Climate science solar shock and awe

I saw this yesterday, but I decided to wait a day just in case it disappeared. It’s quite the surprise to see the New Scientist dedicate a story, much less an editorial saying that the sun has a role in climate.

Here’s some excerpts:

THE idea that changes in the sun’s activity can influence the climate is making a comeback, after years of scientific vilification, thanks to major advances in our understanding of the atmosphere.

So far, three mechanisms have come to light (see diagram). The best understood is what is known as the top-down effect, described by Mike Lockwood, also at the University of Reading, and Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London. Although the sun’s brightness does not change much during solar maxima and minima, the type of radiation it emits does. During maxima the sun emits more ultraviolet radiation, which is absorbed by the stratosphere.This warms up, generating high-altitude winds. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, this appears to have knock-on effects on regional weather: strong stratospheric winds lead to a strong jet stream.

The reverse is true in solar minima, and the effect is particularly evident in Europe, where minima increase the chances of extreme weather. Indeed, this year’s cold winter and the Russian heatwave in July have been linked to the sun’s current lull, which froze weather systems in place for longer than normal.

The second effect is bottom-up, in which additional visible radiation during a solar maximum warms the tropical oceans, causing more evaporation and therefore more rain, especially close to the equator.

The third solar influence on climate is extraterrestrial. Earth is bombarded by cosmic rays from exploding stars, which are largely deflected by the solar wind during solar maxima and to a slightly lesser degree in minima.

One theory held that cosmic rays cool the planet by helping to form airborne particles that water vapour condenses onto, increasing cloud cover. However, models suggest the effect is tiny (Nature, vol 460, p 332). Just to be sure, though, the idea is being tested by the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Initial results are expected in the next six months.

A theory that has more traction with climate scientists says the rays may change cloud behaviour rather than formation. Using weather balloon measurements, Harrison has shown that clouds have charged layers at their top and bottom, and he suggests that ions produced by cosmic rays might be responsible (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043605). “The charge might make it easier for larger water droplets to form,” he says, causing rain to fall sooner during solar minima. “But that’s just one of many possibilities.”

Read the full article here

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savethesharks

DUH!
Though, all in all, though, refreshing for New Scientist. Let’s see how it all plays out.
One point of ridicule though: Who the hell are “climate skeptics”?
What a stupid, stupid statement.
“Uh…..I’m skeptical of the climate.”
WHAT??
Nonsense.
“CAGW Skeptics” is a much more accurate term….but you know…..they will never use that one because it throws their whole multi-billion dollar game, under the bus.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

anna v

A theory that has more traction with climate scientists says the rays may change cloud behaviour rather than formation. Using weather balloon measurements, Harrison has shown that clouds have charged layers at their top and bottom, and he suggests that ions produced by cosmic rays might be responsible (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043605). “The charge might make it easier for larger water droplets to form,” he says, causing rain to fall sooner during solar minima. “But that’s just one of many possibilities.”
I like this.
Over the past 10 years living half my time in a rural dry area, I have noticed that good rains come with thunder and lightning. The past few years very few such storms have come in my area. Thunder and lightning are connected with the charges on clouds, and maybe this long minimum is discharging them before they come over the olive groves in my area 🙁 .

David J. Ameling

What about solar activity’s ability to bring done power grids and Cause northern lights? Doesn’t this solar activity also have the power to create eddy currents in the oceans and warm them at least a little bit? Or cause other effects on the climate.

Cassandra King

A little behind the curve are they not?
Its been known for years that the sun drives the climate and weather but it did not fit the CAGW/GCD narrative and if there is one thing thing the alarmist industry hates most is anything that contradicts their narrative.
Its the sun stupid! It drives the oceans and it drives the winds and it governs our entire existence on this earth, what is so hard to understand? Without the sun there would be no clouds and no rain and no wind and no biomass, it IS the climate driver and everything else plays a supporting role, the sun is the star in more than one sense.
A climate sceptic? huuuh!

