Is Climate Chaotic or Cyclical? The Transition from Uniformitarianism to Catastrophism.

Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

In the 1990s a clear divide existed between the east (the Soviet Union and China) who said climate change is cyclical and the west (the US and Europe) who believed it was chaotic. The former argued that all we need to do is determine the major cycles and how they interact to start understanding and to predict. The latter that climate was chaotic as expressed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report and predictions were not possible.

In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.

Chaos theory was the source of the Lorenz based story prevalent at the time that if a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan it arrives as a storm in California many days later.

The media reported the divide as a political difference, a product of the Cold war. In fact, the divide continues with Russia and China consistently offering different views and challenging more extreme claims in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports. Of course, as long as they are listed as “developing nations,” they always vote for a transfer of wealth as set out in the Kyoto Protocol and its replacement, the Green Climate Fund.

My views on the dichotomy began to formulate earlier from empirical evidence. Research and analysis of data quantified from the Hudson’s Bay Company weather diaries and instrumental records detected a very strong 22-year drought cycle in the middle latitude record for York Factory on Hudson Bay. I included the results in my doctoral thesis (1982) against the advice of my supervisor. He did not disagree with my work; he just thought it was too controversial for my committee to accept. I left it in, and it triggered an interesting experience. The chairman of the committee, Professor C. G. Smith[1], who studied historical precipitation records, especially those of the Radcliffe Observatory, did something unusual. After all the committee members asked their questions, he asked them to agree to tell me I had passed so we could then partake in an unfettered discussion about the issue of cycles.

Part of the discussion included the early work on tree rings in North America, particularly the work of A.E. Douglass, founder of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in 1937. As that biography notes,

“He discovered a correlation between tree rings and the sunspot cycle.”

His work became the basis of dendrochronology, which triggered work in tree ring sequences as a proxy indicator for a wide range of correlations. Of course, correlation does not mean cause and effect, but it does trigger searches for potential mechanisms.

One graph (Figure 1) illustrates the type of work produced and shows the correlation between the 22-year sunspot cycle and drought periods across the Great Plains as deduced from tree rings.


Figure 1

It is interesting because when I used the graph in presentations to western North American farmers I did not add to it but simply noted that the sequence anticipated a drought in the late 1980s and that is precisely what occurred. Also notice the decline in sunspot numbers associated with the Dalton Minimum from 1790 to 1830. It is tempting to assume the different durations of droughts, one longer from circa 1820 and the other shorter from approximately 1840 was a result of the reduction in sunspot numbers.

Before we organized the conference on the impact of the 1815 volcanic eruption of Tambora, it was assumed the eruption caused the decline in global temperature of the period. While preparing for the conference, it became apparent to myself and fellow organizers, Cynthia Wilson and Richard Harington, that global temperatures were already in decline and a likely explanation was the decline in sunspot numbers. Remember, this was pre-Svensmark’s cosmic theory. Indeed, the idea of even a correlation between sunspots and temperature was just gaining wider legitimacy from the work of John Eddy. As a result, we invited him to be the keynote speaker at the conference. The question that emerged during the conference was how would the impact of Tambora change if global temperatures were rising at the time. The same questions were asked the impact on precipitation patterns, especially droughts. One of my contributions to the symposium was to detail the severe drought in Central Canada from approximately 1816 to 1819. I will return to the significance of these observations later.

Two other experiences reinforced my views on the cyclical versus the chaos controversy. The first occurred when I was invited by the editors to submit a chapter to the book Climate Since A.D. 1500. The editors had each chapter author review another author’s chapter. I worked with Ye. P. Borisenkov, the Soviet historical climatologist, whose chapter “Documentary Evidence from the U.S.S.R” used the Russian Chronicles among other sources. Borisenkov’s work was recognized as a major contribution to the current claims of a cooling over the next few decades by Dr. Abdussamatov.

The second event occurred when I gave a paper at the 1988 Annual Geophysical Society General Assembly in Bologna, Italy that focused on evidence for climate change from historical records. This was among the earliest public presentations of climate research from the vast potential of the Vatican archives. It was also an early public presentation of the remarkable resources from China. In both the Russian and Chinese connections I learned that the leaders, Russian Czars, and Chinese Emperors, kept weather and crop journals for a very practical reason. They needed to prepare for the social unrest that inevitably followed crop failures.

Through the work with Borisenkov, I became aware of Nikolai Kondratieff (variously Kondratiev) and his theory of climate and economic cycles. It was this focus on food production, especially subsistence crops like cereal grains, which led to the first practical application of the cyclical approach in Russia. Between 1919 and 1921 Kondratieff plotted the relationship between grain production and drought and produced the K-Cycle. It was a predictive tool based on the idea that all economies and civilizations exist based on their ability to feed themselves. An important idea that led to my dictum that, there are no farms in the cities, but there are no cities without farms. In the west, the most common application of Kondratieff and other climate cycles are in the financial markets. It is summarized in books such as “Climate: The Key to Understanding Business Cycles.” I also learned that other Russian climatologists were doing much better, more open, and innovative work, such as the work on energy balance of Mikhail Budyko.

I later learned more about Chinese climatology when working with Chinese climatologists. The Chinese realized that to improve their economy and achieve greater control required increased food production. They realized, to maintain large work forces in urban areas you required vastly improved food production. I learned very early in studying history that an Agricultural Revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution. The Chinese were already triple–cropping in many parts of southern China but there was vast potential in the north-eastern region. They were charged with working with Canadian climatologists and agronomists to study how and why Canadian farmers were so successful in crop production in cold climates.

Parallel to these different studies and analyses of climate, the philosophical views of the pattern of evolution were changing. In the west the biblical view of Neptunism, the pre-and post-flood worlds was replaced by Uniformitarianism. This was generally adapted and adopted as the notion that change is very gradual over long periods of time. I believe it is a major reason why the unchanging nature of the Sun/Earth relationship remained the view. This persisted, even though Croll and others culminating in the work of Milankovitch, showed it was constantly changing.

The two notions crossed paths in 1960 when MIT meteorologist and computer modeler, Edward Lorenz, introduced the aforementioned butterfly, with its wider application as the Chaos Theory. This view seemed to resurrect and confirm the 19th century claims of Cuvier that changes occurred triggered by extreme events or catastrophes. In the 20th century, Stephen Jay Gould combined the two views with what he called punctuated-equilibrium. This proposed that gradual change was periodically interrupted by catastrophic events. It certainly seems to fit events like the eruption of Tambora, but also applies to events like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

These discussions raised important questions about the difference between equilibrium and steady–state. This included the apparent resilience of the atmosphere to catastrophic events and the inevitable role of feedbacks, questions, and challenges still central to climate research and pushed aside by the singular focus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Right now, the easterners, particularly people like Abdussamatov and Usoskin, are making better predictions about the coming cooling trend as they follow the solar cycles than the IPCC, now represented by the IPCC. Of course, there are some of us in the west who believe the Russians are closer to reality. Consider the comments by Joe Bastardi on the trend in this video. But why listen to him? He is one of those deniers. Joe can use my argument that those who call us deniers and are mostly the chaos believers need to be right to explain why their forecasts, both weather, and climate, are so wrong. Is it possible that Joe and all us deniers will become part of the Russian collusion investigation?

[1] Craddock, J. M., and C. G. Smith (1978), An investigation into rainfall recording at Oxford, Meteorol. Mag., 107, 257–271.


216 thoughts on “Is Climate Chaotic or Cyclical? The Transition from Uniformitarianism to Catastrophism.

  1. Berkeley Earth is one more $150,000 Koch check away from ensuring that we’ll never know the truth about climate variability

    • Berkeley Earth and UEA and GISS an BOM and all the others are just so many funding cheques away from ensuring the Russians and the Chinese end up using the imbecility of left-liberal ‘democracy’ in its CAGW phobic response to the real world to argue, probably successfully I fear, that it is time for a new world order, theirs.

      The limp wristed antics of that great presidential ponce, Buckpass Obama, were just a foretaste of the shift tthat is now unfolding in the geo-military balance. The CAGW bubble bursting will signal an inglorious and humiliating end to western dominance, IMO.

      Like in most things it is typically the abject failure of the old order that allows a new order to evolve and develop. It is not so much the objective superiority of the new as the manifest comparative inferiority of the old that enables and rewards change. The short term, change driving, evolutionary reward coms not in the creation of new ‘wealth’ but in the capture of old wealth from the old regime.

      I theink the above sets out the true nature and scale of the imbecility of the alarmists however being ‘useful idiots’ (at best) such considerations fly way above their consciousness.

    • The Sun sets and rises every day.
      The Earth rotates around the Sun at a tilt, giving us the seasons of the year.
      Cyclic events.
      Al Gore visits someplace and opens his mouth.
      (Sorry 8-)

      • Well, that was me, “Gunga Din”, not “Gjunga Din”.
        I just watched the Buckeyes beat Michigan while enjoying some adult beverages and the result was chaos on my keyboard.
        The unexpected can not be predicted.

    • I prefer to look at it the other way around

      Cyclic, with chaotic interference.and “events” (eg El Ninos, volcanoes etc)

      Certainly, it is NOT linear !!

      • My take too. I’m not so sure that ENSO can be considered as much chaotic as it should be considered an indicator of the interplay of multiple oceanic and atmospheric cycles of cause and effect, rather than temporally regulated oscillations.

      • ENSO isn’t chaotic. Precisely when El Nino will return can’t be predicted, but that it will do so within a certain time frame is.

      • ITS LINEAR LINEAR LINEAR. All the reports in the media talk about linear trends and even climate scientists analyse their data for linear trends. It must be so if the experts do that.

      • I wonder. Is it the wind that is the main inducer of the chaos, with ocean behavior second? I get the sense of strong cyclical components as I view long term temp graphs, and other graphs.

      • Goldminor
        What causes the wind to do what it does? It appears to me to be largely driven by the SSTs. We seem to be in a vicious circle here.

      • Its complex, but not chaotic.

