Scafetta's new paper attempts to link climate cycles to planetary motion

Nicola Scafetta sent me this paper yesterday, and I read it with interest, but I have a number of reservations about it, not the least of which is that it is partially based on the work of Landscheidt and the whole barycentric thing which gets certain people into shouting matches. Figure 9 looks to be interesting, but note that it is in generic units, not temperature, so has no predictive value by itself.

Fig. 9. Proposed solar harmonic reconstructions based on four beat frequencies. (Top) Average beat envelope function of the model (Eq. (18)) and (Bottom) the version modulated with a millennial cycle (Eq. (21)). The curves may approximately represent an estimate average harmonic component function of solar activity both in luminosity and magnetic activity. The warm and cold periods of the Earth history are indicated as in Fig. 7. Note that the amplitudes of the constituent harmonics are not optimized and can be adjusted for alternative scenarios. However, the bottom curve approximately reproduces the patterns observed in the proxy solar models depicted in Fig. 5. The latter record may be considered as a realistic, although schematic, representation of solar dynamics.

While that looks like a good hindcast fit to historical warm/cold periods, compare it to figure 7 to see how it comes out.

Fig. 7. Modulated three-frequency harmonic model, Eq. (8) (which represents an ideal solar activity variation) versus the Northern Hemisphere proxy temperature reconstruction by Ljungqvist (2010). Note the good timing matching of the millenarian cycle and the 17 115-year cycles between the two records. The Roman Warm Period (RWP), Dark Age Cold Period (DACP), Medieval Warm Period (MWP), Little Ice Age (LIA) and Current Warm Period (CWP) are indicated in the figure. At the bottom: the model harmonic (blue) with period P12=114.783 and phase T12=1980.528 calculated using Eq. (7); the 165-year smooth residual of the temperature signal. The correlation coefficient is r0=0.3 for 200 points, which indicates that the 115-year cycles in the two curves are well correlated (P(|r|≥r0)<0.1%). The 115-year cycle reached a maximum in 1980.5 and will reach a new minimum in 2037.9 A.D.

Now indeed, that looks like a great fit to the Ljungqvist proxy temperature reconstruction, but the question arises about whether we are simply seeing a coincidental cyclic fit or a real effect. I asked Dr. Leif Svalgaard about his views on this paper and he replied with this:

The real test of all this cannot come from the proxies we have because the time scales are too short, but from comparisons with other stellar systems where the effects are calculated to be millions of times stronger [because the planets are huge and MUCH closer to the star]. No correlations have been found so far.

See slide 19 of my AGU presentation:

http://www.leif.org/research/AGU%20Fall%202011%20SH34B-08.pdf

So, it would seem, that if the gravitational barycentric effect posited were real, it should be easily observable with solar systems of much larger masses. Poppenhager and Schmitt can’t seem to find it.

OTOH, we have what appears to be a good fit by Scafetta in Figure 7. So this leaves us with three possibilities

  1. The effect manifests itself in some other way not yet observed.
  2. The effect is coincidental but not causative.
  3. The effect is real, but unproven yet by observations and predictive value.

I’m leaning more towards #2 at this point but willing to examine the predictive value. As Dr. Svalgaard points out in his AGU presentation, others have tried  but the fit eventually broke down. From slide 14

P. D. Jose (ApJ, 70, 1965) noted that the Sun’s motion about the Center of Mass of the solar system [the Barycenter] has a period of 178.7 yr and suggested that the sunspot cycles repeat with a similar period. Many later researchers have published variations of this idea. – Unfortunately a ‘phase catastrophe’ is needed every ~8 solar cycles

Hindcasting can be something you can easily setup to fool yourself with if you are not careful, and I’m a bit concerned over the quality of the peer review for this paper as it contains two instances of Scafetta’s signature overuse of exclamation points, something that a careful reviewer would probably not let pass.

Science done carefully rarely merits an exclamation point. Papers written that way sound as if you are shouting down to the reader.

The true test will be the predictive value, as Scafetta has been doing with his recent essays here at WUWT. I’m willing to see how well this pans out, but I’m skeptical of the method until proven by a skillful predictive forecast. Unfortunately it will be awhile before that happens as solar timescales far exceed human lifespan.

Below I present the abstract, plus a link to the full paper provided by Dr. Scafetta.

=============================================================

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

ScienceDirect link

Nicola Scafetta, ACRIM (Active Cavity Radiometer Solar Irradiance Monitor Lab) & Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA


Abstract

The Schwabe frequency band of the Zurich sunspot record since 1749 is found to be made of three major cycles with periods of about 9.98, 10.9 and 11.86 years. The side frequencies appear to be closely related to the spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn (range between 9.5 and 10.5 years, and median 9.93 years) and to the tidal sidereal period of Jupiter (about 11.86 years). The central cycle may be associated to a quasi-11-year solar dynamo cycle that appears to be approximately synchronized to the average of the two planetary frequencies. A simplified harmonic constituent model based on the above two planetary tidal frequencies and on the exact dates of Jupiter and Saturn planetary tidal phases, plus a theoretically deduced 10.87-year central cycle reveals complex quasi-periodic interference/beat patterns. The major beat periods occur at about 115, 61 and 130 years, plus a quasi-millennial large beat cycle around 983 years. We show that equivalent synchronized cycles are found in cosmogenic records used to reconstruct solar activity and in proxy climate records throughout the Holocene (last 12,000 years) up to now. The quasi-secular beat oscillations hindcast reasonably well the known prolonged periods of low solar activity during the last millennium such as the Oort, Wolf, Spörer, Maunder and Dalton minima, as well as the 17 115-year long oscillations found in a detailed temperature reconstruction of the Northern Hemisphere covering the last 2000 years. The millennial three-frequency beat cycle hindcasts equivalent solar and climate cycles for 12,000 years. Finally, the harmonic model herein proposed reconstructs the prolonged solar minima that occurred during 1900–1920 and 1960–1980 and the secular solar maxima around 1870–1890, 1940–1950 and 1995–2005 and a secular upward trending during the 20th century: this modulated trending agrees well with some solar proxy model, with the ACRIM TSI satellite composite and with the global surface temperature modulation since 1850. The model forecasts a new prolonged solar minimum during 2020–2045, which would be produced by the minima of both the 61 and 115-year reconstructed cycles. Finally, the model predicts that during low solar activity periods, the solar cycle length tends to be longer, as some researchers have claimed. These results clearly indicate that both solar and climate oscillations are linked to planetary motion and, furthermore, their timing can be reasonably hindcast and forecast for decades, centuries and millennia. The demonstrated geometrical synchronicity between solar and climate data patterns with the proposed solar/planetary harmonic model rebuts a major critique (by Smythe and Eddy, 1977) of the theory of planetary tidal influence on the Sun. Other qualitative discussions are added about the plausibility of a planetary influence on solar activity.

Link to paper: Scafetta_JStides

UPDATE 3/22/2012 – 1:15PM Dr. Scafetta responds in comments:

About the initial comment from Antony above,I believe that there are he might have misunderstood some part of the paper.

1)

I am not arguing from the barycentric point of view, which is false. In the paper I am talking

about tidal dynamics, a quite different approach. My argument

is based on the finding of my figure 2 and 3 that reveal the sunspot record

as made of three cycles (two tidal frequencies, on the side, plus a central

dynamo cycle). Then the model was developed and its hindcast

tests were discissed in the paper, etc.

{from Anthony – Note these references in your paper: Landscheidt, T.,1988.Solar rotation,impulses of the torque in sun’s motion, and

climate change. Climatic Change12,265–295.

Landscheidt, T.,1999.Extrema in sunspot cycle linked toSun’s motion. Solar

Physics 189,415–426.}

2)

There are numerous misconceptions since the beginning such as “Figure 9 looks to be interesting, but note that it is in generic units, not temperature, so has no predictive value by itself.”

It is a hindcast and prediction. There is no need to use specific units, but only dynamics. The units are interpreted correctly in the text of the paper as being approximately W/m^2 and as I say in the caption of the figure “However, the bottom curve approximately reproduces the patterns observed in the proxy solar models depicted in Fig. 5. The latter record may be considered as a realistic, although schematic, representation of solar dynamics.”

{from Anthony – if it isn’t using units of temperature, I fail to see how it can be of predictive value, there is not even any reference to warmer/cooler}

3) About Leif’s comments. It is important to realize that Solar physics is not “settled” physics. People do not even understand why the sun has a 11-year cycle (which is between the 10 and 12 year J/S tidal frequencies, as explained in my paper).

4)

The only argument advanced by Leif against my paper is that the phenomenon is his opinion was not observed in other stars. This is hardly surprising. We do not have accurate nor long records about other stars!

Moreover we need to observe the right thing, for example, even if you have a large planet very close to a star, the observable effect is associated to many things: how eccentric the orbits are and how big the star is, and its composition etc. Stars have a huge inertia to tidal effects and even if you have a planet large and close enough to the star to produce a theoretical 4,000,000 larger tidal effect, it does not means that the response from the star must be linear! Even simple elastic systems may be quite sensitive to small perturbations but become extremely rigid to large and rapid perturbations, etc.

It is evident that any study on planetary influence on a star needs to start from the sun, and then eventually extended to other star systems, but probably we need to wait several decades before having sufficiently long records about other stars!

In the case of the sun I needed at least a 200 year long sunspot record to

detect the three Schwabe cycles, and at least 1000 years of data for

hindcast tests to check the other frequencies. People can do the math for how long we need to wait for the other stars before having long enogh records.

Moreover, I believe that many readers have a typical misconception of physics.

In science a model has a physical basis when it is based on the observations

and the data and it is able to reconstruct, hindcast and/or forecast them.

It is evident to everybody reading my paper with an open mind that under the scientific

method, the model I proposed is “physically based” because I am

describing and reconstructing the dynamical properties of the data and I

showed that the model is able to hindcast millennia long data records.

Nobody even came close to these achievements.

To say otherwise would mean to reject everything in science and physics

because all findings and laws of physics are based on the observations and

the data and are tested on their capability of reconstruct, hindcast and/or

forecast observations, as I did in the paper

Of course, pointing out that I was not solving the problem using for example

plasma physics or quantum mechanics or whatever else. But this is a complex

exercise that needs its own time. As I correctly say in the paper.

“Further research should address the physical mechanisms necessary to

integrate planetary tides and solar dynamo physics for a more physically

based model.”