Ben U.

I’ve long thought that a heliocentric perspective has a certain appeal.

Doug in Seattle

Nothing like an onset of cooling to make some climate scientists open their eyes to mechanisms ignored during the previous warming period. I can’t help but note the condescension still out there regarding the causes of that warming though.

I tend to think the New Scientist is just hedging its bets here. Just in case these “sun” people are right. I suspect we will see other publications saying more or less the same thing in the next little while. Having once “hitched their wagon” to settled science they will be careful not to get either left behind or make that mistake again.

This is nothing but a story that allows them to explain the 30 year cooling cycle we are in.
Lower global temperatures will not disprove CAGW, the human caused CO2 driven warming is just “in hiatus” by the temporarily inactive sun and the warming will come back with a vengeance.

Richard111

Here we go again. Waffle, waffle, waffle.
“”Where solar effects may play a role is in influencing regional weather patterns over the coming decades. Predictions on these scales of time and space are crucial for nations seeking to prepare for the future.””
So what went on in the past? Is this all NEW information?
And just how weak is the so called “backradiation” from CO2 when viewed through the Maxwell_Boltzmann energy distribution curves of our predominately COLD troposphere?

Tilo Reber

I love that third reason where they are trying to shuffel to a position of saying that Svensmark is right and wrong at the same time. My money says that CLOUD will show Svensmark to be right and the people who claim that the cosmic ray effect is small will be shown to be wrong.
The correlation between solar cycles and climate has been very good. And while correlation may not be causation, blowing off the effects of the sun for the purpose of promoting AGW, and because we couldn’t explain how those effect were produced, has simply been bad science on the part of the warmers. Will the IPCC be publishing lessons on how to dance backwards.
One more point. We seem to be getting new information about factors of climate variability at a fairly constant rate. Of course this is as it should be. But what has always bothered me is that the modelers at one point decided that they had the elements of variability nailed down well enough to make century predictions – when really all they had was a few of the elements of variability and the rest was just thrown at CO2 with the explanation of “what else could it be?”

Peter Sørensen

They forgot another possible mechanism. During low solar activity less ozone is created and therefore more UV light reaches the surface. This causes phytoplankton in the oceans to produce a chemical that enhances cloud cover.

Krishna Gans

Where solar effects may play a role is in influencing regional weather patterns over the coming decades.

May they tell us too, that climate is he sum of local weather patterns over a longer time ?
Certainly not.

I wonder which explanation has Mr Giles for +0.7 deg C global temperature rise between 1905-1945.

Leif, I told you so.

Phillip Bratby

“There are extravagant claims for the effects of the sun on global climate. They are not supported”.
I think there is a typo there. It was meant to be:
“There are extravagant claims for the effects of human emissions of carbon dioxide on global climate. They are not supported”.
Everybody knows that the most important driver of the global climate is the sun. Don’t they? It seems to me that the difference in climate between that in polar regions and that in equatorial regions is the sun. Am I right?

Kyle

So no effect in the past, but expect a cooling effect in the future.

Layne Blanchard

After spitting on Svensmark’s work, they acknowledge it here, then marginalize it, then attempt to steal it out from under him with a variation. Despicable.

Michael in Sydney

So a 0.1% change in the sun’s brightness can’t possibly have any global effect yet a 0.01% change in Co2 (from 28oppm-380ppm or 100/1,000,000) can have a catastrophic effect on the global climate. Really?

Michael, it is even worse. The CO2-induced warming allegedly started in 1975, so you should say “0.004% change” in the composition of atmosphere (390 vs 350 ppmv).

KenB

We got it wrong…..No No, the sun dun it!! The new D word guys covering their Ass!!
However I welcome the more inclusive recognition of other relevant sciences, next it will be discovering variable weather, it affects the models, don’t blame us.