        We can predict when some of the oscillations slot into place, which gives us the edge, all we need now is a super computer to go back in time and solve the riddle.

        ENSO remains an enigma.

  2. That climate is cyclical at at least some time frames is no longer controversial, nor has it been since the general acceptance of Milankovitch cycles after 1976. Given your advisor’s fears, however, maybe not at the short time frame of solar cycles.

    I can recall when the correlation among sunspot cycles, snowshoe hares and Canadian lynx populations was used as an example of spurious, coincidental correlation without causation. Now I’m not so sure it’s an accident.

    • Jamal,

      That part of solar activity which might be describable as chaotic probably results from cycles.

      The other parts, which are indubitably cyclic, are just more detectable in the noise.

      Both detectably cyclical and apparently chaotic solar behavior of course will change over time, as our star progresses along its main sequence toward red giantness.

    • The hare-lynx oscillation is the classic case of a prey-predator interaction originally studied by Lotka almost 100 years ago. It certainly hasn’t been thought of as a coincidental correlation, it’s due to competing negative and positive feedback with delay.

  3. Earth’s evolution is LINEAR

    Cycles only exist in terms of 1 we rotate pretty regularly, and 2 orbit the sun regularly.

    if we didn’t there would be no cycles

    No two “cycles” will ever be the same because of linear evolution. Only the appearance of cycles at a high level. Once you get to detail and down closer to the mirco there are NO real cycles

    You only have cycles if you lower resolution of information low enough to produce the appearance of cycles

    • You are getting more off-balanced with each post Mark.
      Nature at all scales is nothing but cycles, nonlinearity, and fractals.

      • Man only linearizes short series in order to study them with our hard wired predictive brain.
        We have a brain evolved to see and decipher immediate short term patterns necessary for immediate survival. We linearize and extrapolate. That serves us well because tomorrow will likely look like today. It serves us poorly on longer term scales.

      • Precisely the Gleissberg solar cycle is a scientific myth. No clear 77-87 periodicity can be detected in solar activity for the past 2000 years.

  4. Black hole ate my post

    earth’s evolution is linear, no there are no cycles, only dominant influences from out orbit and rotation, but when you go up in resolution of data, you clearly see there are no cycles

    • Cycles exist at every scale of time and data resolution. They’re so obvious, that when a predicted peak or trough is missing, there must be an explanation. When geologists look, they find them.

      • Gabro – do you believe that the International Space Station orbits the barycenter of the Earth-Moon system?

      • The ISS is in low Earth orbit, so, no. It orbits the barycenter of the center of its mass and Earth’s. The moon, the sun, planets, other solar system bodies have negligible effect.

        Why do you ask?

      • Curious G

        What an interesting question! I think the International Space Station orbits the Earth’s gravitational centre within a few cm with its orbit influenced by a tidal effect of the moon, sun and large planets. This tidal influence would be detectable as a change in altitude above the surface of the Earth.

        If the influence of gravity and tidal effects were not like this, there would not be any Le grange Points. And there are.

  5. Cycles are just our concept to describe a procession that beings around seemingly cyclical events

    • So Mark is saying that cycles is the word we use to describe a process that causes cycles (“cyclical events”), which is awfully close to saying that cycles is the word we use for cycles. And this constitutes an explanation for why cycles do not really exist?

    • There are, but they don’t all counteract or cancel each other out. Separating them out however can be messy.

    • or…we live in a world of ‘irregular cycles’ – something of an oxymoron, I’ll admit. With enough irregularity even genuine cycles can appear chaotic and certainly make predictions problematic.

      • Perhaps a climate laxative once every season. A high colonic for the jet stream.
        (for anyone with Asperger’s that was /sarc)

      • Rick C

        What we see are the results of causes with visible effects.

        We might have ten thousand years of cyclical effects with a combination of causes, then, suddenly, a different combined effect.

        Above are many comments in which the meaning of ‘chaotic’ is thought to be ‘random’. Chaotic doesn’t mean ‘non-cyclical’ and it doesn’t mean ‘unpredictable’. It means ‘hard to predict’.

        The mathematician David Garcia-Andrade told me that events that superficially appear to be random (not chaotic) will, if examined closely, be shown to have an underlying pattern which he expressed as being ‘of a lower order’ of organisation. Looking carefully at the lower order one would identify some underlying randomness that disrupted it. Looking into that apparent randomness would once again identify a lower order of organisation within the ‘randomness’. And so on.

        I am sure others have expressed this better than I can. Randomness is to us mere failure to understand all the causes. Chaos is hard to predict, not unpredictable. Cycles are generalizations and very convenient for predicting things such as the climate, but not the weather. :)

      • D. J. Hawkins

        Thank you for that, my ignorance is revealed, again, as I had never seen, nor sought to establish the source of that simple saying.

        I will keep it as close as I keep Kipling’s ‘Six Honest Serving Men’, which I struggle to use as well as I should.

      • D. J. Hawkins

        And you led me to another.

        Know Thyself, also by Alexander Pope.

        “With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
        With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,”

      • The best thing in life is, each day, to learn something new.

        The next best thing in life is, each day, to help someone else learn something new.

      • D. J. Hawkins

        Every day’s a schoolday.

        Today I learned a little poetry. I also taught my daughter the difference between an engineering screw thread and a woodscrew thread.

        I also reminded myself that detail makes a difference.

    • This reminds me of an experience with a large number of simple oscillators summed in a simple isolation amplifier. They all drifted in time with both amplitude and frequency variations. Beat frequencies after beat frequencies all constantly varying over time right along with the fundamentals. In case you wonder, it was an early experiment in trying to synchronize remote data collection devices, each with their own “clock”. Looking back, you could have called it chaotic but knowing the inputs it was not.

  6. There is no real conflict between a description of climate as a periodic system versus one that is chaotic. Chaotic systems can be described as the “sum” of an infinite number of unstable periodic orbits. The shortest period orbits are the most stable while long period orbits are more unstable becoming ever more unstable with increasing periods. Most of the time the system will move in the vicinity of the least unstable orbits, orbits with the shortest period, but then wander off and track a longer period and more unstable orbit before eventually wandering back to one of the more stable orbits. For example, several unstable periodic orbits for the Lorenz attractor are plotted in Figures 1, 3, 6, 7, and 8 of

    Figures 7 and 8 also demonstrate why taking statistical averages in a chaotic system can be a problem. The system can get “stuck” in a piece of phase space for quite a while before moving on and sampling the rest of the allowed phase space.

    • I agree there’s no real conflict, but on different grounds. From my rather mechanical POV, the chaotic component of climate – or anything else we’re measuring – is a given, at all scales from below Brownian motion to the occasional star going nova. There’s no such thing as a stable situation, you’ll always find noise in some form if you “turn it up” far enough. Let that statistically random noise interact with resonant elements, and those elements will resonate, more or less as it falls. Periodicities will appear, and interact.

      The nearest analogy I can think of is the sound of a bell, as it decays to silence after the energy’s been hammered into it. (The BBC Remembrance broadcasts are great for this, as there is a two minute silence for the sound to decay into.) If you listen carefully, you can hear individual “voices” of the bell each becoming louder and softer, as the energy passes between them as it dissipates. Every so often the phases line up just right, and the timbre changes, or most of the energy suddenly collapses into one brief, strong tone before re-dispersing. Fourier analysing short sections of the sound in a sound editor confirms the flux of energy between the different resonances.

      In the case of the Earth, we have very obvious cycles of energy input on daily and annual scales, lunar orbit variations, the 22ish, 60ish, 200ish, 1000ish (etc) -year “voices” contribute, as must any number of others. But I think we’re going to need a much longer “recording” than we’ve got so far – a few millennia, at least – before we can start to make predictions regarding which cycle should be getting stronger over the next few years, decades, centuries.

      And I love the Stadium Wave (in climate, at anyrate).

      • great example. the height of the ocean tides is a result of resonance. gravity simply sets the water in motion.

        as a result you can not use gravity to calculate tide heights. even though it is. the driver in climate terms.

  7. Mark sez-
    “there are no cycles, only dominant influences from out orbit and rotation, but when you go up in resolution of data, you clearly see there are no cycles.
    Cycles are just our concept to describe a procession that beings around seemingly cyclical events”

    I see. Like our orbits/ rotation, the Sun’s rotation, throw in nearby planets.. All pretty predictable. And the combination of those, in or out of sync cause that linear evolution.

    Cosmos to Earth: “Your Cycles are all belong us!”
    Well, I’ll just scratch my head and shrug.

  8. What we know:
    – Current temperature data show that there is quasi-periodic cycle of 60+ years
    – CET temperature peaked around 1730
    – Solar grand minima are associated with notable drop in contemporaneous temperature.
    Using these three factors it is possible to give estimate of a possible near future temperature trends

      • Hi there
        The leap in the ‘thin blue line’ may or may not be correct, but in the either case it looks to be an outlier; if real it is perhaps due to the strong elNino, with a precedent set in the mid 1870s, again if the data can be taken as reliable. .

      • vukcevic
        “it looks to be an outlier”

        As you point out, there are so many affects are pushing it in the other direction. Is that not the most interesting thing about the plot?

        How much more outlying before one has to stop and say that’s more than a bit odd?

    • Vuk, you’ll have to keep moving that grand minimum effect rightward. No grand solar minimum expected before 2500 AD. SC25 will likely be similar to SC24, and SC26 should be like SC23, with higher activity. We are just going through a centennial minimum.

      • hi Xavier
        The Maunder minimum started around 1650 and lasted about 50 years; it was directly observed with written records available, therefore there is a little if any doubt that it did happen.
        From the C14 and 10Be proxies it could be concluded that similar minima might have happened in the past, but proxies are just that ‘proxies’ sometimes they are correct while some other times may be not.
        I would doubt that the solar Grand Minima periodicity could be determined from proxies to any degree of accuracy, unless they are somehow linked to the orbital resonances within solar system, as some authors have claimed to be the case, but dismissed by the current crop of the solar scientists.
        My own calculations based on the above mentioned ‘resonances’ suggest that the next GM would be centred on around 2180 (giving periodicity of 500y), but that may be no better than anyone else’s guess.