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Peter Miller

Makes more sense than Mann’s interpretation of tree rings, but then again almost anything does that.

J

suggestion on word choice:
“2. The effect is coincidental but not causative.”
“The phenomenon is coincidental but not causative.”

mark wagner

In my experience, most coincidences aren’t.

jack morrow

Climate science has not figured out what causes weather and different cycles and makes all kinds of guesses as to what does. Chaos seems to reign. The sun, to me causes the chaos, and as we corkscrew through space the only thing I see see to cause a climate cycle is the sun. We may years before we find the answer as to what causes changes in the sun and in turn changes our climate.

Ken Hall

Is the time-scale quite correct on those graphs? It appears to show the temperature to the rear 2150 or so. Not just to 2012

gallopingcamel

That mega Jupiter argument makes no sense. We are talking about rather subtle effects such as modulation of solar winds that are tough to detect unless you have an ACRIM satellite in orbit around the star in question.

Alex the skeptic

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times: Call the police.

By climate science standards this is good enough, no need for caveats 1,2, and 3, or to bother with peer review concerns. Anthony, you’re just not supportive enough of The Cause.
I propose a new review system: pear review. After you finish your paper, give a pear to the reviewer. If the pear is delicious, the paper is good. If not, rewrite some bits and then, get another pear. Should be at least as reliable as pal review.

If Earth’s smallish moon can cause tidal action with our oceans, why shouldn’t we expect that the huge masses of Jupiter and Saturn could have some tidal effects on the Sun’s swirling gases and their related magnetic fields?

Crispin in Johannesburg

I am happy to see this topic reaching a wider, more modern audience than Landsheidt did during his lifetime, as well as the works that preceded his and upon which his were based. When Landsheidt started to do his best work towards the end of his life, the attack-machine was in full cry and at its most effective. Is there any doubt that Piers Corbyn is using the same method? True revenge is being able to make accurate predictions in the face of the serial failure of the GCM’s to predict anything, even the past.
Now that we are living in saner times the simple and obvious questions can again be asked once again. Remember that Landscheidt’s ability to predict ENSO events was not accepted as ‘legitimate’ not because he was inaccurate, but because the mechanism for its effect was not clearly stated. This made it easier to dismiss as ‘coincidence’. His prediction of the April 2003 El Nino 3.5 years in advance, accurate to within 4 weeks, is no small potatoes. Keep in mind his prediction of a major drought in the USA in 2018 and 2025 as his parting shot.
Anthony I appreciate your caveats about how well Scarfetta’s paper was reviewed but, come on, this work is not exactly new and what do we expect from the Warmists anyway? They are going to rail against you for allowing the subject to be discussed because it threatens their entire world view. Do you still care? Anything that smells of solar influence on the this planet is anathema. They are going to squeal about how this (rather obvious) effect has been ‘disproven’ and is only clung to by ….. (fill in your favourite anti-science epithet). If the planets can pull the the barycentre outside the radius of the Sun, it is a powerful effect. Consider the tidal influence of the moon on the Earth, yet the E-M barycentre is well below the surface.
Scarfetta, congratulations and thanks for the details and the graphs and the topic. Someone has to lead. It might as well be you.

Bill Yarber

Have we found any solar systems with super Jupiter mass planets very close to their star? We know that Jupiter exerts huge gravitational forces on its close-in moons (especially those in elliptical orbits), effectively causing tidal movements and surface lava flows. Isn’t it likely that a planet with three times the mass of Jupitor in close proximity to its star would be eventually torn apart by these gravitational stresses?
Bill

Everyone should check this work against Fairbridge and Sanders “The Suns Orbit AD 750 -2050: Basis for New Perspectives on Planetary Dynamics and Earth -Moon linkage”
in Climate – History, Periodicity and Predictability eds Ramino et al Van Nostrand 1987 p 446
also see the enormous Bibliography which follows that article, on p 475 – 541.
As to mechanism – barycenter etc it is the torsion caused by the rate of change of angular momentum about the barycenter that matters.- see Jose Suns Motion and Sunspots Astronomical Journal April 1965

Olavi

Leif said, that there is no found tidal effects in exoplanet systems. How long we have examine exoplanets, and is it easy to find those effects?
Name HD 41004 B b
Discovered in 2004
M.sin i 18.4 (± 0.22) MJ
Semi major axis 0.0177 AU
Orbital period 1.3283 (± 1.2e-05) days
Eccentricity 0.081 (± 0.012)
ω 178.5 (± 7.8) deg.
Tperi 2452434.88 (± 0.0029)
Update 25/08/06
Distance 43.03 pc
With best equipment we have, is the distance like that (43.03 pc ) what prevents us to see. Can we find effects what Pluto’s moons cause it’s surfface? No we can’t, so there is no effect?

Crispin in Johannesburg

@Bob Paglee says:
If Earth’s smallish moon can cause tidal action with our oceans, why shouldn’t we expect that the huge masses of Jupiter and Saturn could have some tidal effects on the Sun’s swirling gases and their related magnetic fields?
++++++++
Exactly. Something to keep in mind is that the tidal action on the Earth is largely constrained by the fact it is so solid. The gases near the surface of the Sun are able to be pulled around to a much greater extent as witnessed by the ‘coincidence’ between the Earth-Moon-Venus barycentre and the sunspot butterfly pattern. However the key to the J-S phenomenon is the rate of change of the position of the more dense central region of the Sun with respect to the surface. In other words the Solar centre of gravity is disturbed with respect to the optical centre. There are several mechanisms one can imagine for how that can change the magnetic field.

