Clouds Down Under

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach [See Update at the end]

Sometimes climate research is just plain funny. I wrote before about Irish rain and investigated whether there is any effect on the rain from the solar variations linked to sunspots. I was looking for evidence that the Svensmark hypothesis is true. Svensmark said that changes in the heliomagnetic field related to the sunspot cycle affect the number of cosmic rays (true), and that this, in turn, affects the number of clouds (unproven). I found no evidence of any such effects in the Irish rainfall data.

In response, folks said a) rain is not the proper measure of the Svensmark effect, I should look at clouds instead, and b) I should look at some place that is drier than Ireland, where it’s basically all clouds all the time.

Fair enough, reasonable objections. So I thought I’d see what other cloud datasets I could find in drier areas. Since I’d already looked (unsuccessfully) for evidence of the Svensmark effect in US cloud data, I went to see what I could find about clouds in Australia. I found some good data, but along the way, I read something pretty hilarious. It had to do with what is called the “pan evaporation” data.

The idea behind pan evaporation is simple. Put some water in a pan. See how fast it evaporates. This measurement involves wind, temperature, humidity, solar input, and rainfall. It’s an important measure for farmers, who use it to determine when and how much to water their crops.

pan evaporation.png

Figure 1. Flat pan-type container used to collect pan evaporation data, along with an anemometer to measure wind speed.

When I saw a link to the Australian pan evaporation data, I thought hmmm, that could be interesting. So I took a look … and found a truly funny statement, viz:

However, the installation of birdguards on the pans during the late 1960s and early 1970s is known to have created an inhomogeneity in the climate record.

Ya think??

Seriously, they put out pans of water to see how fast they evaporated and they didn’t do anything to stop birds from drinking the water? Gotta love climate science. But I digress …

I did find cloud data, from what is called the ACORN-SAT network of climate stations. This is a network of high-quality stations with longer-term records. The ACORN-SAT data is here. Figure 2 shows the locations of the ACORN-SAT stations.

acorn-sat locations.png

Figure 2. Locations of the ACORN-SAT Australian climate stations

Now, the indefatigable Joanne Nova has done sterling work over at her blog showing that the temperature records from the ACORN-SAT networks have been … well … let me call it “massaged” and leave it at that. It’s a shame.

But I doubt greatly whether any such massaging has been done with the cloud data, because clouds are not political like the temperature data is.

So I went and got the cloud data. Actually, it is very detailed, in that they have recorded cloud coverage both in the morning (9AM) and the afternoon (3PM). I downloaded the data, which turns out to be a total of 888 separate files … urgg. So I girded my loins and started writing computer code. I identified all of the files containing monthly cloud data for both mornings and afternoons, that’s 260 files. I extracted them, did some simple QC on them, and saved them as a pair of CSV files (morning and afternoon clouds) so folks could look at them without the hassle I had extracting them. The data runs from July 1954 to April 2015.

Once I had the cloud data, I did a straight average on them. Yes, I could probably get a more refined answer by doing some kind of geographically-weighted average, but a straight average is generally more than adequate for this type of analysis.

Then I created a periodogram of the average Australian morning and afternoon clouds, and compared that to a periodogram of the sunspots for the same period. Figure 3 shows that result:

periodograms sunspots morning afternoon australian clouds.png

Figure 3. Periodograms, Australian clouds and sunspots.

Once again I don’t find any sign of any relationship between the sunspots and the clouds. The clouds have the usual variety of small cycles that you find in any natural dataset, including one at 12 years … but during the period the sunspot cycles were at ten and a half years. Close, but no cigar … and close only counts in horseshoes. And hand grenades. But this is neither one of those.

So, nothing to see regarding the Svensmark effect. However, there is more to be seen in the Aussie cloud data. For starters, my hypothesis that clouds and thunderstorms act to regulate the temperature implies that cloudiness should increase with temperature. And since temperatures are higher at 3PM than at 9AM, my hypothesis would suggest that there should be more clouds in the afternoon than in the morning. I’ve shown elsewhere that this is generally true in the wet tropics, but not in a mostly desert landmass like Australia. Here is the distribution of the morning and the afternoon Australian clouds …

boxplot aussie morning and afternoon clouds.png

Figure 4. Boxplots, Australian morning and afternoon clouds. Heavy black lines show medians. If the notches of two plots do not overlap this is ‘strong evidence’ that the two medians differ (Chambers et al, 1983, p. 62). “Whiskers” extend out 1.5 times the interquartile range. Circles are outliers.

Clearly, there are more clouds in Australia in the afternoon when it is warmer, as my hypothesis implies.

How much difference will the cloudiness make in the amount of sunlight that gets past the clouds to the surface? We can estimate this by using the CERES data. Here is the scatterplot of Australian cloud coverage (%) and Australian cloud solar reflections (W/m2).

Scatterplot aussie cloud reflections coverage.png

Figure 5. Scatterplot, CERES monthly cloud coverage (%) and cloud solar reflections (W/m2) for Australia.

Now, the average difference between morning and afternoon clouds in Australia is 4.6% … which would imply a decrease in afternoon sunshine on the order of 4.6 W/m2. This is a significant amount of cooling.

There’s another way to consider this, again using the CERES data. This is to look at the relationship between the cloud reflections and the temperature.

scatterplot aussie cloud reflections temperature.png

Figure 6. Scatterplot, CERES monthly cloud coverage (%) and temperature (°C) for Australia.

This shows that in Australia when the temperature goes up by 1°C, the increased clouds reflect an additional 1.4 W/m2. Again, this is in agreement with my hypothesis about the clouds being part of the temperature regulating system.

