Early Sunspots and Volcanoes

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Well, as often happens I started out in one direction and then I got sidetractored … I wanted to respond to Michele Casati’s claim in the comments of my last post. His claim was that if we include the Maunder Minimum in the 1600’s, it’s clear that volcanoes with a VEI greater or equal to 5 are affected by sunspots. Based on my previous analysis I figured “No way!”, but I thought I should take a look … and as is often the case, I ended up studying something entirely different.

Now, the SIDC monthly sunspot record that I used in my last analysis starts in 1700. Prior to that the only sunspot numbers available are a “reconstruction” by Hoyt and Schatten called the “Group Sunspot Number”, which is the dataset used by Michele. The Hoyt/Schatten Group sunspot data is available here. Now, as Leif Svalgaard has discussed here on WUWT, the SIDC sunspot numbers are in the process of being revised to remove an incorrect offset due to a change in the procedures in 1947. The result will be that the pre-1947 sunspot numbers will be increased by 20%. Figure 1 shows both the unrevised and revised SIDC annual average sunspot numbers, along with the annual average Group Sunspot numbers.

annual ssns sidc adjusted groupFigure 1. SIDC unrevised (black), revised (dotted blue), and Group (red) annual average sunspot numbers.

Several things are apparent. First, in the Group sunspot numbers (red) you can see what is called the “Maunder Minimum”, the period where there are no or few sunspots from about 1645 to about 1715 or so.

Next, although the Group sunspot numbers are a very good fit to the SIDC unrevised numbers since about 1880, prior to that the Group sunspot numbers are consistently lower, and sometimes much lower, than the SIDC unrevised numbers.

Next, the early sunspot data in the Group number dataset looks … well … odd …

Seeking to understand what made the early part of the Group sunspot number so odd, I decided to look at the most detailed underlying data. These are the individual daily observations of sunspots. When I did so, there were various strange and interesting aspects. Figure 2 shows the daily data, along with an indication of which days have missing data.

daily group sunspot numbersFigure 2. Group daily sunspot numbers, 1610-1995. The vertical light blue lines each represent a missing day.

There are some quite bizarre things about this dataset. First, the amount and the location of the missing data. A number of months have no data at all, and many are missing data. Prior to 1643, and also between 1720 and 1800, about two-thirds of the data is missing (65% and 66% missing respectively). During the “Maunder Medium” period between the two light blue areas above, however, only 3% of the data is missing … three percent?

And does anyone but me find it strange that there is very little data prior to 1635 or so, but what data there is shows normal sized sunspot cycles. Then we have a period that exactly coincides with the Maunder Minimum, where we have almost no days of missing data. Finally, from about 1720 on, we again have very little data … but what data there is shows normal sized solar cycles.

Say what? Why is there great data that exactly coincides with the Maunder Minimum?  Does anyone find that even vaguely unusual?

Well, I found it very unusual. So I went to take a look at the underlying records. It just kept getting stranger. The numbers of sunspot groups observed is given here on an observer-by-observer basis. Looking through the entries for peculiarosities, I got to 1632, and I found the records of J. Zahn of his observations of sunspot groups made in Nuremberg, Germany. Figure 3 shows the observations of Herr Zahn in 1632:

Sunspot Groups 1632Figure 3 Individual observer’s record used in the calculation of the Group sunspot number. A day when no observations were made is given the value of -99, and a day with observations made but no sunspots observed is given the value of zero.

I’m sorry, but given the reality of clouds and the fact that Germany is a ways north of the Equator, I’m not believing the idea that in the year 1632 in Germany the sun could possibly be observed in enough detail to count sunspots on every single day of the year. That’s simply not on. Never happened.

And sadly, the 1632 record is far, far from an isolated example. It’s just the first one I came across. Once I looked further I found that there are no less than FORTY-FIVE such observer’s reports claiming valid observations of zero sunspots every single day of the year … and I’m absolutely not buying a single one of them, even if they’re selling at a deep discount.

And when do these bogus records occur? Well, guess what? Forty-four of the forty-five such strange yearly records occur during or just prior to the “Maunder Minimum”, with one final lonesome yearly record  of all zeroes in 1810.

I would suspect that what’s happened here is that Herr Zahn used the same symbol for “no observations attempted” and “no sunspots observed”, However, that’s just a guess. More importantly, whatever the reality might be, I’d say that including those impossible records is a major reason for the claims that the Maunder Minimum is so deficient in sunspots.

The next oddity in Figure 1, once I’d wrapped my head around the claim of being able to count sunspots on every day of the year, was the fact that the early data from about 1610 to about 1720 almost all occurs in even intervals of 15 sunspots, at e.g. 15,30, 45 sunspots and so on.  Then after that, there is evenly spread data from about 1720-1750.

And then, after 1720, there is a section where once again the data almost all occurs in even intervals … but in that case the intervals appear to be 24 sunspots.

I suspected that this reflected the fact that each group of sunspots is counted as a certain number of individual spots. And upon checking records of the group counts against the Group sunspot number, I find this is the case, and there’s no problem with that … but bizarrely, the number keeps changing. In 1610, each group was counted as 18 sunspots. Then for a number of succeeding years each group was counted as 15 sunspots … until around 1720 when it was changed again, and after that, one sunspot group is counted as 12 individual sunspots. Not 24 sunspots as appears to be the case from Figure 2, but 12 … odd all around.

But wait … there’s more. Here’s the same data in Figure 1, but this time showing the annual Group sunspot numbers (red) and the annual SIDC sunspot numbers.

daily and annual group sunspot numbers plus sidc annualFigure 4. Daily (gray) and annual (red) Group sunspot numbers, along with the annual SIDC sunspot numbers (blue). Vertical light blue lines mark every day that has no data.

Now, take a look at the first three sunspot cycles just after 1700 … as you can see, the Group sunspot numbers greatly underestimate the apparent size of the actual cycle. How did this happen?

Well, it’s a curious answer that can be understood by an early year of the data, 1614. In 1614, the annual average is given as 121 sunspots. This can be seen in the red line above in Figure 4.

But when you look at the data for 1614, care to guess how many days of data there are for the entire year?

Well … um … er … not to put too fine a point on it, but there is exactly one day of the year [1614] that has data.

One day’s worth of data , and the sunspot count for that day? Well … 121 sunspots.

Now, to me, that’s bull goose loony. Including a yearly average when there is only one day’s data for the whole year? Sorry, but that’s meaningless.

But wait, it gets stranger. According to the daily data, there’s exactly one day’s worth of data in 1610, with a value of 72 sunspots. That day is in December. But according to the monthly data files, there are TWO months with data in 1610. December [1610] has an average of 72 from the one data point, but the monthly data for February also has an average, in this case zero. So the average for the year is the average of two months, which is 36, and which can be seen as the first data point in the red line in Figure 3 above …

That’s not all. In many years, despite there being no daily data of any kind, we still have both monthly and yearly averages. Here’s a graphic that shows the difference.

yearly and average of daily group sunspot numbersFigure 5. Annual and average-of-daily Group sunspot numbers.

You can see the data for 1610 I discussed above, one day’s observation of 72 sunspots and the annual average of 36 sunspots. But the hole keeps getting deeper and deeper. Look, for example, at 1636. According to the daily data, there’s not one single observation for the whole year. But according to the monthly data, EVERY SINGLE MONTH has an average of zero sunspots. And the same is true for 1637, 1641, 1744, 1745, and 1747 as well. In each case there are no observations in the daily data, but there are 12 months of zeros in the monthly data. And this is backed up by the raw observer data files. There are no observers at all listed for [1636] and [1637], no observers and no data … but despite that the monthly and yearly averages claim zero.

A final math note. Rather than average all of the days in the year, their “yearly average” is actual an average of the monthly averages. In some cases this leads to strange results. For example, in some years there are a dozen or so observations in a single month, and only one observation during the entire rest of the year. Obviously, an average of the monthly averages will give a very different answer than averaging the individual data.

I gotta say … these numerous shenanigans with the data make me very suspicious about the whole Group Sunspot Number dataset. When I find entire years where there isn’t a single daily observation, but despite a total lack of data the monthly averages for that year are all zero and the yearly average is also zero … well, that makes me wonder about the entire idea that the “Maunder Minimum” is as extreme as is depicted by the Group Sunspot numbers.

In any case, as I said, I started out to look at Michele’s claim about eruptions in the Maunder and I got blind-slided off the path by the oddities of the Group sunspot number. I couldn’t use either the daily or the monthly Group sunspot numbers to compare with the eruptions, because a number of them didn’t have any sunspot data for either the day or the month. So I used the annual average Group sunspot number to compare to the eruptions. I didn’t splice the Group dataset like Michele did, I dislike spliced datasets, so I figured I’d see things as if the Group dataset were real. To start with, Figure 6 shows the dates of the eruptions overlaid by the daily Group sunspot number …

daily group sunspot and 37 eruptions vei 5 plusFigure 6. Large eruptions (VEI >= 5) and daily Group sunspot numbers.

Looking at just the vertical red lines showing the eruption dates, you can see the “clumpiness” of nature that I’ve remarked on before. However, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious correlation between sunspots and eruptions. So I turned to the histograms showing the distribution of the annual Group sunspot numbers on the dates of the eruptions, and I compared that eruption distribution to the distribution of all of the Group sunspot numbers over the entire period. Figure 7 shows that relationship:

histograms annual group ssn 37 eruptions vei 5 plusFigure 7. Comparison of the distributions of the sunspot level during the eruptions (gold) and the distribution of all of the Group sunspot levels. Numbers at the top of the gold bins show the count of eruptions in each bin.

Now, Michele’s claim was that most of the eruptions occurred during periods of low Group sunspot numbers … and he’s right. Of the 37 eruptions, about seventy percent of them occur when Group sunspot number is below forty.

But the part he didn’t take into account was that most of the Group sunspot record is made up of periods of low Group sunspot numbers. And of course, with a small dataset of only 37 eruptions, the 98% confidence intervals are very wide. As a result, none of the results are even slightly significant.

So no, I’m afraid that the Group sunspot number, as terrible as it is, still doesn’t show any relationship between sunspots and big eruptions …

Conclusions? Well … my main conclusion is that whenever you see the word “sunspots” in a scientific study, hold tight to your wallet and check the datasets very, very closely. There may indeed have been a Maunder Minimum … but the Group sunspot number dataset is so bad that we can’t conclude anything from it regarding the Maunder or anything else.

My best wishes to everyone,


AS ALWAYS: If you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words you disagree with, so that we can all understand what you are objecting to.

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Michael Combs
February 10, 2015 10:54 pm

Well … um … er … not to put too fine a point on it, but there is exactly one day of the year 1914 that has data.
Should be 1614, neighbor.
[Done. .mod]

Reply to  Michael Combs
February 10, 2015 10:56 pm

Damn. Missed by that much.:)

February 10, 2015 10:55 pm

Small nitpick
‘Well … um … er … not to put too fine a point on it, but there is exactly one day of the year 1914 that has data.’

Craig Lattig
Reply to  lee
February 10, 2015 11:19 pm

also 1910, 1936,1937….cdl
[Done. .mod]

February 10, 2015 11:13 pm

Small nitpick: I see four instances of “19” that probably should be “16”.
Otherwise, an amazing investigation into sunspot ummm…”numerology”? I hadn’t realized how bad that data was, but it reminds me of the homogenization “climate scientists” are applying to current temperature sets.
[Good eye! Though you did not say where. .mod]

February 10, 2015 11:16 pm

Wonderful job of scientific journalism and falsification. Hats off to you!

Santa Baby
Reply to  wickedwenchfan
February 11, 2015 12:38 am

Another cruel moment where a beautiful theory is destroyed by a gang of simple facts?

Tom Harley
February 10, 2015 11:19 pm

What will Leif Say? It’s all been for nothing?

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Tom Harley
February 11, 2015 7:16 am

Tom, Slightly OT to your statement, overall, Leif has always said “it’s not the Sun”.

February 10, 2015 11:25 pm

And the same is true for 1637, 1641, 1744, 1745, and 1747 as well. In each case there are no observations in the daily data, but there are 12 months of zeros in the monthly data. And this is backed up by the raw observer data files. There are no observers at all listed for 1936 and 1937, no observers and no data … but despite that the monthly and yearly averages claim zero.
I think the emboldened should be “1636 and 1637.”
[Done. Thank you. .mod]

February 11, 2015 12:01 am

Sunspotters are probably like Seattle Seahawks fans. There are more or fewer of them depending on what there is to see. If you tell the world there are no sunspots there’s about a million people who will try to prove the equivalent that someone is wrong on the internet by counting sunspots just to prove you are really wrong. People can be crazy.

February 11, 2015 12:18 am

not nitpicking I could wrong, from the article ‘Well, it’s a curious answer that can be understood by an early year of the data, 1614. In 1614, the annual average is given as 121 sunspots. This can be seen in the red line above in Figure 3.” Should that not be Fig 4? just asking otherwise another can of worms to be added to the other cans.

February 11, 2015 12:36 am

It would help to remind readers that in 1600s sunspot observation wasn’t exactly top priority of science as it was, not to mention availability of telescopes, even if one had a knowledge of its existence. One made for Galileo in 1608 or 1609 was among first, if not the first ever made, it had magnification of about 3x. Some of the early versions can be seen in museum in Florence, well worth visiting.

Reply to  vukcevic
February 11, 2015 5:18 am

Just a thought.
But do you need a telescope to observe sun spots?
A small hole maybe.

Reply to  Twobob
February 11, 2015 9:29 am

Camera obscure was used by Leonardo da Vinci with surprisingly good results more then 100 years earlier, but for close objects. I did attempt .something similar 2 or 3 years ago when there was a large spot (large pin hole in a room window, projected on wall 3.5m away, the spot was faint but clearly visible.