“Thus, we conclude that a solar dynamo
theory and a planetary-tidal theory of solar variation are
complementary, not in opposition: there is the need of both of them
to understand solar dynamics!”
Exactly what I told Leif Svalgaard here a year ago. I think I was forced (in desperation) to start using exclamation marks too.

Planetary orbital resonances = Sun internal standing waves and other flow and circulatory perturbations/changes that affect output over long periods.

Russ R

@ Bob Paglee:
Because the force of gravity is proportional to an object’s mass, but inversely proportional to the squared distance between masses.
Jupiter’s mass is 20,837 times greater than the moon’s mass. But the mean radius of Jupiter’s orbit (actually the semi-major axis since it’s an ellipse) is 2025x that of the moon’s orbit.
20837 / (2025 ^ 2)
= 20837 / 4100231
= 0.0063
So, Jupiter’s tidal force on the sun would be ~0.6% of the moon’s tidal force on earth. Saturn, being less massive and more distant would be even less of a tidal influence.

Anthony,
thank you for the post. Only one comment.
You say “…whole barycentric thing which gets certain people into shouting matches”
Please note that the model that I present has nothing to do with “barycentric thing”.
My model is based on tidal patterns and solar dynamo cycle whose physical reality nobody disputes.
About the criticism of Leif, please note that we do not have sufficient detailed data about other stars to study this phenomenon there. There is the need to have extremely detailed solar irradiance records, to know the kind of planets they have (big and small) and to have very long records. We do not have this information for the other stars, unless Leif can provide a detailed sunspot number record or cosmogenic record for a few centuries about another star. Moreover, those few cases where we find a giant planet close to a star (the planet moves fast) the issue is understanding “variation” from main tide potential, not just its average strength and solar inertia to fast variations, that suppresses everything.
Tidal phenomena are however observed and well studied in binary star systems where they are very well known and in planetary systems. For example, look at:
“Tidal instability in stellar and planetary binary systems”
by M Le Bars, L Lacaze, S Le Dizès, P Le Gal, M Rieutord
http://www.mendeley.com/research/tidal-instability-in-stellar-and-planetary-binary-systems/
(this is just the first paper I got from Google) These things are in astrophysics textbooks.
About the phenomenon I am observing, it is so small that it is evident that we need to start from our Sun and solar system where we do have sufficiently detailed information and long records.
The model that I propose is supported by its proven hindcast capabilities. The model just uses the planetary frequencies and phases plus another frequency and phase deduced from a combination of planetary and sunspot record since 1749, and then the model is run back for thousand years, and all major solar and climate patterns are schematically recovered.
For those interested in a free copy of the paper, it is here
http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.4143
There are many other figure/tests in the paper.
May you add the arxiv link above to your main paper?
Thank you

richard verney

One’s initial ‘gut’ impression is that the forces at play would be too weak to amount to material drivers.
Obviously, we do not understand the magnetosphere sufficiently to know whether bodies other than the sun and moon may have a bearing on that and if so, what is the effect of this.
However, it may not be limited to just the magnetosphere, and the effect may extend to the atmospheric bulge. The celestrial bodies (primarily the sun and moon, but to a lesser extend other planetary objects) have a role to play with the tides and atmospheric bulge. There is little doubt that the atmosphere is undergoing a constant flexing (both from the bottom and from the top) as a result of the interaction of the gravitional forces at play and the spinning nature of the globe, but whether this is sufficient to input some temperature into the atmosphere is on the basis of our present understanding and knowledge rather speculative. Can it drive climate is even more speculative.
I have long held the view that we may underestimate the significance of the atmospheric bulge. We are not in a static system and no account seems to be taken of that..

re: Bob Paglee at 8:26 AM I can’t do the calculations right
here and now, but it would seem that the gravitational pull
by the Moon on the Earth should be compared to Jupiter’s
on the Sun. That would give a bit of a clue if Jupiter really
affected the Sun as much as the Moon affects the Earth.

Tracing cycles of expolanet host stars is an angle that I thought might help settle the Landscheidt controversy. I doubt that stars with massive short-period planets will be the final word. Decades of data from true Solar System analogs would be better.

“dynamics!”
About my usage of exclamation marks, please note that I am not a English speaking person and I am not able to evaluate how a native English speaking person would interpret it.
Anthony told me that I have to avoid using them (I used it twice in the paper). In the future I will follow his precious advice. So, consider it a typo, if you do not like it.

Contrary to Mr. Watts’ claim, Dr. Scafetta’s model does not make “predictions.” It makes “projections.” While people often conflate the ideas that are referenced by the two words, the ideas are distinct. Predictions are discrete in time, are countable and have a one-to-one relationship to the events in a statistical population, making it easy to see that predictions are not the output from Dr. Scafetta’s model for the output is continuous and references no population.
When I point out to them that there is a scientifically important distinction between a “prediction” and a “projection,” many bloggers are inclined to ignore me and to continue to conflate the ideas that are referenced by the two words. However, it is well worth the expenditure of mental effort that is required in gaining an understanding of this distinction, for as predictions are falsifiable, they lie in science while as projections are not falsifiable they do not lie in science.