Finally, note that this is just one of the ways that the cooling increases with the clouds. In addition to the change in the amount of reflected sunlight, there are the effects of rain and thunderstorms. Both of these cool the surface strongly through a variety of effects. See my post entitled Air Conditioning Nairobi, Refrigerating The Planet for a discussion of these effects.

So that’s the result of my wandering around the Australia outback … no sunspot effects on the clouds, and increasing clouds with temperature. Plus a good laugh about the birds drinking out of the Australian evaporation pans …

My best regards to all of my Aussie mates, it’s a great country with interesting folks. If you haven’t visited there you should … and if you are Down Under and you need a tattoo, and who doesn’t need one, go see my mate Tu and his lovely wife Ify, they are both fantastic artists.

And of course, warmest wishes to everyone,


PS: As always, I politely request that you quote the exact words that you are discussing, so we can all be clear who and what you are talking about. Misunderstandings are the bane of the internet. Plus, if you wish to refute something you need to quote exactly what it is that you are refuting. I ask politely, but if you don’t quote what you are talking about, I may indeed cast aspersions on your cranial horsepower or the personal habits of your antecedents …

[UPDATE] A commenter asked to see the CEEMD analysis of the Australian clouds. Here it is …

ceemds sunspots and australian clouds.png

As you can see, there is no solar signal visible in the cloud data.


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Tom in Florida

A bit off topic but within the subject matter of temperature records.
This is the data from Augusta GA where they have been playing the Masters Golf tournament since 1935.
1935-2017 data from the same place at the same time each year (within a week or so) and untouched.
It needs to be enlarged and perhaps someone can fit it into this blog. Looks like no sign of any warming for 82 years.

R. Shearer

Good find.


Gonna be a temp rollercoaster this year there. Just sayin…..

The Masters is never off topic :). I remember walking home from school in the mid1950s when the temperature was in the 70s here excited to be watching the Masters on our 19 inch B&W TV. This morning I notice snow on the ground. The lows Friday and Saturday here are predicted to be 16F and 17F.
The only thing that has changed about the Masters for golf nuts like me is that I will be watching it on a 55 inch color TV instead of a 19 inch B&W. However, this year the warmth of Augusta will look so much more attractive and inviting than the cold outside my window.


To the best of my knowledge, the latest from CERN is our polluted atmosphere forms clouds readily enough that GCRs aren’t needed.
But prior to 1800 or so, that wasn’t true and GCRs had a major effect.


Yes, we do have many sources of CCNs now.
CERN concluded in 2016 that ionization is still a source of CCNs, but not enough to affect climate at the present:
Fundamental questions remain about the origin of newly formed atmospheric aerosol particles because data from laboratory measurements have been insufficient to build global models. In contrast, gas-phase chemistry models have been based on laboratory kinetics measurements for decades. We built a global model of aerosol formation by using extensive laboratory measurements of rates of nucleation involving sulfuric acid, ammonia, ions, and organic compounds conducted in the CERN CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets) chamber. The simulations and a comparison with atmospheric observations show that nearly all nucleation throughout the present-day atmosphere involves ammonia or biogenic organic compounds, in addition to sulfuric acid. A considerable fraction of nucleation involves ions, but the relatively weak dependence on ion concentrations indicates that for the processes studied, variations in cosmic ray intensity do not appreciably affect climate through nucleation in the present-day atmosphere.

Count to 10

That is very interesting. I remember reading years back a convincing argument that the glacial and interglacial periods match closely with the motion of the sun through the galactic spiral arms.


“…and close only counts in horseshoes. And hand grenades.”
You forgot nuclear weapons. Close counts with them, too. 😄

Sweet Old Bob

Great minds think alike .. or maybe sub sailors do ?

Richard of NZ

In fact any explosive device.

DC Cowboy

and artillery, mortars, carpet bombing, cluster munitions, MOBs …


And dancing!

D. J. Hawkins

If you’d ever seen me dance, you’d retract that statement in a New York minute.

Sweet Old Bob

“Close” counts in horseshoes , hand grenades …..and nuclear weapons …..

You probably have already discussed this elsewhere, but different clouds effect sunlight differently. Flat gray clouds make a landscape dull and drab, (but sometimes increase visibility) but white, puffy cumulus can be all but blinding. I read of cumulus messing up some sort of sunshine detector so that it was reading 110% of available sunshine.
In conclusion, I think we need more funding for more sensitive instruments. Please remit in a brown paper bag.

M Courtney

Fig 3. Morning and Evening Clouds are obviously correlated. Unsurprisingly.
But Sunspots do seem to have a pull on the clouds. – at least over the four year cycles.
From an eyeball a graph of above average and below average for all the cycles would look like they would correlate very well.
OK. That throws our magnitudes. That throws out all those mini-epicycles. But is that really losing a lot?

Hi Willis, can I suggest a further refinement, try splitting the data by latitude.
From my experience “Warmer in the afternoon” is far more pronounced at higher latitudes, like Melbourne.
At lower latitudes the blazing tropical sun usually warms everything close to maximum temperature well before midday.


High humidity level has a strong effect on earlier ground level tropical morning heat. On lower humidity days the temp rise is much more gradual.


I agree with Eric Worrall I live in Melbourne (37 South) and summer and autumn days frequently start cloudy but end up with clear sunny skies by mid afternoon However as a fairly regular visitor to the Gold Coast (28 South) with 9 degrees difference I have experienced the opposite pattern occurs daily, usually starting with sunny still mornings followed by cloudy windy afternoons-often sufficient to cause bathers to leave the great surf beaches for the bars and coffee shops


Eric, Willis – what about longitude? Eliminating the clearly different climate of the eastern coastal strip, and maybe also the extreme west, Might concentrate any effects the desert climate has in the results. Maybe not the sunspots, but cloudiness v temperature am/pm, as Willis surmised in the head post?
Thanks to Willis once again for doing the hard yards- love your challenging look at things

Retired Engineer John

In figure 6, the reflectance is generally below your straight line and it crosses it around 28-30 C. Isn’t this an indication of a thermostat type action ?