Reply to  vukcevic
February 11, 2015 6:58 am

The first telescopes were made in the Netherlands. German-Dutch spectacle maker Hans Lippershey is often credited as the first, according to legend after his kids held up concave & convex lenses in a line with their eyes. Galileo heard about the invention and made one himself.
In reply to some other comments, yes there are Chinese records of sunspot observation. It´s never safe to look directly at the sun, but when low on the horizon or obscured by mist or light cloud it is less dangerous.
The 17th century observers could have counted sunspots through clouds much of the time.
Unfortunately this study of the subject is still paywalled after all these years:
Sunspot Observation Through Water Clouds
D. Deirmendjian
Applied Optics, Vol. 8, Issue 4, pp. 833-833 (1969)

Reply to  milodonharlani
February 11, 2015 2:35 pm

Dr. Joan Feynman (JPL) wrote a paper with evidence that the Gleissberg solar cycle is ‘embedded’ in the ancient river Nile flood records. Nile floods were of vital importance for planting seasons. If there was such cycle it is likely that centuries of records would have been known to the ancient Egyptians themselves.
We also know that they worshiped sun god (Amun Ra), it was likely that they found way, perhaps using coloured piece of glass (glass was invented by ancient Phoenicians) to look at the sun directly.
I would dare to suggest that the ancient Egyptians regularly observed sun for the sunspots, as shown in the illustration, were it can be clearly seen that the sphinx is holding an object while looking directly at the spotty sun’s S. Hemisphere . There are also two tablets directly in the eye line, possible related either to records or method of observation.
If not, what else ?

Reply to  milodonharlani
February 12, 2015 10:12 am

Bravo Vukcevic !

Reply to  milodonharlani
February 15, 2015 5:46 am

Thanks, Vuc. Great comment.
Here´s a photo of sunspots shot through clouds & fog:
But now of course we can get a rough idea of prior solar magnetic flux from C & Be isotopes.

February 11, 2015 12:36 am

The big eruptions do occur unrelated to ss cycle. At cycle minimum things get very quiet for 6 months or more. Then after the ss numbers ramp up the lesser honkers start to respond. Same thing happens in ramp down. That’s what I’ve observed in years of following them and looking at the history of them. But the big honkers blast any time they’re darn well ready and that can be anywhere in the cycles.

Reply to  uıʇɹɐɯ pɹɐʍpE
February 11, 2015 1:33 am

Distribution of the coronal mass ejections shows that the CMEs are predominant on the decaying slope of the sunspot cycles.

Reply to  vukcevic
February 11, 2015 9:10 am

My take… There are more volcano eruptions on the down slope than the ramp up as well.

Reply to  vukcevic
February 11, 2015 9:36 am
February 11, 2015 1:16 am

I seem to remember reading somewhere that there were records in China showing sunspot observations from much earlier. Sorry I can’t remember where I saw this. It might even have been in a conversation with a Chinaman.

Reply to  Oldseadog
February 11, 2015 1:45 am

I”ve read that somewhere on the internet, but I didn’t note it down as I was just reading, not doing a study. So you’re probably right that China claims it has data going back a few thousand years. How good it is, maybe the author should find out??

Reply to  Oldseadog
February 11, 2015 1:45 am

I read that too, so I think it was on a popular climate blog.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Oldseadog
February 11, 2015 2:07 am

Yes, I think the first sunspot observations in China go back to about 700 BC. Don’t know about volcanoes, but I do think we’re heading for another LIA, as solar activity is declining. Don’t think anyone can argue that point.

Reply to  Oldseadog
February 11, 2015 4:13 am
Reply to  Oldseadog
February 11, 2015 2:40 pm

I took a Asian art history class one time. The professor was born in China and was quite knowledgeable about Asian art and culture.
It turns out that the Chinese culture associated sunspots with crows flying across the suns disk. Now since the Chinese had been very bureaucratic ever since Confucius and the crows were thought of as omens, their numbers and positions were recorded to help determine forthcoming events.
That was in his lecture. The reason we were even told about it was that the Chinese also adopted that imagery into their art for thousands of years. The red and black colors used so often in their art culture is directly tied to the red sun disk and the black crows. Everyone has seen that symbolism in Asian art, but those were the reasons for it according to him.

February 11, 2015 1:25 am

Great illuminating yet rather stupefying analysis Willis! My patience would have ended right around the time of finding only one day of observations with a yearly average based on it…
All the more reason to consider that science should be studying the sun in detail for future posterity and science.
Maybe in 400 years they’ll finally understand what they’re looking for when watching the sun.

February 11, 2015 1:36 am

VEI5+ are not 30, but 37.

Reply to  Michele
February 11, 2015 4:10 am

(*1) Jihong Cole-Dai, David Ferris, Alyson Lanciki, Joël Savarino, Mélanie Baroni, Mark H. Thiemens Cold decade (AD 1810–1819) caused by Tambora (1815) and another (1809) stratospheric volcanic eruption Geophysical Research Letters Volume 36, Issue 22, November 2009 doi: 10.1029/2009GL040882

richard verney
Reply to  Michele
February 11, 2015 4:32 am

Don’t forget that what has triggered this review is that (undersea) volcanoes tend to take place in the first 5 months (January to June)m of the callendar year.
If you look at your list it suggests (whether by coincidence or otherwise0 that volcano eruptions occur predominantly when there is either low sunspot numbers or in the first half of the year.
Of your list, only Hudson Cerro and Shikotsu eruptions occured in the Second half of the year (July to December) and when sunspot numbers were high.
Personally, I cannot think of why forces should be at work which tend to cause eruptions to occur when sunspot numbers are low and/or during the first part of the year (January to June), but 35 out of 37 listed eruptions seem to meet one and/or other of those criteria.

chris moffatt
Reply to  Michele
February 11, 2015 5:23 am

and a high correlation would mean what precisely?
see: http://www.tylervigen.com/ for many examples of high but spurious correlations. We need to remember what we should have been told in school that correlation does not mean causation. At best it means that there may be something to investigate. However, what does lack of correlation, as here, mean?
Climate science these days seems to consist of finding nothing but speculative correlations with no explanatory mechanisms to support the speculations.

richard verney
Reply to  Michele
February 11, 2015 7:40 am

chris moffatt February 11, 2015 at 5:23 am
and a high correlation would mean what precisely?
i am not suggesting that it means anything (as is apparent from my final para).
Whilst you are right that correlation does not in itself mean that there is causation, correlation is a useful tool since it identifies issues that should be investigated to see whether causation may lie at their heart. And one should not overlook that the absence of correlation is usually fatal to causation.

chris moffatt
Reply to  Michele
February 11, 2015 5:18 pm

Precisely – what I wrote.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 12, 2015 5:22 am

Where is Tambora and other ? data missing

February 11, 2015 1:43 am

Very interesting Willis and I think everyone will be waiting for Leif’s response. But why don’t you have a look at the temp data bases and all the adjustments, homogenization and UHIE etc? There seems to be a lot of heat building up in the MSM all around the world at the moment. So what do you think and would you learn anything for your efforts?

Reply to  Neville
February 11, 2015 2:07 am

Here’s Paul Homewood’s beef about Arctic temps and backed up by the Iceland MET office.
He has been quoted by the MSM around the world over the last few days. But does he have a case or not?

richard verney
Reply to  Neville
February 11, 2015 4:23 am

There is a debate going on on Judith Curry’s site, where BEST suggests that its alterations have minimal impact on GLOBAL temperature anomally records.
If you are interested check it out. It is quite interesting and you can draw your own conclussions.

February 11, 2015 1:44 am

Wow. The Maunder really WAS minimum. Minimum data… Yikes!
I would love to know what was used to look at the sun safely and whether or how the device or devices varied over the centuries – I was thinking that a pricy 1600s telescope might not be the best choice and probably a much less expensive setup could do as well or better, but then I really have no clue how the sun was studied in the 1600s and 1700s…

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  cartoonasaur
February 11, 2015 2:35 am

My first love as a kid/ teenager was astronomy. I read everything I could on the early astronomers .Had/have my own telescope.
The above is a good start on who’s who, the debates on sunspots and the prevalence of record keeping at the time. Much was lost during all the wars. Also remember the people of the time corresponded with one another. As I said its a start for these who are interested in the maunder minimum. I don’t know where authors stand on agw was not interested in that part. Oh you have to scroll a few blank pages.

Reply to  cartoonasaur
February 12, 2015 10:00 am

The simplest way is a pinhole in an opaque sheet of material that is used to project an image of the sun on a wall or other surface in a darkened room. The room doesn’t even have to be really dark, just dimly lit. Same thing can be done with eclipses, though I preferred to show my kids how an eclipse affected the light dapples under trees.

February 11, 2015 2:19 am

This post is a perfect example of why I read WUWT: Citizen science. Thank you, Willis.
By the way, NASA has an interesting article on the early history of sunspot research.

Charles Nelson
February 11, 2015 2:21 am

They’re watching the sun, sunspots decrease and eventually disappear…they check every day but no sunspots, being practical people the reduce their checks to monthly, then occasionally, but every time they check still no sunspots.. In 1634, just to be sure there are still no sunspots they check one time…no sunspots.
There’s your Maunder Minimum.

Reply to  Charles Nelson
February 11, 2015 2:47 am

Entirely plausible. After all, they didn’t think sunspots could ever be important enought that people would want to check their records hundreds of years later.

Paul Coppin
Reply to  Charles Nelson
February 11, 2015 6:52 am

There is another thing to think about when dredging for truth about measurements 4 or 5 hundred years ago – if the Maunder minimum was truly as significant a minimum as believed, with a corresponding climatic impact, the climatic impact itself may materially affect data collection back in a day. The priorities of survival and politics and religion during such stress periods very likely would impact day to day matters.

D. Cohen
Reply to  Charles Nelson
February 11, 2015 3:00 pm

Exactly what I was thinking. Remember, this data was taken long before the invention of statistics, so they’d be quite happy — and thinking they were on top of things — just checking the sun every now and then to see if the spots had come back. Their real ambition might have been to be the first person to note the return of the sunspots. Reconstructing this sort of observational data into a “best estimate” of what the true sunspot time series was back then is an interesting and probably very difficult statistical problem.

Leo Smith
February 11, 2015 2:40 am

Wonderful piece of historical research.
Hats off to the author.

February 11, 2015 2:47 am

Are you saying the record is spotty?

Bloke down the pub
February 11, 2015 3:39 am

Just a guess but, if your job was to check the number of sun spots every day, and day after day the count was zero, I’d bet the temptation to ‘infill’ data would get pretty strong.

chris moffatt
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
February 11, 2015 5:27 am

or to extrapolate from observations of other suns in close proximity?

Jay Hope
Reply to  chris moffatt
February 11, 2015 7:03 am

Which suns would that be?

February 11, 2015 4:00 am

Only a relatively small number of earthquakes show a small affect correlated to the sunspot cycle, so wouldn’t the same be true for volcanoes? Then, like earthquakes, wouldn’t the correlation be masked by analyzing all volcanoes?

richard verney
February 11, 2015 4:20 am

dp February 11, 2015 at 12:01 am suggests:
“Sunspotters are probably like Seattle Seahawks fans. There are more or fewer of them depending on what there is to see. If you tell the world there are no sunspots there’s about a million people who will try to prove the equivalent that someone is wrong on the internet by counting sunspots just to prove you are really wrong. People can be crazy.”
But also, it is less time consuming and laborious to carry out observations when there is little to report. One should not forget that way back in time, there was no photography and people had to draw the sun with its spots. It is easy to compile such a record when one has to draw few spots on a disc, rather than many.
But if this is the state of the sunspot record, what is the true state of the thermometer record? What was the record like at every observatory in the 19th and early 20th century? What about the impact of war? Lets face it, unfortunately, there were many wars, how did this impact upon record keeping?
I suspect that if one were to carry out a similar review of the thermometer record, one would quickly realise that little confidence can be placed in it prior to the end of WW2.

Dario from Turin
February 11, 2015 4:21 am

The book “Canicules et glacieres. Histoire humaine et comparee du climat” by the French historian Emmanuel LeRoi Ladurie has a whole chapter devoted to the Maunder minimum, with many details on the search for sunspots.
Remember that the first telescopes were very expensive, and no much people could use them for observations… Only in the second half of the XVII century, having a “national” observatory was a matter of national pride, and this lead many Governments of the time to fund, build and operate a “speculum” (astronomic observatory).
According to the book by Ladurie (a REALLY interesting and recommended reading for all those interested in the history of climate), the sunspots really almost disappared not so many years after their discovery by Galilei in 1610 (remember that this discovery lead him to a LOT of troubles with the Roman Chirch and Inquisition…), and in the second half of the century there was really a quest for sunspots.
Another interesting thing in the book is that, according to the daily “logbooks” of the observatories (owing to the high cost of the instruments, only very few and selected people were allowed to use them, and they had to make daily reports about the use and the subject of their observations), in most of Europe only 1/3 of days (or nights) had a sky clear enough of clouds to allow for observations; 2/3 of days/nights, the sky was simply too covered with clouds to observe something.
Maybe this is and indirect proof of the theory from prof. Svensmark…..
Just my 2 cents

Reply to  Dario from Turin
February 11, 2015 7:20 am

” in most of Europe only 1/3 of days (or nights) had a sky clear enough of clouds to allow for observations; 2/3 of days/nights, the sky was simply too covered with clouds to observe something.Maybe this is and indirect proof of the theory from prof. Svensmark…..”
Tie this in with increased volcano eruptions causing haze/clouds, the clouds/haze caused by the increased cosmic bombardment of the atmosphere, and the laziness/compliancy use of shortcuts of observers when recording data over days, months, years of the same “none observable” with the fact that different observers can/will conflate 0 (zero) with NO (none observed) or whatever other symbols they used and a comment below about the myriad of different ways of observing/counting/measuring “data” and all data before about 1990 is just garbage. As a senior enlisted officer in the US Navy I frequently had to remind those taking logs to adhere to the requirements of log keeping, even on critically important parameters.