Michael in Sydney says:
September 24, 2010 at 11:28 pm

So a 0.1% change in the sun’s brightness can’t possibly have any global effect yet a 0.01% change in CO2 (from 280ppm-380ppm or 100/1,000,000) can have a catastrophic effect on the global climate. Really?

Uh, yeah. Changes in the Solar “Constant” directly affects watts/m^2 whereas the change in CO2 (280ppm to 380 ppm is a 36% increase in my math). While the logarithmic effect will reduce the effect significantly over the change from 180 to 280 ppm, It’s still a substantial change. OTOH, CO2 is overrated as a climate “disruptor” so that 36% increase won’t have a big impact on the immediate survival needs of people in the Australian outback or a tropical island.

Maxbert

Oh, I get it. The sun affects the weather, but not the climate.

Huth

Good news. When they start publishing stories like this in a comic like New Scientist, you know that a tipping point has been reached. Watch (I mean Wattch) this space.

Well I didn’t start seeing cloudy days that I thought would never end until winter ’08-’09.
Before Chaiten in May ’08 and then followed by 4 more VEI-4’s it was sunny days that I thought would never end.
You’d think the GCR’s should have been forming a lot of clouds by summer ’08 if they were more than a very weak influence.
The clouds change their behavior alright. The bigger ash gets washed out until what’s left is very fine ash aerosols and sulfate ions, etc to form less dense clouds. Clouds that produce little rain.
Eyjafjallajökull produced a lot of good size dense cloud producing ash and ultraviolet absorbing particles.
We’ve definitely had a lot bigger solar dimmimg shock than the last solar minimum cycle.

DirkH

First they vilify skeptics for eons, now they triumphantly declare that the sun has an influence. What opportunistic apple-polishers.

simpleseekeraftertruth

So it might be the sun but in a tricky way that only scientists can understand. Hotter / cooler concept is not supported!
Ahem, excuse me, but weren’t those ‘three mechanisms that have come to light’ in operation when it was decided that ‘it must be CO2, there is no other explanation’? And what about the mechanisms that have not yet come to light? And what about the calculations around CO2 concentrations that proved so robust?
Cheers,
Nations seeking to prepare for the future.

Grey Lensman

Is not Ozone a normal reaction to U.V. More U.V more ozone, less U.V. Less ozone . A linked natural cycle,
If you use a U.V. steriliser, its not the U.V. that kills the bugs but the Ozone generated.
Nature is more wonderful than we think

Alexander Feht says:
September 24, 2010 at 11:18 pm
Leif, I told you so.
That there are extravagant claims of solar effects on global climate that are not supported… [New Scientist]
I’ll go with that too. Good that we agree.

Layne Blanchard says:
September 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm
After spitting on Svensmark’s work, they acknowledge it here, then marginalize it, then attempt to steal it out from under him with a variation. Despicable.

Sounds about right. These people have no sense of shame.
Kyle says:
September 24, 2010 at 11:20 pm (Edit)
So no effect in the past, but expect a cooling effect in the future.

The expert solar deniers are finding it increasingly difficult to rationalise away something which is obvious to all laymen. The Sun is the big dog on the climate block.
The inset paragraph in the graphic about solar energy warming the oceans is laughably inadequate. The gain in ocean heat content throughout the second half of the C20th is the cause of ‘global warming’. Pielke senior now recognises that upper ocean energy content is the correct metric for guaging Earth’s climate. The atmosphere does not warm the ocean, the sun does. Then the ocean warms the atmosphere.
The warmista are circlng their wagons, and dragging the horses behind, as usual.

Cliff

“the 30 year cooling cycle we are in.”
Can someone point me to the data that shows cooling, thanks.

