the quick plot I made to show that there is a physical planetary step in the precession of solar cycle timing? I think the timing of solar cycles should be understood before matching solar cycle amplitude to any apparent planetary influence. Honestly have a look there’s actually more to it than meets the eye. I’ve made the chart as simplistic and easy to read as I can, the vertical red and blue lines are the important values. Until I work out how to explain the technique this will have to do. 🙂

  6. vukcevic says:

    As always, I have views which are not necessarily acceptable to others:

  7. J Martin says:

    “~this is definitely not Astrology. This is science.”

    Leif will at this moment be writing to Nature to cancel his subscription.

  8. tallbloke says:

    Leif’s complaint was that they ” played their cards close to the chest”.
    Too close for the ‘ galactic gate keeper’ to get the paper rejected.

  9. Ninderthana says:

    It would appear that Charbonneau has made a 180 degree shift in his thinking from 2002:

    The rise and fall of the first solar cycle model

    The rise and fall of the first solar cycle model

    N. try this next time.
    <a href=”….33..351C”>The rise and fall of the first solar cycle model</a>

  10. Paul Vaughan says:

    vukcevic (January 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm) wrote:

    I’m looking into that 88 year cycle. Be aware that it comes out MUCH cleaner if you break your analysis down by time of year. Tim Channon: You should try this. With monthly data, run your analysis 12 times in parallel — or with daily data do 365 parallel analyses. You’ll still have a problem with nonstationarity (since your software is specialized for temporally-global), but I can get around that with multi-extent complex wavelets and gaussian-integrated second order central differences, so we can look from different angles and compare notes later. Let’s see if we can shine a much brighter light on what vukcevic shows. There’s a 44 year cycle too — it’s SUPER-clear. Greg’s tools should be able to find these patterns too …if he breaks his analyses down by time of year — THAT’s the key – and it’s what Piers Corbyn has been telling us all along. There are line-ups with ALL the major terrestrial climate shifts in the Tsonis framework.

  11. tchannon says:

    Which data are you talking about?

  12. tallbloke says:

    Many thanks for the link to the Charbonneau paper. My pdf copy is on a long defunct laptop and *somewhere* on my backup drive. 😦

    I posted the Balfour Stewart paper a while back:

    It aroused almost no interest, but was a worthwhile exercise from a history of science point of view.

    “It would appear that Charbonneau has made a 180 degree shift in his thinking from 2002:”

    Yes, and given that his paper is one of the stock in trade refutations Leif Svalgaard uses, I’m very pleased to see it. Prof. Charbonneau is to be congratulated for his honesty and open mindedness.There are now several potentially viable physical mechanisms in play:

    Your tidal torquing effect
    Wolf and Patrone’s overturning convection cells
    Scafetta’s mass-luminosity relation
    Abreu et al’s torque on a non-spherical solar subsurface

    I would tentatively add my Parker spiral alignment electro-dynamic hypothesis, given the strength of the correlation for the timing if not the amplitudes of the solar cycles. That’s what akes me think there may well be more than one effect in play. In fact, looking at other examples in nature, it would be unusual if there were not.

  13. Bill McIntyre says:

    Three strictly eyesight observations:

    1: There are “standing waves” observable in the EUVI stereo behind depictions. The “waves” are straight rather than curved and are like a striped picture frame assembled with the corner angles reversed so that the “halo” produced is like a baseball diamond with home plate at the bottom. The only way these “waves” can be straight is if the sun’s observable rotational differences (faster at equator – slower at poles) are cylindrical (rather than “plate like”).

    2: If the sun were a “simple” fusion reactor, all sunspots would appear at the equator. If we put a rotating “wavy washer” in the sun’s equatorial area (perhaps with it’s “waves” influenced by planetary orbits) we would produce the two hemispheric “lines of sunspots” observed.

    3. The sun’s helio-sphere might be an “equalizer” of planetary influence – – eg. Neptune is seen as a “controller” of earth’s PDO (by acting through the sun) Landscheight (sp?) info.

  14. vukcevic says:

    tallbloke says:
    February 1, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Re: Parker spiral
    Feedback and synchronisation along Parker spiral is a promising, however not easily captured. In early 2008 I wrote an article on the solar current feedback, first reference on the web I found is at
    but I am sure there must be something at WUWT before than, but on ‘Tallblokes’ was mentioned much later
    On the first page of my article there is a link to animation:

    referring to the Parker spiral planetary (Jupiter & Saturn) angular alignment at the sunspot minima. This is, as far as I am aware, the only coherent angular alignment of the solar minima with the two major planetary sources of gravity (re mass, angular momentum, torque etc.) as well as the magnetic field.
    Warning from Svalgaard: (Vukcevic) hypothesis is the least plausible and is the easiest to refute, as I have done repeatedly.