      • It is Javier, Vukcevic. In most cases the X is just the old way of writing the J in ancient Spanish but the sound is supposed to be as the modern Spanish J. That’s why Texas in modern Spanish is Tejas, and Don Quixote is Don Quijote.

        I would bet you a nice dinner that there won’t be any grand solar minimum either around 2180, but I don’t think I’ll be hungry so late. Clearly we see this issue very differently. For a start 23 of the 25 grand solar minima recognized in solar proxies fall at the lows of the Bray and Eddy solar cycles, so the chances of having one outside them are quite small.

      • Javier, sorry about ‘J’ and ‘X’, I blame my spell checker since I often look at French webpages, it appears that name Xavier is relatively common in parts of France.

      • No problem. Yes you can find the name both ways. In Spanish is usually with J, while in French, Basque, and Catalan with X (and sometimes as Xabier). The X->J evolution took place only in Spanish. Languages are interesting things.

        The name’s origin is the name of a city and castle, the birthplace of St. Francis of Javier (St. Francis Xavier), son of the castle’s seneschal that became co-founder of the Company of Jesus. He made the name famous, so in origin it is a religious name after a saint as many other names.

        The name evolved from Etxeberria (new house in Basque) -> Xabier -> Xavier -> Javier.

      • “I am pretty sure that is what I expect.”

        I am pretty sure that you have cherry picked the solar minima on your above chart according to your preferred cycle lengths, and have ignored several other similar minima. So I would take what you expect with a pinch of salt.

      • I am pretty sure that you have cherry picked the solar minima on your above chart according to your preferred cycle lengths, and have ignored several other similar minima.

        You are pretty surely wrong. I didn’t make the list. It is published as it is in the table from the following source and references: 1-listed in Usoskin et al. (2007); 2-listed in Inceoglu et al. (2015); 3-listed in Usoskin et al. (2016). Source: I.G. Usoskin, 2017. Living Rev. Sol. Phys. 14, 3. (Open and available).

        And I didn’t pick the periodicities. Both the ~1000 year cycle and the ~2400 year cycle are all over the literature.

        The list as is published shows a clear coincidence. 15 of 25 GSM are taking place at X,300 ± 80 years BP, (with the X being every millennium, and the spread the average spread). That is what causes the ~1000 year peak in frequency analysis.

        The same holds true for the 9 GSM that coincide with the lows of the ~ 2,400-year cycle. This analysis has already been published. GSM have a significantly higher chance than random of falling at the lows of the ~ 2400 year cycle (Usoskin et al., 2016).

        I would take what you expect with a pinch of salt.

        So you should. That’s what means being skeptic. Check the bibliography and evidence yourself and let’s see what you come up with. People should be convinced by evidence, not by what other people say. Conversely I also don’t care what you believe or not.

  9. Javier’s obliquity cartoon of some months past show one of those cycles in action, with its influence on global temperature punctuated by solar minima and large-scale natural events. Some neat historical way markers in there too.

    • Yeah, I have seen some chaotic formulas that are cyclical for some values of input, like the predator/prey relationship.

  10. The climate is not chaotic, or even cyclical, but instead is the result a deterministic response to stimulus whose average response is quantified by a well defined transfer function. The transition from one state to another in response to a change in stimulus takes a chaotic path and the other word for this path is weather.

    The apparent periodic behavior is a consequence of a causal response to periodic stimulus. Day/night, summer/winter, solar cycles, orbital and axial changes are all examples of periodic or quasi periodic stimulus. Notice that the Sun is involved in all of them.

  11. Tim,

    Geology has a storied history of principals advocating their pet hypothesis to the exclusion of all others. After long investigation and discussion, many of these have been found to not be exclusive. That is, under some conditions, one process may dominate, and under other conditions or at different times, the other process may dominate. Sometimes, there is evidence that both are at work simultaneously. Trying to simplify things to a single process has been demonstrated frequently to be the wrong approach. That is why geologists used to be required to read Chamberlain’s Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses as undergraduates. This is a lesson that current climatologists seem not to have learned.

    Prior to Hutton, the knee-jerk interpretation to something like the Grand Canyon was that it had to have been carved by a catastrophic flood. The genius of Hutton was to consider the potential of slow work over immensely long periods of time (compared to a human time scale). Thus, when considered appropriately, Uniformitarianism is a legitimate, and usually preferred, hypothesis based on Occam’s Razor. That is, “The present is the key to the past,” and one does not have to appeal to infrequent or improbable events for explanations. That is, Uniformitarianism is a competing hypothesis that should be weighed against Catastrophism, where the evidence should not be restricted to that which only supports Catastrophism. In modern geology, it is recognized that either process may be responsible for landforms or geologic features, and it is the task of the geologist to find unbiased evidence for one or the other. Again, this is something that modern climatologists don’t seem to have accepted as a method of operation.

  12. If you haven’t figured it out it’s cyclical by now you never will, throw another goat into the volcano.

  13. Earth is mostly ocean, “global climate” is mostly ocean.
    Ocean is fluid, vast rivers of oceans are moving at top, at bottom and in the middle, it’s mixing less, it’s mixing more. The winds.
    It’s not solid like the land, and land is mostly about global cooling.
    When ocean surface cools it can gain heat [lost in the ocean] or add heat to land, which always cools. Land can cool more or less but always cools.

  14. Todo es cíclico.Las manchas solares modifica el clima del planeta, pero la causa principal del Calentamiento Global no son las manchas solares.El Calentamiento Global empieza 15 a 20 años antes de fin de siglo y termina en los primeros 15 a 20 años del nuevo siglo.Ya se esta terminando, una señal son las grandes precipitaciones y es SIMPLE, toda el agua que se evaporo por el CALENTAMIENTO y que durante estos últimos 30 años se han mantenido en forma de nubes empiezan a regresar a la tierra en forma de lluvia porque empieza lentamente un ciclo de enfriamiento, el pico mas alto del enfriamiento es a mediados de siglo, luego mejora el clima y desde 2080 TIENE que empezar un NUEVO CALENTAMIENTO GLOBAL.
    La causa según mi Teoría es el ascenso del magma que calienta la corteza terrestre y el fondo del mar,porque las GRANDES ERUPCIONES VOLCÁNICAS terrestres y marinas SIEMPRE se dan a fin de siglo.

    • So, you are saying that there is major magma flow cycle about 100 years long.

      I would love to see actual evidence of that.

    • VEI 6 eruptions:

      Lake Ilopango (535), Huaynaputina (1600), Krakatoa (1883), Santa Maria (1902), Novarupta (1912), Pinatubo (1991).

      VEI 7 eruptions:

      Taupo (180), Baekdu (946), Samalas (Mount Rinjani) (1257), Tambora (1815).

      Close, but no cigar!

      1) Mid-century eruptions of Samalas and Baekdu say no.

      2) If from 20 years before to 35 years after the turn of a century count, then that’s over half a century (55 years), so the result isn’t statistically significant.

      3) Ten eruptions in 1837 years is too small a sample to be meaningful.

      • OK, here are 17 other eruptions which have been rated VEI 6 under some standard since 1 AD, ten of which fall outside the turn of the century period:

        1808/1809 mystery eruption Southwestern Pacific Ocean 1808, Dec
        Grímsvötn and Laki Iceland 1783-85
        Long Island (Papua New Guinea) Bismarck Volcanic Arc 1660
        Billy Mitchell Bougainville & Solomon Is. 1580
        Bárðarbunga Iceland 1477
        Kuwae New Hebrides Arc 1452-53
        Quilotoa Andes, Northern Volcanic Zone 1280
        Katla/Eldgjá eruption Iceland 934-940
        Ceboruco Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt 930
        Dakataua Bismarck Volcanic Arc 800
        Pago Bismarck Volcanic Arc 710
        Mount Churchill eastern Alaska, USA 700
        Rabaul Caldera Bismarck Volcanic Arc 540 (est.)
        Ilopango Central America Volcanic Arc 450
        Ksudach Kamchatka Peninsula 240
        Mount Churchill eastern Alaska, USA 60
        Ambrym New Hebrides Arc 50

  15. Dr Ball:
    “there are no farms in the cities, but there are no cities without farms” this statement is true ONLY if transportation to get the farm produce to the city and the wealth back to the farm is economically possible. If distance from farm to city is a measure of the effort required the observed increase in distance between city and farm – over time – is evidence of the relationship. In the modern world that effort is controlled by the availability of energy for that purpose.

  16. The climate is cyclic; computer models of the climate are, by necessity, chaotic, because of inexact starting conditions and digitized integrations. The whole study area of chaos evolved from the study of numerical accuracy in cmathematical integrations.

  17. the ocean tides are cyclical. they most definitely repeat. they are also chaotic. they. cannot be predicted reliably from first principles.

    rather we predict the tides the same way humans learned to predict the seasons. using the position of the heavenly bodies in the sky. also known as astrology.

    • Elements of tides are predictable, ie those based upon astronomy, but other aspects aren’t, such as those dependent on local geography.

      • tide height is due to resonance based on the shape of the ocean basin.. gravity simply sets the water in motion. the height repeats when the positions repeat and thus can be predicted from orbital mechanics.

        gravity drives the tides but it does not predict them. fill a shallow dinner plate with water and start it swirling by repeatedly tipping the plate. gravity is the tipping motion. now use an irregular shaped plate and predict the waters height at the edges. the height repeats when the tipping repeats.

        it is not gravity itself but the cyclical motion of the gravity that makes the system predictable.

      • but prediction cannot be calculated from first principles. rather it is given by observation of previous states.

        I think this is more what Dr Ball is talking about. predicting from observation vs predicting from calculation.

  18. It reflects the nineteenth century geological argument between uniformitarians and catastrophists.
    The uniformitarians won the argument until the link between meteor/asteroid impacts and major geological and biological changes was established,particularly by the Alvarezs.

