Sunspots, Verse 25

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

I started out as a true believer that sunspots (or something that changes in sync with sunspots, like heliomagnetism, cosmic rays, solar wind, etc.) had a strong effect on the weather. When I was a kid I read that the great British astronomer William Hershel had said that British wheat prices were affected by the sunspot cycle. Made sense to me …

So when I started looking into the question, I figured it would be a piece of cake to find evidence supporting the connection … but nothing in climate science is simple. I started by looking into Hershel’s claim, and I was going to write it up … but then I found a scientific paper entitled “On the insignificance of Herschel’s sunspot correlation“. I hadn’t put much time into my research, and it was much better than my poor attempt. It clearly showed that Herschel was … well … not to put too fine a point on it, completely wrong.

Undaunted, I continued to look for correlations, and I’ve done so from time to time ever since. At this point I’ve looked in more than 20 places, and found no correlation. I append these studies at the end of this post.

Yesterday, a chance comment about sea surface temperature (SST) gave me a new thought about how to look for the signal. In general, I’ve looked at various time-series records of some parameter—river levels, lake levels, cloud amounts, volcanoes, and the like. I’ve analyzed them either with Fourier Analysis or CEEMD analysis.

Anyhow, the idea I had was to divide monthly gridded temperature datasets into months where the sunspots were higher than the median sunspot number for the period, and months where sunspots were lower than that median. Then, I’d subtract the gridcell-by-gridcell average of the low-sunspot months from that of the high-sunspot months. If the theory that low sunspot cycles were associated with low temperatures were true, I’d expect to find a positive difference between the two.

Since the original idea was about sea surface temperature (SST), I thought I’d start with that. The best gridded SST dataset I know of is the Reynolds OI dataset. It starts in 1981, and uses a mixture of satellite and surface data. From the NOAA site:

The NOAA 1/4° daily Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature (or daily OISST) is an analysis constructed by combining observations from different platforms (satellites, ships, buoys) on a regular global grid. A spatially complete SST map is produced by interpolating to fill in gaps.

It’s available here as a NetCDF document. Figure 1 shows the result of the analysis.

Figure 1. Average of high-sunspot-number months minus the average of low-sunspot-number months, Reynolds Optimally Interpolated Sea Surface Temperature. “High-sunspot” months averaged 135 sunspots; “low-sunspot” months averaged 26 sunspots.

As you can see, not only is the difference very tiny, it has the wrong sign. If low sunspot numbers actually lead to low temperatures, then high minus low should give a positive result. But in this case, it’s a negative result, and it’s only four-hundredths of one degree. In other words … no sign of sunspots affecting the SST.

Next, I thought I’d take a look at a global dataset. I used the Berkeley Earth gridded land and ocean data. I picked an arbitrary cutoff date of 1950, because observations before that start getting sparse. The data is available here as a NetCDF document. I did the same thing, dividing it into high-sunspot and low-sunspot months, and subtracted the low from the high. Figure 2 shows the results.

Figure 2. As in Figure 1, but with the Berkeley Earth global temperature data. Over this period, “High-sunspot” months averaged 155 sunspots; “low-sunspot” months averaged 33 sunspots.

Once again … same result. Wrong sign, tiny difference, no apparent effect of sunspots on the global temperature.

This finding is supported by a CEEMD analysis of the datasets. Here are the results for the Reynolds data:

You can see the sunspot peak (red line, Empirical Mode 6) at about 11.5 years. There’s nothing to match it in the Reynolds OI SST data. And here’s the corresponding chart for the Berkeley Earth data:

In this longer dataset, the sunspot period is 11 years, closer to the long-term average. And as with the Reynolds data, there is no 11-year cycle in the temperature records.

Conclusion? Once again, I’ve looked for a solar signal and found none.

Does this mean that the sunspot cycle doesn’t affect surface weather?

Nope. It just means that I haven’t been able to find one. Might be out there, but I’m up to 25 places or so that I’ve looked without finding it.

[UPDATE] In the comments, someone pointed to a study claiming that the winters in Eurasia are colder when sunspots are low. So I got the Berkeley Earth data and looked at the winter [DJF]. I used data back to 1900, although it’s less accurate, because I needed the longer period to have enough data to study just the wintertime. Once again … no joy.

Figure 3. Winter (DJF) high and low sunspot months. Over this period, “High-sunspot” months averaged 144 sunspots; “low-sunspot” months averaged 28 sunspots.

Update 2. I did the same analysis using the UAH MSU satellite-based lower troposphere temperatures.

Figure 4. As in Figure 1, but with the UAH MSU satellite lower troposphere temperature data.

