Historical and present Total Solar Irradiance has been tinkered with again

One of the big problems of climate science is uncertainty. Some things that always seem to be in flux are historical datasets, partly because, well, they have so much inherent uncertainty built in. Such is the case of the Historical TSI plot presented on the University of Colorado SORCE web page. All of the sudden, with little fanfare, it changed, and not just a little. What is interesting are the drops during the Maunder Minimum as well as our current Solar Cycle 24

Readers may know that a controversy persists as to the actual TSI behavior in the late 80s/early 90s.  The so called “ACRIM gap” was created when the Challenger shuttle was destroyed in a famous accident due to mismanagement combined with launch pressure.  It caused by the delay of the shuttle-launched ACRIM2, a satellite that was to maintain continuity of TSI measurements.  The debate over how to bridge the gap is relevant to the explanation of the warming that persisted into the 90s.   The debate has been quite heated, with those invested in the IPCC forcing story claiming that the TSI decreased in the 90s and those (Willson and Scafetta) who argued that the TSI continued to increase in the 90s.

Some previous TSI reconstructions:

tsi_reconstructions

Now there’s even more tinkering from SORCE:

http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/sorce/data/tsi-data/#plots

The SORCE TSI reconstruction  looked like this a month ago (word BEFORE added):

SORCE_TSI_reconstruction_Feb2013

Here is what it looks like as of today (word AFTER added):

SORCE_TSI_reconstruction_Feb2014

They say this about it today:

This historical reconstruction of TSI is based on that used in the IPCC AR5 Working Group’s Assessment Report and based on TSI reconstructions by Krivova et al. (JGR 2010) and Ball et al. (A&A, 2012). The values from their SATIRE model have been offset -0.30 W/m2 to match the SORCE/TIM measurements during years of overlap and then extended using SORCE/TIM annual averages from 2003 onward. The historical reconstruction provided here was computed by G. Kopp using TIM V.15 data in February 2014, and is updated annually as new TIM data are available.

Download the ASCII data file

Explore the data interactively with LISIRD

Since the previous dataset wasn’t available to me to plot to show differences and comparisons, here is an overlay of the 2013 and 2014 image versions of the plot, scaled to fit properly since the Y axis changed in 2014 to accommodate the greater range:

SORCE_TSI_reconstruction_Feb2013-Feb2014

They have changed the last three solar maxima and now show a clear roll-off since about 1975.  Those are enormous changes since last year’s dataset.

Of note is the drop of about 0.3 w/sqm during the last minimum. You’d think they have a measurement handle on that with our current satellite platform, so you have to wonder why that would need adjustment.

Also of note is a drop of about 0.2w/sqm during the Maunder Minimum.

Not only is global temperature adjusted and is a constantly moving target, now so it is with solar irradiance. With so much input data in flux, the “uncertainty monster” of climate modeling output keeps growing.

h/t to Gordon Fulks and Aaron Smith

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The model used [SATIRE – not a pun] is based on the Group Sunspot Number which we now know is about 50% too low before the 1880s. The arguments for this can be found here: http://www.leif.org/research/CEAB-Cliver-et-al-2013.pdf and in more detail here http://www.leif.org/research/Reconciling-Group-and-Wolf-Sunspot-Numbers.pdf and here http://www.leif.org/research/Solar-Petaluma–How%20Well%20Do%20We%20Know%20the%20SSN.pdf
so no wonder there is a problem. On the other had, it is also true that we do not KNOW for sure if there is an ever-rising ‘background’, see here: http://www.leif.org/research/Long-term-Variation-Solar-Activity.pdf
My own assessment is that there [is] no evidence for a secular upward trending background.

These are indeed large changes. I note that the lower end of the range is now about 1360.0 rising to about 1360.7, whereas Leif’s goes from around 1365.6 to 1365.7. Even Judith Lean’s is consistently higher than the new measure. Are these really attempted measures of the same thing?

Tim Walker

Interesting. Thanks for noticing and posting this here.