Reply to  Dario from Turin
February 11, 2015 10:35 am

“the sunspots really almost disappared not so many years after their discovery by Galilei in 1610 (remember that this discovery lead him to a LOT of troubles with the Roman Chirch and Inquisition…)”
Simply untrue. Galilei Galileo get in trouble with the Church for refusing to call his theories theories, but rather calling them facts. Turns out his theories were generaly correct (excluding his beliefe in the perfect circle theory, with lead him to reject comets as celestial bodies), but at the time they were just theories

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
February 12, 2015 5:40 am

His friend was the Pope and he was given a great deal of latitude in his studies and publications, the reason he got into trouble was when he published ‘Dialogues’. This was a three way conversation and the character who gave the church view came over as an idiot. This was seen as insulting to the Pope which is why the Inquisition was able to try him. Even afterwards under house arrest he was treated favorably and even published in France and Holland without punishment. Basically he got into trouble for publicly embarrassing the Pope, not because of his theories.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
February 13, 2015 9:40 am

First time that I have seen this particular account. This makes Galileo seem as an indiscreet sort of fellow.

Frederik Michiels
February 11, 2015 4:21 am

now this was a very interesting read about something i never really “thought about”. Very nice work and a good eye opener! Thumbs up for this effort and research!

February 11, 2015 4:42 am

I don’t think cloud cover is necessarily a bar to having a reasonably accurate record of sunspots in the 17th century. After all, sunspots to not appear and disappear in the space of a single day or two, do they? Don’t sunspots often hang around until they revolve out of sight round the other side?

Reply to  marchesarosa
February 11, 2015 5:10 am

Indeed they do, and most intervals without observations in the 17th century were short, less than a week.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 11, 2015 10:40 am

Read my post below, please. The reason for the “every day of the year” records is explained in the referred paper.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 12, 2015 10:02 am

Even more to the point, you mentioned there were no observers listed. No observers == no counts.

February 11, 2015 4:44 am

I think of Piers Corban when sunspots are mentioned.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Sull
February 11, 2015 6:56 am

Corbyn gets it right most of the time!

February 11, 2015 4:52 am

I strongly recommend that you read this paper:
Title: How Well Was the Sun Observed during the Maunder Minimum?
Authors: Hoyt, D. V. & Schatten, K. H.
Journal: Solar Physics, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp.181-192
It explains the nature and quality of the data. The years with all zeroes are from observers that only reported seeing no sunspots during the year despite looking for them but did not identify which specific days they observed the Sun, they are of course “minimum estimates” only.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  tty
February 11, 2015 10:01 am

“minimum estimates”
The first instance of data in-filling in science?

Reply to  D.J. Hawkins
February 11, 2015 11:01 am

The “infilling” was actually done 350 years later. However it was done with a lot more care than is normal in climate science. Read the paper.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 11, 2015 10:58 am

Read the paper please! They give minimum and maximum estimates with and without these records and a “best estimate” based on how many days the sun was probably visible during a year and the probability that a sunspot would be missed. They also note that most recorded sunspots were noticed almost immediately they became visible suggesting that the Sun was fairly closely observed.
Remember that these records are more than three hundred years old. Not all original notes have survived, but when known skillful astronomers like Heveliusz reported that they had watched the Sun carefully during a particular year without seeing a single sunspot it certainly has some weight. Particularly as he reports specific days in other years when he did see sunspots.
And also note that more than one visible sunspot at a time was quite unusual.
Unfortunately WordPress truncates links at multiple dots, so you have to copy the whole link into your browser for it to work.

Reply to  tty
February 11, 2015 10:49 am

In sunspot counting during the MM, considering only rare appearances exact date is nice but not critical, quoting a month is adequate..

Jay Hope
Reply to  tty
February 11, 2015 10:53 am

That’s not correct about Corbyn. My uncle is a client of his as he needs to get reliable weather forecasts for his farming. Over the last two and a half years, Corbyn’s predictions have been spot on, most of the time. My uncle is a very down to earth and practical guy, and he would not pay someone who didn’t deliver the goods. And he doesn’t believe in astrology! 🙂
Corbyn doesn’t claim to get it right all the time. He even states that on his website.

Reply to  tty
February 11, 2015 10:57 am

There is also this but very interesting old article, by John Eddy

February 11, 2015 5:15 am

Very interesting, indeed. I have always found the extremely low sunspot numbers during the LIA quite spectacular and somewhat unbelievable, especially when coupled with the lack of telescopes in the earlier years of the dataset and no standard for how sunspots are recorded. This analysis leads to a couple of potential conclusions:
1. That if the LIA indeed occurred as is evidenced by anecdotal evidence from that period, then the extremely low sunspot numbers recorded during that time are highly anomalous and unlikely to be repeated. However, Willis has shown that the dataset has serious problems which draws this conclusion into question. Or,
2. The cooling experienced during the LIA as is evidenced by anecdotal data occurred with sunspot numbers quite likely much higher than those exhibited by the dataset. Put another way, if indeed cooling is associated with periods of low sunspot activity, it doesn’t take the phenomenally low numbers of the Maunder Minimum to result in significant cooling. This does not bode well for the current period of relatively low sunspot activity.
Of course, I also must admit that there is the possibility that, given the poor quality of the earlier portions of the dataset, cooling is not associated with low sunspot activity at all. I’m sure some will find that heretical, but it is a conclusion one must concede when the dataset has such obvious deficiencies.

Reply to  NavarreAggie
February 11, 2015 8:27 am


Reply to  1gr8world
February 11, 2015 10:38 am

You know, I got to thinking about the same thing after I posted. I wonder if increased cloud cover in a cooling world impacted the ability to observe sunspots directly. Think about what it would take to see frosts/freezes in summertime like the anecdotal information suggests.

February 11, 2015 5:22 am

It might be added that the existence of the “Maunder minimum” is confirmed by higher levels of radionuclides (e. g. 7Be, 10Be, 14C) in ice-cores and tree-rings from c. 1645-1715. This of course does not directly “count sunspots”, but it shows that the solar wind was significantly weaker at the time.

Reply to  tty
February 11, 2015 7:18 am


Jay Hope
Reply to  tty
February 11, 2015 10:21 am

Very true. Didn’t William Herschel notice that the price of wheat was higher when sunspots were scarce? I think he did a lot of research into it, and used Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations to get the data. Interestingly, he got lampooned for it. Nothing changes. 🙁

February 11, 2015 5:44 am

For thousands of years the sun has been gazed at by Intelligent observers.
The people then, were as intelligent then as now.
Though I think more practical.
If some one from China or the 1600 Germany observed sun spots.
Then I would have thought that Common sense would prevail.
Thus have look at the sun count sun spots, keep record.
Nothing different to see nothing different to record.
To arbitrarily say that they were not interested, or sun spot observation was of little value is invalid.
Then why keep any record.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Twobob
February 11, 2015 6:54 am

I agree. It’s very unscientific to suggest that they were not interested!

Reply to  Twobob
February 11, 2015 11:14 am

Actually 17th Century astronomers often seem to have become rather excited when they did see sunspots, and reported on it to their colleagues. Which tells you that they can’t have been common.
Remember most of these astronomers were skillful and careful observers, and that astronomers are uniquely subject to ex post facto control. If an astronomer fubbed the time he saw an occultation, or how long an eclipse lasted, or the attitude of Saturnus rings on a particular day, it can easily be checked, even centuries afterwards.

February 11, 2015 5:45 am

In the first half of the year, the earth is moving away from the sun. Hence the gravitational dynamics are different in H1&H2. God only knows how, but some physical link with volcanoes isn’t entirely crazy.
As regards sunspots, I think I’m right that the Sunspot cycle is related to the Orbit of ?Jupiter?, which is the main influence of the movement of the sun around the Solar system barycentre. If the sunspot cycles relate to the position of the sun relative to earth, again some link it not neccesarily nuts.
Idle speculation, but at least relevant!

February 11, 2015 5:52 am

Reblogged this on The Next Grand Minimum and commented:
Maybe there was a Maunder Minimum and may be it was only the result of some missing data. Willis Eschenbach, does the analysis.

February 11, 2015 6:13 am

[Good links but it would help the readers here if you could give some supporting narrative as many will just go past the links when presented like this . . thanks . . mod]

Reply to  stenies2012
February 11, 2015 4:40 pm

Spot on Mod!

February 11, 2015 6:46 am

It has been mentioned in passing, but I think it should be emphasized: DON’T START AN ANALYSIS OF DATA UNTIL AFTER YOU REVIEW THE VALIDITY OF THE DATA!! After Anthony’s Site Review, after all the adjustments to temperature records that somehow ALWAYS end up making the past colder and the present (and future, of course) warmer, after ignoring the data comparing digital vs glass thermometers, after…(the list could be very extensive), there is no wonder left to wonder about why the predictions of “climate science” based on inconsistent, over-manipulated and frequently uncalibrated data don’t come to pass. And please note that Willis didn’t say the observations were bad, only that the data record makes it difficult if not impossible to analyze it meaningfully without a whole big bunch of caveats and assumptions.

February 11, 2015 6:55 am

Sigh. This is why I don’t take anything in the “climate data” Universe too seriously before (at the earliest) 1950, if not 1965 or 1980. It’s not that there aren’t good records to be had prior to that time, it’s just that there are ten years of apples, then twenty years of kiwi fruit, then a decade of rutabagas, before eventually settling in on oranges for a while. Then people play these enormously entertaining games trying to “renormalize” oranges to rutabagas, rutabags to kiwi, kiwi to apples, and then publish a “climate record” that spans the ranges of fruit (and a few odd vegetables) as if it is something other than the idle amusement of a bored speculator, usually portraying it without the error estimates that would reveal the silliness of it all.
And it isn’t just Michael Mann (although he is arguably one of the most infamous of the lot, filtering out trees that match his beliefs in the present and that just happen to correspond to his beliefs in the past as well). This happens with sunspots, the temperature record, carbon dioxide either directly measured or known through proxies, the list goes on.
Occasionally one does encounter some decent science done with adequate instrumentation (by which I mean instrumentation that one can probably trust to be sufficiently precise and accurate and wielded by individuals who knew what they were doing and kept careful records) that can be used to create a reasonably reliable picture over as much as 150 years — prior to the mid-late 19th century I don’t think much of either instrumentation or physics, although again there were a handful of places doing good work back then. Lief has presented some of that regarding the record of solar activity, trying very hard to rationalize apples with rutabagas and kiwis — the same record type (e.g. sunspot counts) made by different observers who discretely changed the criteria (as different observers will) vs objective e.g. magnetic data where all one has to do is worry about the quality of the apparatus compared to the measurement being made and the competence of its user to make it with LESS room for judgement and interpretation. But a lot of climate science is reduced to “We know the thermometric temperature in a handful of places in Europe and Asia, which permits us to estimate what the global average surface temperature was in (for example) 1790.” Excuse me, sorry, I meant estimate the global average surface temperature anomaly in 1790, or 1850, or whenever, since we cannot estimate the global average surface temperature to within one whole degree C even now.
And of course, this is true. If one has a small sampling of data from a remote date, if one has a small mountain of assumptions (some of them based on data themselves), one absolutely can make an estimate on the basis of that small sample. That’s not the problem. The problem is estimating the probable accuracy of the estimate.
Two examples:
a) Forget the past. Let’s consider the present. I live in North Carolina, so let’s consider North Carolina’s temperature record as a proxy for global average surface temperature. I’ll start by looking here:
and discover that NC’s high temperature record was set in 1983. I remember that year — hot as hell, dry, miserable. I then look over at the low temperature record and note that it was set in 1985. OMG! Global cooling, over just two years! Disaster looms!
OK, so that’s maybe cheating. Let’s take the state average temperature record:
where there is a lovely graph. I quote from the text:

If one focused only on the period since the mid-1970s, a clear warming signal is seen. This corresponds well with warming observed in global average temperatures from the best satellite data. However, a review of the entire period of record suggests that the warming since the mid-1970s may not be unprecedented, especially when compared with the warming observed from 1910-1950. Overall, the trend over the 113-year period is flat, with no long-term trend over the period.

(I offer this, BTW, as evidence to counter the oft-repeated claim that all climate scientists are corrupt. That is an absolutely honest, and correct, assessment, on a public climate website run over at NC State.)
Now let’s run this backwards. The warming post-1970’s corresponds pretty well to the presumably accurate global estimates over the same period — in fact, it might be a bit greater, as the 2 F range from the mid-1900s to the present is a bit over 1 C and hence is a bit LARGER than global warming estimates. This means that it is a good proxy for the first half of the 20th century back to maybe the 1880’s. And behold! No Warming over this period! Crisis over.
This is precisely equivalent to the reasoning used to form global temperature estimates from the increasingly remote past, with increasingly sparse data coverage, and — note well — does not correct for the UHI effect. So I’ll simply point out that there is ample direct evidence that the “official” weather stations located at places like RDU or sometimes even downtown in major cities consistently return temperatures 1 to 2 F higher than they are in My Back Yard at exactly the same time. Or if you prefer better data, one can look at the temperature field returned by personal weather stations hooked into the weather underground relative to the “official” records. That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been any real warming in NC since 1965, only that the average temperature produced by the “official” temperature measurements for the state are almost certainly strict upper bounds to the actual average temperature across the state, with a probable high-side error of a half-degree C or so. There are many possible causes of this — actual UHI, re-siting of thermometers at airports, local GHE warming as building large impoundments near cities and increasing the number of cars and fraction of land surface devoted to parking lot and roadway by a couple of orders of magnitude all both heat the ground and air and then trap the heat in increased local humidity.
But how can one correct for this extrapolating into the remote past and using NC as a proxy for the entire globe? One can’t, not really, not without assumptions, not without introducing probable error almost as large as just saying “we really don’t know”.
b) The real world is too messy — all errors there are much larger because there are BOTH statistical errors AND method/measurement errors to consider. Let’s consider a very simple example that is purely statistical and Bayesian.
You are given a coin (by me) and wish to estimate the probability of getting heads, p, with a fair flip of this coin. (The probability of getting tails will be 1 – p, pure Bernoulli trials). You flip the coin and get three heads in a row. What is your best estimate for p?
The answer is: it depends entirely on your assumptions! If you assume that the “coin” is a sample pulled from a bag of coins that have p uniformly distributed between 0 and 1, you get one answer. If you assume that the coin is an actual coin more likely than not to be approximately fair, you get a different answer. But you don’t get to see how I prepared the coin! I might have specially crafted it to have p = 1 in an entirely non-random way!
Furthermore, whatever your estimate was based on your initial assumptions, the probable truth of those assumptions is also being tested during the experiment! At some point you would reject the notion that the coin was fair if it kept flipping heads, even though you can compute the probability that a fair coin might produce the sequence you observe and it isn’t zero and it is a one-shot universe where any substantially non-zero chance can and sooner or later probably does happen. Getting 32 heads in a row happens — once in 4 billion trials of 32 flips.

richard verney
Reply to  rgbatduke
February 11, 2015 7:50 am

I have repeatedly made the point that one should bear in mind that we are discussing a system that has been going for some 4 billion years, so a trend of 20 or 30 or 40 years is unlikelyb to be significant. It falls within chance.