  15. Paul Vaughan says:

    tchannon (February 1, 2013 at 3:55 am) asked:
    “Which data are you talking about?”

    All high-latitude geomagnetic data is worth exploring for Hale & Hale-subharmonic patterns. The subharmonics are manifest in different summary statistics. I will look into the broader class of stats, leveraging the power of central limit theorem and the law of large numbers to get a better handle on aggregate constraints. (I realize that’s not what your software is specialized for, so I’ll take some responsibility in that area even though I’m severely short on free time.) However, you should be able to see the Hale wave easily enough (IF you break your analysis down by time of year as I’ve suggested). You may have trouble with the families due to the nonstationarity, but it could be quite informative to see exactly what structures of temporally-global (not to be confused with spatially-global) “raised floors” you see. That could be a worthwhile clue for others looking into this with tools that leverage CLT & LLN on the infinite network of coupled oscillators paradigm — i.e. the Tsonis framework. (The main value of seeing this is that it helps tremendously in gaining an understanding of how/why the mainstream has overlooked fundamentally important aspects of solar-terrestrial relations by looking only in a small, poorly-lit subset of statistical summary space. This is an aid in deciding how to frame educational communications to be shared with mainstream academics who are in need of statistical tutorials.) Btw for everyone: The summaries I’ve shown of solar cycle deceleration apply not only to Schwabe, but also Hale. In the past I’ve stressed this generalizability, which applies to ALL terrestrial cycles, including ones that are considered irregular by conventional standards (such as ENSO). There’s NO solar-coupled cycle on Earth that can escape this generalizability, as it’s a mathematical property of solar time series arising from universal laws.

  16. Ninderthana says:


    You said that:

    “There are now several potentially viable physical mechanisms in play:

    Your tidal torquing effect
    Wolf and Patrone’s overturning convection cells
    Scafetta’s mass-luminosity relation
    Abreu et al’s torque on a non-spherical solar subsurface”

    My tidal torquing model is essentially the same as Abreu et al.’s
    except that the non-spherical surface upon which Jupiter’s gravitational
    torque is acting is not permanently present as it is in their model.
    The non-spherical surface in the mid to lower convective zone of the
    Sun is only temporarily present for a brief period about the alignments
    of Earth and Venus.

  17. tallbloke says:

    Ian, Yes. It seems to me that with better data on speed-ups and slow-downs of the lattitudinal belts, it will become possible to determine which of the two possibilities is the correct one. Would you agree?

  18. tallbloke says:

    Ian, Yes. It seems to me that with better data on speed-ups and slow-downs of the lattitudinal belts, it will become possible to determine which of the two possibilities is the correct one. Would you agree?

  19. Bart Leplae says:

    The Abreu et al paper takes a 9400 year perspective. The relative short 45 years since when the polar magnetic field strength has been measured seems to show a colleration between the direction and magnitude of the polar magnetic field of the Sun own acceleration. This in turn looks like an implementation of Faraday’s law. Whenever the acceleration turns into deceleration (or the other way around), we see an impact on the Solar Spot cycle (provided the solar spot cycle is increasing or decreasing). Example of moments when the acceleration/deceleration reversal took place during the increase of the solar spot cycle are : 1802, 1881 and the end of 2011. After the events of 1802 and 1881, the sunspot cycle stagnated for 3 years. Since the end of 2011 event, the sunspot cycle has stagnated. So it looks like the magnetic cycle is influencing the sunspot cycle. To me the long-term periodicity looks to be the result of the interferance between the magnetic cycle (driven through the relative position of the planets) and the natural ‘internal driven’ periodicithy of the sunspot cycle. I try keep track of the current sunspot cycle in “Does the current Sunspot Cycle stagnate?”.
    The latest January data from SIDC is not yet included but continues to show the same stagnation.

  20. vukcevic says:

    January 2013 Sunspot number is SSN=62.9, 22 points up on the December 2012 (40.8).
    Possible sign of the increased activity?
    It doesn’t look like.

  21. Bill McIntyre says:

    MY 3 above is an error. sorry.

  22. oldbrew says:

    Paul Vaughan says: ‘I’m looking into that 88 year cycle.’

    This paper entitled ‘Phase lags of solar hemispheric cycles’ proposes some mechanics of an 88-year cycle: ‘The phase of the hemispheric cycles shows an alternating variation: the northern cycle leads in four cycles and follows in four cycles.’