Alec aka Daffy Duck

Layman here; could it be being adjusted as the recently found the large change in UV over the solar cycle?

Mike Jonas says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:04 pm
These are indeed large changes. I note that the lower end of the range is now about 1360.0 rising to about 1360.7, whereas Leif’s goes from around 1365.6 to 1365.7.
That difference of about 5 W/m2 is artificial in the sense that pre-SORCE data had a systematic error [due to scattered and diffracted light]. Correcting for that systematic error brings the two scales into agreement for the satellite era since 1978.

More on tinkering with the TSI data in the past, including a letter from astrophysicist Richard C. Willson (head of the ACRIM satellites) stating “Fröhlich [and co-author Judith Lean] made unauthorized and incorrect adjustments… He did it without any detailed knowledge of the ACRIM1 instrument or on-orbit performance…The only obvious purpose was to devise a TSI composite, that agreed with the predictions of Lean’s TSI proxy model.”
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/06/judithgate-update.html

Alec aka Daffy Duck says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:07 pm
Layman here; could it be being adjusted as the recently found the large change in UV over the solar cycle?
No, because those changes are too minute in energy terms [although large in percentages]

Hockey Schtick says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:09 pm
Richard C. Willson (head of the ACRIM satellites) stating “Fröhlich [and co-author Judith Lean] made unauthorized and incorrect adjustments
One does [NOT] need to have authorization to correct what one finds to be wrong.

One does NOT need to have authorization to correct what one finds to be wrong.

No, Leif gave me 1361 as TSI year round average a few weeks ago.
But HIS source was all over the place over the years, each “official” reading lower than the previous “official” reading due to calibration issues. It’s validated based on a source I trust, so all can use below as they see fit.
When I calculate radiation at TOA for each day of the year, I assign a single yearly average as TSI to the spreadsheet as a variable ..
Then calculate each day-of-year TOA value from
TSI_DOY=TSI*(1+0.0342*(COS(2*3.141*((F1-3)/365))))
ANY daily radiation absorbed or reflected calculation uses the DAILY TSI value, never a yearly average or a wikipedia-approved “everybody-knows-it” value.
This assumes that maximum radiation = 1408 on 3 January.

03 Jan. = DOY = 003 = 1408 = yearly maximum TSI
22 Mar. = DOY = 081 = 1372 => equinoz, slightly above average yearly value
22 June = DOY = 173 = 1316 => summer solstice, but not quite minimum
06 July = DOY = 187 = 1314 => minimum TOA radiation
22 Sept = DOY = 265 = 1352  => equinox, slightly below average value
22 Dec. = DOY = 356 = 1407    (Back near maximum)

Wow, I see why people get so sarcastic about NOAA and NASA and such on this site now. I have also thought, as have others, that whenever possible we should do reconstructions of all the many graphs/data sets, etc. that begin in 1979 to show what they would look like starting a few years or decades earlier. I think they are tinkering with Great Lake ice coverage this year as well. But in this case we have a unique opportunity. At or near peak ice coverage, if someone will fly over Lake Michigan especially, but also hopefully Lake Superior and Ontario … on a clear day and take video … we could see if they have been tampering and how much.

RACookPE1978 says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm
But HIS source was all over the place over the years, each “official” reading lower than the previous “official” reading due to calibration issues.
I long ago pointed out that they had degradation problems, see e.g. here http://www.leif.org/research/PMOD%20TSI-SOHO%20keyhole%20effect-degradation%20over%20time.pdf
They have now acknowledged the problem [but still not corrected their dataset].

Bart

lsvalgaard says:
February 10, 2014 at 6:57 pm
This is the kind of article where I really appreciate having you around.