    Now it seems that the earth tracks along in a uniformitarian sort of way until things are unexpectedly and catastrophically disrupted after which things get going again on a slightly [or even significantly] different track.

  19. Depends on your interpretation of “cyclic” I guess. To me cyclic implies that we will return to a previous state once the cycle is over. I don’t know that is true with climate. It’s not a closed system; the atmosphere is open to space, there are fluctuations in solar irradiation, there are precessions and slight changes in other bodies of our system which influence our position in space and our relationships with other bodies of influence; in short, we will not return exactly to a previous state, ever. But there are obviously heavy influences on our climate, which are mostly predictable based upon our current level of knowledge, and show similarity from iteration to iteration. Patterns maybe, but not true cycles.

    • We can be sure to a high degree of certainty that, without human intervention of some kind, global climate will return to its predominant condition of the past 2.6 million years, ie massive ice sheets in the NH.

      • And over an even longer time frame, the poles will be opened up to ocean gyres and the Earth will return to its hothouse mode (no glaciers at all, the poles will be above freezing enough of the year there will be no permanent icecaps).

      • To be sure. On the scale of tens or hundreds of millions of years, the next Hot House phase is certain, especially as the sun’s output increases at one percent per 110 million years.

  20. Nice informative essay as usual from you Tim. Uniformatarianism may mean something different in climate science, but it was coined by geologist James Hutton in the 18th Century and was essentially “the present is the key to the past”. Because most geological processes are long term in general, erosion, mountain building, accumulation of sediments and in duration, plate tectonics and so on, it probably got interpreted as meaning stability and gradualness. It was adopted by other sciences to simply mean that the laws of nature are constant.

    However, when I was taught it 60yrs ago (at the University of Manitoba, by the way) it didn’t exclude catastrophism. It was known we had had Ice “ages” (now called glacial maxima), we had explosive volcanic activity, were struck by bolides (Sudbury Nickel deposit) , that there had been mass extinctions, etc, etc.

    The university itself, as you know is on the floor of former Lake Agassiz, perhaps the best known and studied glacial lake in the world. Most geology (and I am sure geography) graduates from U of M are more specialist in the Pleistocene, even if they went on into petroleum or mining geology, than many of today’s climate scientists.

    I mapped the Precambrian Shield for a number of years in Manitoba and never failed to include measurements of the ice movement directions, eskers, strandlines of former L Agassiz, barchan sand dunes behind the beaches (like Saudi Arabia except for being overgrown with jackpine) etc. I even discovered a section of the old Missouri River when it flowed north to Hudson’s Bay during the Eemian – complete with reddish quartz pebbles, opalized wood, etc. Most of my 60yr career has been as a mining geologist and metallurgist (Msc ec geology, Bsc)

    The things that happened in the past can happen now and in the future. The simple idea is, if you are up on a mountain and you see ripple marks in a sandstone, you can be confident it was formed in moving water, or fossils of shellfish are trivial in their interpretation.

    Most of my 60yr career has been in mining (geology and engineering) and I’m still working – Canada, US, Africa and Latin America.

    • part of comment on career end of third last paragraph, please remove (I attempted to move it on my #$& cell phone! )

    • Good for you.

      Even Lyell recognized that there were catastrophic events in geologic history, and even visible today. But to him, they occurred against the backdrop of uniform processes, and were themselves in some sense part of the uniformity, occurring at more or less regular intervals.

      His views evolved over time. Lyell only reluctantly accepted Darwin and Wallace’s theory of evolution; for much of his life, he maintained a steady-state view of the Earth and its inhabitants, arguing that as one species went extinct, another appeared. This was partly because of his belief in a long-standing, deep division between humans and animals, in which mankind’s superiority to animals was moral, not physical. Between the time he published “Principles of Geology” in 1830-1833 (so important to Darwin) and “Antiquity of Man” in 1863, Lyell changed his views. In the first book, he agreed with Cuvier that no humans predated the current epoch. In the second, he extended humanity’s existence back in time. His acceptance of Darwinian evolution and human prehistory weren’t the only times Lyell had to surrender his beliefs; he also came to support Louis Agassiz’s theory of the Ice Age, when gigantic ice sheets covered much of the northern hemisphere in the Pleistocene epoch. Lyell withheld his support of Agassiz’s theory for decades, because it stood in direct opposition to his own hypotheses of a steady-state Earth.

      Darwin resented Lyell’s assertion that Darwin’s discovery of natural selection was just rehased Lamarck, which of course it isn’t. It’s the anti-Lamarck.

      Aggassiz also was supported by his convert the catastrophist Buckland, with whom Lyell had previously broken over uniformitarianism. Rev. Buckland was the quintessential Victorian eccentric, perhaps now best known for describing the first dinosaur. Or maybe for his eating his way through the animal kingdom.

  21. Dear Dr. Ball.

    You write “Chaos theory was the source of the Lorenz based story prevalent at the time that if a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan it arrives as a storm in California many days later.”

    But, in truth, Lorenz was the “father” of chaos theory, not the other way around. Edward Lorenz inspired and created chaos theory during his early years as a meteorologist while he was in pursuit of a mathematical model of climate.

    Dr. Lorenz is well known as a physicist associated with MIT, Dartmouth and Harvard. Kevin Trenberth was one of his more notable students.

  22. Not really relevant to the discussion, but the link that Dr, Ball provides to illustrate the uniformitarianism principle is actually a false front for a series of linked pages promoting creationism, a young earth (“radiometric dating is all wrong and the earth is a few thousand years old”), the biblical flood, “intelligent” design, and on and on. No criticism of Dr. Ball, but it’s interesting how these people try to get their foot in the door by starting with real geology and then try to suck you in through their links, trying to demonstrate that it’s all wrong.

    The rule of logic, reason and science, everything that is lumped together as “the Enlightenment” is under attack. The most imminent threat is from the CAGW movement, because it is well under way to advancing its aim of restructuring industrial society. This other battle front, superficially less threatening because it only operates on an (anti) intellectual level is also crucial. It’s not going away. If we ignore it, our great-grandchildren might be receiving their only education at a madrassa (or the christian equivalent).

    • Smart Rock,
      When I went to the link provided and, out of curiosity, checked the home page, I was a little surprised that Ball had chosen that site as his authority. While I don’t have any criticism of the content of the link itself, it seems to me that it opens him to potential criitcism that it is not an unbiased source. If it were me, I would have even gone with Wikipedia instead of the link he chose.

    • Smart rock, it’s bigger than that. The target is the provenance of the Enlightenment and western civilization achievements and the attackers are the guilt-ridden very same people! In a most insidious way, this behavior of the new left is not a very subtle form of гасisм. Apologizing for, and sullying the fruits of these developments is ugly and harmful to the whole world.

      The West didn’t invent civilization. My ancestors long ago were forest dwellers, hunters, while the great civilizations of the Near and Far East, Mexico and Peru, etc. were in flower thousands of years ago. It’s not superiority that made the West’s Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution and modern economic prosperity possible. One could argue reasonably that the West were late bloomers (Our biggest discovery is that freedom brings these wonderful fruits unbidden) . I believe the self-loathing neo left are neurotic (hopefully not psychotic). It is definitely deviant behaviour.

      • Your ancestors five hundred years ago were far more advanced than the civilizations of the New World. When the steel weapon-armed and armored Conquistadors fell upon the Americas, the most advanced civilizations here, the Inca and Aztec, were just entering the Bronze Age. The Americas were thousands of years behind the Old World.

        However, the height of New World civilization, the Maya, had already fallen. Highest that is in every way but metallurgy. They had writing, arithmetic and astronomy more advanced than their Aztec successors.

      • Frome the link:
        “This cluster may have contributed to the piecemeal collapse of the Classic Maya civilization…”
        I think that debunks your debunk.

      • “Gabro November 26, 2017 at 9:50 pm


        Are you nuts?

        How does a cluster of earthquakes equate to “climate change”?”

        It doesn’t as anyone who has studied earthquakes, and I have when I lived in New Zealand, knows. In my experience, and I have had this discussions with these types before, only those who believe CO2 emissions from human activities is causing the climate to change also believe climate change causes earthquake swarms.

      • Gabro, I was thinking farther back than 500yrs ago (on the brink of the Enlightenment). The Aztecs, I’ll grant you, dated from only 1300s, the others more than a thousand years before that.

        Besides, the conquistadores might also be characterized as uncivilized in some measures, like the Huns who sacked Rome. Surely an advanced civilization like India’s didn’t spare them being regularly overpowered by ferocious inferior hordes from Afghanistan, Persia, etc. I’m sure you give my main point in any case.

    • If we reject the 22 year sunspot cycle should we also reject the roughly 20 year drought cycle in the North American plains? Each of these has been independently observed, and if both of them are just coincidences, that is a much bigger coincidence than if just one of them were a coincidence.

    A recent paper emphasizes the importance of the Millennial Cycle and supports my earlier forecasts of a coming long term cooling .
    . Harmonic Analysis of Worldwide Temperature Proxies for 2000 Years
    Horst-Joachim Lüdecke1, *, Carl-Otto Weiss2
    The Open Atmospheric Science Journal
    ISSN: 1874-2823 ― Volume 11, 2017
    Year: 2017
    Volume: 11
    First Page: 44
    Last Page: 53
    Publisher Id: TOASCJ-11-44
    DOI: 10.2174/1874282301711010044
    The Sun as climate driver is repeatedly discussed in the literature but proofs are often weak. In order to elucidate the solar influence, we have used a large number of temperature proxies worldwide to construct a global temperature mean G7 over the last 2000 years. The Fourier spectrum of G7 shows the strongest components as ~1000-, ~460-, and ~190 – year periods whereas other cycles of the individual proxies are considerably weaker. The G7 temperature extrema coincide with the Roman, medieval, and present optima as well as the well-known minimum of AD 1450 during the Little Ice Age. We have constructed by reverse Fourier transform a representation of G7 using only these three sine functions, which shows a remarkable Pearson correlation of 0.84 with the 31-year running average of G7. The three cycles are also found dominant in the production rates of the solar-induced cosmogenic nuclides 14C and 10Be, most strongly in the ~190 – year period being known as the De Vries/Suess cycle. By wavelet analysis, a new proof has been provided that at least the ~190-year climate cycle has a solar origin.”
    The paper also states “……G7, and likewise the sine representations have maxima of comparable size at AD 0, 1000, and 2000. We note that the temperature increase of the late 19th and 20th century is represented by the harmonic temperature representation, and thus is of pure multiperiodic nature. It can be expected that the periodicity of G7, lasting 2000 years so far, will persist also for the foreseeable future. It predicts a temperature drop from present to AD 2050, a slight rise from 2050 to 2130, and a further drop from AD 2130 to 2200 (see Fig. 3), upper panel, green and red curves.”