    However they admit ‘The theoretical background is unclear.’

  23. Paul Vaughan says:

    @ oldbrew (February 1, 2013 at 8:25 pm)

    They cite much of the familiar N-S asymmetry literature trail, but quite remarkably they skip Donner & Thiel 2007:
    …but glad to see they haven’t ignored Zolotova & Ponyavin.

    a separate note:
    An insight arising out of my geomagnetic annual/Hale investigations of the past day: why a certain HCS time series (hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge) starts in 1927 …instead of going back many decades more like the time series from which it was derived (being polite here TB). This is looking like it could eventually result in a fairly humorous story…

  24. Paul Vaughan says:

    follow up …

    Solar-Terrestrial Magnetic Polarity Weave

  25. Scute says:

    Sorry, this is another long one! I’d like to focus on two comments above that point to the same possible sunspot mechanism:


    Bill McIntyre on Feb 1st 2013 at 12:29:

    2: If the sun were a “simple” fusion reactor, all sunspots would appear at the equator. If we put a rotating “wavy washer” in the sun’s equatorial area (perhaps with it’s “waves” influenced by planetary orbits) we would produce the two hemispheric “lines of sunspots”


    Tallbloke Feb 1st 2013 at 5:53:

    “Ian, Yes. It seems to me that with better data on speed-ups and slow-downs of the lattitudinal belts, it will become possible to determine which of the two possibilities is the correct one. Would you agree?”


    I made a comment a few days back suggesting a mechanism by which the above suggested “wavy washer” (what I called ‘churn’, the reason for which will become clear) could be brought about by Ian’s speed-ups and slow-downs. I’ve since reflected on it more but hadn’t got round to putting it writing. This seems like the right place given Bill’s and Tallbloke’s musings. First of all, here’s my original comment along with an excerpt:

    The comment focuses on the midlatitudes where the angular velocity of the latitudinal belts matches the angular velocity of the radiative interior. I suggested that this region (doesn’t it have a name? the tachopar; tachoplane?) at about the 30 degree latitude line could be what is coaxed into ‘churning’ the tachocline to produce sunspots. Here’s an excerpt from the comment:

    “Since the mid latitudes have a zero differential speed between the convective layer and the core, in reality there would be an oscillation, up and then down of the notional latitude at which this stationary rotational speed gradient exists. It would move up and down within a fairly narrow band …. Also, if there is no rotational speed gradient at this latitude there must be a very different convection scenario going on there at the depth of the tachocline- except, by definition, there is no tachocline at this latitude strictly speaking. Here’s the deal: I can’t help feeling that Jupiter and Saturn affecting this precise narrow latitude band every (roughly) eleven years is the root cause of at least the onset of the sunspot cycle- not least of all because this is the same time and latitude at which sunspots are first seen before migrating to the equator.

    This phenomenon, instigated solely by the eleven year cycle of gravitational forces from Jupiter and Saturn would instigate a once in eleven year process by which each successive mid latitude band that had been rotationaly quiescent (no rotational speed gradient between convective layer and core) would be turned into a shear layer as the effect travels up the latitude bands while leaving once-turbulent latitudes rotationaly still behind it. The whole process would then act in reverse, (as Jupiter and Saturn moved out of conjunction) back down the latitudes within this narrow mid latitude band and be over in a matter of months having churned over an entire band, not once but twice. It would only happen once every eleven years and only in the precise time and place where we see sunspots emerge.”

    ////////////////////// End of excerpt

    I was thinking of Ian’s work when I was making this comment because it’s neater to have Jupiter acting on Earth’s and Venus’ tidal bulge. But there was another paper which I remembered as mentioning the Jupiter/ Saturn cycle, plus a circa 23 year phasing and a 6ms-1 speed up and slowdown of the tidal bulge (still can’t find it!). That 6ms-1 figure was what resonated with me for the purposes of the ‘churn’. This is because it is commensurate with the latitudinal velocity gradient (of the convective zone) of about minus 4.7ms-1 per degree of latitude, moving toward the poles.