OK, but that now brings up a “calibration” problem of my own you may be able to help with:
When I digitize the daily (hourly) radiation charts (usually direct, indirect, and total are plotted for each 15 minutes) for a given year, then try to check the “requied” attenuation percent for that latitude and that day-of-year for that paper, do i need to “change” the yearly_average_TSI at the TOA for the YEAR when the measurement was made?
Clearly, if today’s TSI = 1361 was not 1361 in 2001 or 2008, or 1992 but some other value, then the plotted total radiation on ANY date that year will also have changed. If I assume a constant yearly_average_TSI and only correct for the day-of-year cycle, then my attenuation figures will be wrong, right? 8<)
On the other hand, the actual measured global or direct or diffuse radiation by some instrument doesn't care what happened on the sun's face, it is measured at what it is measured, right?

Bart says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm
This is the kind of article where I really appreciate having you around.
Yes, it is important that we get a dataset giving the correct energy input to the climate system.

RACookPE1978 says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm
If I assume a constant yearly_average_TSI and only correct for the day-of-year cycle, then my attenuation figures will be wrong, right? 8<)
Yes, there is a [real, true] solar cycle variation of 1 to 2 W/m2 [depending on the cycle], with maximum near sunspot cycle maximum. You can get the daily values since 2003 here: http://lasp.colorado.edu/data/sorce/tsi_data/daily/sorce_tsi_L3_c24h_latest.txt

RACookPE1978 says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm
On the other hand, the actual measured global or direct or diffuse radiation by some instrument doesn’t care what happened on the sun’s face, it is measured at what it is measured, right?
To evaluate the impact on the Earth, one should use the value reduced to the varying distance between the Sun and the Earth, which as you point out produces an annual variation some 70 times larger than the puny solar cycle variation everyone is so worked up about.

Tim

The motivation behind this looks clear! It explains the warming period out of the maunder min and the early 1900 warming until 1950. Then it show’s a clear discrepancy with temperatures from 1950 onwards, giving the impression that there must be another reason behind the continued warming. I expect to see papers citing this very information to show that ‘the sun did not cause the warming from the 50’s but could explain the current pause’ out very soon.

Tim says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm
The motivation behind this looks clear! It explains the warming period out of the maunder min and the early 1900 warming until 1950. Then it show’s a clear discrepancy with temperatures from 1950 onwards, giving the impression that there must be another reason behind the continued warming.
I think you are correct about the motivation. It is also good for funding.

Bill Illis

I thought SORCE Tim had failed.
But 7 days of data shows up at Christmas which is right around the previous numbers. Still 0.4 W/m2 or so lower than expected at the top of the solar cycle but that is really nothing when divided by 4 and multiplied by 70% for Albedo.
0.07 W/m2 lower than expected, so what. It is still higher than normal given we are the top of the solar cycle so it is not contributing to the cooling, it is just contributing less warming than it should have.
——————-
And I don’t see how the historical TSI numbers can just be adjusted over and over and over again. We have absolutely no idea what the data should be now.
I think we have to back-up and just assume that it was much lower in the Maunder Minimum etc. because all these adjustments have just forced one to use reality and the cold temperatures of the late 1600s to say, yes, it was 4.0 W/m2 lower then. It just had to be.
And, therefore, the Sun is not the very stable Star we thought it was.

Well, Polaris’ intensity is varying much more these years than what it “should” …
the end times, they are nearer than they ever have been before.
(Which is a true statement every time it is uttered.)

The change of the SORCE TSI reconstruction is curious. In the 2013 TSI version the SORCE reconstruction was nothing but an extension of Lean TSI model.
In our recent paper, published a few weeks ago,
Scafetta, N., and R. C. Willson, 2014. ACRIM total solar irradiance satellite composite validation versus TSI proxy models. Astrophysics and Space Science (in press).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10509-013-1775-9
we demonstrate (figure 14), among many other things, that that SORCE TSI reconstruction based on Lean model failed to reproduce the TSI reduction from the TSI minima in 1996 to 2008-2009 as demonstrated by both the ACRIM and PMOD TSI composite.
It appears to me that now SORCE has tried to cover up the problem by reproducing a new TSI record made of an extension of Lean TSI model merged to the TSI PMOD composite since 1980. The PMOD is however shifted down to the ACRIM3 and TIM scale.
This is however a dangerous trick because as explained in our paper PMOD composite was originally based on altered TSI satellite measurements. The alterations were originally deduced from Lean TSI proxy model.
Thus, as explained in our new paper the fact that Lean’s proxy model failed to reproduce the TSI reduction from 1996 to 2008-2009 demonstrates also that PMOD composite is likely baseless.
In our figure 15 we show how TSI appears without the PMOD modification during the ACRIM gap with a possible forecast to 2020.
The paper can be download on my web-site.