William

The author of the paper in Nature appears to unaware that there are two ion cloud mechanisms: 1) GCR which creates ions (high energy protons create MUONs in the upper atomsphere. The MUONs travel through the atmosphere creating ions) and 2) Electroscavenging (caused by solar wind bursts) which removes ions.
There is a second mechanism (“electroscavenging”) by which solar activity changes modulate planetary cloud cover. Solar wind bursts caused by coronal holes create a space charge difference in the ionosphere which removes cloud forming ions. (Planetary cloud cover closely correlates to GCR level up until around 1994 at which time there is a net reduction in planetary cloud cover independent of whether GCR is high or low. The net reduction in GCR is closed by solar wind bursts. See below for details.)
The next paper provides data the shows there is close correlation with geomagnetic field changes (ak) which are caused by the solar wind bursts and planetary temperature. The next review paper by Tinsley and Yu summaries the data that supports the assertion that solar activity changes modulates planetary cloud cover and shows how that mechanism is hypothesized to work.
See section 5a) Modulation of the global circuit in this review paper, by solar wind burst and the process electroscavenging where by increases in the global electric circuit remove cloud forming ions.
The same review paper summarizes the data that does show correlation between low level clouds and GCR.
http://sait.oat.ts.astro.it/MSAIt760405/PDF/2005MmSAI..76..969G.pdf
http://www.utdallas.edu/physics/pdf/Atmos_060302.pdf
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009JA014342.shtml

jv

Oh, I get it. The sun affects the weather, but not the climate.

Now your getting it. It only effects the local weather in North America, Central America, South America, the Arctic and Antarctic, Asia, Africa Australia, Europe and all the oceans. But not climate. Climate is different because it is a a global effect. The sun doesn’t shine at half the Earth at a time. Just multiple regions.
They should get some school kids to read their stuff before they print it so obvious stupidity doesn’t slip through.
I am eagerly awaiting their explanation for why reduced heat loss due to CO2 causes forcing but solar warming does not.

UK Sceptic

So Nought Scientist has finally had to admit that “it’s the sun, stupid!”
That must have choked them…

Rhys Jaggar

‘You know what, there’s lots of simple papers we can write about the sun’s influence on climate. Won’t take huge grants, but great for our standing as academics. We mustn’t let the anti seeohtwo brigade in though, or our status might be rumbled’.
I’d lay big, big money that that’s the way this will play out.
In my opinion, right now, a detailed document of ALL scientists who denounce CAGW skeptics must be assembled and published and ANY attempt by them to start taking the ground they deride must lead to their professional sacking.
It’s an absolute disgrace if they’re allowed to colonise what they despised, whilst attacking those that promoted it.
And any society which condones it is totally sick……………..

Paul_K

Well, Hallelujah. I note that approximately once every year we have a winter and about the same number of summers every year. Without the aid of billions in research grants my extensive study has led me to conclude that it is normally colder in winter than it is in summer.
This appears to be caused by the earth going round the sun, which causes a fluctuation in solar insolation amounting to around 0.12% on a planetary average basis. Mmmm, call that a change of around 1367/4*(1-0.3)*0.0012 = 0.3 Watts/m^2 change in net received global solar flux. This brings about a measurable fluctuation in northern hemisphere albedo of around 4%, and the same in the southern hemisphere. Because Australians don’t like to barbecue in August, they have arranged cunningly for their summer to arrive at a different time, so the NH and SH albedo changes combine to give an aggregate planetary albedo change (due to ice, snow cover, clouds and bio-induced terrestrial colour change) of between 2 and 3%. If we take the lower estimate, the fluctation in albedo translates into a massive 6.8 Watts/m^2 (=1367/4*.02), close to twice the forcing expected from a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. At the same time we see a redistribution of atmospheric sensible heat brought about by the large annual changes in the divergence flux which redistributes heat from the equator towards the poles. All this causes temperature swings of order 20 deg C at mid latitudes and an overall change in planetary average surface temperature of about 4 deg C. AND ALL THIS HAPPENS EVERY YEAR AS A RESULT OF THAT TINY CHANGE OF 0.3 W/m^2 in received solar flux – the same magnitude of solar change that Dr Judith Lean (lead author for IPCC) has argued could not have any influence on late 20th century temperature changes.
Dr Lean’s argument is based on the assertion that there are no amplification factors associated with solar irradiance (or that they are negligible). OK then. That suggests that climate sensitivity to solar is the same as for any other form of heating mechanism. On this basis, we can therefore calculate the minimum (pre-equilibrium) climate sensitivity from the annual cycle as 4 deg K (average temperature change) divided by 0.3 watts/m^2 (solar forcing). This yields 13.3 deg K/(watt/m^2). Oh hell, we have all been dead for some time.
Of course it’s the sun, stupid.
Whatever its motivation, we should all welcome the willingness of New Scientist to publish the article.