Mary A Russell Author

Hi Willis, I think any funding for this type of research serves all people with the change for a better life, when we understand science. Thank you.


Close also counts in curling, which is a
ALL about being closest to the pin.

Sweet Old Bob

And it counts in Tiddly-winks.


And in crokinole, pitchnut, carrom, marbles, shove ha’penny, archery and shuffleboard, in the final tally. And probably dozens more.


While initial results from the CERN experiments have been promising, I still don’t see the Svensmark effect as a major driver of climate. However, I would reiterate two points about trying to detect the effect in climate data that have been repeatedly made by Svensmark and others:
1. The Svensmark effect is supposed to increase cloud due to cascading cosmic rays providing additional cloud seeding nucli. As such, this effect should only be noticeable over the oceans where other cloud nucleation particles are lowest. Over land, dust and pollen dominate. Looking for the Svensmark effect in cloud data over land will yield little.
2. Svensmark has proposed that a decrease in cloud may be detectable after a Forbush event where there is a sudden reduction in cosmic rays. But this would only be detectable in an open ocean location where there was a site specific cosmic ray count, the Forbush decease was significant (~20%) and the air was known to saturated.
While I am not convinced that the Svensmark effect is a major driver of climate, I do note that many have indicated just a 2% decrease in cloud cover over the oceans would account for all slight warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. However I am convinced that the Svensmark effect cannot be dismissed by comparing cloud cover over land to sunspot data.

The air over some ocean areas get dust from land, such as some of the tropical and subtropical North Atlantic getting dust from the Sahara. Also there are ocean areas downwind of areas with lots of industry, motor traffic, farms with automotive machinery, buildings heated by coal or older tech oil furnaces, or plants that produce airborne pollen. Ocean areas where cosmic ray variation are a major factor for the amount of cloud formation could be rather limited.


You raise valid points. Modern pollution, especially that from China, has a huge footprint over the ocean. Dust from the Sahara is found in the soil of the Amazon.
My choice of observation zone would be mid Pacific in the ITCZ.
I wouldn’t choose “down the back of the sofa”, as in “I can’t find the Svensmark effect down the back of the sofa, therefore it doesn’t exist”. I found my car keys down the back of the sofa once, but it’s not the place I’d hope to find evidence of the solar influence on climate. Looking at cloud cover over land for the Svensmark effect is looking down the back of the sofa.
For many WUWT readers, the whole “I can’t find solar influence on climate in icecream sales figures” routine is getting old and it lost its comedy value long ago.


“my wandering around the Australia outback”
But did you get bitten by a redback? You haven’t been properly outback unless you’ve found a redback in the dunny.

or been attacked by a drop bear….

Hi Willis – love your posts.
I have an idea – since the Svensmark effect is driven by ionizing radiation – let’s take our radioactive waste and put it in permanent orbit around the Earth. Two birds with one stone!


It is likely that if you continue to look where you are reasonably certain you won’t find anything that is exactly what you will find, a form of negative confirmation bias. It appears that stratospheric ozone plays some part in the climatology of the Jet stream,
the Jet stream certainly plays a role in weather.
Could there possibly be an 11 year signal in the stratospheric ozone?

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

I don’t know what the author wants to say from this article? Cause and effect have always present some type of lag — solar-sunspot 10.5 years cycle and cloud 12.0 cycle.
I studied sunspot cycle presence in solar and net radiation over some Indian stations as back as 1977 [Indian Journal of Radio & Space Phys., 6:60-66]. They showed the presence of 10.5 plus or minus 0.5 year cycle and its multiples; as well sub-multiples with less significance. .
I presented a method to estimate sunshine from cloud amount — Solar Energy (Pergamon Press): 15:281-285 (1974).
Summary of papers on estimation of global solar radiation and evaporation through precipitation [cube root of precipitation) (over northeast Brazil) were presented in Solar Energy, 38:97-104 (1987).
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

D. J. Hawkins

Cause and effect have always present some type of lag — solar-sunspot 10.5 years cycle and cloud 12.0 cycle

I don’t believe a periodogram is sensitive to lags. If one signal lags another by a fixed amount it still has the same period. It’s just shifted in phase.

J Mac

There’s a reason why shallow pans of water outdoors are called bird ‘baths’. The birdies are doing more than just drinking. Those little blighters throw it all over the place, while they’re getting bathed and refreshed!

J Mac

An interesting analysis, Willis! Thanks.

This shows that in Australia when the temperature goes up by 1°C, the increased clouds reflect an additional 1.4 W/m2. Again, this is in agreement with my hypothesis about the clouds being part of the temperature regulating system
Won’t the clouds also direct more IR back towards the surface via BB radiation? Any data on that?

The theory is based on cloud radiative impact “declining” by 0.7 W/m2 per 1.0C change in temperatures.
This is really based on the idea that low clouds decline per 1.0C increase in temperatures. You are not getting a decline in low clouds if reflection increases by 1.4 W/M2. That means clouds increased.
There would have to be an offsetting 2.1 W/m2 increase in clouds holding in out-going radiation for that to happen. And we know cloud reflection of solar radiation is about 2 times bigger than the cloud holding in of out-going radiation so that would be extremely unlikely to occur. But climate science will not give up on this feedback effect because it is crucial for the math to work at 3.0C per doubling. AND, they will simply NOT measure it just in case the sign goes the other way. Perhaps Willis can run the numbers for Australia here. My guess is it is still a strong negative feedback rather than a positive feedback.