    I’ve since been playing around with a few calculations. As the convective zone speeds up its angular velocity (to achieve that extra differential radial velocity of 6ms-1) the ‘tachoplane’, as I shall temporarily call it moves poleward and then back into position by about one degree in the few months of conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter. I think it would happen in a form of simple harmonic motion (though not in a pure sine wave). What you would see at the usual latitude of the ‘tachoplane’ would be a slow increase in differential speed between the convection zone and radiative zone. If you were ‘standing’ there, under the convection zone you wouldn’t notice the poleward shift. You would just see a slow speeding up of the convective layer above, from nothing to 6ms-1 over the period of a month or two. Then it would slow back to nothing. You would also see a gradual but large angle change its orientation- see below. (Keep in mind this is differential flow; both zones are rotating together at a bit less than 2000ms-1)

    This generally eastward speed-up from zero would combine with the poleward drift to produce a wave front which, though notionally a latitude line, would be trailing northeasterly (in the northern hemisphere) vectors of convection zone velocity differential. This would change to easterly vectors as the radial velocity differential hit maximum and the poleward shift of the ‘tachoplane’ was at its northerly limit, one degree or about 12000km above its usual latitude. Then the vectors would become southeasterly as the process reversed and the gas giants began to move out of conjunction.

    The above process would have profound effects on the tachocline in that one-degree-wide stretch of latitude sitting, as it does, at 30 degrees north and south- precisely where sunspots first emerge.

    Incidentally, and coincidentally, an almost identical process would occur if the gas giants were acting on the poles of a prolate tachocline as in the case of Abreu et al. But the magnitudes of the vectors and their duration would presumably be rather different.

    Since I’ve gone this far, I might as well explain how I think such churning could produce sunspots. Sorry if this sounds a bit like sucking eggs or as a fait accompli but it’s more for my train of thought so as to explain my thinking more fluently without stuffing the prose with ‘would’ and ‘could’ and ‘if’ etc.

    I think the ‘tachoplane’, as I’m calling it, is ripe for convection overshoot and it’s for this reason- the base of the convective layer is highly laminated, magnetically, with a greater resistance to convective overshoot the more densely laminated and stable this layer becomes. This magnetic buoyancy is determined by the differential velocity in the shear layer. Where the differential velocity becomes indistinct, i.e. at or near the ‘tachoplane’ the shear breaks down and therefore so does the magnetic buoyancy. This allows for convective overshoot.

    If we look at steady state conditions before the churn i.e. at a solar minimum when the ‘tachoplane’ is quiescent (not moving poleward or ‘churning’) the latitudinal belts have reasonably sound bases riding over the tachocline with a reasonably well characterised lamination and magnetic buoyancy. But still, there may be the odd episode of anomalous overshoot even then. Let’s say (in the northern hemisphere) there is one latitudinal band riding just to the north of the ‘tachoplane’ and one just to the south- just for convenience although it seems intuitive that this might well happen. Any anomalous overshoot would be most likely in the northern portion of the southern band and to the southern part of the northern band. Further away from the ‘tachoplane’ the magnetic buoyancy gets a greater grip. These small episodes of anomalous overshoot are contained and dissipated within the bands at absolute minimum cycle.

    As Jupiter and Saturn start to move into conjunction and the churn begins, the band to the south of the ‘tachoplane’ begins to move north. The churn proceeds as described above and completely denatures the sheer layer by introducing a northwesterly component to what was an easterly shear. This immediately (within weeks?) allows large overshoots to plunge through the not-so-buoyant sheer layer. These incursions drop deeper than anywhere else in the tachocline. Consequently, they pick up vast amounts of heat. They also wrap up poloidal magnetic field from the top of the radiative layer. This field first of all just wraps passively around them as it yields to the plunge, then snaps around them fully as they rise back up through the messed-up sheer layer. (Poloidal field at this latitude already appears to be more ‘promiscuous’ as it can be seen in the SOHO images escaping at 30 degrees north and connecting with 30 degrees south- possibly due to that same lack of magnetic buoyancy at the ‘tachoplane’).

    The violent convective rise of the new plumes messes up the shear layer even more as they rise at much higher velocity than normal because they are now super-heated plumes causing turbulence in their wake. This helps to perpetuate the overshoot and plume production process long after the gas giants’ conjunction/churning effect and explains the sudden onset/gradual tailing off of the sunspot cycle. But for the first few months it is the churn as well as these high velocity plumes that are denaturing the shear layer.

    This is all happening within one degree of latitude i.e. at the northern edge of that band which is moving northward as it rides just south of the ‘tachoplane’. Consequently, the plumes rise up the northern-inside face of that band and at high velocity to emerge at or near the north of the latitude band- this fits with what is observed at the surface. We also observe that they have a southwesterly orientation. That might fit with their initial northwesterly overshoot plunge but somehow reflected by precession- though I have to say that’s doubtful. Perhaps, somehow it’s the southwesterly return of the churn that is dominant. Lastly, the purportedly one degree wide churn zone is 12,000km wide. Toroids formed straight across or at a 45 degree or more angle across this zone would be 12-25,000km wide. This is consistent with a large number of sunspot pairs once they are fully emerged or their toroids if not fully emerged.