In addition, in
Scafetta, N., and R. C. Willson, 2014. ACRIM total solar irradiance satellite composite validation versus TSI proxy models. Astrophysics and Space Science (in press).
http://people.duke.edu/~ns2002/pdf/10.1007s10509-013-1775-9.pdf
we demonstrates that Lean and Solanki TSI model have serious troubles.
The SORCE TSI seems now based on Solanki model which is carefully calibrated to reproduce the minima of the PMOD composite. However it fails to reproduce the maximum in 2002 which is too low and has other problems discussed in our paper.

john robertson

Climate science, ever continuing to disappoint.
Small wonder Jones and co had so little regard for the original data.
Astrology is looking more credible every time the data gets “corrected”.
Given the variation in “measuring methods” is this reconstruction of any value?
Or do we just accept we have no useful data prior to the latest spaceborne instrumentation?

Bill Illis says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:52 pm
I thought SORCE Tim had failed.
It had, but there is still battery power enough to make a few measurements now and then, until the next satellite is launched.
We have absolutely no idea what the data should be now.
On the contrary, we know what the data should be now, it is the past [before 2003] that is murky.
I think we have to back-up and just assume that it was much lower in the Maunder Minimum …It just had to be.
I hope you realize that this is a circular argument.

“The only obvious purpose was to devise a TSI composite, that agreed with the predictions of Lean’s TSI proxy model.”
Did we land on the moon?

upcountrywater

As the temperatures drop next year and the years after that, the ‘noise and the twisting of the data in the record won’t matter, not one little bit…as the cold records fall planetary wide…

On the SORCE web-site
http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/sorce/data/tsi-data/#plots
They say:
“This historical reconstruction of TSI is based on that used in the IPCC AR5 Working Group’s Assessment Report and based on TSI reconstructions by Krivova et al. (JGR 2010) and Ball et al. (A&A, 2012). The values from their SATIRE model have been offset -0.30 W/m2 to match the SORCE/TIM measurements during years of overlap and then extended using SORCE/TIM annual averages from 2003 onward. The historical reconstruction provided here was computed by G. Kopp using TIM V.15 data in February 2014, and is updated annually as new TIM data are available.”
Kopp is quite confused here or perhaps IPCC AR5 is confused and messing up things.
The CMIP5 models used in the IPCC AR5 used the TSI model of Wang and Lean (2005)
This is clearly stated here
http://solarisheppa.geomar.de/solarisheppa/cmip5
Where it is written:
Total solar irradiance for CMIP5 models:
For CMIP5 models with a poorly resolved stratosphere and models that are unable to make use of spectrally-resolved data, the following annual mean TSI time series provided by J. Lean should be used: TSI_WLS_ann_1610_2008.txt.
In the file it is written:
ANNUAL MEAN TSI: Lean (GRL 2000) with Wang Lean Sheeley (ApJ 2005) background
Mon Apr 6 11:29:27 2009 PMOD absolute scale – multiply by 0.9965 for TIM scale

John F. Hultquist

Somewhere in a box, buried by other boxes of books and magazines, is an old text. On an otherwise blank page on what would be the frontispiece photo, there is a quote of this sort: For 100 years, great minds have studied the Sun and have come to opposite conclusions.
It is nice that now we have this all clarfied.