Jean Meeus

“So, Jupiter’s tidal force on the sun would be ~0.6% of the moon’s tidal force on earth. Saturn, being less massive and more distant would be even less of a tidal influence.”
Yes indeed. Moreover, here on the Earth we see the tides because the oceans are fluid while the continents are rigid. But the Sun is completely fluid, so what?

richard verney

To take an extreme example of gravitional forces at play and their effect, just think of Io.
This is the most geologically active body in the solar system. The power source for all this energy is gravity. Io being ‘pulled’ between Jupiter and the other Galelean moons.
On Io, the work being done by gravity and the resultant heat it generates is easy to see.
Why should not a similar effect but to a much leser extent, be ongoing on Earth? For example, how much energy is being counter-balanced by a leap tide as opposed to a spring tide? How much energy is involved in the displacement of the tides which in turn displaces the atmosphere from below? How much energy is involved in the creation and ongoing displacement of the atmospheric bulge?
I expect that a lot of work is involved in these phenomena and a by product of work is heat.
I can in principle see that it possible that gravitational interaction which is flexing the atmosphere both from below and above could in theory input some heat. The issue I have is whether this is just miniscule, and more significantly whether this could over time drive climate. .

Matt

I found this web site really useful in figuring out how much of an effect the planets, mainly Jupiter, have on the sun:
http://www.orbitsimulator.com/gravity/articles/ssbarycenter.html

Those who are potentially persuaded by those that say that the tidal forces are too small to be effective should remember these three points.
1) Solar variation is pretty small too. Around 0.1% over a decade. Still enough to affect terrestrial climate quite dramatically though, due to various amplifications and feedbacks.
2) If I push a flagpole just hard enough to make it rock slightly, and push it again at just the right time with the same force, it will rock a bit more. If I repeat the process enough times, I can break the flagpole because it is rocking so violently. Small forces, applied regularly, which are in harmony with the natural oscillation of the object they are applied to, create powerful resonances.
3) Leif always quotes the size of the vertical tides, and never discusses horizontal flows. On a body like the Sun, which has very high surface gravity, small vertical displacements lead to energetic and wide ranging horizontal flows, these can get reinforced by the myriad number of ‘coincidences’ in the timings of various forces acting on the solar surface.

Legatus

First, something is causing periodic ice ages on this planet, the most likely causative factor is the sun for such regular occurrences, if it was purely a random variation of climate cycles not related to the sun, it would not be nearly so regular. Something is also causing periodic, regular cycles of warm and cool periods in interglacials, little ice ages, medieval warm periods, that sort of thing, and once again such regularity does not look like random cycles of entirely earth based phenomenon, such as ocean currents, ENSO, or the like. In short, something causes these cycles, if not the sun, then what? Until we know at least that, “climate scientists” need a new name, because they are neither studying the climate, what actually causes variations in it, nor are they scientists.
Second, these major variations are far apart, the smaller little ice ages are at least several hundred years apart, the larger full scale ice ages over 10,000, have we been closely observing other suns other than our own long enough to spot such similar changes over such time periods? The answer, no we have not. Therefore, we simply do not have enough data to work with yet.
Third, since our “climate scientists” are not actually studying climate, at least enough to even know what causes these major changes in our climate, we cannot know what solar effects may or may not be behind them (more likely may than may not, see above). We therefore do not know what we are looking for, so it is no wonder we cannot find it.
Fourth, the currently posited idea of what does cause periods of warming and cooling are based around the solar wind. We cannot measure the solar wind of other suns other than our own. Thus, if these climate changes depend on solar wind, we will not be able to compare our solar wind with any other suns, and thus will never see it happen anywhere else. This is especially true if other changes are not also present when there are changes in solar wind, and if these changes are not quite large, large enough for us to see them a gazillion miles away on another star (over a period of several hundred years at least, see above). This is also true of magnetism, incoming cosmic rays, and other things we can measure here but cannot measure way over there.
And lastly, As Upton Sinclair once said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.” We may not have data related to this for the simple reason that we don’t want to. A lot of peoples jobs depend on CO2 causing everything, and the sun, ours or any others, not causing anything. Do not be surprised, therefore, if we do not have data to prove or disprove something that we are going out of our way to avoid looking at.

MattN

“In my experience, most coincidences aren’t.”
^This^

sailboarder

Richard Verney says:
“I have long held the view that we may underestimate the significance of the atmospheric bulge.”
me too:
If as postulated, atmospheric density at the surface plus TOA insolation drives temperature, then changes in the bulge due to planetary influences should change the density, thus temperature.
Changes in the bulge might change the albedo too.
Changes in the bulge should change the location of trade winds.

Steve C

I look forward to reading through this later, but I already like the mention of the “quasi-millennial large beat cycle around 983 years”.
As for those negligible effects between planets and sun, resonance. Given the very slow rate at which solar system motion slows, there are many cycles of – admittedly weak – interaction which will allow the eventual exchange of energy between anything and anything else in the system which ‘rings’ at a similar frequency. It would be surprising if ‘astronomical’ cycles were not present in the climatic record, more so given that most of the runners are in the fluid state.

gallopingcamel says:
March 21, 2012 at 8:20 am
That mega Jupiter argument makes no sense. We are talking about rather subtle effects
Some starspots are huge: http://www.noao.edu/noao/noaonews/dec99/node2.html and we can today easily measure stellar activity.

