Guest post by Dr. Leif Svalgaard
The following abstract of a poster to be presented next month at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union caught my eye:
Session Title: GC11A. Diverse Views From Galileo’s Window: Solar Forcing of Climate Change Posters Chair: Willie Soon, Nicola Scafetta, Richard C Willson
ID# GC11A-0685: Dec 14 8:00 AM – 12:20 PM
Revised Assumptions and a Multidiscipline Approach to a Solar/Climate Connection
C. A. Perry (US Geological Survey, Lawrence, KS, USA).
The effect of solar variability on regional climate is examined using a sequence of physical connections between solar variability , Earth albedo, ocean temperatures, ocean currents (Ocean Conveyor Belt), and atmospheric patterns that affect precipitation and streamflow. The amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface and its oceans is thought to be controlled through an interaction between Galactic
Cosmic Rays (GCRs), which are theorized to ionize the atmosphere and increase cloud formation. High (low) GCR flux may promote cloudiness (clear skies) and higher (lower) albedo at the same time that Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) is lowest (highest) in the solar cycle which in combination creates cooler (warmer) ocean temperature anomalies. These anomalies have been shown to affect atmospheric flow patterns and ultimately precipitation over the Midwestern United States. A study has identified a relation between geomagnetic index aa (GI-AA), and streamflow in the Mississippi River Basin for the period 1878-2004. The GI-AA was used as a proxy for GCRs. There appears to be a solar “fingerprint” that can be seen in hydroclimatic time series in other regions of the world, with each series having a unique lag time between the solar signal and the hydroclimatic response. A progression of increasing lag times can be spatially linked to the ocean conveyor belt, which could transport the solar signal over a time span of several decades. The lag times for any one region vary slightly and may be linked to the fluctuations in the velocity of the ocean conveyor belt.
A graph is attached to the abstract (as seen above):
The poster seems to report on earlier work presented here:
Where the same figure appears.
Now, what is wrong about this graph [and the conclusion, of course] ?
I’ll let you all find out what.
It is an example of three things:
- The desperate need for establishing a Sun-Climate [or is it weather, when on a decadal basis?] causing this kind of sloppy work (the graph contradicts the mechanism given for it)
- The lack of internal quality control by USGS
- The lack of quality control by the conveners of the AGU session.
Thanks to all the readers who so generously [some gleefully] have pointed out my misinterpretation of the figure. This, of course, makes my initial assessment of the quality control moot and void, with an apology to those involved. Perhaps this shows how important a graph can be [cf. the impact of the Hockey Stick] and how important is clear labeling of what is shown.
Since GCRs follow the the sunspot numbers and not the aa-index, the proper parameter to compare with would be the sunspot number. This also allows use of the streamflow data back to the beginning of the series in 1861. The following Figure shows the correlation with this parameter, providing a prediction of the flow to beyond 2040, should the flow indeed be correlated with the sunspot number 34 years earlier.