Final comment.
Note that the first figure used by Anthony above with Lean2000, Wang 2005 and in red Leif 2007 was figure that Leif took from one of my papers where he added his red TSI nonsense that was nothing but the Sunspot record written in TSI units.
As everybody can see Leif’s “flat-sun” model is contradicted by SORCE TSI and by the other TSI reconstructions.

jrlagoni says February 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I think they are tinkering with Great Lake ice coverage this year as well. But in this case we have a unique opportunity. At or near peak ice coverage, if someone will fly over Lake Michigan especially, but also hopefully Lake Superior and Ontario … on a clear day and take video … we could see if they have been tampering and how much.

If you are good, you can look at this series of visible images and deduce that portion of the lakes which are ‘uncovered’ (open water is darker tone); be sure to observe for low-clouds/steam versus ice:
http://weather.rap.ucar.edu/satellite/displaySat.php?region=DTW&itype=vis&size=large&endDate=20140210&endTime=17&duration=2
Note: Wind ice has forced the bulk of free-floating ice to the western half of the lake for the most part; near shore we used to term this ‘pack ice’.
One can also view the LWIR imagery and deduce ‘open water’ based on temperature as seen on this series of images below. Allowances for obscuration by low clouds/steam from the open water must also be made, the series of images allows one to occasionally see or ‘peak’ at open water as the wind blows the low clouds forming off the open water:
http://weather.rap.ucar.edu/satellite/displaySat.php?region=DTW&itype=ir&size=large&endDate=20140210&endTime=17&duration=2
.

Minor correction:
Note: The westerly wind has forced the bulk of free-floating ice to the EASTERN half (areal extent better than what looks like 2/3) of the lake for the most part; ….
[“aerial” extent? Mod]

wayne

“I expect to see papers citing this very information to show that ‘the sun did not cause the warming from the 50′s but could explain the current pause’ out very soon.”
I’m sure too. Roughly, the big change is that before you can see a large increase in the maximums after 1940 across all of those cycles except in the 1970’s, but now, poof, mostly gone… a constant sun.
Ho, hum. Business as unsual.
What still amazes me is why the other planets and moons temperature variances are so in synch with those here on Earth since we could track them. If not the sun, what caused their “Global Warmings”?

thingadonta

I suppose it took a while for those in the Maunder minimum to finally, just now report their data.

SIG INT Ex

The ‘Hand Of Trenbert’ doth touch.
Sad tis.

Nicola Scafetta says:
February 10, 2014 at 8:43 pm
his red TSI nonsense that was nothing but the Sunspot record written in TSI units…
As everybody can see Leif’s “flat-sun” model is contradicted by SORCE TSI and by the other TSI reconstructions.

Since SORCE began in 2003 there is nothing to contradict my plot. And expressing TSI using the sunspot numbers is the correct thing to do as it is solar magnetism [expressed by the sunspot number] that is responsible for the variation of TSI. To suggest anything else is just baseless speculation [which you obviously excel in, one has to, at least, give you that]. My reconstruction does indeed disagree with the two other obsolete ones which mutually disagree. This was the whole point.
An appreciation of the [lack of] accuracy of the ACRIM data can be obtaained from here:
http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/news/2011ScienceMeeting/docs/posters/Pa_Cookson_poster.pdf

Whenever records of data have been posted without immediate controversy, which marks the records as adequate, and subsequently altered as historical records, science has been abandoned and a scam is in progress.

Leif states “Since SORCE began in 2003……….”
Leif, I was referring to the SORCE TSI reconstruction shown in the above graphs (adapted from Solanki and Kivova), not the TIM TSI satelite records since 2003.
Moreover, Dora’s poster that you highlights was not based on TSI measurements but on a proxy model based on ground measurements
Your are getting old don’t you?

davidmhoffer

I shall admit to a certain amount of befuddlement (I think that is the technical term).
The back story is very interesting as is the ensuing debate. But in terms of earth’s temperature, we’re talking about adjustments that would change the effective black body temperature of earth by about 0.02 degrees.
Am I missing something?