Michael Larkin

Slowly, slowly, catchee monkee. More and more, little holes are appearing in the armour. It’s going to get harder and harder to backtrack as more sunlight shines through.
I sense electric universe theory tends to get frowned upon here; I only mention it because I’m currently reading Donald Scott’s “The electric sky” and was surprised to find a number of very perceptive comments relevant to climate science there.
Scott, very definitely, whether you agree with EU theory or not (FTR I am agnostic), does not underestimate the importance of the sun on the earth’s climate. I doubt whether many here would disagree with him, at least in this respect.

William

This is an explanation of the solar mechanism that cause solar wind bursts. The solar wind bursts as per my above comment create a space differential in the atmosphere that removes ions by a process that is called electroscavenging.
http://www.shao.az/SG/v1n1/SG_v1_No1_2006-pp-12-16.pdf
“The regions of open magnetic field – coronal holes, sources of high speed solar wind and drivers of recurrent geomagnetic activity, are not accounted for in the sunspot index. It appears that in the last decades the impact of coronal holes has increased which can be explained by the increasing tilt of the heliospheric current sheet. This increased tilt means that the Earth encounters two high speed streams from coronal holes per solar rotation and higher geomagnetic activity. On the other hand, the tilt of the heliospheric current sheet is related to the galactic cosmic rays modulation, and galactic cosmic rays are considered key agents mediating solar activity influences on terrestrial temperature. Therefore, using the sunspot number alone as a measure of solar activity leads to the underestimation of the role of solar activity for the global warming in the recent decades.”

KenB

Hey Tallbloke, next thing they will be eating the horses, but that’s probably better than eating crow!

Jimbo

“Although the exact mechanism is unclear, this appears to have knock-on effects on regional weather…….“The charge might make it easier for larger water droplets to form,” he says, causing rain to fall sooner during solar minima. “But that’s just one of many possibilities.”’

But, we couldn’t think of anything else so it must be co2. Had we all just listened to Gore and company we might have just stopped any more climate research and saved billions. The science is settled. :o)

martin brumby

This can’t be right. Us nasty deniers paid for by BigOil and the Tobacco companies have been told time and again that “the science is settled” (Obama) and that anyone who doesn’t accept the “scientific consensus” is just a “flat earther” (Gordon Brown)
And now they come along with their crackpot theories about the sun, for heaven’s sake? Whatever next? They’ll be talking about ocean currents and natural cycles and UHI effects if we’re not carefull.
If they don’t stop messing about they won’t even get to throw the economy of the developed world under a bus as Maurice Strong told them to.

Tim Williams

DirkH says:
September 25, 2010 at 12:13 am
First they vilify skeptics for eons, now they triumphantly declare that the sun has an influence. What opportunistic apple-polishers.
I’m not aware of any respected, peer reviewed, publishing climate scientist that has ever said that the sun does not influence the climate. Please provide some evidence or a link for any opportunistic apple polisher that has in the past declared that the sun has no influence on climate.
Thanks.