SteveSadlov

While the barocentric notion may not be hard science per se, I think there would be merit to conducting more frequency domain analysis of solar and solar-cosmic behavior. After all, it’s a massive circuit.

Gravity’s influence on what essentially are electromagnetic events in the origin and consequence is at best very small, but most likely negligible.

Willis Eschenbach

I fear I find this totally unconvincing. First, we have three free parameters, which are the three frequencies:

The Schwabe frequency band of the Zurich sunspot record since 1749 is found to be made of three major cycles with periods of about 9.98, 10.9 and 11.86 years. The side frequencies appear to be closely related to the spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn (range between 9.5 and 10.5 years, and median 9.93 years) and to the tidal sidereal period of Jupiter (about 11.86 years).

Saying that he is using 9.98 because it is kinda like the mean spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn makes no sense. If it followed the actual spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn that would be one thing … but it doesn’t.
Here’s what he says about the middle cycle of 10.9 years:

The central cycle may be associated to a quasi 11-year solar dynamo cycle that appears to be approximately synchronized to the average of the two planetary frequencies.

Oh, please. I thought this was science, and “may be associated to a quasi 11-year solar dynamo cycle” is handwaving.
The final cycle, 11.86 years, is the sidereal period of Jupiter rounded to two decimals.
Here’s the problem with this. When you are dealing with beat frequencies, particularly short cycles with closely related periods, the exact lengths of the cycles make a huge difference to the result. If you are looking as Scafetta is at a 2,000 year run, a difference of 0.1 years in a cycle length leads to a difference of 200 years in the location of the peaks and valleys of the cycle.
This means that by making very small changes in the three frequencies, we end up with huge changes in the results … and since Dr. Scafetta is not dealing with actual astromical cycles but possible “quasi 11 year” cycles and the like, he is free to adjust the cycles to fit the results to the reality.
Anthony above puts out three possibilities for this study, viz:

1. The effect manifests itself in some other way not yet observed.
2. The effect is coincidental but not causative.
3. The effect is real, but unproven yet by observations and predictive value.

I hold that a fourth possibility is much more probable than any of the above—that it is a trivial exercise in curve fitting using three free parameters, and if three hadn’t sufficed, he would gladly have used four free parameters.
Beat frequencies are a perfect way to do that, because the adjustments are so small that you can still claim that the parameters have some real-world basis because they are supposedly “closely related” to one of the literally hundreds of possible astronomical cycles.
So far, in his three posts on WUWT, Dr. Scafetta has said that the Earth’s surface temperatures are ruled by:
First Post: 20 and 60 year cycles. These were supposed to be related to some astronomical cycles which were never made clear.
Second Post: 9.1, 10-11, 20 and 60 year cycles. These were supposed to be related to:
9.1 years : this was justified as being sort of near to a calculation of (2X+Y)/4, where X and Y are lunar precession cycles,
“10-11” years: he never said where he got this one, or why it’s so vague.
20 years: supposedly close to an average of the sun’s barycentric velocity period.
60 years: kinda like three times the synodic period of Jupiter/Saturn. Why not four times? Who knows.
Third Post: (this paper). 9.98, 10.9, and 11.86 year cycles. These are claimed to be
9.98 years: slightly different from a long-term average of the spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn.
10.9 years: may be related to a quasi 11-year solar cycle … or not.
11.86 years: Jupiter’s sidereal period.
I’m sure you can see the problem. When you start by claiming a given cycle is valid because it is near to, not the same as but near to, (2X + Y)/4 where X and Y are lunar precessions, and then you drop that cycle entirely in favor of a similar length cycle which is supposed to be not the same as, but near to, the long term average of the spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn … sorry, kids, but that’s just picking one of the literally hundreds of astronomical cycles to justify your numbers.
When you are reduced to taking two astronomical cycles X and Y, and claiming that your magical cycle is valid because it is near to (2X + Y)/4, you can justify anything. Why not a cycle of length (2X + Y)/5, or (3X + Y)/4? Given the range of possible X and Y, and the range of possible combinations, using this method anything can be justified as an “astronomical cycle”.
I find this to be parameter fitting on steroids, cyclomania taken to the extreme. It is nothing but using free parameters, which are justified as being kinda sorta close to astronomical cycles, to make the elephant wiggle his trunk.
In support of this, please note that Dr. Scafetta first got a reasonable fit to the earth’s temperature using just 20 and 60 year cycles. Then he got a reasonable fit using 9.1, “10-11”, 20 and 60 year cycles. Now he shows a reasonable fit using 9.98, 10.9, and 11.86 cycles … so … why should we think any of them are more than playing with parameters?
I leave you to draw your own conclusion as to whether this is just trivial curve fitting. As for me, I see absolutely no scientific value in this at all.
w.