    Climate is controlled by natural cycles. Earth is just past the 2003+/- peak of a millennial cycle and the current cooling trend will likely continue until the next Little Ice Age minimum at about 2650.See the Energy and Environment paper at
    and an earlier accessible blog version at
    Here is the abstract:
    This paper argues that the methods used by the establishment climate science community are not fit for purpose and that a new forecasting paradigm should be adopted. Earth’s climate is the result of resonances and beats between various quasi-cyclic processes of varying wavelengths. It is not possible to forecast the future unless we have a good understanding of where the earth is in time in relation to the current phases of those different interacting natural quasi periodicities. Evidence is presented specifying the timing and amplitude of the natural 60+/- year and, more importantly, 1,000 year periodicities (observed emergent behaviors) that are so obvious in the temperature record. Data related to the solar climate driver is discussed and the solar cycle 22 low in the neutron count (high solar activity) in 1991 is identified as a solar activity millennial peak and correlated with the millennial peak -inversion point – in the UAH6 temperature trend in about 2003. The cyclic trends are projected forward and predict a probable general temperature decline in the coming decades and centuries. Estimates of the timing and amplitude of the coming cooling are made. If the real climate outcomes follow a trend which approaches the near term forecasts of this working hypothesis, the divergence between the IPCC forecasts and those projected by this paper will be so large by 2021 as to make the current, supposedly actionable, level of confidence in the IPCC forecasts untenable.”
    The forecasts in Fig 12 of my paper are similar to those in Ludecke et al.

    Fig. 12. Comparative Temperature Forecasts to 2100.
    Fig. 12 compares the IPCC forecast with the Akasofu (31) forecast (red harmonic) and with the simple and most reasonable working hypothesis of this paper (green line) that the “Golden Spike” temperature peak at about 2003 is the most recent peak in the millennial cycle. Akasofu forecasts a further temperature increase to 2100 to be 0.5°C ± 0.2C, rather than 4.0 C +/- 2.0C predicted by the IPCC. but this interpretation ignores the Millennial inflexion point at 2004. Fig. 12 shows that the well documented 60-year temperature cycle coincidentally also peaks at about 2003.Looking at the shorter 60+/- year wavelength modulation of the millennial trend, the most straightforward hypothesis is that the cooling trends from 2003 forward will simply be a mirror image of the recent rising trends. This is illustrated by the green curve in Fig. 12, which shows cooling until 2038, slight warming to 2073 and then cooling to the end of the century, by which time almost all of the 20th century warming will have been reversed. Easterbrook 2015 (32) based his 2100 forecasts on the warming/cooling, mainly PDO, cycles of the last century. These are similar to Akasofu’s because Easterbrook’s Fig 5 also fails to recognize the 2004 Millennial peak and inversion. Scaffetta’s 2000-2100 projected warming forecast (18) ranged between 0.3 C and 1.6 C which is significantly lower than the IPCC GCM ensemble mean projected warming of 1.1C to 4.1 C. The difference between Scaffetta’s paper and the current paper is that his Fig.30 B also ignores the Millennial temperature trend inversion here picked at 2003 and he allows for the possibility of a more significant anthropogenic CO2 warming contribution

    It is well past time for a paradigm shift in the forecasting methods used by establishment climate science. The whole dangerous global warming delusion is approaching collapse

  24. “that are so obvious in the temperature record”
    You are placing quite a bit of weight on this single piece of evidence.

  25. Lorenz’ “finding” that non-linear differential equations may lead to “chaotic” solutions isn’t, in my opinion, a proven fact. So-called “chaotic” behavior in mathematical equations is easily observed in recurrence equations, in which future values of a function depend on an earlier value or earlier values. Chaotic functions depend on the existence of an attractor, about which non-periodic but bounded values revolve. The notion of an attractor is associated with the existence of a fixed point, a point where the next value of a function is equal to the current value, i.e. f(x) = x.

    In my opinion, the existence of attractors – and thus chaos – in numerical solutions of differential equations is due to the fact that the equations are being solved numerically. Analytical solutions, if they could be found, would not necessarily exhibit chaotic behavior.

    Lorenz’ equations give the derivatives with respect to time of three variable, x, y, and z. Time does not appear explicitly in any of the equations, a condition which is dubbed “autonomous.” Yet an analytical solution, should one ever be found, would consist of x(t) = F(t), y(t) = G(t), z(t) = H(t); in other words, the only variable on the right hand side would be time, t. Numerical solutions, however, have both time and the prior value of the dependent variable on the right hand side. They are thus recurrence equations, where the original set may have nothing to do with recurrence. In particular, if the solution is cyclic in any manner (periodic or otherwise), the numerical solution will always have a fixed point where the derivative is zero, and yet there may be no analytic analog.

    A number of approximate analytic solutions to the Lorenz equations have been found using homotopy methods. All consist of functions x(t), y(t), z(t), and not x(x,t),y(y,t), z(z,t). None of the approximate solutions (which are very close to the numerical solutions over a wide range) exhibit any sensitivity to initial conditions, nor could they.

    I think that the whole notion of chaos is associated only with recurrence relations. Analytic solutions of differential equations are not recurrence relations, but numerical solutions are by their very nature. Thus, I think that the supposed chaotic nature of the numerical solutions of the Lorenz equations is an artifact of the very nature of numerical solution of differential equations.

    • if my ruler gives me units divided by 3, u might think i can only measure thirds, right?
      but the computer makes my paltry integers into a number of infinite precision with a click.
      u should see what can be done with data compression! when u remove all redundancy you have static!
      it’s not hard, then, to argue that static is merely perfectly ordered compressed data.
      oh- statistics! with that, u can twist a rope and a leaf and a snake and a tree into a whole elephant.
      the fact that every event is equally improbable means it is unlikely that anything happened ever but if it did, it is surely a miracle, eh?

      • and to think the universe computes in base 1 yet no fraction of a bit goes uncounted…

        don’t worry if you don’t get the jokes. boffins have yet to discover the humor force that keeps everything from ask murdering everything else.
        also, nothing ruins a joke like having to explain it, so nope. let it go.

    • Michael S. Kelly 11/25/2017 @ 8:47 pm

      Your post is a thin shaft of light cutting through a dense fog enveloping this article from top to bottom. Your light would be a broader, brighter beam if, first, you’d get rid of the scare quotes.

      When Philosopher David Stove identified Karl Popper, the father of Post Modern Science (the disorder infecting most of academic science) as the lead of four irrationalists, Stove invoked two principle criteria: first, these cranks denied four centuries of stunning progress in science (i.e., Modern Science since its founding by Bacon), and second, their writing style included neutralizing success words in science, principally putting quotes around words to denigrate them. Stove’s sterling example of the latter was a sign advertising “Fresh” Fish.

      Your “Fresh” Fish is merely a comical distraction from your opinion in the first sentence, which happens to be contradicted by your next sentences, which lead to a fairly decent speculative conclusion. The fact of chaos is observable in dynamical systems, defined as systems governed by equations. However, nothing in the Real World is governed by equations. Computers and computer models are. The Real World does not and cannot inherit properties from man’s models of it. It has no coordinate systems, no parameters, and especially no initial conditions save for the fantastic Big Bang.

      One particularly egregious inheritance from Popper’s deconstruction of Modern Science was his disdain for definitions. So trained, apparently, Lorenz struggled to compose a definition for chaos. Nonetheless, he did conclude that chaos was deterministic and possessing a certain property of the equations of a dynamical system. Id., 1991, p. 449. That property was an extreme, even unobservable, sensitivity to initial conditions.

      Lorenz (1991) made no attempt to define dynamical systems, but the best definitions since say that dynamical systems are systems governed by equations. (If anyone objects to that deduction, he is free to submit another definition for the sake of argument, or to continue to participate in an irrational dialog.)

      Post Modern Science has created a consensus-like majority of academic scientists who routinely communicate without distinguishing between their models and the little portion of the Real World that their models are supposed to represent. Lorenz himself fell victim to this confusion when he wrote, The atmosphere and its surroundings constitute a chaotic dynamical system, … . Lorenz (1991) p. 450. IPCC made exactly the same mistake in its surprisingly good Glossaries (considering its gross errors in the science of its models). E.g., AR4 Glossary, p. 944.

      IPCC concludes that the atmosphere is chaotic when its model is the thing that is chaotic. Its conclusion is an excuse for the fact that its model can’t predict climate.

      • Jeff Glassman 11/26/2017 7:05 am

        Good point on the scare quotes. (I almost wrote: “Good” point on the scare quotes, but not everyone gets that I have a sense of humor.) I’ll refrain in the future, except, possibly, when I use the word “laser.” No, definitely when I use the word “laser.”

        The rest of your comments were spot on, particularly your observation that nothing in the real world is governed by equations. The phrase governing equations (I’m afraid to use quotes at all, now) has been a pet peeve of mine since grad school, where it was ubiquitous in any discussion of the Navier-Stokes equations. I challenged all of my professors who used it, and they usually protested that it was a mere figure of speech. But it eventually became very clear to me that to a person, they actually had this notion that the equations were what told reality what to do. It reflects the fact that that most don’t realize that equations can sometimes be used to describe reality, though not always, and rarely perfectly.