There is no doubt that clouds are part of the temperature regulating system. Anyone who has ever been outside, especially in Australia, will agree with this idea. I would regard your hypothesis about the clouds being part of the temperature regulating system as sound.

Bob in Castlemaine

Simple birdbathology would tell these taxpayer funded meteorologists that birds not only drink drink water that has been conveniently laid on for them but they also enthusiastically bath in it, splashing large amounts of the wet stuff out onto the ground.

Carbon Bigfoot

Willis in another lifetime I held a private pilot’s license and flew single engine land planes, e.g.,, Cessna 172 and Piper Archer, all on business and pleasure. Weather was always a consideration and all major airports issued forecasts daily, updated during the day/evening. Since I was never Instrument-rated I could only legally fly under VFR ( visual flight rules ). One of the criteria for VFR was cloud cover—the extent of which was forecasted, as well as the altitude. I have to believe that information is archived at the FAA ( Federal Aviation Administration ) or its weather affiliate whoever that was in the 1980s and going forward. I can’t guarantee the extent of archiving or where to start your search but I’m certain there is someone on this site that might offer you some direction. That might provide the United States cloud cover information you seek.

However, the installation of birdguards on the pans during the late 1960s and early 1970s is known to have created an inhomogeneity in the climate record. – W

Yeah mate, the effect is known as the pan evaporation parrot-dox down here! 😉


You could treat the oceans as a giant pan.if you could keep the budgies out. But as always, it’s the plague of penguins that really does yer head in.


Have you considered resolving clouds against barometric pressure as well as temperature? That is have temperature and barometric pressure as the independent variables and cloudiness as the dependent variable.
Low pressure systems are often accompanied by hot weather and cloudiness, and high pressure systems the opposite, with cold southerlies and often not a lot of cloud. This should bring out the dependence of cloudiness upon temperature even more, I think.

Michael Carter

So often I see a focus only on cloud effect during daylight hours. What about night? IME A cloud free atmosphere at night results in more rapid cooling than when cloudy. At any one time 50% of Earth is in shade
Re: cooling by thunderstorms. I worked for 12 months in Darfur. For several months thunderstorms would last for several hours from late afternoon through to about 10 pm, every night. Thunder was a consistent growl with flickering light that lit up ones bedroom as though there was a faulty street light right outside. It was as though a mighty artillery battle was in force. Wonderful

Robert from oz

Here in North East Victoria it is noticeable the afternoon cloud buildup and until now I’ve never really thought about it .

Gary Pearse

Willis, clearly other drivers than GCRs cause the gteater amount of cloud formation. Your thermostat effect certainly doesn’t wait for calming of sunspots. There obviously is an abundance of suitable nuclei to give us clouds on short notice each day – meteoric, volcanic and wind lofted dust, organic, industrial and volcanic chemical aerosols… Any signal would be cloaked in noise.
Certainly the Wilson Cloud Chamber does demonstrate that GCRs and ions knocked off atoms in the atmosphere by them leave thin cloud trails. Also clearly, looking at the cloud chamber photos, the trails are discrete and fairly sparse, not the sort of density to fill the chamber with cloud, and the experiments are designed to maximize the effect – IIRC, the chamber is supersaturated with alcohol vapor. Presumably, any possible manifestation of it should be looked for over the sea with relative humidity 100% and hopefully having >5% detectable effect at best.
I makes sense that millions of years ago there would also have been abundant earth sourced aerosols from the same natural sources we have today so GCRs, unless there is a reason to believe they were multiples of their present density, would not have had an important place in climate.

Greg Freemyer

CERN has used their ultra clean CLOUD experiment to run tests with the chamber filled with air similar to today’s atmosphere, and with a simulated pre-industrial atmosphere.
– With the pre-industrial atmosphere, GCRs had a meaningful impact on increasing the amount of CCNs formed (Cloud Condensing Nuclei).
– With today’s atmosphere, there was no meaningful increase in CCNs. That is because the modern polluted atmosphere already had a large number of CCNs present.
So you don’t have to go back millions of years. You just have to look back to the little ice age. The quite sun very likely did trigger that because it allowed higher numbers of GCRs into the atmosphere and thus there was increased cloud coverage.
If that is true, the approaching solar minimum won’t have the same effect because we are already in a high cloud environment due to the sulfuric acid, etc. in the atmosphere.


This suggestion sounds useful. I remember a mention in Sci Am some decades ago that we currently have twice the days with overcast in the American Midwest, compared to a century ago. The difference was attributed to jet contrails which spread out and cover large areas around the 5 mile altitude. This sounds right because in my part of the Sierras there are several months a year when I can watch it happening in the morning. Those contrails just spread right out.
If true, the effect of cosmic rays would be weaker nowadays, at least in certain places and times.
Apologies if this has already been mentioned.


As posted above, CERN didn’t say that there is no modern effect, but that it’s not important now, thanks to Earth’s polluted air (“nearly all nucleation”):
Chimp April 3, 2018 at 3:22 pm
Yes, we do have many sources of CCNs now.
CERN concluded in 2016 that ionization is still a source of CCNs, but not enough to affect climate at the present:
Fundamental questions remain about the origin of newly formed atmospheric aerosol particles because data from laboratory measurements have been insufficient to build global models. In contrast, gas-phase chemistry models have been based on laboratory kinetics measurements for decades. We built a global model of aerosol formation by using extensive laboratory measurements of rates of nucleation involving sulfuric acid, ammonia, ions, and organic compounds conducted in the CERN CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets) chamber. The simulations and a comparison with atmospheric observations show that nearly all nucleation throughout the present-day atmosphere involves ammonia or biogenic organic compounds, in addition to sulfuric acid. A considerable fraction of nucleation involves ions, but the relatively weak dependence on ion concentrations indicates that for the processes studied, variations in cosmic ray intensity do not appreciably affect climate through nucleation in the present-day atmosphere.