Exclamation points are a matter of style. I can see a reviewer suggesting they not be used but I don’t see how one could ever recommend rejection over a matter of style rather than substance. Thus I think Anthony is wrong to question the standard of peer review over such a thing (and I could even put an exclamation point on that).
As a matter of advice to Nicola, I would say to definitely avoid any use of exclamation points to strengthen an argument. Since it contains no logic it doesn’t add anything and the emphasis is just like repetition, or as Anthony says, “shouting.” As description, however, an exclamation point can be fine, expressing a personal sense of magnitude, but still probably hard for a non-native English speaker to judge.

Jeremy

OT – Oh the IRONY! Oh the hypocrisy!
[snip yes wildly off topic, which is why we have a tips and notes page, I’m not going to have this thread hijacked for a Gleick discussion – Anthony]

Werner Brozek

Alvin W says:
March 21, 2012 at 9:01 am
I can’t do the calculations right here and now, but it would seem that the gravitational pull by the Moon on the Earth should be compared to Jupiter’s on the Sun.

Here are the calculations for Jupiter and the sun in terms of center of mass. If only the sun and Jupiter existed in their present orbits, the center of gravity is actually outside the surface of the sun. Here are the important numbers:
Mass of the sun = 1.99 x 10^30 kg.
Mass of Jupiter = 1.90 x 10^27 kg.
Mean orbital radius of Jupiter = 7.78 x 10^11 m.
So the center of mass between Jupiter and the sun is
7.78 x 10^11 m x 1.90 x 10^27 kg/1.99 x 10^30 kg = 7.43 x 10^8 m.
However the sun’s equatorial radius is 6.96 x 10^8 m. This, of course, is less than the center of mass for Jupiter and the sun. The other planets will either add or subtract to this center of mass, depending on their location relative to Jupiter.
As for our earth and moon, that center of gravity is about 1000 miles below the surface of the earth or 3000 miles from the center of the earth. So in this sense at least, Jupiter has a larger effect on the sun than the moon does on earth. (Tides are a different matter.)

Dave Worley

I contend that the matter on the surface of the sun is in such an excited state that it does not take much to stimulate an energetic release. I’ve seen countless videos of comets and other objects passing near the sun appearing to stimulate a flare release from a point near the perogee. I’ve been shot down by experts on that belief many times, but I’m still a believer.

Dave Worley

perigee

Jean Meeus

“11.86 years: Jupiter’s synodic period.”
No, it is Jupiter’s sidereal period. The synodic period of Jupiter, for an observer on the Earth, is 399 days.
[Thanks, fixed. -w]

Werner Brozek

Nicola Scafetta says:
March 21, 2012 at 8:51 am
Please note that the model that I present has nothing to do with “barycentric thing”.
My model is based on tidal patterns and solar dynamo cycle whose physical reality nobody disputes.

Just to be sure I am understanding you correctly, does this meant that you believe that the barycenter or rapidity of changes to the barycenter absolutely has no bearing whatsoever on the “solar dynamo cycle”?

Willis Eschenbach says:
March 21, 2012 at 10:19 am
As for me, I see absolutely no scientific value in this at all.
Ah, but you need to read Scaffetta’s papers. It is all laid out in unconvincing detail. WUWT is fertile ground for all kinds of dubious claims: planetary cycles controlling the climate, planetary and lunar positions triggering earthquakes [Thousands of lives could be saved if just the lunatics were taking seriously], etc.

Gail Combs

Legatus says:
March 21, 2012 at 9:40 am
First, something is causing periodic ice ages on this planet, the most likely causative factor is the sun for such regular occurrences, if it was purely a random variation of climate cycles not related to the sun, it would not be nearly so regular. Something is also causing periodic, regular cycles of warm and cool periods in interglacials, little ice ages, …
________________________
It is called the Milankovitch cycles.
Luboš Motl brings up the basic correction to the Milankovitch cycles that make the theory fit.

…Gerard Roe realized a trivial mistake that had previously been done. And a similar mistake is being done by many people all the time – scientists as well as laymen; alarmists as well as skeptics. The problem is that people confuse functions and their derivatives…
So the right quantity that should be compared with the insolation – i.e. the sunshine near the Arctic circle – is not the ice volume itself but its time derivative. No doubt about it. This “fix” is analogous to the transition from the Aristotelian science to the Newtonian one. 😉 By taking the derivative, the faster, high-frequency, short-period cycles in the ice volume are amplified while the very slow ones (100,000-year cycles) are suppressed. http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/07/in-defense-of-milankovitch-by-gerard.html

Milankovitch cycles have been known to all scientists for decades even the warmists:

…A more definitive confirmation of Milankovitch came in 1976, in a paper by Hays, Imbrie and Shackleton, using Shackleton’s data in the figure above. But long before either that paper or my own, there was widespread behind-the-scenes acceptance of Milankovitch, and Kukla, for one, was concerned about the implications….. http://calderup.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/next-ice-age/

Also See:
Simple explanation: http://deschutes.gso.uri.edu/~rutherfo/milankovitch.html
http://www.es.ucsc.edu/~rcoe/eart206/Hays_OrbitPacemaker_Science76.pdf
http://www.heliogenic.net/category/milankovitch-cycles/
http://www.aip.org/history/climate/cycles.htm

Without violating any ethics, I can say that I was a reviewer of an earlier version of this paper submitted to a better journal and the judgement of several reviewers was: “The paper is crap and based on cyclomanic derivations”.

harrywr2

60 years: kinda like three times the synodic period of Jupiter/Saturn. Why not four times? Who knows.
Saturn and Jupiter align every 20 years. They align in the same solar quadrant plus 9 degrees every 60 years. So it’s a case of them aligning in the same ‘earth season’ every 60 years.