        The Navier-Stokes equations are widely regarded as being the governing equations (quotes really would work here, just sayin’) of fluid dynamics, even though their original derivation is based on continuum mechanics, which has no fundamental correspondence to the behavior of real fluids. (It would later be realized that taking the velocity moments of the Boltzmann transport equation yields the Navier-Stokes equations, but the implications of that have barely been touched.) There is certainly no reason to believe that the NS equations could ever predict the onset and structure of turbulence, the most important feature of fluid flow.

        The fact that the NS equations are not tractable by analytical methods has allowed us to pretend that none of those problems exist. Numerical solutions, the only ones possible, have the same flaw as the solutions of the Lorenz equations, multiplied many times. It isn’t any wonder that CFD solutions can be made to look like turbulence, but getting them to sort of represent actual turbulence always requires tuning the constants (in, for example, the k-epsilon model) to match test data. The chaotic nature of recurrence equations as opposed to smooth functions of time and space may pass for turbulence, but it is really just expensive curve-fitting.

        Tremendous comment, Mr. Glassman. (Aren’t you glad I didn’t write “Tremendous”? Doh!)

      • yay! somebody else who gets it that popper was a mystic who simply repackaged platonic essense – ‘now with extra freshness!’

      • “They asked each other countless riddles, such as who played the Cisco
        Kid and what was Krypton. In the end Dildo won the game. Stumped at last for a
        riddle to ask, he cried out, as his hand fell on his snub-nosed .38, “What
        have I got in my pocket?” This Goddam failed to answer, and growing impatient,
        he paddled up to Dildo, whining, “Let me see, let me see.” Dildo obliged by
        pulling out the pistol and emptying it in Goddam’s direction. The dark spoiled
        his aim, and he managed only to deflate the rubber float, leaving Goddam to
        flounder. Goddam, who couldn’t swim, reached out his hand to Dildo and begged
        him to pull him out, and as he did, Dildo noticed an interesting-looking ring
        on his finger and pulled it off. He would have finished Goddam off then and
        there, but pity stayed his hand. “It’s a pity I’ve run out of bullets” he
        thought, as he went back up the tunnel, pursued by Goddam’s cries of rage.

        [?? .mod]

      • To the Moderator: I couldn’t think of any comeback for gnomish, but for some reason this scene from Harvard Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings popped into my head. It seemed appropriate at the time.

        [Yes, and thank you for the attribute for that extended quote. .mod]

      • gnomish 11/26/2017 @ 7:15 pm, Michael S. Kelly 11/26/2017 @ 7:48 pm

        Alas, poor gnomish, we knew him. Choke on that, fool, eh, Michael?

        Actually, we ought to cut gnomish some slack. Pity him for having neither a shift key nor a spell checker on his communication device, but kudos for his compact assemblage of Platonic essence by a mystic.

        In philosophy, essence has to do with the existence of certain kinds of universals in the Real World, much like chaos (and linearity/nonlinearity and thermodynamic equilibrium, for that matter.) But like chaos, essences have their place in our models of language. In the rigor of formal linguistics (harking back to Aristotle), a thing to be defined is a definiendum (species), its genus (genos) and the differentia (diaphora). In that context, the essences of a thing are its differentia. Certain fields of knowledge thrive on ignoring such things, including philosophy, litigation, and both Popper and his invention, Post Modern Science.

        Mystic Karl (“I am not a scientist”) Popper also had a problem distinguishing among members of the genus of universals. His philosophy of science turned on his presumption that each scientific proposition was either in fact a Universal Generalization (UG), or equivalent to one. He is recognized by his example, “All ravens are black.” Applying his keen insight as a logician, he deduced that UGs could not be experimentally affirmed, but that they could be disproved with a single contradiction. Therefore, his model of a scientific proposition had to be expressible (though, as he made explicit, not testable) in the negative, a form he called falsification, and for that he would earn himself another differentia. Of course, no self-respecting Modern Scientist would ever construct such a model. But UGs actually exist in science. They appear in definitions, except by Karl (“definitions do not matter”) Popper.

        And since in Popper’s model, scientific propositions could not be tested, he replaced Bacon’s strictly objective validation with a triad he called intersubjectivity. It comprises peer review, publication, and consensus support, each within a certified community. His deconstruction of Modern Science produced a sterile version, Post Modern Science, and over the past half a century, an epidemic of unreproducible studies infecting professional publications. Example: AGW, aka Climate Change, certified valid, but in real science, a failed conjecture.

        For this article, the thing in need of a definition, the definiendum, is chaos, a system in a chaotic state. Its genus is the set of all deterministic processes, i.e., systems governed by equations dependent on initial conditions. Chaos possesses one differentia, its essence (h.t. to gnomish), namely that any trajectory is unpredictable because it depends on the unresolvable or otherwise indeterminate fine structure of its initial conditions. The climate system and each of its subsystems fail even to fit the genus.

      • Jeff Glassman 11/27/2017 at 3:16 pm

        Wow! You are the first person I’ve encountered in the past 40 years who is conversant with Aristotelian linguistics. I first learned of these concepts in a very rigorous course in formal logic (read: Aristotle’s brand, not the symbolic games taught today). They are closely linked with the nature of conceptual knowledge, the mode of cognition we humans enjoy. We fail to accept them today at the peril of…well, of progress. I won’t say that it imperils our very existence, but it actually could under unusual circumstances.

        I forgot to thank you for the intro to David Stove. In return, I introduce you to Hasok Chang. He is an historian of the philosophy of science, not the fundamental philosopher that Stove was. I’ve been reading his book Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress. As an engineer who lives by measured data, and one who has a deep appreciation of the ins and outs of measurement, I found myself stunned by some of the more basic questions pointed out in that book. Anyone who is interested in global warming should read it. I warmly recommend it.

      • heh- i don’t have to use the shift key. this is the internet – one doesn’t bother backing up for typos, either.
        also i’m adopted and my mom dresses me funny. and idgaf.
        addressing the content, though, is just easy for me and i’ll have a word with you about plato’s noumenal essence.
        the distinguishing characteristic (not to be confused with ‘essences’ as you seem to do) is that it is unknowable – in this way plato violates the law of the excluded middle to create his supernatural realm.
        this is what distinguishes ‘post modern science’ from reasoning.
        you are free to define your terms however you wish – and i’ll work with that. but plato did not use your definition, i think.

      • chaos is where determinism fizzles out, right?
        it’s because no 2 entities are identical (otherwise there would be only one)
        a generalization must ignore the individual case- but they are all individual cases.

    • Michael S. Kelly ==> There is a great deal of experimental data showing that the findings of non-linear maths actually appear in the real world in a almost all fields of scientific endeavor. In biology in population studies, in medicine in heart beat patterns and abnormalities — see my series on Chaos and Climate.

      There is a reading list in the series (repeated several times) giving the best sources for general understanding.

      The surprising thing is that the disturbing aspects of Chaos Theory are found in real world physical systems — like climate — and not just in the numbers spit out by computers.

      • Kip Hansen November 28, 2017 at 3:51 pm

        It’s an honor to be recognized by you. I have no doubt that there are numerous phenomena which exhibit chaotic behavior in the widely-understood sense. I also have no doubt that models of all of those phenomena involve finite difference calculus, where “chaos” is (somewhat) readily understood, and abounds for non-linear systems.

        The point I’m trying to drive home is that a finite difference equation has it’s dependent variable as a function of, among other things, earlier values of its dependent variable. The analytical solution of a differential equation does not (and cannot) have its dependent variable on the right hand side. That would violate several fundamentals of mathematics. And it is the extremum of a cyclic period function where the derivative is equal to zero, and the future value of the dependent variable equals the present value. That is the definition of a “fixed point,” which is a necessary condition for chaos.

        A cyclic recurrence equation will always have at least two fixed points, and thus will be subject to chaos. There is no guarantee that the solution of a non-linear set of differential equations will have any fixed points, and thus, none that guarantee chaotic behavior. However, a numerical solution of a set of such equations automatically has the potential for fixed points. I think it’s a line of reasoning worth pursuing.

  26. Some presumed chaos is simply order which we can’t sort out. Other chaos might indeed be irreducibly chaotic, to borrow an ID concept.

  27. I started in early 70s the study relating the role of the Sun and the Moon on geomagnetic field and meteorology [manually as computers and calculators are not available and that too outside office work]. I published several papers (national and international journals) using these results. Just at that time, In Indian Parliament, a question was raised: Is average onset (southwest monsoon) date of Delhi June 19 is correct? Then, to answer this question [I was assigned along with my boss], we developed a methodology and submitted the results to DG of IMD: the average onset date of Delhi as 2nd July. During this process I collected data of actual dates as declared by IMD for the past years for 32 met sub-divisions. I plotted the onset dates of Kerala Coast (this is the place used to declare onset over India) and found there is some sort of cyclic nature in the series. I fitted this data to 10-year moving average and observed it showing a 52-year cyclic pattern.

    In 70s, on my own (in addition to official work) developed formulae for the estimation of solar radiation [global & net], evaporation, evapotranspiration, cloud cover to sunshine, etc. These I got them published in Solar Energy Journal (USA). Estimated the radiation data for series and subjected to power spectral analysis [wrote programmes in Fortran IV] and found the results followed sunspot cycle.

    I got an opportunity to study the Mahalapye data in Botswana. This showed 60 year cycle. I presented this at a symposium.

    When I was a Ph.D. student in Canberra I attended a group discussion wherein an Indian professor [Singh] showed Canberra has 66 year cycle [paleo-climatological data study — sediments near to Canberra]. I brought to the notice of the speaker that similar cycle is seen in Durban/ South Africa Precipitation data around this latitude.

    I studied later northeast Brazil, Mozambique, Ethiopia precipitation. All these are, I discussed in my book published in 1993.