Reply to  rgbatduke
February 11, 2015 7:52 am

Getting 32 heads in a row happens — once in 4 billion trials of 32 flips.
Indeed, but it could happen in the first 32!

Reply to  Phil.
February 11, 2015 10:29 am

And the odds against that happening in the first 32 are about 4 billion to one.

Reply to  Phil.
February 11, 2015 10:44 am

What would the chance be of getting 32 in a row, if by the penultimate flip of the 4 billion 32 in a row had not yet occured…100% or no chance…being a betting man my money would be on no chance.

Reply to  Phil.
February 11, 2015 11:06 am

The only chance of it occurring on the last toss of 4 billion would be if the last 31 had been heads, in which case the odds would be 50:50, if the last 31 weren’t all heads then the odds are 0.

Don K
Reply to  Phil.
February 12, 2015 12:49 am

February 11, 2015 at 11:06 am
The only chance of it occurring on the last toss of 4 billion would be if the last 31 had been heads, in which case the odds would be 50:50, if the last 31 weren’t all heads then the odds are 0.

I believe it was Nicholas Nassim Taleb who pointed out that pragmatically the odds in this case are actually much higher than 50:50 due to the high probability that the game is intentionally or inadvertantly rigged.

Reply to  Phil.
February 12, 2015 4:37 pm

I don’t think Taleb’s right in this case, why wait for 4 billion tosses before cheating?

Reply to  rgbatduke
February 11, 2015 11:19 am

There are other considerations that you can roll into whether the flip was fair or not. Coin size for example, physical dexterity of the subject doing the toss, etc. I used to collect lunch money in college and high school by reliably winning coin tosses. My preferred coins were fifty-cent pieces and quarters in descending order of preference (dimes and pennies are to small and light to reliably handle, nickles get iffy), A silver dollar (real silver) works even better. I have always figured that the results were controlled by 1) coin size, which correlates to coin mass, and thus to the rate at which the coin spins during the toss (your thumb is only so strong); slower spin means more consistent results, 2) the flip, which sets the rate at which the coin spins, 3) the height of the toss, which sets that precise number of times the coin turns in the trip (you don’t know what that rate is, but during a typical toss the count up and down are going to be very close to the same), and 4) the consistency of the height at which the tosser intercepts the coin on the return trip; if you can catch each coin at the same height and you toss to a consistent height, then the coin is in the same relative position each time. If you know which face was up at the toss, given the necessary conditions and physical skill, then you can call with much better than chance. You usually need a few practice tosses to “calibrate” and then you find your mark and eat lunch.

February 11, 2015 6:56 am

Did the increased number of volcanoes cause more clouds (or increase the haze in the atmosphere) thus making it more difficult to observe the sunspots?

Lee A.
February 11, 2015 7:12 am

There are other proxies (Carbon-14 and Beryllium-10) that suggest minimal activity during the Maunder, Sporter, Oort, and Wolf minima.
In any case, excellent work Willis about the data ‘quality’ of what I always assumed was an actual observational record.

February 11, 2015 7:24 am

So regarding the historical sunspot reference to Maunder-like climate conditions; the bar is not as low as we thought. All LIA predictions based on the near absence of sunspots, at face-value, would likely need to be adjusted to account for the likelihood that Maunder-like conditions can occur somewhere below the lowest reliable solar cycle/sunspot data, absent Maunder-like conditions, but they are not predicated on a number as low as previously believed. So where is the actual Maunder threshold? What is the new target? And now the modern era data (except for the Layman’s Sunspot) is further altered by over counting (specks). What a mess.

February 11, 2015 8:00 am

It may be that as sunspots became scarce, observers gave up looking for them. No use checking every day if you haven’t seen one for years. “Sunspots were rarely recorded during the second part of 17th century. Later analysis revealed the problem not to be a lack of observational data but included references to negative observations.” (Wikipedia) –AGF

Reply to  agfosterjr
February 11, 2015 8:24 am

I should have hit refresh, we were thinking along the same lines and I did not see your comment

Reply to  Greg
February 11, 2015 9:18 am

That’s OK. Others beat me to it too.

Reply to  agfosterjr
February 11, 2015 11:19 am

Actually a lot of observers did check every day, and they didn’t give up. The number of observers, and the number of days with observations, negative or (rarely) positive increases during the Maunder minimum. For the first few years (1645-1653), there is indeed little data.

February 11, 2015 8:23 am

Is it possible that there were no spots observed for several days where they could see the sun, followed by several days with no sun, then another sunny day observation with no spots? They may have assumed the intervening days had no spots?

Reply to  Greg
February 11, 2015 11:23 am

Indeed. And this has to be allowed for, unless some observer elsewhere looked during the missing days. However sunspots normally last for several days, so one is unlikely to be missed if the break is shorter than about 6 days.
Note that the the observers were spread all over Europe, plus sporadic observations by jesuit astronomers in China.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  tty
February 11, 2015 2:04 pm

Thanks for the “Link” tty. Was like being a kid again and seeing the names for the first time. Another thing when assessing the work of these early astronomers remember this was the onset of the “Enlightenment” Wheres the enthusiasm for discovery held no bounds. Everything was new, and a mystery to be solved

February 11, 2015 8:28 am

Great Job,
I had links to Chinese sunspot data that went back thousands of years but all links I had no longer work. There were also a few good articles written(non peer reviewed) on the very old sunspot data but they are also no longer available.
Not sure If you have seen this but reconstructed solar going back 3,000 years.

Curious George
February 11, 2015 8:32 am

Thirty Years War in Europe, 1618-1648, corresponds to a lack of data in the period. Maybe wars correlate with low sunspot numbers.

Reply to  Curious George
February 11, 2015 11:25 am

Actually there are quite a few sunspot observations during the 1610-1645 period. The drop comes after the 30 year war.

February 11, 2015 8:38 am

Luckily, there is the cosmogenic isotope data to use as a reconstruction for solar flux, though it’s not perfect either. This data suggests that the early sun spot count data is spurious as well, however, the Maunder Minimum is still there and there may have been a full solar cycle without sun spots near the end of the 17th century. Interestingly, the cosmogenic isotope reconstructions show that solar activity has been relatively high over the past century, within the top 10% compared to the last 11,000 years. Is anyone else eagerly awaiting solar cycle 25?

Reply to  RWturner
February 11, 2015 9:50 am

Lief has made any number of comments on Ushokin et. al. on WUWT, and the long and the short of them are: probably not. That is, I do not think this figure is particularly well regarded by those working in the field any more, quite possibly including the original authors.

Reply to  rgbatduke
February 11, 2015 10:35 am

There are so many reconstructions but they all appear to be generally similar, to someone that is not a solar physicist that is. What part in particular is thought to be in error?

Reply to  RWturner
February 11, 2015 12:35 pm

RWturner February 11, 2015 at 8:38 am
“…Is anyone else eagerly awaiting solar cycle 25?”

Good freaking Grief!!! Absolutely not!
In spite of the warmistas crying wolf, I’d much rather that my children and grandchildren suffer from warmth than cold.
The longer it takes the warmists to cry their pitiful cries, the longer the weather record grows.
Eventually someone, I hope an Inspector General, will investigate temperature records for accuracy of data collection, meta data, data storage, retrieval and presentation.
That may be the true start of accurate climate data. Please don’t wish for us to start freezing just for spite.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 11, 2015 1:39 pm

I said I’m eagerly awaiting solar cycle 25, not that I hope we’d all freeze. I’m not sure where you came to that conclusion.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 11, 2015 4:38 pm

@ RWturner…I agree with you. This potential upcoming change should be an exciting time for science, as it will bring with it the opportunity for a leap forward in understanding of the system.

February 11, 2015 8:41 am

The data clearly shows low sunspot increase geological activity.

Timo Soren
February 11, 2015 8:55 am

Perhaps this is the first example of ‘adjustments’ fitting the mission.