    There might be ways to test this idea or at least look for clues. If the ‘tachoplane’ does wander, that might be seen as a southern drift in sunspot emergence in the first two or three months of the cycle (or possibly northern followed by southern drift). This would be only by a degree or less and set against all manner of smearings of effects and judgment of data. Measuring averages between north and south hemispheres would double accuracy. Another method would be to observe the escaping poloidal field at 30 degrees- it may wander as it sits between latitudinal bands moving with them as they in turn move with the non-buoyant ‘tachoplane’ base.

    A couple of negatives: I realise that hot plumes don’t fit with cool sunspots but any mechanism has to deal with vast amounts of cooling within those toroids which I find baffling from a thermodynamic perspective. I also concede that part of that answer may be that the plunge/plumes may initiate the process and the field races to the surface from lower down. However, the surroundings of sunspots are commensurately hotter than average which points to the plume bringing its cooler toroid up with it.

    In conclusion, I know this is too neat and won’t all fit. I have idealised it to explain it and I’m sure the process is messier however it comes about. I could see small contradictions as I wrote but left them so as not to get bogged down. Above all, maybe it will further discussion. H/t to Bill, Ian, TB, Vuk, Paul, Nicola and Sparks for help and mind jogging in this and my other comment last week.


  26. Paul Vaughan says:

    Scute, with sufficient time, resources, & computing hardware I would check your idea — and many, many others — against the available data. One thing I suggest you do is some basic beat calculations. You will find that there is no 11 year J & S cycle. J+N and 6V-10E+4J, however, both match the sunspot cycle for the entire record. Some try to invoke “modulations by other gas giants”, but usually without doing any beat calculations as a most basic check. I’m absolutely certain that some of the notable establishment people out trying to beat down informal public problem-solving activities are quite literally totally clueless about how to design metrics suitable for detecting aggregate constraints on spatiotemporal flow. My advice is to ignore such ignorance and outright exclude it whenever & wherever it catastrophically degenerates into obsessive compulsive protracted disharmony. Many thanks for sharing your stimulating ideas Scute.

  27. Scute says:

    Thanks Paul. Yes, I was relying on memory regarding the J-S cycle or lack of one (but couldn’t find the paper I was thinking of- I was surprised when I read its reliance on J-S but it was talking about 19 and 178 years as well as 23 so it was at least acknowledging the beats. It wasn’t Ian’s paper. However, I wouldn’t want to place too much emphasis on which cycle is at play but rather the mechanism that links the tidal effect to sunspot generation.

    I feel that the beats concept makes sense. You can see it in the graphs. I think that there is what would be a self-generating spot/magnetic cycle at its heart but that it has been captured between the beat nodes. It would last longer than 11/22 years but has been truncated within that envelope and misbehaves between the nodes as the would-be ‘natural’ cycle interferes deconstructively with the planetary cycle constraining it. The planetary cycle wins out in the end but the ‘natural’ cycle strains at the leash between nodes.

    In fact, it’s the very existence of beats that betrays a true coupling between the two cycles- rather than a perfect waltz between them (which would doubtless be dismissed out of hand as correlation, not causation in the absence of a spot generating mechanism).

  28. tallbloke says:

    Glad to see this discussion continuing. It seems to me that if the internal and planetary cycles have been settling down over 4.5 billion years, then the feedback between the two will be such as to act somehwt like a James Watt planetary governor. Whether the mechnanism is tides, angular momentum, electo-magnetics in one direction and solar wind in the other or whatever, its clear that the boundary conditions on the solar surface are finely poised. Which is where Kelvin-Helmholtz instability comes in. You don’t need huge forces to swing finely balanced states from one configuration to another.

  29. Paul Vaughan says:

    The fastest (J) & slowest (N) moving Jovians set the boundary conditions.

  30. Ulric Lyons says:

    Paul Vaughan says:
    “J+N and 6V-10E+4J, however, both match the sunspot cycle for the entire record.”

    N+J+E+V cycles at 4 Hale cycles, but it’s not perfect and has a slip in it. The better longer term harmony is at 15 Hale cycles to 26 J/N synods.

    “…if he breaks his analyses down by time of year — THAT’s the key – and it’s what Piers Corbyn has been telling us all along.”

    I think you will find that is what I have been telling you all along.