    After my return to India from UNO assignments, I studied Indian rainfall data. These are published in my later books and as well at several seminar programmes. Here I tried to see the link with astrological cycle used in India and Chine [60-year cycle]. However, these cycles at individual locations and regions show quite different from national level. They followed a width of the cycle reduction as we approach equator. At some locations it is clearly seen the sunspot cycle and multiples pattern.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  28. Chaos simply implies that a system or process is incompletely or insufficiently characterized and unwieldy, which precludes prediction outside of a limited frame of reference (i.e .”scientific” logical domain). For example, a human life is a chaotic process, so is evolution. They can be modeled (or predicted) within a limited frame of reference, but lack of skill and/or knowledge, precludes establishing the time of illness, death,etc.

  29. The unmistakable sinusoidal nature of global warming/cooling trends is about to be confirmed in about 5 years when: 1) a weak La Niña cycle starts in early 2018, 2) both the PDO and AMO are in their respective 30-yr cool cycles, 3) the weakest solar cycle since 1790 starts in 2021 and 4) the weakest solar cycle since 1645 starting in 2032, which will mark the beginning of a 50~75-yr Grand Solar Minimum event leading to a general global cooling trend for the next 80+ years.

    For the CAGW’s hypothesis to be confirmed, a warming trend of 0.3C/decade must start from tomorrow and continue for the next 8 straight decades… Any delay of such an impossible Warming trend simply increases requisite future warming trend for hypothetical confirmation…

    In about 7 years, CAGW will be laughed at…

  30. If the Earth does finally leave this ice age that we are in will this be to the benefit of the human race or will it be a disaster for us. All the extra land available because of the water locked up in ice has been to our advantage when all this melts it will be the age of the fish unless we can adapt to that change.

  31. Weather can be both chaotic and cyclical. The chaos is constrained by the state of the solar system and the local galactic family and where in the universe we are. The solar system and galactic family as a system are chaotic and cyclic. The cycles are imperfect and never repeat exactly and cannot. The local system is racing across space at an enormous rate and regardless of any internal cycles that have strong similarities, the local system never returns to a previous state. Like the hand that having writ moves on.

    An example of cyclic chaos is the tip of a bullwhip. It is cyclic and constrained by its length, but the tip can crack in an infinite number of places. It is chaotic because it cannot be known where the tip will be with certainty each time it cracks. It is assumed a human is a component of the whip’s system. Because weather can be both, climate, which is a derivative of weather, can be both as climate follows weather.

      • Really? The IPCC definition of “climate” is the average of 30 years of weather. Well, I sure understand how to make up averages.

      • “but there are pleny of people who do”

        Yes, you have made it patently obvious that you know NOTHING about climate.

      • Except it is quite obvious and easily demonstrable that we and they do not. We cannot explain or predict El Ninos for example or the other large scale apparent cycles – and as this discussion shows there is not even agreement about whether they are cycles.

        So why would you make such an obviously false claim?

      • “we don’t understand climate yet.”

        You could substitute any field of science into that statement couldn’t you? In other words it’s a bit meaningless. That was my point.

        But no, lol, it becomes an “obviously false claim”, and gets squawked at.

  32. 1/. There is no reason why it cannot be both – cycles superimposed on chaotic behaviour. Think of a ‘breathy’ note from a flute. The note (cycle) is there, but so too is the random noise (chaotic) component.

    2/. Chaotic behaviour often shows quasi-periodic behaviour for many quasi-cycles…until it shifts to other attractors.

    In short this is largely a semantic argument. We know for sure that the fundamental behaviour has at least a large chaotic component, yet we also see periodic behaviour as resonant systems like the NAO respond to chaotic drivers.

    It is important to remember Korzybski.

    “The map (model) is not the territory.”

    Cycles and chaos are our (inadequate) maps of climate: it is, ultimately what it is.

    If people were to spend less time arguing which map or model is the One True Map (or Model) and instead realise that all are flawed to an extent (the amount of information in the universe would require a computer the size of the universe to represent it as a model) and that models are not Reality in itself – and that goes right up to the material-Realism that underpins science itself – it is, in the end, just another model – then we wouldn’t waste so much time arguing whether models are true – they can’t be – but instead restrict ourselves to their accuracy and applicability.

    Applying Fourier analysis to climatic variables will obviously detect at least two spectral lines – the annual and the diurnal. There is probably some influence of the moon cycles as well.

    There may be more. But only a very very long term analysis of data we haven’t actually got would detect decadal or centennial length cycles reliably. We sorta feel that ice ages are cyclical,. and yet their appearance is not massively cyclical, just periodic.

    My point being here, that we lack enough data to falsify either position, so argument remains mere hypothesising at this point.

  33. It is disheartening to spend 20 minutes carefully constructing a post, to have it disappear into a black hole.

  34. In about 1980, my work colleagues were getting deep into geostatistics for mineral exploration and mining. One day we chatted on about cross correlations and cross semivariograms. Keen to exercise, I went looking for some long term data in earth science applications. In those days I subscribed to Scientific American and gave past copies to our corporate library. The longest useful record gave sunspot counts back to 1750 or so, IIRC. Other data came from diverse commodities like the counts of various furs from the Hudson’s Bay Company, maybe fox and lynx, the weight of tomatos harvested in West USA, the copper price on the London Metal Exchange, the annual USA wheat harvest and the California rainfall record. These I can remember, there might have been a couple more. I no not recall using any temperature time series. If it was not in SciAm, I did not use it.
    I fiddled around in spare time with correlation matrices using geostatistical methods, including lagging and data at various resolutions over time, like weekly to monthly to annual prices on metals trading.
    The exercise was lost long ago, but from time to time an article surfaces that touches on this past recreational computing. There were correlations in the data, some looking strong enough to make me think about mechanisms. It is eerie to see how often the correlation theme, usually computed conventionally, crops up again for some of the variables that ScAm publshed.
    But now that Journal has lost its way and researchers seem to need to homogenise data to death before computing correlations.
    It would be beautiful to repeat the exercise but I am now too tied up to try. What started out as an inquisitive investigation seems to have become involved in mainstream research. Geoff.

  35. “The Transition from Uniformitarianism to Catastrophism.”

    Fundamentally it’s what Eisenhower warned about capture by scientific elites and there’s more money in perpetual crisis and catastrophism when you compare and contrast scientific output-

    So from that sample of scientific discovery and what you’ve heard more generally are you relaxed and comfortable about coral reefs or a worried doomsdayer wanting intervention? We might guess some scientific stances on that-
    but make sure you fit in with the appropriate stance-

    Of course if coral reefs naturally recover from all sorts of stresses and you actively intervene in that process then you can give yourself a big pat on the back for doing good works just like they did with hunting Crown of Thorns starfish during plagues. Correlation can be a great gift that keeps on giving.

  36. Is it possible that Joe and all us deniers will become part of the Russian collusion investigation?

    No, probably not. The real issue of collusion in all this is the lack of scepticism from our free press in the west. How many major broadcasters or newspapers produce anything of a sceptical nature on climate change? How many produce what could be considered little more than CAGW propaganda? How many query the delusion that our world and its growing energy needs can be powered by windmills and solar panels?

  37. Climate clearly cyclical. Abdussamatov clearly wrong.

    The 1000-year Eddy solar and climatic cycle indicates the present Modern Global Warming should last as a warm period for at least a couple of centuries more.

  38. The climate system is cyclic but non periodic (the length of the cycles changesfrom cycle to cycle, as can be seen from a Power Spectrum analysis of the time series: the Spectrum does not consist of spikes but more or less spreaded peaks). This is the signature of a complex system at the edge of chaos. .There are specific Tools for the non linear analysis of dynamical (chaotic) systems. One of them is the Phase Plan (and it can be linked to time series by using the Takens theorem). Applying this technique to the Vostok data for example, shows clearly the existence of two strange attractors; a tempered one and a colder one ( see: All the rest are only trajectories around those two attractors. Also, it is useful to hold in mind that a chaotic system is highly unpredictable due to its extreme sensistivity to initial conditions (and thus experimental errors linked to data acquisition) and to the value of the parameters.

  39. “Of course, correlation does not mean cause and effect”
    Especially when there is no correlation, like in this case.

  40. Niles Eldridge and Steven Jay Gould’s model of punctuated equilibrium does not describe alternations between uniformitarianism and catastrophism, which are models of geological evolution. Punctuated equilibrium is an evolutionary biology model proposing that speciation tends to follow long periods of evolutionary stasis interrupted by sudden rapid sequences of speciation in response of a number of environmental, biological, dispersal, climatological, and/or geological events. Punctuated equilibrium was contrasted with Darwin’s notion of phyletic gradualism, in which species evolve very slowly over long periods of geological time. It grew out of Ernst Mayr’s ideas of allopatric (major dispersal events) and peripatric speciation occurring in isolated peripheral populations associated with genetic drift. Otherwise a very interesting and enlightening article. Thanks, Dr. Ball.

  41. Climate is cyclic and chaotic, like a tire on your car. Depending how the motion is graphed, and the placement of the base point, it is cyclic or it appears linear and chaotic.
    Climate is daily, yearly, monthly sun spotly and other cyclical. Plotted over time you also get the chaotic bumps in the road.

  42. Whether climate is chaotic or cyclical is theoretically easy to prove. If cyclical, a perfect global temperature data-set over a time period long enough to include the lowest frequency signal could be described by a Fourier series of infinite length in time, the null hypothesis. If the temperature data-set includes chaotic signals,existing GCMs cannot predict future global temperatures, and the trillions of dollars allocated for climate research should be redirected to research with a positive cost-benefit.

    Is this a Sunday morning epiphany or a delusion.

  43. Whether climate is chaotic or cyclical is theoretically easy to prove. If cyclical, a perfect global temperature data-set over a time period long enough to include the lowest frequency signal could be described by a Fourier series of infinite length in time, the null hypothesis. If the temperature data-set includes chaotic signals,existing GCMs cannot predict global temperatures, and the trillions of dollars allocated for climate research should be redirected to research with a positive cost-benefit.