February 11, 2015 9:07 am

Willis, this is my presentation why don’t you come up with something better, since I am positive you do not agree with anything I have to say? Why don’t you address the questions I pose?
Again Willis, where you continuously fail is you keep trying to ISOLATE factors which influence the climate as if in a vacuum without looking at the whole spectrum of factors effecting the climate at that given time as well as the Initial State Of The Climate at that given time, which causes you to come up with your data which shows no cause and effect when in reality that can not be further from the truth.
Even in regards to the sunspot /volcanic correlation you go to great lengths to ISOLATE the data to make it fit your perception of how you think it should be not like it really is. What you do is ISOLATE the data and say ,see no correlation. Willis, it does not work that way and as this decade proceeds we will see who is correct and who is not correct.
Here is what I have concluded. My explanation as to how the climate may change conforms to the historical climatic data record which has led me to this type of an explanation. It does not try to make the historical climatic record conform to my explanation. It is in two parts.
Here are my thoughts about how the climatic system may work. It starts with interesting observations made by Don Easterbrook. I then reply and ask some intriguing questions at the end which I hope might generate some feedback responses. I then conclude with my own thoughts to the questions I pose.
From Don Easterbrook – Aside from the statistical analyses, there are very serious problems with the Milankovitch theory. For example, (1) as John Mercer pointed out decades ago, the synchronicity of glaciations in both hemispheres is ‘’a fly in the Malankovitch soup,’ (2) glaciations typically end very abruptly, not slowly, (3) the Dansgaard-Oeschger events are so abrupt that they could not possibility be caused by Milankovitch changes (this is why the YD is so significant), and (4) since the magnitude of the Younger Dryas changes were from full non-glacial to full glacial temperatures for 1000+ years and back to full non-glacial temperatures (20+ degrees in a century), it is clear that something other than Milankovitch cycles can cause full Pleistocene glaciations. Until we more clearly understand abrupt climate changes that are simultaneous in both hemispheres we will not understand the cause of glaciations and climate changes.
. My explanation:
I agree that the data does give rise to the questions/thoughts Don Easterbrook, presents in the above. That data in turn leads me to believe along with the questions I pose at the end of this article, that a climatic variable force which changes often which is superimposed upon the climate trend has to be at play in the changing climatic scheme of things. The most likely candidate for that climatic variable force that comes to mind is solar variability (because I can think of no other force that can change or reverse in a different trend often enough, and quick enough to account for the historical climatic record) and the primary and secondary effects associated with this solar variability which I feel are a significant player in glacial/inter-glacial cycles, counter climatic trends when taken into consideration with these factors which are , land/ocean arrangements , mean land elevation ,mean magnetic field strength of the earth(magnetic excursions), the mean state of the climate (average global temperature gradient equator to pole), the initial state of the earth’s climate(how close to interglacial-glacial threshold condition it is/ average global temperature) the state of random terrestrial(violent volcanic eruption, or a random atmospheric circulation/oceanic pattern that feeds upon itself possibly) /extra terrestrial events (super-nova in vicinity of earth or a random impact) along with Milankovitch Cycles.
What I think happens is land /ocean arrangements, mean land elevation, mean magnetic field strength of the earth, the mean state of the climate, the initial state of the climate, and Milankovitch Cycles, keep the climate of the earth moving in a general trend toward either cooling or warming on a very loose cyclic or semi cyclic beat but get consistently interrupted by solar variability and the associated primary and secondary effects associated with this solar variability, and on occasion from random terrestrial/extra terrestrial events, which brings about at times counter trends in the climate of the earth within the overall trend. While at other times when the factors I have mentioned setting the gradual background for the climate trend for either cooling or warming, those being land/ocean arrangements, mean land elevation, mean state of the climate, initial state of the climate, Milankovitch Cycles , then drive the climate of the earth gradually into a cooler/warmer trend(unless interrupted by a random terrestrial or extra terrestrial event in which case it would drive the climate to a different state much more rapidly even if the climate initially was far from the glacial /inter-glacial threshold, or whatever general trend it may have been in ) UNTIL it is near that inter- glacial/glacial threshold or climate intersection at which time allows any solar variability and the associated secondary effects no matter how SLIGHT at that point to be enough to not only promote a counter trend to the climate, but cascade the climate into an abrupt climatic change. The back ground for the abrupt climatic change being in the making all along until the threshold glacial/inter-glacial intersection for the climate is reached ,which then gives rise to the abrupt climatic changes that occur and possibly feed upon themselves while the climate is around that glacial/inter-glacial threshold resulting in dramatic semi cyclic constant swings in the climate from glacial to inter-glacial while factors allow such an occurrence to take place.
The climatic back ground factors (those factors being previously mentioned) driving the climate gradually toward or away from the climate intersection or threshold of glacial versus interglacial, however when the climate is at the intersection the climate gets wild and abrupt, while once away from that intersection the climate is more stable. Although random terrestrial events and extra terrestrial events could be involved some times to account for some of the dramatic swings in the climatic history of the earth( perhaps to the tune of 10% ) at any time , while solar variability and the associated secondary effects are superimposed upon the otherwise gradual climatic trend, resulting in counter climatic trends, no matter where the initial state of the climate is although the further from the glacial/inter-glacial threshold the climate is the less dramatic the overall climatic change should be, all other items being equal.
The climate is chaotic, random, and non linear, but in addition it is never in the same mean state or initial state which gives rise to given forcing to the climatic system always resulting in a different climatic out-come although the semi cyclic nature of the climate can still be derived to a degree amongst all the noise and counter trends within the main trend.
Why is it when ever the climate changes the climate does not stray indefinitely from it’s mean in either a positive or negative direction? Why or rather what ALWAYS brings the climate back toward it’s mean value ? Why does the climate never go in the same direction once it heads in that direction?
Along those lines ,why is it that when the ice sheets expand the higher albedo /lower temperature more ice expansion positive feedback cycle does not keep going on once it is set into motion? What causes it not only to stop but reverse?
Vice Versa why is it when the Paleocene – Eocene Thermal Maximum once set into motion, that being an increase in CO2/higher temperature positive feedback cycle did not feed upon itself? Again it did not only stop but reversed?
My conclusion is the climate system is always in a general gradual trend toward a warmer or cooler climate in a semi cyclic fashion which at times brings the climate system toward thresholds which make it subject to dramatic change with the slightest change of force superimposed upon the general trend and applied to it. While at other times the climate is subject to randomness being brought about from terrestrial /extra terrestrial events which can set up a rapid counter trend within the general slow moving climatic trend.
Despite this ,if enough time goes by (much time) the same factors that drive the climate toward a general gradual warming trend or cooling trend will prevail bringing the climate away from glacial/inter-glacial threshold conditions it had once brought the climate toward ending abrupt climatic change periods eventually, or reversing over time dramatic climate changes from randomness.
NOTE 1- Thermohaline Circulation Changes are more likely in my opinion when the climate is near the glacial/ inter-glacial threshold probably due to greater sources of fresh water input into the North Atlantic.
Below I list my low average solar parameters criteria which I think will result in secondary effects being exerted upon the climatic system.
My biggest hurdle I think is not if these low average solar parameters would exert an influence upon the climate but rather will they be reached and if reached for how long a period of time?
I think each of the items I list , both primary and secondary effects due to solar variability if reached are more then enough to bring the global temperatures down by at least .5c in the coming years.
Even a .15 % decrease from just solar irradiance alone is going to bring the average global temperature down by .2c or so all other things being equal. That is 40% of the .5c drop I think can be attained. Never mind the contribution from everything else that is mentioned.
What I am going to do is look into research on sun like stars to try to get some sort of a gage as to how much possible variation might be inherent with the total solar irradiance of the sun. That said we know EUV light varies by much greater amounts, and within the spectrum of total solar irradiance some of it is in anti phase which mask total variability within the spectrum. It makes the total irradiance variation seem less then it is.
I also think the .1% variation that is so acceptable for TSI is on flimsy ground in that measurements for this item are not consistent and the history of measuring this item with instrumentation is just to short to draw these conclusions not to mention I know some sun like stars (which I am going to look into more) have much greater variability of .1%.
I think Milankovich Cycles, the Initial State of the Climate or Mean State of the Climate , State of Earth’s Magnetic Field set the background for long run climate change and how effective given solar variability will be when it changes when combined with those items. Nevertheless I think solar variability within itself will always be able to exert some kind of an influence on the climate regardless if , and that is my hurdle IF the solar variability is great enough in magnitude and duration of time. Sometimes solar variability acting in concert with factors setting the long term climatic trend while at other times acting in opposition.
Solar Flux avg. sub 90
Solar Wind avg. sub 350 km/sec
AP index avg. sub 5.0
Cosmic ray counts north of 6500 counts per minute.
Total Solar Irradiance off .15% or more.
EUV light average 0-105 nm sub 100 units (or off 100% or more) and longer UV light emissions around 300 nm off by several percent.
IMF around 4.0 nt or lower.
The above solar parameter averages following several years of sub solar activity in general which commenced in year 2005.
If , these average solar parameters are the rule going forward for the remainder of this decade expect global average temperatures to fall by -.5C, with the largest global temperature declines occurring over the high latitudes of N.H. land areas.
The decline in temperatures should begin to take place within six months after the ending of the maximum of solar cycle 24.
Secondary Effects With Prolonged Minimum Solar Activity. A Brief Overview.
A Greater Meridional Atmospheric Circulation- due to less UV Light Lower Ozone in Lower Stratosphere.
Increase In Low Clouds- due to an increase in Galactic Cosmic Rays.
Greater Snow-Ice Cover- associated with a Meridional Atmospheric Circulation/an Increase In Clouds.
Greater Snow-Ice Cover probably resulting over time to a more Zonal Atmospheric Circulation. This Circulation increasing the Aridity over the ice sheets eventually. Dust probably increasing into the atmosphere over time.
Increase in Volcanic Activity – Since 1600 AD, data shows 85 % approximately of all major Volcanic eruptions have been associated with Prolonged Solar Minimum Conditions. Data from the Space and Science Center headed by Dr. Casey.
Volcanic Activity -acting as a cooling agent for the climate,(SO2) and enhancing Aerosols possibly aiding in greater Cloud formation.
Decrease In Ocean Heat Content/Sea Surface Temperature -due to a decline in Visible Light and Near UV light.
This in turn should diminish the Greenhouse Gas Effect over time, while promoting a slow drying out of the atmosphere over time. This may be part of the reason why Aridity is very common with glacial periods.
In addition sea surface temperature distribution changes should come about ,which probably results in different oceanic current patterns.

February 11, 2015 9:25 am

The above is the objective way to view the solar/geological correlations. This tells the story to a much greater degree is not taken out of context. Even so this does not take into account the earth’s magnetic field which very likely plays a role in all of this.

February 11, 2015 9:43 am

The Maunder Minimum (1645 and continuing to about 1715 ) happens to follow the 30 years war (1618 and 1648). Coincidence? Maybe the people of euope had bigger issues to deal with than sun spot counting. The 30 years war devistated most of the continent, especialy the area that is now called Germany (where presumably Herr Zahn was doing his “counting”). Just one thought on why the observational record was so poor.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
February 11, 2015 10:24 am

Don’t forget plague, as well. There were major European plague outbreaks in 1602–11; 1623–40; 1644–54; and 1664–67. Over a million people died in France alone in 1628-1631. The 17th century saw somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the population of Europe in general dying of the plague (some of it spread by troop movements in the 30 year war. This was (for example) the time of the Great Plague of London, which killed about 15% of its population.
All in all, the 17th century was a pretty sucky time to be alive in Europe — if you lived through it. 10’s of thousands of people were executed for witchcraft. The Reformation. The 30 years war. The execution of Giordano Bruno (who went far beyond the Copernican model to propose that stars were suns and had their own planets — in the late 16th century!) to kick it off followed closely by the trial of Galileo. Nobody was safe — plenty of royalty lost their heads at one time or another.
But all that this means is that observational data from prior to the 18th century — some would even say the mid to late 18th century — is largely anecdotal evidence, not so very reliable. The rituals of the scientific method were not well spelled out, and while there are bright spots — Tycho Brahe’s systematic data collection, Kepler’s equally systematic analysis — chemistry was still “alchymie” and even the handful of “natural philosophers” supported by the courts of Europe and England were far from regular in their experiments and observations until the second half of the 17th century (following Bacon’s “New Atlantis” paper and the eventual and consequent birth of e.g. the Royal Society and related organizations throughout Europe).

Reply to  rgbatduke
February 11, 2015 11:31 am

Thanks for mentioning the 30-years War. I was going to look that up. Now I don’t have to. BTW, do you mean Bacon;s “New Atlantis” or the “New Organon?” The New Organon is the actual outline of Bacon’s concept of the scientific methods as well as a catalog and discussion of logical errors. One of the sad aspects of “post-normal” science is the fact that it constitutes a reversion to pre-Baconian methods. One of the remarkable things that Bacon does in the New Organon is to offer an example of how the method works. In that example he draws a kinetic hypothesis of heat long before Rumford and Carnot.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
February 11, 2015 11:28 am

However the observational record isn’t particularly poor. And astronomers were spread all over Europe (plus China).

Bill Parsonns
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
February 11, 2015 1:20 pm

Barring the actual disappearance of data records, I would guess more people were paying attention to the sun during the Maunder.
By the 1640’s, the normal-appearing face of the sun, with a certain number of spots, must have been well known – and anticipated. The “sudden” disappearance of those reassuring features must have sparked a good bit of novelty “sun-spot seeking” (and probably prognosticating); for these people, fascination over the next six decades would have only persisted until the resumption of more normal solar activity caused the resumption of spotting. Lacunae (the blue lines) are prevalent before and after the Maunder, when periods of normal solar behavior prevailed, with the exception of ~ 1170’s, when it appeared that spots were returning.
We like ephemera. Natural anomalies are one thing, but when something is clearly fleeting, it generates interest. When it looked like solar spots were fleeting, lots of people started looking for them, as the “fans” of ivory billed woodpeckers seem to have surged since the bird’s evident extinction.
My 2 cents.

February 11, 2015 10:13 am

Cherry picking the data does not cut it which is being done constantly.

February 11, 2015 10:18 am

Quoted From Piers Corbyn
“The spin rate of the earth is generally being braked slightly by its interaction with the solar wind and as we get to a solar minimum this braking is less. That probably gives a sort of slow ‘jolting effect on oceans and tectonic plates which might exacerbate earthquakes and tremors. We have to think of CHANGES in forces or changes in acceleration rather than simply forces or accelerations.
“Think of a train with its brakes on by a certain fixed amount – constant deceleration. You are sitting in your seat and the braking is thrusting you forward a bit but you have adjustyed for that and feel no discomfort. When the train comes to a stop this braking ends and you feel a jolt and you slump backwards into your seat as the force you provided to not fall forward pushes you back. Similarly when a train (or a plane) changes its acceleration forward you experience
Generally speaking in a train or plane plenty of jolts occur when they are hardly moving rather than moving at top speed.
In a similar fashion the oceans pressing against the continents or more precisely against some tectonic plates – experience jolts relative to the earth’s main crust and core as the interaction with the solar wind changes as we get close to (or move away from) solar minimum.”

February 11, 2015 10:26 am

Were you able to find their handwritten notes of the data?

Bob Weber
February 11, 2015 10:27 am

Qouting Eschenbach exactly (last comment first):
“There may indeed have been a Maunder Minimum … but the Group sunspot number dataset is so bad that we can’t conclude anything from it regarding the Maunder or anything else.
My best wishes to everyone,
AS ALWAYS: If you disagree with someone, please quote the exact words you disagree with, so that we can all understand what you are objecting to.”
Qouting Willis Eschenbach exactly (from his first paragraph here):

“I wanted to respond to Michele Casati’s claim in the comments of my last post. His claim was that if we include the Maunder Minimum in the 1600’s, it’s clear that volcanoes with a VEI greater or equal to 5 are affected by sunspots. Based on my previous analysis I figured “No way!”, ….”

Now, quoting Casati exactly from the quote Willis links to from here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/02/09/volcanoes-and-sunspots/#comment-1855604

“Quote “…A comparison of the histogram of the monthly sunspot levels during the 19 largest eruptions since 1750…”
Where is the maunder ?
In our research, we compare the 148 volcanic eruptions with index VEI4, the major 37 historical volcanic eruptions equal to or greater than index VEI5, recorded from 1610 to 2012 , with its sunspots number.
Staring, as the threshold value, a monthly sunspot number of 46 (recorded during the great eruption of Krakatoa VEI6 historical index, August 1883), we note some possible relationships and conduct a statistical test.
• Of the historical 31 large volcanic eruptions with index VEI5+, recorded between 1610 and 1955, 29 of these were recorded when the SSN<46. The remaining 2 eruptions were not recorded when the SSN<46, but rather during solar maxima of the solar cycle of the year 1739 and in the solar cycle No. 14 (Shikotsu eruption of 1739 and Ksudach 1907) (chart 1).
• Of the historical 8 large volcanic eruptions with index VEI6+, recorded from 1610 to the present, 7 of these were recorded with SSN<46 and more specifically, within the three large solar minima known : Maunder (1645-1710), Dalton (1790-1830) and during the solar minimums occurred between 1880 and 1920. As the only exception, we note the eruption of Pinatubo of June 1991, recorded in the solar maximum of cycle 22 (chart 2).
• Of the historical 6 major volcanic eruptions with index VEI5+, recorded after 1955, 5 of these were not recorded during periods of low solar activity, but rather during solar maxima, of the cycles 19,21 and 22."