Jupiter’s mass is 20,837 times greater than the moon’s mass. But the mean radius of Jupiter’s orbit (actually the semi-major axis since it’s an ellipse) is 2025x that of the moon’s orbit.
20837 / (2025 ^ 2)
= 20837 / 4100231
= 0.0063
So, Jupiter’s tidal force on the sun would be ~0.6% of the moon’s tidal force on earth. Saturn, being less massive and more distant would be even less of a tidal influence.

I do so love Fermi estimates, but be careful. You’re reasoning is completely erroneous because the tides are a second order effect, due to the difference between the gravitational field at the center of mass of the tidal object and its value on e.g. the near and far boundaries. This produces and additional factor of the ratio R_{sun}/R_{jo} times the absolute magnitude of the field of Jupiter at a distance of the approximate radius of its orbit R_{jo} (plus a factor of 2).
That is, a simple estimate of the (magnitude of the differential) “tidal field” on the near side of the sun to Jupiter might be \frac{GM_j}{R_{jo}^2} - \frac{GM_j}{(R_{jo} - R_{sun})^2} \approx \frac{2GM}{R_{jo}^2} \left(\frac{R_{sun}}{R{jo}}\right). Thus your estimate is off by the neglect of R_{earth}/R_{mo} on the one hand and R_{sun}/R_{so} on the other. The ratio of these ratios is order of another factor of ten, so assuming your other arithmetic is correct (I didn’t check it) the relative size of the differential “tidal field” is more like 0.06%.
However, as noted, there are other really important differences one needs to account for. One is that the Sun is a really, really large ball of very hot, compressible fluid. Another is the lack of e.g. continents, although magnetic inhomogeneities may function somewhat similarly. Because the Sun is so very large and so very hot, even a very small secular variation in the laterally differential field strength in some direction has a long way to be amplified and possibly be self-organized into a tidal resonance, a breathing mode/quadrupolar deformation of the sun that slightly lags the position of Jupiter in the sky. It is this quadrupolar deformation that e.g. is slowly increasing the radius of the moon’s orbit (and slowing the Earth’s rotational velocity). In the Earth, the oceans experience very large tides in some places and not so much in others where the actual tidal field is larger because its resonances interact with coastal geometry and basically funnel the tidal wave so that it is strongly amplified. Oceanic tides in Maine and Nova Scotia are much larger than they are in NC — more than twice as high — in spite of the fact that the actual tidal field strictly increases as one approaches the plane of the Moon’s orbit. Sunspots and regions with strong magnetic flux may well do similar channelling of the solar tidal wave due to Jupiter (or other planets), but in a nonlinear and chaotic way (as sunspots are hardly fixed).
The final difference is one I have a hard time getting any sort of handle on. Solar dynamics inside has some very bizzare features. For example, the “speed of light” inside the sun is basically a crawl — you could walk faster than a photon generated deep inside the sun manages to diffuse towards the surface. Given the reasonable assumption that resonant tidal surface waves modulate pressure, they may well also modulate the core fusion reaction. Even very weak modulation would create very slowly travelling outward directed amplitude waves in energy density, and (after a lag of 100,000 years or so) those waves would reach the general vicinity of the surface. Certain harmonics of those waves may well heterodyne with the current phase of the harmonic tidal resonance, again in a way that is likely delayed differential but strongly modulated by nonlinearly and chaotic details of surface state.
Under such circumstances it would be very difficult to put limits on the magnitude of the influence of the tidal wave on solar state. With resonances, even a very small driving force with the right frequency can produce a large response. Although one might expect damping near the surface to limit the size of the resonances, the interior dynamics of the sun may be so constrained by the enormous density and pressure that they are not negligible, that a significant part of what we see today arriving at the surface of the sun is coherently connected to solar state a very long time ago.
There is substantial evidence that there are resonant processes in the Sun’s energy production cycle with many different timescales, some of which are sufficiently distinct that they get names and are postulated to be connected to specific modes e.g. r-modes — fourier studies of neutrino flux, for example. However, I think that internal solar dynamics is one of our vast wells of mostly-ignorance in the great sea of scientific knowledge; we are still building the tools that might lead to the tools that would one day let us make decent inferences about what is going in there. Lief may well disagree and think that it is all well-understood at this point, but again this is a hard problem and one where getting an experimental “glimpse” at what is going on deep inside the solar interior is a bit difficult because, well, most of the Sun is in the way…
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MarkW

I personally lean towards believing that the charts are more coincidence than anything, but even I can think of a few responses to Leif’s data.
1) The orbits are too close. IE, whatever is being affected can’t respond that fast. Jupiter’s orbit is, I think, 12 years. The planets Leif mentions, the orbit is just a few days. That’s a huge difference.
2) The orbits of the planets that Leif mentions are not stable enough. IE, it takes multiple millions of years for the harmonics to build up to the level where they can be detected.
3) The gravitational attraction is too strong, instead of creating harmonics, all we get is chaos.

MarkW

A couple of other points.
4) The age of the star may matter.
5) The size of the star may matter.