Willis, I hope your calculations take into account the fact that clouds go round in the opposite direction (anti-clockwise) down here in Australia.


It looks to me like the morning and afternoon clouds are closer in percentage at the height of sunspot activity than at other times but it doesn’t look like a particularly strong effect if its one at all. What exactly are you hoping to see in the periodigram, Willis?


Does Australia have a sea breeze influence, especially in the warm months? Most of the population lives near the coast as from the map, and so are the reporting stations. Here in North Carolina, the sea breeze impacts the coastal areas almost every day in the summer. Move inland and it wanes.
Also off the NC coast runs the Gulf Stream which has its own set of cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds forming which runs to a different timetable. Our area is humid sub tropical with very high dew points. Not sure what the climate is in temperate Oz.


The inner city temperatures are dominated by urban heat build up. Here is the Sydney data:
The very coastal areas are a little cooler and show no urban heat. This station is right on the coast about 100km north of Sydney with onshore prevailing winds:
This is a coastal location about 200km south of Sydney:
Obviously no longer recording.
So started out a little warmer than Sydney but now cooler as Sydney has warmed. Sydney has severe traffic congestion and the buildings consume an enormous amount of energy year round.
Recorded global warming in Australia is primarily due to traffic congestion and taller city skylines with enormous growth of energy in those buildings. The coastal locations with long temperature records show no warming on average unless you look at the homogenised data. Some show increasing, some show decreasing and some show little trend. It would appear that 1890s were the hottest if you look at the non-city stations having a long record.


Thing about Newcastle’s (Nobbys) record is that it is not used in the BoM’s ACORN set, they prefer to use data from Williamtown RAAF base located further inland and with a much shorter data-base. Wonder why? 😉


Tomago smelter commenced operations in 1983 and was expanded in the 1990s. Also the Kooragang coal loader and adjacent fertiliser plant commenced around the same time. These major industrial sites are about 8km from the airport. The air traffic would have increased over that time as well so the airport would have a measurable heat supply from these facilities.


Williamtown is Australia’s 2nd largest RAAF base and also home to Newcastle’s civil airport. It is also protected from the sea-breezes by sand dunes located between it and the coast.


To answer rbabcock’s question about sea breezes, on the east coast they are called ‘nor-easters’ (north east winds) and cool down a few degrees of an afternoon.
However, our major cooling winds are those known as ‘southerlys’ or ‘southerly busters’. When a strong southerly blows in, it can cool a hot summers day of +35C down to 20-25C in less than half an hour.
P.S. I live on the east coast near Newcastle.


Perth, on Australia’s west coast, looks forward to the “Fremantle Doctor”, the summer cooling breezes that regularly come in, often quite early in the day. But the summer cooling breezes that fascinated me were on the very hot Nullarbor Plain, over 100 miles away from the Southern Ocean.


I might want to use Earth albedo data and not just cloud data for one specific location (Australia) because those might be subject to local regional weather phenomena at decadal or less duration. There have been several papers on this and one thing that comes out from them is that given the thermal inertial of the oceans, the 11 year cycle is too fast to show up significantly though we can see changes in sea surface temperatures that track the 11 year cycle going back to about 1850.
VARIATIONS IN THE EARTH’S ALBEDO Goode et al 2002 page 7


It may well require an overall drop in solar magnetic field for longer than 10 years (more than one cycle) for a significant climate change to manifest (Dalton, for example). I believe Dr. David Evans has hypothesized as much, too. If Svensmark is correct, we should begin to see an unmistakable manifestation of this within the next 5 years or so (possibly beginning now and we are already seeing a reduction in sea surface temperatures with the global SST anomaly now approaching 0 according to the 1981-2000 climatology).

“But I doubt greatly whether any such massaging has been done with the cloud data, because clouds are not political like the temperature data is.”
Why wouldn’t the cloud data have been “massaged?” Clouds may not be political, but data is.


crosspatch…Assuming that someone has ‘massaged’ the cloud cover data, how would have they known what data to input to insure that their data wouldn’t accidentally wind up cooling the tempature trend once a later hypothesis maybe successfully discerned what caused any future tempature trend? More clouds…less clouds? That would really be maliciously throwing logjams into honest scientific enquirery if correct data would lead to a sooner understanding of what causes climate and someone plays games with the data. Let’s hope the data is intact, and honest. But perhaps it should be reviewed for integrity at every level.

One thing I would like to see is CEEMD analysis of the sunspot dataset, the 9 AM cloud dataset, and the 3 PM cloud dataset. By any chance is there a CEEMD component in the cloud datasets that alternates between having a period near 8.5 years and a period near 12.5 years so as to be jittering around the sunspot cycle (or the sunspot cycle with a little lag), or doing so most of the time?

I’m pretty sure sunspots are correlated with QLav sales … with sufficient fudge factors.

comment image
The CERES data IS the pause. Worldwide, TOA SW flux is decreasing. It is staying here, and causing net flux (in minus out) to increase.


+1 what Wolf said. Doing proxy for cloud cover over land and NOT finding the GCR/sun affect is exactly what is expected according to Svensmark. Willis your work is a total waste of time.