WILLIS: where is your claimed claim of Michele’s that you specifically cited? He didn’t say what you claimed he said, YOU SAID IT:
You said this: “if we include the Maunder Minimum in the 1600’s, it’s clear that volcanoes with a VEI greater or equal to 5 are affected by sunspots.
HE DID NOT SAY THAT. Shame on you for putting words in his mouth.
You chide Michele for using obsolete SSNs, you then go ahead and use them anyway yourself – hypocrite! Willis, you have a double standard.
My question to you Willis is, why did you knowingly use obsolete SSNs when you know that the reconstructed numbers are going to be released soon?
Why didn’t you use Leif’s revised GSN? From your own article:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/01/05/the-best-test-of-downscaling/#comment-1829682 , where Leif Svalgaard said in response to my question of how the SSN reconstruction was going:
“Basically unchanged. We shall have a meeting in [of all places] Sunspot NM [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunspot,_New_Mexico ] during the last week of January to iron-out minor details. The new numbers will be presented at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium later in the spring/early summer and submitted to IAU [ http://www.iau.org/ ] in early August for possible adoption as an international standard..”
“The GSN will become obsolete and not published as a separate series, but will be incorporated with the regular SSN. There will thus be only ONE SSN series [and it will be called the Wolf number]. We will maintain a separate Group Number [GN] as a means to keep track of the number of groups which is a proxy for somewhat different physics as the ratio SSN/GN is not constant as was earlier surmised. We will discourage using the GN as a proxy for solar activity [as it is not].”
Willis, did you catch this part?:

“We will discourage using the GN as a proxy for solar activity [as it is not]”

(my bold)
So Willis, why did you use the GN (for the Maunder Minimum) when Leif said it is not a proxy for solar activity? Leif could give you some relief here if he’d post those new revised GSNs sooner than later.
Willis, you never cease to amaze me. How is it possible for you to have so completely missed the boat as to what the Sun did to the Earth prior to high VEI volcanoes (or high mag earthquakes)? Sunspot numbers are not the only thing of importance wrt the Solar-Terrestrial connection.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 11, 2015 4:56 pm

That’s a lame attempt at projection Willis. You missed your mark.
You should know better than to chide someone about suspect data and then use it yourself, even if the other did. What conclusions can anyone come to with such suspect data? Any worth talking about? But you talked about it plenty, in spite of knowing it wasn’t good data. What did you accomplish? Did you wipe out the Maunder Minimum?
The Maunder Minimum was not the primary point of discussion anyway. Volcanoes were.
Anger – you bet. I considered this article to be a hit piece by you on Michele Casati, someone simply and innocently trying to interject some new findings in the comment section, who didn’t even get the benefit of being able to explain himself fully about what he was talking about before you jumped on him. You reframed the discussion in a way that “makes him wrong” – w/o his testimony. How would you like it if the shoe was on the other foot?
Vituperation directed at you is totally appropriate when you declare every time you write an article to “quote exact words” – and then you don’t! Yea, I’m seeing red because you exhibited a blatant double standard, period, and no one else called you out on it.
Your attempts to slide out of being held accountable here are not a surprise. You clearly did not quote him exactly, nor did you state that you were paraphrasing him until I said something, so I think your little belated attempt here at minimizing what you did – is – well – true to your character.
Just when I start to think you’re OK, you pull some shit like this, and you set yourself back again. It is Willis’ rep that Willis is ruining by Willis exhibiting Willis’ double standard.
You can quote me on that.
As to your PS:
First of all Willis, what do I owe you? Do I owe you personally an explanation when you show no sign of understanding what the Sun does in any regard – at all. I mean, I might as well be talking to a child. Are sunspots the only manifestation of solar activity? Think!
Why is it Willis, this late in the game, that you don’t appear to know anything else about the Sun beyond sunspot number counts and TSI?
When you show me any sign of getting beyond that very basic level, I’ll let you know.
There is a tremendous amount of data supporting Casati’s thesis that solar impulses of various kinds have the said effects, but first you have to understand what solar impulses are in and of themselves, and then you have to understand what they do in general to the Earth, and then more specifically, what impulses under what conditions can do the kind of damage earthquakes and volcanoes do. Take it one step at a time.
I recommend to Michele that he write up an article and submit it to WUWT, and if he does that, I will provide the data that I have right now in support, and not until then, unless I write that article.
Willis you owe Michele an apology for your shoddy mistreatment on his subject.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 11, 2015 9:57 pm

My blood pressure is fine, always is. So is my judgment of character. For someone who studied psychology, your lack of people skills on occasion is glaring.
Michele is being kind and cooperative because this is your turf and he’s not from here, and he wants to expose his ideas to a wider audience, and he’s a younger man dealing with mostly older more experienced people set in their ways (from my perspective).
He has valid points that you’re not even addressing because you don’t demonstrate that you understand what the Sun regularly does, so how could you understand what he says.
Did it ever occur to you that high VEI and high mag EQs events result from solar activity events that occur from different sources during both high or low sunspot number periods, and thus the sunspot number isn’t always the main thing, even though it can be a factor? Did you ever think of that, or that even one sunspot can be enough?
Events rule the day. You’ll won’t figure this out using just statistics Willis.
For you and many others that’s counter-intuitive.
I know you just want the answer, and if you are given the answer without effort on your part, you won’t appreciate it, so I would rather that you figure it out yourself, or at least give it a good effort. If you’re not capable, just admit it, it’s no shame to admit ignorance – very few others have figured it out, if that’s any solace. And I’m not saying you’re stupid.
I’m not refusing to tell you anything either – I don’t answer to you – UNLESS I WANT TO.
You jack people around and then you expect them to want to give to you outright their fruits of their labor just for the asking whenever you demand? It doesn’t work like that.
You established your rules of engagement with your “quote exact words” demand, then you didn’t follow your own rules, and when you were called out on it, you weaseled out.
The very fact that you have such a rule at all makes you ‘Miss Manners’ here, not me.
When you are consistent in following the very rules you establish for others, everything will run smoothly. When you follow a different set of rules for yourself, well, you saw what happened today. Stick to your own rules!
I appreciate your efforts otherwise; and perhaps you do need a dog in your life.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 13, 2015 7:16 am

So I’m your friend now? That’s great. Who couldn’t use a friend like you! I just like to point out that I can nitpick too, along with you, and yes, that does get old… Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.
I’m holding back on explaining further until I get through evaluating a longer list of VEI4 and lower events, having already finished finding in the last week exciting and electrifying data for the only four high VEI5+ events on the list.
Since we only have four big VEI5+ in the modern satellite era, it was possible to locate exact data. In addition to getting the data on the VEI4 and under events, there’s a large number of papers out there that correspond to the solar impulse thesis, that I only recently found, and those should be cited too, as they do support the impulse thesis.
I am concerned that revealing partial information now buried here on a blog that’s nearly past it’s expiration date will be missed, misunderstood, and for many, misleading, so I don’t want to give out an incomplete analysis.
At this time it ought to be very apparent that sunspot numbers aren’t going to resolve this issue very well, as high VEI events occur during both high and low SSN conditions.
You appear to not be aware of some of the other solar indices aside from sunspot number, as you haven’t talked about them.
Potential sources of solar impulses:
1. solar sector boundary crossings
2. solar flares
3. coronal mass ejections
4. filament eruptions
5. coronal hole high speed streams
And then add in lunar and planetary influences, if any.
Perhaps even a data junky can appreciate that adding more factors into the analysis compounds the amount of time and effort necessary to collect data for EACH event!
The simple sunspot number method isn’t good enough to draw meaningful conclusions.

February 11, 2015 11:00 am

The quote below from John Casey of the Space and Science Center. .
Finally, the coincidence of the Centennial and Bi-Centennial cycles of the RC Theory showed unmistakable relationships.
Willis prove to us with your data why the Centennial and Bi-Centennial cycles of the RC theory presented by John Casey do not apply.
rgbatduke- You make my point which is the data we have on past solar activity is not set in stone therefore to draw conclusions about solar variability and future solar variability is not on very solid ground.
That is a double edge sword because it can go one of two ways.

February 11, 2015 11:11 am

“From Galileo through the Maunder Minimum”
J.M.Vaquero & E.W. Cliver, 4th SSN Workshop, Locarno, 2014

February 11, 2015 11:49 am

One last point I want to make today which may or may not be the case is,
the less in intensity should the Maunder Minimum be or for that matter the Modern Day Solar Maximum ,the argument can then be made the more sensitive the climate may be to the slightest variations in solar activity due to primary and secondary effects. Always the double edge sword.
This would also serve to make this solar minimum stack up better against the Maunder Minimum if true. But it is a big IF, because past solar data as I have said has been ,is and will continue to be on shaky ground going forward despite what the so called experts may try to convey.

February 11, 2015 1:52 pm

I remember that my works are to be evaluated together :
EGU 2012 (The interplanetary magnetic field -IMF-)
EGU 2013 (SSN)
EGU 2013 (Inflation and deflation cycles)
EGU 2014 (Ap-index) – I remember that my works are to be evaluated together
My current conclusion is atypical electrical impulsive phenomena (EM solar-terrestrial interactions) occurred during the solar minimum (transitions), with an enormous amount of energy released during the geophysical event. Phenomena not yet fully understood from a physical point of view.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 12, 2015 5:19 am

Will say : ” mystic words ”
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”
Albert Einstein

February 11, 2015 1:53 pm

EGU 2013,2014 and 2015

February 11, 2015 2:03 pm

A long time ago during my library haunting days, I read anything astronomical in a local county library.
One of the books included some history about celestial observations; including several chapters about the history of ‘sunspot watching’.
I never connected the amateur and accidental solar observations to an allegedly detailed sunspot record. i.e. until Willis posted his excursion into sunspot exploration.
That old history percolated back up; it was certainly not sunspot counting or sunspot tracking!
“ca. 800 BC: The first plausible recorded sunspot observation”

“The two oldest record of a sunspot observation are found in the Book of Changes, probably the oldest extant Chinese book, compiled in China around or before 800 BC. The text reads “A dou is seen in the Sun”, and A mei is seen in the Sun”. From the context, the words (i.e., chinese characters) “dou” and “mei” are taken to mean darkening or obscuration.
Astronomers at the court of the Chinese and Korean emperors made regular notes of sunspots, most less elliptical than the one cited above. It seems, however, that observations were not carried out systematically for their own sake, but instead took place whenever astrological prognostication was demanded by the emperor. The surviving sunspots records, though patchy and incomplete, covers nearly 2000 years and represents by far the most extensive pre-telescopic sunspot record“.

naked-eye sunspot observations” (PDF download)

“…However, solar activity during the 5th century BC was very high and it is quite probable that ancient Greeks observed sunspots (including Anaxagoras)…”

Historical Occidental Observations ” (same “Naked Eye Observations” PDF download)

“…The most famous European observation of a naked-eye sunspot was related to the death of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Emperor, by his secretary and adviser Einhard, who wrote The life of Charlemagne (Einhard, 1880). He was not very careful dating the sunspot event. However, there is no doubt that a spot was seen on the Sun in 807 over eight days. In the Annales Regni Francorum, a Mercury transit observation appears during the days 17–24 March 807, but it is evidently a sunspot observation that confirms Einhard’s account.
Another famous European observation was recorded by John of Worcester on December 8, 1128. He was not an Emperor, but he did make the earliest drawing of a sunspot. (Darlington and McGurk, 1995; McGurk, 1998). Curiously, the sunspots observed at Worcester were not observed elsewhere. However, this epoch coincides with a period of enhanced solar activity (“The Medieval Maximum”) and Willis and Stephenson (2001) presented evidence of recurrent geomagnetic storms and associated aurora from AD 1127 to 1129…”

Some of the naked eye observations prior to consistent telescope use were made by the shadow box or pinhole projection method.
Pinhole projection is a misnomer or misrepresentation though. we’re taught when young to use an actual pinhole to make shadow projections in order to watch eclipses.
Observers can use a much larger hole though and project the shadow image against a wall in a dark room. The sun’s image substantially larger as are any sunspots and surprisingly clear.
Can these shadow projections highlight pinpricks? Not anywhere near as well as current telescope technology.
The early telescope observers often made their own telescopes and smoked their own shade glass.
From the good old Britannica dot com

“…While the quality of observations was good, consistent observation was lacking. The sunspot cycle, a huge effect, was not discovered until 1843 by Samuel Heinrich Schwabe. The German amateur astronomer was looking for a planet inside the orbit of Mercury and made careful daily drawings to track its passage across the face of the Sun. Instead he found that the number of sunspots varied with a regular period. The Swiss astronomer Rudolf Wolf confirmed Schwabe’s discovery by searching through previous reports of sunspots and established the period as 11 years. Wolf also introduced what is termed the Zurich relative sunspot number, a value equal to the sum of the spots plus 10 times the number of groups, which is still used today. Much of the work at this time was carried out by wealthy amateurs such as Richard Christopher Carrington of Britain, who built a private observatory and discovered the differential rotation and the equatorward drift of activity during a sunspot cycle…”

“…Photographic monitoring began in 1860, and soon spectroscopy was applied to the Sun, so the elements present and their physical state could begin to be investigated. In the early part of the 19th century, Fraunhofer mapped the solar spectrum. At the end of the 19th century, spectroscopy carried out during eclipses revealed the character of the atmosphere, but the million-degree coronal temperature was not established until observations of coronal spectral lines were made in 1940 by the German astrophysicist Walter Grotrian.
In 1891, while he was a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., George Ellery Hale invented the spectroheliograph, which can be used to take pictures of the Sun in any single wavelength. After using the instrument on the great Yerkes refractor in Williams Bay, Wis., U.S., Hale developed the Mount Wilson Observatory in California and built the first solar tower telescopes there. Prior to the construction of the Mount Wilson facility, all solar observatories were located in cloudy places, and long-term studies were not possible.

“…After 1950, new observatories were established in areas that were less cloudy. By 1960 astronomers realized that these sites not only had to be clear but that they also had to have stable air. By locating observatories near lakes and by employing electronic imaging and vacuum telescopes, astronomers were able to make new, higher-resolution observations. In 1969 the movement began with the Aerospace Corporation Observatory (now the San Fernando Observatory) and the Big Bear Solar Observatory, both in California. Free of ground effects, these observatories achieved a new level of stable images and were soon followed by lake-sited solar observatories in India and China.
An entirely new dimension of solar studies was initiated by the space age …”

“Sunspot Drawing Resource Page: The Early Observers, 1128 to 1800 AD.”