R.S.Brown

When you’re hot, you’re hot !
Pigmeat Markham
1969

Richard S Courtney

A year ago in a presentation at York University I stated that the CAGW scare is dead. I said the scare would have its economic ‘life-blood’ cut off in Copenhagen and, after that, it would fade away.
The article in New Scientist is more confirmation that the CAGW scare is dead. The scare still moves in its death throes, and that movement will be obvious in Mexico and Bali during coming weeks and months. But it is dead.
Nobody will declare the death of the CAGW scare but it will be forgotten by the end of this decade. Similarly, nobody declared the death of the ‘acid rain’ scare of the 1980s, but few remember that scare unless reminded of it.
I am convinced that the priorities now must be
(a) to avoid harmful effects of the dead CAGW scare (e.g. adoption of ETS)
and
(b) to defend against whatever daft scare (e.g. ‘ocean acidification’) ‘greens’ attempt to replace it with.
In my opinion, action on those priorities requires that we shout, “I told you so!” whenever we see ‘retreat statements’ such as the article in New Scientist.
Richard

Peter whale

All my life I have noticed that the daytime is hotter than the nighttime, is it because of the sun or is it that I breathe out more carbon dioxide during my waking hours? Give me a couple of million pounds and I will give you the result you want.

Phillip Bratby

The last part of the article says:
So how large are these effects? In its 2007 report, the IPCC stated that changes in solar irradiance accounted for less than 5 per cent of planet warming since 1750. The scale of the effect is unlikely to change. But having established that global average temperatures are rising and will continue to rise over the 21st century, the key task for the next IPCC report will be to refine regional and medium-term forecasts. For this, including the upper atmosphere in climate models will be key. “We have known for a while that this makes a difference,” says Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, “especially for solar effects.”
Gavin new all along that the science wasn’t settled. Good old Gavin. Always good for a ridiculous comment.

George Tetley

Models, maybe, perhaps, may, mechinsim is unclear, one theory, one of many possibilites, idea is being tested,
Is it not wonderful to see that at last ‘science’ has become a science!

Geoff

“Solar deniers”- I love it.

Jimbo

“Tilo Reber says:
September 24, 2010 at 10:50 pm
………….
But what has always bothered me is that the modelers at one point decided that they had the elements of variability nailed down well enough to make century predictions – when really all they had was a few of the elements of variability and the rest was just thrown at CO2 with the explanation of “what else could it be?””

The evidence for this being largely true comes from the mouths of Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt

Modellers have an inbuilt bias towards forced climate change because the causes and effect are clear.”
(General circulation modelling of Holocene climate variability,
by Gavin Schmidt, Drew Shindell, Ron Miller, Michael Mann and David Rind, published in Quaternary Science Review in 2004.)

http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/articles/Schmidtetal-QSR04.pdf

John Finn

I think people might be reading a bit too much into this New Scientist article.
In December 2001, nearly 9 years ago, Shindell, Schmidt, Mann …(do those names ring a bell) co-authored a paper which looked at Solar Forcing of Regional Climate Change During the Maunder Minimum. The Abstract reads

We examine the climate response to solar irradiance changes between the late 17th-century Maunder Minimum and the late 18th century. Global average temperature changes are small (about 0.3° to 0.4°C) in both a climate model and empirical reconstructions. However, regional temperature changes are quite large . In the model, these occur primarily through a forced shift toward the low index state of the Arctic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation as solar irradiance decreases. This leads to colder temperatures over the Northern Hemisphere continents, especially in winter (1° to 2°C) , in agreement with historical records and proxy data for surface temperatures.


The idea that the sun may drive weather patterns is not new – even among AGW proponents. However, there is a difference between a shift in weather patterns which brings colder conditions to europe, say (but warmer conditions to other regions) and a change in earth’s energy balance which will result in a global change in earth’s temperature. Lower solar activity is not going to lower the energy received by the earth by an appreciable amount so it’s not likely to have a significant effect on global temperatures.
I think Vukcevic has posted on the Dalton minimum effect on the CET record. I can’t remember exactly what he wrote but it wassomething to the effect that the last decade of the DM had colder than average winters but very little change in summer. He can correct me on this if I’ve got it wrong.

Old Goat

“…The Sun Joins The Climate Club…”?
Strange, I would have thought that the sun was the founder member…