    Is this a Sunday morning epiphany or a delusion.

  44. Essentially alarmists are claiming that climate is neither cyclic or chaotic. Regardless of what they say, boiled down to the basics, they are claiming that climate is more or less stable-at least until man messes up the “delicate balances.” Absurd of course.

    • KT66 wrote: they are claiming that climate is more or less stable-at least until man messes up the “delicate balances.”

      _Exactly, they are, ironically, climate change deniers, who say that climate does not change unless man changes it, and therefore all climate change is evidence that human activities are changing the climate._

  45. Before we organized the conference on the impact of the 1815 volcanic eruption of Tambora, it was assumed the eruption caused the decline in global temperature of the period. While preparing for the conference, it became apparent to myself and fellow organizers, Cynthia Wilson and Richard Harington, that global temperatures were already in decline,

    I noted that many years ago on one of Willis’ articles dealing with volcanoes. The same is so with Krakatoa. The temperature data sets (which of course are not reliable) were showing temperatures falling prior to that eruption. Would they have continued to fall, who knows. Was the drop in temperature trend greater and ran for a longer period because of Krakatoa, again, who knows.

    I suspect that we do not fully understand the impact of volcanoes. Another natural phenomenon on which we have yet to get on top of because we do not study natural cause and natural variation no doubt because of the funding going toward looking at manmade climate change.

  46. Dr. Tim Ball says:
    “Research and analysis of data quantified from the Hudson’s Bay Company weather diaries and instrumental records detected a very strong 22-year drought cycle in the middle latitude record for York Factory on Hudson Bay.”

    Three or four years ago I looked into the changes in the magnetic field of NE Canada, since until 1995 the area in the vicinity of the Hudson Bay had strongest geomagnetic field in the N. Hemisphere, until it was overtaken by the central Siberia.
    The area is also subject to the large postglacial uplift; it is assumed that about 30% of the longer term changes in the magnetic field is due to the variability in the uplift, while on the decadal scale that may be more than 30%.
    Spectral composition of the NE Canada’s postglacial uplift variability as implied by the changes in its magnetic field is shown here

    Not only there is a clear presence of the 22 year solar magnetic cycle component but also well known and widely accepted 60+ years global temperature’s component.
    Question is how the solar magnetic cycles could affect the postglacial uplift.
    Indirectly: solar cycles ‘have been linked’ to the Arctic polar vortex circulation, which in turn causes changes in the meridional excursions of the polar jet stream and the wider atmospheric circulation that is cause of the 22 periodical disturbances in the earth’s rate of rotation and consequently the 22 years judders in the PG uplift followed by changes in the magnetic field of the area.

    Therefore, clearly Dr. Bell was correct in his claim.

  47. As I said in the Abstract above 11/25/7:28 pm
    “Earth’s climate is the result of resonances and beats between various quasi-cyclic processes of varying wavelengths. It is not possible to forecast the future unless we have a good understanding of where the earth is in time in relation to the current phases of those different interacting natural quasi periodicities. Evidence is presented specifying the timing and amplitude of the natural 60+/- year and, more importantly, 1,000 year periodicities (observed emergent behaviors) that are so obvious in the temperature record. Data related to the solar climate driver is discussed and the solar cycle 22 low in the neutron count (high solar activity) in 1991 is identified as a solar activity millennial peak and correlated with the millennial peak -inversion point – in the UAH6 temperature trend in about 2003.”
    Circulation Models (GCMs) attempt to describe the climate dynamics using sets of differential equations. This modelling approach is of no value for predicting future temperature with any calculable certainty because of the difficulty of sampling or specifying the initial conditions of a sufficiently fine grained spatio-temporal grid of a large number of variables with sufficient precision. In addition, Essex 2013 (1) proved that models with the number of variables in the GCMs are simply incomputable. This does not mean that the data or climate is chaotic – just that it cant be computed from the bottom up.
    No cycle ever repeats exactly in timing or amplitude- eg the effect of the 60 year cycle on temperatures (the emergent property) will differ depending its phase relative to the millennial cycle .It will also change because of its relationship to other quasi-cyclic decadal and centennial periodicities in the data . It is very obvious by simple inspection of Figs 2,3,4,7,8 10, and 12 that, at this time, most of the temperature variability can be captured and the future projected with useful probability of success by convolving the millennial and 60 year cycles.
    No useful forecast can be made if the early 21st century peak and inflection point in the temperature data is ignored.

    • Dr Norman Page
      “that are so obvious in the temperature record”

      You keep using these words, but that is simply not a statement of fact but an opinion. In my opinion you are incorrect, i.e. there ‘may’ be something there but it is a long, long way from being “obvious” – as in: clear, self-evident, or apparent.

        Evidence is presented specifying the timing and amplitude of the natural 60+/- year and, more importantly, 1,000 year periodicities (observed emergent behaviors) that are so obvious in the temperature record.

        Fig. 2 Greenland Ice core derived temperatures and CO2 from Humlum 2016 (8)

        The millennial cycle peaks are obvious at about 10,000, 9,000, 8,000, 7,000, 2,000, and 1,000 years before now as seen in Fig. 2 (8) and at about 990 AD in Fig. 3 (9).

        Calling it obvious is a value judement and in my opinion is incorrect. Yes, you can see a few spikes and yes some of them are sort of spaced at 1000 year increments, but eyeballing it I would say that could just as easily be random fluctuations.
        Look you may be right in your conjecture. But calling it “obvious” is a gross overstatement.

      • Btw Norman.
        For a laugh, go back up to your post at: Dr Norman Page November 25, 2017 at 7:28 pm.

        My response to your contribution was:

        “that are so obvious in the temperature record”
        You are placing quite a bit of weight on this single piece of evidence.

        That seems rather tame to me but just have a little browse through the rubbish that erupts. Smh.

    • Mt. Agung is not yet a big eruption – as reported here 27 Nov.

      The 1963–64 eruption of Mt. Agung was VEI5.

      The 1982 eruption of El Chichon was VEI5.

      The 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo was VEI6, roughly an order of magnitude higher.

      I suggest that the eruptions of both El Chichon and Pinatubo had significant temporary global cooling effects – I have less data for Agung 1963, but it is probable that some global cooling was also caused then.

      • I think that cooling is what lies ahead regardless of a volcanic eruption. I also have noted that large eruptions may be more likely to occur during strong solar cooling periods, which is what I see as the most probable scenario for the next 15+ years. A large eruption would then enhance and deepen the cyclical cooing trend.

      • I agree goldminor

        I wrote in 2002 in a newspaper article that natural global cooling would commence by 2020-2030.

        I am now leaning towards circa 2020 or even earlier.

  48. Last paragraph, rephrase:”than the IPCC, now represented by the IPCC”.

    I’m glad to hear talk about how climate models all have a sensitive dependence on initial conditions – possibly even chaotic, with fractal attractors – making accurate predictions impossible. I did my masters thesis in computer science in ’92 on a simple question related to chaos and computing. My background reading from that time – e.g. Lorenz, Mandelbrot, Poincare, Feigenbaum – was fun and enriching though I never applied it to my subsequent career in software. I think it was because of that background I always thought it folly to expect long-term predictions coming out of climate models to have any accuracy. Enjoyed the article – thanks.

  49. Instead of chaotic, or cyclical, how about periodic?

    An irregular, unpredictable, alternating mild warming periods and mild cooling periods
    that don’t matter (harmless) unless you are a hysterical leftist,
    between huge glaciations that do matter
    (harmful, unless you can ice skate)

  50. The smart money is on “all of the above”.

    Only those with only a casual, sophomoric view of Chaos object to its application to climate studies. The earth climate system is composed of two interacting dynamically chaotic (remember, this word “chaotic” is used in the special sense of Chaos Theory) physical systems — the Atmosphere and the Oceans — and these two systems are linked and both act as cause and effect on the other.

    Chaotic systems have many characteristics that aren’t normally thought of when the word chaotic is applied — among these are 1) a stubborn stability, 2) cyclical repeating patterns and 3) inescapable patterns called “attractors”, which themselves often appear cyclical.

    The bottom line is: We simply don’t have enough data to to arrive at a deep understanding of the climate system.

  51. Re Kip Hansen, 11/28/17 @ 3:50 pm:

    Stove called the founder of the Post Modern Science, the species of science practiced almost exclusively and exhaustively in academia, the man, generally regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers of science (Wikipedia>Karl Popper), irrational. That’s Karl [I am not a scientist] Popper, the butterfly who created another kind of chaos in academia, who described his model of science with these words:

    I have no intention of defining the term ‘observable’ or ‘observable event’, though I am quite ready to elucidate it by means of either psychologistic or mechanistic examples. I think that it should be introduced as an undefined term which becomes sufficiently precise in use: as a primitive concept whose use the epistemologist has to learn, much as he has to learn the use of the term ‘symbol’, or as the physicist has to learn the use of the term ‘mass-point’. Popper LogSciDisc (1934/1959) p. 85.

    Stove missed that simple admission to rely on undefined terms, that confession to be irrational, a confession applicable to any dialog in any field. Wolfram MathWorld says, It turns out that even textbooks devoted to chaos do not really define the term. That’s academic (Post Modern) science – that’s Popper – that’s irrational.

    Kip Hansen puts a new twist on irrationality. He claims the observation that the definition of chaos doesn’t fit the Real World is sophomoric, adding a totally vague reference to some special use of the term. Of course, anyone is free to define chaos any way he wishes, but define it he must, one way or another, for the purposes of science. An unsupported claim of existence is not science, much less honest. Since Lorenz first defined the term for technical use (cited above), it has applied only to equations with initial conditions, or, equivalently, to systems controlled by such equations. These have the name dynamical systems. References available.

    No equations of any type exist in the natural world. All equations are manmade. Man’s equations do not control the natural world. The Real World is neither chaotic nor linear nor nonlinear nor in equilibrium.

    These observations are supported by Wolfram MathWorld, Wikipedia, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and surely more.

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