“…Brother John of Worcester – 1128
Monastery at Worcester, England.
December 8, 1128.
1 drawing.
No telescope – unaided eye method.
John’s drawing.
Thomas Harriot – 1610 England.
Observations from December 8, 1610, and December 1, 1611 to January 18, 1613.
200 drawings.
Observation method: attenuated eyepiece observations by atmospheric haze or colored glass.
Cavalier Domenico Cresti di Passignano – 1611 Rome, Italy.
Observations in August and September 1611.
Number of drawings: unknown.
Attenuated eyepiece observation method.
Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli – 1611 Rome, Italy.
Observations on September 16, 1611, and February 18, to March 23, 1612.
27 drawings.
Attenuated eyepiece observation method.
Christopher Scheiner – 1611 Germany – Italy.
Observations from October 21, 1611 to June 1627.
70+ published drawings, perhaps 900 observations. (Several observation days were often included within one drawing.)
Refractors of different dimensions.
Observation methods: Pinhole projection, small mirror projection, attenuated eyepiece, eyepiece projection, and
construction of special telescope with both lenses made of colored glass.
Location of original drawings unknown.
Galileo Galilei – 1612 Italy.
Observations (non-contiguous) from May 3 to August 21, 1612.
47 drawings known.
16mm, f/11 Galilean refractor.
Observation method: attenuated eyepiece and eyepiece projection.
Original drawings in the Vatican archives and the archives of the Accademis dei Lincei
Petrus Saxonius – 1616 Germany
Observations from February 24 to March 17, 1616.
12 drawings.
Johannes Hevelius – 1642 Poland.
Observations from 1642 to 1679.
Original sunspot drawings lost to a fire in 1679.
Drawings published in: Selenographia size Lunae Descripto, 1647; Cometographia, 1679; Machinae Coelistis, 1679.
J. W. Pastorff – 1819 England.
Observations from 1819 to 1833.
1,477 drawings.
Drawings are in the Royal Astronomical Society Library archives.
Charles H. Adams – 1819 England.
Observations from August 1819 to March 1822.
977 drawings.
Drawings in Royal Astronomical Society archives?
Samuel Heinrich Schwabe – 1825 Germany.
Observations from October 30, 1825 to 1868.
9,000+ drawings.
1.25 and 2.5 inch aperture refractors, 3.5 and 6-foot FL.
Observation method: attenuated eyepiece, drawn to 2.1 inch circle.
Drawings are in the Royal Astronomical Society Library archives.
Rev. T. J. Hussey – 1826 England.
Observations from 1826 to 1837.
1,207 drawings.
Drawings are in the Royal Astronomical Society Library archives.
Henry Lawson – 1831 England.
Observations from August 1831 to 1832.
200 drawings.
Drawings are in the Royal Astronomical Society Library archives.
Capt. Charles Shea – 1847 England.
Observations from 1847 to 1866.
5,538 drawings.
Drawings are in the Royal Astronomical Society Library archives.
Rev. Temple Chevallier – 1847 England.
Observations from 1847 to 1849.
Unknown number of observations.
Drawings are in the Royal Astronomical Society Library archives?
William Cranch Bond – 1847 United States.
Observations from August 1847 to December 1849.
200+ drawings.
Observation method: eyepiece projection.
Observations published in: Observations of Solar Spots, 1847-1849,
Annals of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College, Vol. VII, 1871.
Joseph Turnbull – 1851 England.
Observations from March 22 to October 2, 1851.
Drawings in Royal Astronomical Society Archives?
Richard Christopher Carrington – 1853 Redhill, England.
Observations from November 9, 1853 to March 24, 1861.
1,215 drawings.
4.5-inch, f/11 refractor.
Observation method: eyepiece projection, 11-inch image.
Drawings in Royal Astronomical Society Archives?
Observations Published in: Observation of the Spots on the Sun, Richard Carrington, 1863.
Rev. Frederick Howlett – 1859 England.
Observations from 1859 to 1894.
766 drawings.
3-inch refractor.
Eyepiece projection method to screen, 32-inch image.[!]
Drawings are in the Royal Astronomical Society Library archives, London.
Johann Rudolf Wolf – 1866 Zurich, Switzerland.
Observations from 1866 to 1893.
7,000+ drawings?
80mm f/14 Fraunhofer refractor.
Observation method: Eyepiece projection, 25cm image.
Drawing example from Zurich (not Wolf’s).
Fr. Angelo Secchi – 1871 Rome, Italy.
Observations from 1871 to 1877
1,500 drawings.
Fr. Stephen Joseph Perry – 1875 Stonyhurst College Observatory, England.
Observations from 1875 to ?
Drawings in Royal Astronomical Society Archives?
P. Julius Fenyi, S. P., Haynald Observatory, Kalocsa – 1880 Hungary.
Observations from June 9, 1880 to May 13, 1919.
6,092 drawings by Fenyi, Schreiber, and other observers.
10 cm refractor.
Observation method: eyepiece projection, 22cm image.
Drawings archived at Heliophysical Observatory, Debrecen, Hungary.
Contact: Dr. Andras Ludmany
David E. Hadden – 1890 Alta, Iowa, United States.
Observations from 1890 to ?.
67+ drawings.
George Ellery Hale,Kenwood Observatory – 1891 United States. – 1891
Observations from June 27, 1891 to April 2, 1892.
58 full-disk drawings, 22mm or 50mm dia.
12-inch Brashear refractor?
Observation method: direct using attentuated eyepiece?
Original drawings in L.S.Webster collection.
Osservatorio Astrofisico Catania – 1893 Italy.
Observations from 1893 to present?
150mm, f/15 refractor.
Observation method: eyepiece projection.
Drawings in observatory archives?

Until Mount Wilson Observatory was built circa 1917, sunspot observations were accidental, dilettante, casual, curiosity, occasional, by product and definitely all of the above.
As Willis identified above, sunspot observations are not continuous nor rigorous. All subsequent attempts to torture sunspot records into confessing do not replace detailed records by a competent observer.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 12, 2015 12:56 am

Mods, my apologies for screwing up another quote comment.
If it helps and doesn’t cause you any grief; I missed the slash (/) for the closing blockquote in the paragraph just following the linked ‘Britannica dot com’ line.
e.g. currently at the paragraph end:
The Swiss astronomer Rudolf Wolf confirmed Schwabe’s discovery by searching through previous reports of sunspots and established the period as 11 years. Wolf also introduced what is termed the Zurich relative sunspot number, a value equal to the sum of the spots plus 10 times the number of groups, which is still used today. Much of the work at this time was carried out by wealthy amateurs such as Richard Christopher Carrington of Britain, who built a private observatory and discovered the differential rotation and the equatorward drift of activity during a sunspot cycle…”

That blockquote at the end of the paragraph should be a closing blockquote.
Sorry to be a burden. Please delete this request as it doesn’t aid the thread.

February 11, 2015 2:42 pm

Along those lines the evidence is there for a link between the geo magnetic field -climate- geological activity and even extinctions of some species

February 11, 2015 3:10 pm

a the ok
The only point you are making is in the past solar variability is really unknown which really does nothing to prove or disprove solar/geological connections or solar/climate connections.
It proves nothing other then to show solar variability is unknown which is one of my points in my paper -how the climate may change.

Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
February 12, 2015 12:42 am

“Salvatore Del Prete February 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm
a the ok
The only point you are making is in the past solar variability is really unknown which really does nothing to prove or disprove solar/geological connections or solar/climate connections.
It proves nothing other then to show solar variability is unknown which is one of my points in my paper -how the climate may change.”

You’re in denial Salvatore.
I laid out a short history of sunspot counters, along with their estimated counts and on which years those counts were made. Please note that years without observations outnumber years with observations.
Until the late 1800’s sunspots were not counted! Sunspots were curiosities for discussion, not counting spots. There are what amounts to incidental drawings with sunspots.
Accurate sunspot tracking did not occur until the modern observatory period beginning with Mount Wilson which came into fullness with satellites. Prior so called sunspot counts are casual occasional observations turned into assumed counts by someone else.
Casual observations are not definitive counts.
Third party assumptions of counts are not sunspot counts; they’re, at best, approximations.
Applying modern, satellite observations, standards to sunspot counts in retrospect does not form a basis for correlating sunspots to Earth geological processes!
If you are claiming that “solar variability is unknown”, than by your own admission, Earth geology relationships and responses to solar variability is anecdotal and technically unknown.
Variable ‘Cosmic Ray’ linkage to cloud formation is still in the process of proof
A modern sunspot record of a maximum one hundred years, (Mount Wilson 1917), makes it impossible to validate theory linking solar variability to Earth processes.
Theory remains theory, validation requires proof.
By the way, personally I believe there are a number of solar impacts to Earth; but that is belief without reasonable proof.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 12, 2015 1:05 pm

“Please note that years without observations outnumber years with observations.”
“Accurate sunspot tracking did not occur until the modern observatory period beginning with Mount Wilson.”
Cobblers. http://www.leif.org/research/SSN/Vaquero6.pdf (Slide 3 in particular).
Please stop your provincial nonsense denigrating not only the work of Rudolf Wolf but modern researchers too, it’s becoming tiresome.
Here is today’s “incidental drawing with sunspots”. Or perhaps you’d prefer that we discarded the international standard one here.
You can learn why it’s important to search out, preserve and align all this “accidental, dilettante, casual, curiosity, occasional, by product” data (including the discontinuity in 1947) here, starting with the first link on the page.
None of it has anything to do with volcanoes of course.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 13, 2015 9:01 am

Leif slides reinforce a number of the points I made, e.g. slide 40.
No denigration of Wolf or his achievements is intended
Wolf initiated the beginnings of proper observation and recording. Still, he observed when he could, (clear skies), and how he could. Unfortunately, Wolf did not have access to modern technology nor reliably clear skies for making his observations.
Construction of Mount Wilson above the clouds ushered in modern observation of sunspots. Their ability to use a very superior piece of equipment every day to properly observe, chart and record made our current series of sunspot tracking possible and quite complete though sun specks are still argued over.
From Leif’s presentation you provided the link to, page 30.

“Conclusions (first part)
1) We think that we cannot use the backbone methodology in the early part of the sunspot number series.
2) Solar meridian observations should be used with extreme caution to evaluate past solar activity.
3) We have modified the HS 98 data base, improving the quality of the compiled data (we hope!)…”

Leif documents an excellent and high quality reconstruction regarding the observations of sunspots. His warnings above are clear and well stated.
That reconstruction can not reliably turn accidental observation into quality recording.
Accidental; e.g. an astrologist checks the sun’s position and notices spots then records the spots. Only when the astrologist happens to check the sun’s position.
Accidental; e.g. an amateur scientist notices the spots on the sun and tracks the spots believing they are observing a transit of mercury, venus or unknown planetoid. This observation comes when the amateur has free time, not as an occupation.
Even after the sunspots were proved and planet transits disproved, observations were not the results of dedicated scientists whose occupations required regular observations. Until Rudolf Wolf at the Bern Observatory, intrigued by Schwabe’s observation that there was a ten year cycle in sunspots, did he make sunspot observations required science.
From: American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

“…It is said that Wolf would have preferred to measure the areas covered by the sunspots rather than their number (Waldmeier, 1961), but the methods and equipment of the day were not adequate for this task [2]. As an alternative, he developed an index based on the number of spots and spot groups (clusters of related spots). Working with a polarizer-equipped 8cm, f/14 refractor at 64x and recognizing that groups of related spots were more closely tied to his desired area measure than individual spots, he chose to weight the groups more heavily than the spots in his index. He also chose to exclude in his daily observations those small spots and pores that were visible only under excellent seeing conditions…”


Reply to  ATheoK
February 13, 2015 9:10 am

To keep the sunspot series more homogeneous, sunspot counting has always been and still is done with small telescopes, so the availability of modern technology [Mt. Wilson, satellites, etc] is not and has never been an issue: it is simply not used. To repeat: sunspots are deliberately counted with small telescopes of aperture between 8 and 15 cm. Larger telescopes simply amplify the problem of ‘seeing’ so are also for that reason not used. The telescopes used by Wolf still exist and are still being used.

Reply to  ATheoK
February 14, 2015 1:31 am

ATheoK. You are confusing the pre-Staudacher era with what came later. Thanks Leif, that is precisely the point.

February 11, 2015 3:12 pm

Now, Michele’s claim was that most of the eruptions occurred during periods of low Group sunspot numbers … and he’s right. Of the 30 eruptions, about three-quarters of them occur when Group sunspot number is below forty.
But the part he didn’t take into account was that most of the Group sunspot record is made up of periods of low Group sunspot numbers. And of course, with a small dataset of only 30 eruptions, the 98% confidence intervals are very wide. As a result, none of the results are even slightly significant.

BTW, I forgot to agree with this in its entirety. The conclusion is completely silly.
Willis, I repeat: If you take the eruption count (say) and divide by the sunspot index (say) you’ll get the probability of having an eruption given the index, the “rate” of eruptions per value of index. This will flatten the curve out. This is basically doing the same thing that one does with epidemiology in general — the raw curve showing the number of eruptions for a given sun activity level is irrelevant without knowing how much time the system spends at that solar activity level. The fundamental question is whether or not eruptions are more probable at some activity level than at some other, not whether or not they are uniformly distributed in time and hence naturally occur most frequently in the most common solar state.
If you normalize in this way, you can do a K-S test on the resulting distribution against uniformity and come up with an actual p-value for the null hypothesis of no correlation. Obviously, as was the case last time, it is going to be around 0.7 or 0.8, nowhere near the <0.05 needed to THINK about rejecting the null hypothesis, and that's before one looks at the error bars which all by themselves make the issue moot.
This (to me) is not surprising. The Earth is large and far away, and I can think of no possible coupling between solar activity — especially LOW solar activity — and major vulcanism. Well, that's not quite true. I can think of exotica — lower solar magnetic activity means less screening from extraplanetary radiation. More incoming radiation means more upper atmospheric pair-producing collisions, including collisions that make pions that make muons. More muons mean more muon catalyzed fusion events. On the surface this is completely unimportant, but more fusion events in the core could release more heat, which could cause more volcanoes. The problem is that I think this is almost absurdly unlikely to be true — it's out there with Olson's dragonslayer stuff, especially given that muons have little penetrating power (charged particles), pions ditto (charged particles), and so I can't see why or how enough muons would penetrate deep enough into the mantle to increase either heat production or movement of magma, especially locally.
So aside from science fantasy explanations, it is a bit difficult to see why there would be any sort of solar magnetic signal in Earthly volcanic eruptions. We're talking enormous amounts of energy. Tambora was arguably the most powerful explosion on the surface of the Earth in recorded history, including the Tsar Bomba superbomb exploded by the Soviets during the cold war. This is caused by a quiet sun? I don’t think so.

