Going through one of the old PRP shutdown threads I spotted a comment from regular A C Osborn I missed in all the hubbub. It linked to this thread on Bishop Hill, and I thought I’d repost it here for some consideration, since it’s right in our ~60yr oscillation in LOD ballpark. His grace’s intro follows:
Reader Paul K (a regular writer at Lucia’s) left this fascinating comment on the thread about the England trade winds paper. As BH regulars know, I don’t spend a lot of time on alternative theories of climate change, but I felt this was worthy of an airing.
As Nic correctly points out, from the observed data, the total global ocean heat flux shows a peak around 2001-2005 depending on which dataset one takes. TOA radiative measurements show a peak in net radiative incoming flux somewhere around 1997-2000, driven largely by SW changes in net albedo. Modern MSL data from satellite altimetry (or indeed from tide gauge data) shows a peak in its derivative function around 2001-2003, which should also be a proxy for net heat flux going into the ocean. (Using gravimetric data from GRACE, we can rule out the possibility that the peak in MSL derivative was caused by mass addition – it is a peak clearly driven by thermosteric expansion. There is a useful presentation here by Nerem.
So there is a consistent story from three data sources which says that the net incoming flux hit a peak and has since been decreasing overall for about a decade. This is not compatible with increasing forcing from GHGs and flat or declining tropospheric temperature – a mini paradox, if you will.
The mini-paradox becomes a major paradox when we consider the historical behavior of MSL from tide-guage data. The derivative function of the MSL data shows a dominant and remarkably consistent quasi-60 year cycle. It shows dominant peaks around 1750, 1810, 1870’s and 1940s. (See Jevrejeva 2008.) In other words, the modern peak in the MSL data came in right on time relative to previous recorded oscillatory cycles which date back to 1700. Using the modern peak for calibration, which we know relates to a peak in incoming net flux, we can very reasonably infer that the previous peaks were also due to peaks in net heat flux. The paradox is that these dates for peak incoming flux correspond closely to peaks in the multidecadal oscillations of surface temperature. This is a major bust. This is exactly pi radians out of phase with what we would expect if these cycles were caused by an unforced redistribution of internal heat. (High surface temperatures should induce an increase in outgoing radiation which translates into a decrease in net incoming radiation.) I think that we are therefore led to the inevitable conclusion that these are forced climate oscillations, which means that we have to look for a new flux forcing to explain them, since the current selection box does not have any forcings of the correct frequencies.
I now return to the work of Matthew England. His work adds an important piece to the jigsaw puzzle, even if he himself is failing to appreciate the implications. We saw from Kosaka and Xie 2013 that a large chunk of the late 20th century heating as well as the modern temperature hiatus could be captured by the simple expedient of prescribing sea surface temperatures in a small area of the eastern Pacific. Those temperatures are in reality controlled by ENSO events which are in turn controlled by equatorial trade wind strength and direction. England’s work confirms at least in skeletal form that controlling the wind stress tensor in the same area gives a similar result, even if he is wrong on some of the details.
The question it leaves is: what then controls the equatorial trade winds? The answer was actually known more than 40 years ago when science was still relatively unsullied, but it will not be accepted easily by mainstream climate science today, since the answer makes not one but two major breaches in fundamental assumptions of climate science.
The first part of the answer is that the climate oscillations are triggered by gravitationally forced changes in the angular velocity of the solid Earth. These changes transmit a (non-radiative) momentum flux into the hydrosphere and atmosphere via frictional torque and conservation of angular momentum. These changes explain the fluctuations in trade winds and, just as importantly, the latitudinal meanderings of the jet streams. Before anyone starts calling for the men in white coats, I would suggest that you have a look at this 1976 paper and this. For the excellent correlation apparent in the higher frequency data between Earth’s rotation velocity, atmospheric angular momentum and ENSO events, you might also try this paper.
So it seems that England has probably confirmed that the multidecadal oscillations are driven by atmospheric tides which are driven by a non-radiative orbital forcing. He just hasn’t realised yet that what he has done is to demonstrate that the GCMs are all missing a massively important piece of physics which was considered small enough to be neglected on energetic grounds.
The story doesn’t end there. The orbital forcing is a triggering and control mechanism, but it is “energetically deficient” to explain the full amplitude of the climate oscillations. On my sums the trough-to-peak transfer of energy via momentum flux and friction amounts to something less than 2*10^22 joules during the 60-year cycles. The amplification factor comes from the cloud response to the change in phase of the orbital forcing, which is why we note the dominant effect of SW changes in the radiative signature. This is a feedback mechanism of sorts, but it is not a “temperature dependent” feedback mechanism; it does not correlate simply with global surface temperature, but rather with the phase of orbital forcing. This post is already too long for me to try to explain how that works.
I am hoping if I live long enough to try to get some of this stuff down in more detail in an article for Lucia, but I do keep getting distracted, not to mention beaten up by my wife for wasting time on that climate change rubbish instead of doing something useful.