Note the flak Jeremy. You’re over the target …

bill hunter

“Clearly, there are more clouds in Australia in the afternoon when it is warmer, as my hypothesis implies.”
I would take more afternoon cloudiness to be the result of surface “warming” spurring both evaporation and convection and thus clouds. However, once both the oceans and atmosphere adjust to a warmer temperature would there be more clouds?


How can it ‘adjust’ (equilibrate), there are seasons, with sun moving 46 degrees, north to south and back, every year.

richard verney

I am unsure whether one can call this theory new, since this is what I learnt when I was at school. This was particularly discussed as the profile of the tropical day, and was a characteristic of the tropical climate.
The only thing is that since we were currently going through a cooling phase, no one was suggesting that this some how regulated climate change. .

Leo Smith

It is amusing to look at the AVERAGE temperature of a dry desert and the AVERAGE temperature of a maritime climate at the same latitude.
I was expecting a difference,. Due to cloud level changes. To my complele surprise a half hour of googling revealed almost none.
No, I don’t have an explanation.

Look at the temperature range that comprises the “average’. 10-30=20 18-22=20


I don’t know for around the edges of Oz but out in the middle when it’s warm and thunderstormy [and at the moment it’s still a little bit warm], the storms most commonly occur in the late afternoon.
Not always but commonly. The temperature will build up to 40 or 42C or so and you’ll see thunderheads forming. Late in the afternoon a storm will wander across your patch and the temperature will “plunge” from low 40Cs to around mid-30c.
So you get afternoon cooling associated with increased cloudiness, and a bit of rain [that’s associated with cloudiness too].
Obviously you need a bit of moisture around for the system to work. In central west Oz that’s often delivered by degraded cyclones [that’s hurricanes to folks in the NH] or tropical lows. Once you’ve got a bit of heat and moisture away it all goes. Not a lot of need for cosmic rays.