Nicola Scafetta says:
February 10, 2014 at 8:43 pm
As everybody can see Leif’s “flat-sun” model is contradicted ….
From http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11207-011-9867-6#page-1 we learn that “These results provide further support for the hypothesis that the quiet Sun is constant over time”.
As also found by Schrijver et al. http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL046658.pdf and by the careful measurements since 1974 by Bill Livingston http://www.leif.org/EOS/2005ASPC-Livingston-Temp.pdf “Quiet Sun unaffected by Activity Cycle” … “Abstract. The Sun’s 11 year sunspot cycle, and all related phenomena, are driven by magnetism in the form of hot flux tubes which thread through the surface from below. Full disk chromospheric Ca K intensity observations track the activity cycle. But center disk Ca K and photospheric temperature sensitive lines are invariant to cycle magnetism. Recent high resolution photographs of the photosphere show that the flux tubes are confined between the granulation cells and do not interact with them. The result is a constant basal atmosphere without cyclic consequences for the Earth”, and so on.

Nicola Scafetta says:
February 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm
Leif, I was referring to the SORCE TSI reconstruction shown in the above graphs
No, you said ‘SORCE TSI’.
Moreover, Dora’s poster that you highlights was not based on TSI measurements but on a proxy model based on ground measurements
Which very accurately reproduce the only reliable TSI measurements: SORCE TIM.
Your are getting old don’t you?
with age comes wisdom.

With Climate Science only the past is uncertain.

Michael Moon says:
February 10, 2014 at 9:37 pm
Whenever records of data have been posted without immediate controversy, which marks the records as adequate, and subsequently altered as historical records, science has been abandoned and a scam is in progress.
Not so. Often errors only come to light much later when complimentary data and deeper understanding become available. Here is an example: http://www.leif.org/research/Error-Scale-Values-HLS.pdf

lsvalgaard Feb 10 7:08pm – re the “difference of about 5 W/m2“. Thanks for the info. Looking again at the lower bounds in the graph I would be interested in any comment you might have on the discrepancy between the latest chart and yours. The latest chart is similar to “Wang 2005” in that the lower bounds increase by about 0.7 wm-2 over the period, whereas in yours the lower bounds vary no more than about 0.1 wm-2. I suppose that is the “flat sun” reference in some comments here. How confident are you that your version is more accurate, and how could it be tested?

GregK

Can someone explain to an ignoramus like me why the TSI curve is so smooth between approx 1650 and 1720 ?
Thanks in advance.

WillR,
“With Climate Science only the past is uncertain.”
Best comment on this entire thread.

Mike Jonas says:
February 10, 2014 at 10:10 pm
I suppose that is the “flat sun” reference in some comments here.
Indeed, it is.
How confident are you that your version is more accurate, and how could it be tested?
We are fairly sure that we have reconstructed the Sun’s magnetic field back to about 1840 [Figure 6 of http://www.leif.org/research/Error-Scale-Values-HLS.pdf ] and the ‘bottom’ of that is almost flat [except for minor bumps caused by the sunspot number not always dropping to the same low value at sunspot minimum], so my confidence is high.

GregK says:
February 10, 2014 at 10:20 pm
Can someone explain to an ignoramus like me why the TSI curve is so smooth between approx 1650 and 1720 ?
It probably should not be flat [as cosmic rays seem to be modulated normally during that time], but whenever you use the sunspot number as the basis for your reconstruction you get a flat curve because almost no sunspots were observed from 1645-1715 [the so-called Maunder Minimum].

Tim says:
February 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm
The motivation behind this looks clear! It explains the warming period out of the maunder min and the early 1900 warming until 1950. Then it show’s a clear discrepancy with temperatures from 1950 onwards, giving the impression that there must be another reason behind the continued warming. I expect to see papers citing this very information to show that ‘the sun did not cause the warming from the 50′s but could explain the current pause’ out very soon.
————————————————————————————————–
If the casinos had a line on that, then I would bet with your proposition.

Santa Baby

“Your are getting old don’t you?
with age comes wisdom.”
Or the increasing awareness that one knows everything about nothing?