Jay Hope
Reply to  rgbatduke
February 14, 2015 1:23 am

Thanks for that link, AGB.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Jay Hope
February 14, 2015 1:25 am

Sorry, meant to write AJB.

February 11, 2015 3:24 pm

Some places in Germany are very sunny. Freiburg averages ~3 hours per day throughout the year so a dedicated observer could fill in a lot of entries…

February 11, 2015 3:31 pm

rgb- the data says otherwise.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
February 11, 2015 4:55 pm

From the conclusion of the link: “It is expected beginning at any time and during the next twenty years of the solar hibernation, that potentially historic volcanic eruptions are likely globally and similarly record setting new earthquakes are likely within the continental United States.”
It is now 5 years since this was published, how many historic volcanic eruptions and record setting new earthquakes have been recorded so far?

February 11, 2015 3:42 pm

My final comment is the ones that are in denial of solar/climate connections are going to remain so no matter how much data is thrown at them, and will go to any lengths to prove their absurd assertions.
The test is likely coming soon as this prolonged solar minimum kicks in and then we shall see. I plan on being correct on every single point I have made.

Jay Hope
Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
February 14, 2015 1:27 am

I agree with you, Salvatore!

February 11, 2015 6:57 pm

Speaking of volcanoes, here is a shot of an erupting volcano at McMurdo base in Antarctica. How many ice cubes lost their little lives from this terrible act of nature?

Rob Beckett
February 11, 2015 7:06 pm

The Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648). With ragtag armies rampaging around central Europe, raping, pillaging and burning, counting sunspots might not have been at the top of the list of things to do today.
Maybe there’s a correlation between wars and low sunspot count.
Your tenacity in digging through data is amazing, thanks very much.
Rob Beckett

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  Rob Beckett
February 11, 2015 8:13 pm

Oh yes there is a correlation, generals who learn to adapt to change win (M.M)Those who do not have have their armies reduced to rage-tag mobs that freeze and perish in the winter as the mercenary general Mansfield http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_von_Mansfeld
Wallenstein is the other side of the coin.

Steve Garcia
February 11, 2015 8:36 pm

I can’t state it as fact, but this Willis statement I need to respond to. From what I’ve read when near the end of the Maunder Minimum they started spotting sunspots (no pun intended), what I’ve [read] is that the other observers were skeptical about the reports, because it had been so long without sunspots at all. I don’t recall the exact numbers but there were approximately a dozen sunspots observed over a period of 70 years or so. I make no pretense that those numbers are exact, but in principle, that is what I’d read.
I’ve moved and the source of that is a book that I’ve lost track of, but the subject of the entire book was the history of sunspots.

February 12, 2015 4:04 am

The lack of credible consecutive daily sunspot records, IMHO, has relatively little impact on proving the existence of the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) because the Sun rotates on its axis once every 27 days or so. So roughly 95% of the spots that were there yesterday will be there today. Sampling even once a week would be enough to get a fair estimate of the overall activity level. Hard to imagine that even if sampled sporadically, over a period of 75 years, that any ‘normal’ episodic activity would be missed.
It is remarkable that the MM coincided very closely to the life span of Isaac Newton (1643-1727), who built the first reflecting telescope in 1688 and also showed that sunlight can be split into a spectrum using a glass prism.
So it is curious that Newton did not study sunspots to follow up on the recorded sunspot observations of Galileo (who died the year Newton was born). I think that lends support to the existence of the MM.

Reply to  Johanus
February 12, 2015 4:19 am

… hmm, it seems I have ‘misremembered’ that Galileo died on 8 January, 1642 and Newton was born on 4 January, 1643

February 12, 2015 4:07 am

Curious, can we measure the gravity that is affecting the earth from the mass of the sun and the planets? Does any of that change? I was wondering if something could pull on the earth, like the moon on the oceans, affecting the magma deep within the earth.

February 12, 2015 9:27 am

The proximate cause of volcanic activity on earth is shallow lineations of molten rock that appear to act as spreading centers.comment image
These lineations are not convincingly supported from below. At even 100km the “ridges” are only marginally distinguishable from the “trenches”. At the 600km discontinuity only tiny possible venturi from below remain and the more so at 1000km. Near the CM boundary at 2800km all that remain are these two massive extrusions from the core called LLSVP’s.comment image
These dudes look like this and I call them the doughboys. There is one under Africa and another in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They flatten out at the 660km discontinuity like thunderheads hitting the stratosphere.
The point of all this in this context is that any magnetic or quantum response in the core or mantle would seemingly take far to long to filter through a maze of offset venturi in a substantially stratified mantle to respond to sunspot cycles. It is not even clear that deep earth energy is feeding the ridge system.
A further point is that we really have no idea what IS energizing these shallow lineations of molten rock and if we are going to look at sunspots, electromagnetic storms or whatever music of the spheres in relation to volcanic activity, these guys are the modulators. they may hold the key to a LOT of other stuff too.

February 12, 2015 10:26 am

Another study which shows a linkage between solar /volcanic activity.
One thing to remember , the plates are unstable to begin with as well as the structure of the earth in volcanic/earthquake fault areas in that any added catalyst or force no matter how slight might be enough to push existing unstable conditions over the edge more often then not resulting in greater geological activity. force or catalyst is not present.
I can see how MUONS can accomplish this especially when the geo magnetic field of the earth is weak and or subject to shocks via strong solar activity in an otherwise prolonged solar minimum period. A recent HONG KONG solar research paper recently investigated this and concluded that MUONS could excite the calderas of certain volcanos especially in the higher latitudes at times of prolonged solar weakness. I might add perhaps exasperated by geomagnetic conditions.
I for one go with the data and always try to make my explanations conform to what the data presents, rather then try to make the data conform to my explanations. The data shows a correlation as to why I gave it my best estimate in the above.

February 12, 2015 10:28 am

corrected text below
One thing to remember , the plates are unstable to begin with as well as the structure of the earth in volcanic/earthquake fault areas in that any added catalyst or force no matter how slight might be enough to push existing unstable conditions over the edge more often then not resulting in greater geological activity.
I can see how MUONS can accomplish this especially when the geo magnetic field of the earth is weak and or subject to shocks via strong solar activity in an otherwise prolonged solar minimum period. A recent HONG KONG solar research paper recently investigated this and concluded that MUONS could excite the calderas of certain volcanos especially in the higher latitudes at times of prolonged solar weakness. I might add perhaps exasperated by geomagnetic conditions.
I for one go with the data and always try to make my explanations conform to what the data presents, rather then try to make the data conform to my explanations. The data shows a correlation as to why I gave it my best estimate in the above.

Ian Cooper
February 12, 2015 12:07 pm

Willis re sunspot activity, or the lack of it during the Maunder Minimum, Leif has referred to auroral observations from middle & lower latitudes in some of his powerpoint shows without going into detail. I have been observing mid (geo-magnetic) latitude aurorae since 1978 (aurora australis mag. lat. of -46). Using this current solar max as an example of low sunspot activity I have only seen one sub-storm so far that could have been detected without the aid of a digital camera. There have been displays that I know I have missed due to poor weather but that was also the case for the previous 3 solar maxima that I have observed in. In those last 3 maxima I have observed an average of 16 events ranging from weak glows to Great Storms.
The middle & low latitude auroral observations make a verygood proxy for solar activity that is still relevant today.As far as I know there have been no storms with a Kp of over 7 during this maxima. Another indication of the weakness of the current solar activity is the lack of strong colour in the displays to the naked-eye. The rayed activity is always exciting to watch but it is the colour that sticks in your mind years later.
As for any observer in northern Europe being able to observe the sun on every single day during either the 17th century or even now is definitely laughable. I don’t live in the sunniest place in New Zealand but I’ll bet our sunshine hours are far superior to northern Europe! Having said that the days with 0 sunshine hours in any given year for here are noticeable (I will have to manually tally them as it isn’t something that people ask after much).

Joseph Murphy
February 12, 2015 4:26 pm

Thank you Willis, always entertaining and educational.

February 12, 2015 5:35 pm

Willis, perhaps the Maunder Minimum was not all that Grand: http://www.leif.org/EOS/Maunder-Minimum-Not-So-Grand.pdf
We noticed some of the problems in section 3 of http://www.leif.org/research/Revisiting-the-Sunspot-Number.pdf

Reply to  lsvalgaard
February 13, 2015 9:20 am

Thank you the links Leif; interesting, detailed and quite excellent, as usual.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
February 14, 2015 2:48 am

Thanks Leif. How is this measuring up against the 10Be and 14C record and what are your latest thoughts on the Livingston and Penn effect both then and now? Secondly, how far back do you think it will be possible to reconstruct hemispherical SSN counts, presumably not into the Maunder era with any confidence?

Reply to  AJB
February 14, 2015 6:59 am

On both counts the situation is to fluid for a good answer. We are working hard on shaping up the reconstructions. Some thoughts here: http://www.leif.org/research/Long-term-Variation-Solar-Activity.pdf

Reply to  AJB
February 14, 2015 11:40 am

Many thanks Leif. It seems to me the last paragraph of Section 5 neatly sums up the crux of this thread topic.

Reply to  lsvalgaard
February 14, 2015 11:19 am

Figure 13 …… Light red cycles show our speculation regarding the amplitude and duration of solar cycles.
If so, the above would extend the correlation with the planetary equation to whole of the 400 years of records.

February 13, 2015 4:35 am

Willis say :
“So no, I’m afraid that the Group sunspot number, as terrible as it is, still doesn’t show any relationship between sunspots and big eruptions …”
Figure 9 paper
Light red defines the supposed amplitude of solar cycles
Eruptions VEI5+ 1610-1720
Best regards,

Joseph Murphy
Reply to  Michele
February 13, 2015 4:49 am

Sort of the nail in the coffin there.

February 13, 2015 8:32 am

Let’s rewrite history .lol

Reply to  Salvatore Del Prete
February 13, 2015 8:46 am

History must be rewritten when new data or new insights become available. To continue to work with old, obsolete data because they happen to conform to one’s pet theory is not valid science.

February 13, 2015 9:27 am


February 13, 2015 12:21 pm

I just took a look at the latest revisions . Excellent. Does no damage to my thoughts at all.

February 14, 2015 8:38 am

Now if one looks at this chart(in the above) the bottom one with the blue temperature curve and compares it to the latest study showing the solar secular cycle one will see a good correlation between global temperature and the solar secular cycle.
The solar secular cycle trend from 1610-2010, and the absolute values of the solar secular cycle trend correlating with the global temperature trends (1610-2010), and absolute values of the global temperature.
The solar secular cycle trend also shows a distinct increase in solar activity from the period 1930-2005 period, versus the period from 1650-1930 in that the solar secular cycle through out that period of time never exceeds 125 ,in contrast to being above 125 from the 1930-2005 period of time, with a peak of 160!
In addition if one examines the data, at times when the solar secular trend breaks 100 on the down slide the global temperature trend is down although the global temperature value starting points may differ most likely due to other climate items superimposed upon the global temperature trend such as the state of the PDO,AMO or ENSO.
During the times when the solar secular trend broke 100 those being the period 1660 -1720 and 1780-1830 both corresponding to the Maunder Minimum and Dalton Minimum ,the global temperature trend is in a definitive down trend. In addition even from the period 1880-1905 when the solar secular cycle approaches the 100 value, the global temperature trend is slightly down once again.
Then on the hand, when the solar secular cycle trend exceeds 125 from 1930 -2005 the temperature trend is up and shoots really up when the great climatic shift takes place in 1978 which is when the PDO ,shifted from it’s cold to warm phase.
The data from the above shows quite clearly that when the solar secular cycle breaks 100 on the down slope look for a global temperature cooling trend to begin from what ever level the global absolute temperature is at, and when the solar secular cycle rises and breaks through 100 on the upside look for a global temperature trend to rise from what ever level the global absolute temperature is at.
A general rule I see if when the solar secular cycle exceeds 125 global temperatures trend up or are at a higher level and when it breaks 100 on the downside global temperatures trend down or are at a lower level.
If this latest solar information is correct and that is a big if ,but if it is correct, it shows the climate is more sensitive to primary ,and the secondary effects associated with solar variability.
In addition my low average value solar parameter criteria for cooling may be able to be adjusted up some , due to this latest information.
One last note, it looks like around year 2010 the solar secular cycle trend finally broke 100 n the down swing which would be the first time since 1830, when the solar secular cycle broke 100 on the up swing and had since stayed above that level until year 2010.

February 19, 2015 1:55 pm

Ah, but if the volcanic eruptions and the low activity periods did match, that would give us merely a correlation, yes? That would then need us to determine a “cause & effect”?
It would seem to me that major eruptions might need some kind of significant precipitating event, something that might occur — or begin to occur — some amount of time earlier. We all know from news stories today that volcanic eruptions are ofter preceded by days to months of seismic activity, so should we be looking for longer term scenarios that might correlate with eruptions?

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