Alan Tomalty

I now believe that Willis’s theory is correct. And it should be taken further. Most of this comes from Alan Siddons thoughts but I have added my own.
CO2 and H2O absorb IR. The absorption then causes the motion of these molecules to vibrate and rotate , and this then emits light (photons). When a gaseous molecule such as CO2 absorbs a photon it emits that photon in a picosecond. That is assuming that most of the CO2 molecule haven’t decayed or collided in the 1st place but that assumption is valid because IR moves at the speed of light and photons are always being absorbed and emitted . Now there is another player in the game and that is called Mr. Heat. Mr. Heat and Mr. light are strongly related, but they aren’t the same. For instance, heat can’t actually be radiated; only the light that heat brings about can. By the same token, light itself has no temperature because temperature is an index of molecular motion, and a beam of light isn’t composed of molecules. In short, “heat” can be regarded as molecular excitement and light as electromagnetic excitement.
Heated masses always emit light some of it infrared. That’s a direct consequence of molecules in motion. And while it’s true that some substances may be transparent to infrared light, it doesn’t follow that they can’t be heated or, if heated, might not emit infrared. NASA still cant understand that.
NASA says “This burning adds heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the air. These gases are called greenhouse gases.”
A more correct statement would be to say that this burning adds IR trapping gases.
There are three ways for heat (better to say thermal energy) to move from one zone to another: by conduction, convection, and radiation. Conductive heat transfer involves direct contact, wherein vibrations spread from molecule to molecule. Convective transfer involves a mass in motion: expanded by heat, a fluid is pushed up and away by the denser fluid that surrounds it. Radiative transfer arises when molecules intercept the light that warmer molecules are emitting, which brings about a resonant molecular vibration — i.e., heating.
Heat is transferred and absorbed in several ways, then, and no substance is immune to being heated, which means that all gases absorb heat.
So how does NASA go wrong? By consistently confusing light and heat and by trusting computer models.
The Earth first absorbs the ultraviolet , visible light and a much smaller amount of infrared radiation from the Sun, which is then converted to heat upon impact with clouds or eventually the earth’s surface. This heat radiates out to the atmosphere either by evaporation or by radiation, where the greenhouse gases then absorb some of the heat.
An example of the kind of science that NASA practices is the following is from their website regarding convection.
“There is scientific consensus that the Earth is warming. But recently, controversy in the climate modeling community has been heating up over theories that increased convection of water vapor into the upper atmosphere may actually dry the upper atmosphere, resulting in cooling that could offset the extent of predicted global warming. Water vapor is by far the dominant natural greenhouse gas, trapping more of the Earth’s heat than all other atmospheric gases combined.
To test the theory of convection, one Earth scientist turned to a computer model for help. Brian Soden, a physical scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., performs studies designed to test climate models. How well has Soden found climate models to work?To the extent that models can reproduce the observed natural variability gives us confidence in using them on longer time scales, he said.”
I didn’t bother to read further cause I really choked on that one statement. I hope NASA doesn’t use models to protect its astronauts. Oh I forgot. It doesn’t have astronauts anymore. Sighs in relief.
By selective context and vagueness, then, NASA paints an impression that it doesnt matter that all gases can absorb heat. They concentrate on only the IR absorption. Thus, since nitrogen and oxygen don’t respond to infrared, NASA feels justified to say that
“just as the major atmospheric gases (oxygen and nitrogen) are transparent to incoming sunlight, they are also transparent to outgoing thermal infrared.”
Heat absorption isn’t mentioned.
Why does NASA do this? Because it has a flimsy yet lucrative theory to foist on the taxpaying public, that’s why. As the space agency explains
“The atmosphere today contains more greenhouse gas molecules, so more of the infrared energy emitted by the surface ends up being absorbed by the atmosphere. Since some of the extra energy from a warmer atmosphere radiates back down to the surface, Earth’s surface temperature rises. By increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases, we are making Earth’s atmosphere a more efficient greenhouse.”
To make this idea seem plausible, therefore, it’s crucial to fix people’s attention on the 1% of the atmosphere that can be heated by radiant transfer instead of the 99% and more that is heated by direct contact with the earth’s surface and then by convection. This is where Willis Eschenbach shines. His theory of cloud formation (heating and cooling ) makes sure that there is no runaway global heating nor cooling.
NASA on the otherhand is stacking the deck, you see. If they made it clear that every species of atmospheric gas gets heated mainly by conductive transfer, and that all heated bodies radiate light, then even a child could connect the dots: “Oh. So the whole atmosphere radiates heat to the earth and makes it warmer. All of the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas.”
Crash, boom, there goes the theory. And there goes the abundant funding that this fear-promoting “science” attracts so well. For what CO2 and water vapor emit is miniscule compared to the buzzing multitude of heated nitrogen, oxygen, and even argon, all of it radiating infrared, too. Keep in mind that thermal radiation from this forgotten 99% has never been proposed or imagined to increase the earth’s temperature, although by the theory’s very tenets, it should. All gases in the atmosphere absorb heat from the Earth’s surface and radiate infrared back towards the Earth, increasing the surface temperature.
Consider too that since most air molecules are infrared-transparent, they can’t be heated by the infrared that CO2 and water vapor emit. This means that downward radiation from “greenhouse gases” can only explain how the earth’s surface might get warmer, not the rest of the atmosphere. This underscores, of course, how much the surface is heating this 99% by conduction and convection alone, since radiative transfer can’t do the job.
To repeat: Irrespective of the manner of transfer, all gases absorb heat, and all heated gases radiate heat (infrared light) in close proportion to their temperature. Major gases like nitrogen and oxygen, then, do not just radiate heat to the earth below, but the total of this radiation vastly exceeds what minor players like carbon dioxide and water vapor contribute. Ironically, another NASA publication reinforces this point.
“In solids, the molecules and atoms are vibrating continuously. In a gas, the molecules are really zooming around, continuously bumping into each other. Whatever the amount of molecular motion occurring in matter, the speed is related to the temperature. The hotter the material, the faster its molecules are vibrating or moving.”
Electromagnetic radiation is produced whenever electric charges accelerate – that is, when they change either the speed or direction of their movement. In a hot object, the molecules are continuously vibrating (if a solid) or bumping into each other (if a liquid or gas), sending each other off in different directions and at different speeds. Each of these collisions produces electromagnetic radiation at frequencies all across the electromagnetic spectrum.
… Any matter that is heated above absolute zero generates electromagnetic energy. The intensity of the emission and the distribution of frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum depend upon the temperature of the emitting matter.
Accordingly, any heated gas emits infrared. There’s nothing unique about CO2. Otherwise, substances like nitrogen and oxygen would truly be miracles of physics: Heat ’em as much as you wish, but they’d never radiate in response.
Yet this amounts to a double-whammy. For meteorologists acknowledge that our atmosphere is principally heated by surface contact and convective circulation. Surrounded by the vacuum of space, moreover, the earth can only dissipate this energy by radiation. On one hand, then, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do not radiate the thermal energy they acquire, they rob the earth of a means of cooling off — which makes them “greenhouse gases” by definition. On the other hand, though, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do radiate infrared, then they are also “greenhouse gases,” which defeats the premise that only radiation from the infrared-absorbers raises the Earth’s temperature. Either way, therefore, the convoluted theory we’ve been going by is wrong.
An idea has been drummed into our heads for decades: that roughly 1% of the atmosphere’s content is responsible for shifting the earth’s surface temperature from inimical to benign. This conjecture has mistakenly focused on specifically IR absorbing gases, however, ignoring heat-absorbing gases altogether. Any heated atmospheric gas radiates infrared energy back toward the earth, meaning that the dreadful power we’ve attributed to light-absorbing molecules up to now has been wildly exaggerated and must be radically adjusted — indeed, pared down perhaps a hundred times. Because all gases radiate the heat they acquire, trace-gas heating theory is an untenable concept, a long-held illusion we’d be wise to abandon before we all go bankrupt.
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Broadly correct but a couple of errors that I won’t go into here.
Willis, however, appears to vehemently deny the effectiveness of conduction and convection in warming the surface even though that is a logical implication of his own thermostat observations.
For a fuller description of the entire process see here:
And our host doesn’t accept it either 🙂


This view seems to tie in nicely with Mockton’s recent paper and its calculation of the (insignificant) contribution of the CO2 component of the atmosphere. It’s not a new idea but it is gaining traction.
Here’s another recent paper on the correlation of (or rather lack thereof) CO2 and temperature throughout the Phanerozoic era:


Now, the average difference between morning and afternoon clouds in Australia is 4.6%
An example of an average day in the life of clouds over Australia…
(hit the “rock” button, set animation speed to suit your taste after all the images load)
I suspect the 4.6% figure is a reflection of limited data from ground-based fleeting and fuzzy cloud fraction measurements, representing only a very small fraction of the Australian sky—and that the real difference is, on average, significantly higher, perhaps 10-15%.

Peter Langlee

Interesting, the 12 year cycle is present in South Africa as well.
Periodicities, ENSO effects and trends of some South African rainfall series: an update
“Earlier, Tyson et al.10 showed that a 10-year to 12-year oscillation affected
the southern coastal region and the adjacent inland area
predominantly, while Dyer11 and Dyer and Gosnell12 attempted
to link the 10-year to 12-year oscillation to the 11-year sunspot
cycle. Vines13 examined data in the southern and northeastern”
“A 10- to 12-year oscillation accounts for over 30 percent of interannual rainfall variance along the south coast of South Africa (Mason & Jury, 1997).”
In India:
“Although most of the variance in the rainfall time series is due to causes unconnected with the sunspot cycle, the present study suggests the existence of a weak positive association between Indian rainfall and sunspots on the 22‐year time scale, although the causal connection is unknown. “


There is strong circa 13y cycle in many basins of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. It occurs in many other datasets. I have never found a clear indication of the cause.comment image


It is worth noting that those spectrograms were done on d/dt(SST) which attenuates longer periods, so they are stronger than they appear in the time series.

There is a simple explanation for the two dominant peaks that have frequencies longer than 7 years which are seen in your spectral power density plot.
A. 9.1 years – This is just the harmonic mean of the prograde Lunar Anomalistic Cycle (8.85 years) and the retrograde half Lunar Nodical Cycle (18.6 / 2 = 9.3 years).
2 x (8.85 x 9.3) / (9.3 + 8.85) = 9.069 years ~ 9.1 years.
B. 13.0 years – If you look for the dominant lunar tidal cycles that are aligned with the seasons,.on inter-decadal time scales, you find that they are the 18.03 year Saros cycle and the 31.0/62.0 year Perigean Spring tidal cycle. The 13.00 year period is just the pseudo cycle caused by the interaction of these two cycles. Or put more simply:
31 years – 18 years = 13 years.

In other words, what I am trying to say is that the dominant driving mechanism for the majority of the variance seen in the world mean tem[eratures on decadal to inter-decadal time scales is caused by the tidal forces of the extreme Perigean Spring tides and the cycles that they form by their alignment with the seasonal calendar.
The reason why we see the Perigean Spring tidal cycles that are aligned with the seasonal calendar in the temperature record has to do with where these extreme tides are applied to the Earth’s surface.
The tidal peaks in the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans that are caused by the Perigean Spring tides that are aligned with the Equinoxes, and which cross the Earth’s equator, exhibit cycles of 9.1-year (i.e. 8 Lunar Evective Cycles = 9.055 years) and 31- year (i.e. 27.5 Full Moon Cycles).
I claim that the Extreme Perigean peak tidal events that cross the Earth’s Equator lead to Pacific-Penetrating Madden-Julian events, that produce an increase in the Westerly-Wind Bursts (WWB’s), that trigger moderate to strong El Nino events. In this way, the Moon’s seasonal tides control the relative frequency of El Nino to La Nina events that regulate the warming and cooling of the Earth’s temperature on decadal to interdecadal times scales.
Nikolay Sidorenkov and I are submitting a series of papers to support our claims.The first can be found at:


Seriously, they put out pans of water to see how fast they evaporated and they didn’t do anything to stop birds from drinking the water? Gotta love climate science.

The volume that bird drinks is probably not a problem but they will likely take a bath too, splashing far more water and flying off a bit wet. Neither is it clear by they think birds are a the problem. There is plenty of wildlife in Australia and it ALL needs water. On thirty ‘roo would probably have more impact than a flock of screeching galah birds.

Robert from oz
Coeur de Lion

Does any of this interesting stuff feature in the many pages of IPCC cerebration? AR5 for eg ?


Well, the Svensmark effect hasn’t been found down the back of the sofa. Where next will the solar influence on climate not be found? I see you shiver in antici …

… pation !


Can’t argue with the data but…
A month ago, based on a recent solar flare, a Queensland Australia private weather forcaster stated that roughly about now, a cyclone would hit the Queensland coast. The Weather Bureau catagorically and repeatedly stated that due to unfavourable weather conditions, there was no chance of a cyclone despite the traversing low.
And now here I sit in the tail of a cyclone.
Not the first time. Happens almost annually. Convetional scientists completely rubbish the link. The only mechanism I can think of is Svensmarks.

Using Australian clouds which are determined primarily by diurnal temperature ranges is as ineffective as using Irish clouds where it is nearly always cloudy.
I’d like to see Willis’s analysis replicated by referring to jet stream waviness combined with total global cloudiness.
And I’d like to see the final outturn adjusted to take account of ocean cycles in all the ocean basins.
You would probably still see a pretty chaotic scenario over one or two solar cycles but across 3 or more cycles I would expect to see a solar relationship with global cloudiness and jet stream waviness.

D. J. Hawkins

Your very first sentence suggests that the Svensmark hypothesis is still an explanation in search of a phenomenon. If you now have to look at jet stream waviness, how significant can the effect be? If you want to “ad hoc” the hypothesis, why don’t you do the heavy lifting yourself?


I think, like me, clouds need time to get up in the morning!
As you well know, at the micro level the process is a fine balance between the Vapour Pressure of water and it’s Partial Pressure under the prevailing conditions, with the basic rule that nature always hunts about equilibrium conditions. Upon rising the Vapour Pressure drops but the Partial Pressure does not, which creates the imbalance causing condensation. However there needs to be a trigger to initiate this and this is is provided by aerosol particles. otherwise super cooling of the gaseous water occurs.
I understand that increased cosmic radiation is supposed to provide additional trigger sites to that of aerosols thus reducing the supercooling effect; but am not sure what the overall effect would be. Perhaps this would lead to the clouds forming at a lower level than otherwise and what that means I know not.
As for your statistical researches I am not surprised that you find little connection between cloud cover and sunspots mainly because there is little, if any, change in the level of enthalpy transfers taking place; but I might be wrong on that.
Best regards