12:32 AM here, my eyelids are drooping. Hang on, let me go outside … ah, great lungfuls of crisp air on a starry moonless night have me back in shape. Can’t hear the ocean, the wind is wrong. It’s 38°F, or 3°C, the forest is quiet, life is good. I’ll leave this here and come back to trim it up for publication in the morning.

11:30 AM, next morning. Sun is out, the tiny bit of the ocean I can see from our house is shining in the sunshine …

Ah, dear friends, what a world this is!

Best to all,


PS: When you comment please quote the exact words you’re discussing, so we can all understand your subject.

FURTHER READING: Here are my previous posts on the subject.

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Cycles Without The Mania 2013-07-29

Are there cycles in the sun and its associated electromagnetic phenomena? Assuredly. What are the lengths of the cycles? Well, there’s the question. In the process of writing my recent post about cyclomania, I came across a very interesting paper entitled “Correlation Between the Sunspot Number, the Total Solar Irradiance,…

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John Tillman
February 4, 2020 6:11 am

Sir Frederick was not just a great astronomer, but musician and physicist. He discovered IR light:

Dave Van Horn
February 4, 2020 6:14 am

“It’s 38°F, or 6°C” … no, 38F is just 3C

John in Oz
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 1:53 pm

If you were a climate scientist you would state that 38F is 3.333C (recurring) as they seem to be able to extract more precision than mere mortals.

Many thanks for continuing to educate us.

February 4, 2020 6:18 am

Logically, increased UV emissions from the Sun MUST increase heating in the upper atmosphere. What is the lag time for that heating to affect the rest of the biosphere???

A C Osborn
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 4, 2020 7:59 am

If UV changes do not affect both Atomsphere and Ocean heat content there is something wrong with physics & climate science.

Reply to  A C Osborn
February 4, 2020 9:11 am

Does UV radiation completely enter into atmosphere ? No.
It heats the thermosphere – TCI is the respective dataset, to find at

John Tillman
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 4, 2020 9:33 am

The highest energy UVC is absorbed by ozone. Some UVB is also blocked by the atmosphere. UVA however reaches the surface and penetrates seawater.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 4, 2020 1:18 pm

“Curiosity killed the cat”, i.e. there is a degree of danger in an unnecessary investigation or experimentation.

Greg Goodman
Reply to  A C Osborn
February 4, 2020 9:47 am

If it heats the upper atmosphere that indicates it is getting blocked, therefore less reason to expect it heat the troposphere.

Chances of heat in the rarified stratosphere being communicated to the surface are near zero. That is not a problem with physics.

What I would expect to see is times when the stratosphere cools, a few years after a major eruption, that some effect of this energy now entering the lower climate system may be seen.

Reply to  Greg Goodman
February 4, 2020 10:10 am

While the thermsphere is strongly cooling b’cause of reduced UV, the complete atmosphere is shrinking, and expanding while the thermosphere is heating during increasing UV radiation.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Greg Goodman
February 4, 2020 8:35 pm


If the ozone captures incoming radiation then 50% of it will be emitted in the downward as direction as IR. That’s not to say it will reach the surface but some it will. The average distance travelled through the atmosphere is 1.8 times the thickness so some of it will add to downward radiation of IR.

If it creates additional ozone, that alters the radiative balance too.

Reply to  A C Osborn
February 5, 2020 9:33 am

A C Osborn, it depends on the magnitude of the change (watts) how much the effect. Tiny magnitude change = tiny change. And upper atmosphere is not lower atmosphere. It’s been well known that sunspot activity heats & expands the high, extremely thin upper atmosphere (thin, which means it has almost insignificant heat-content).

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 10:30 am

I see there some dark blue parts in the northern part, norhern America and as it seems Europe

John Tillman
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 12:28 pm

BEST? Surely you jest.

What actual data do they have for high northern latitudes, and to what tortures have they subjected whatever observations they do have?

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 4, 2020 2:13 pm

Again, I ask, how many stations, of what quality and duration in the Arctic and nearby regions?

If I were doing it, I’d find the best high latitude stations I could, however few, and look at how their observations have been handled.

BEST, like GISS, is anti-science fantasy not fit for purpose. HadCRU isn’t much better, if any.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 5, 2020 4:00 am

Willis, my understanding is that datasets such as BEST have used various methodologies to produce their data, including homogenisation. I would therefore suggest finding a reasonable number of stations and use the original data as far as possible. That will not give a global view, but if you have a decent number of stations, surely any signal should appear?

Reply to  mortimer
February 4, 2020 9:52 am

The lag time is something that cannot be quantified without knowing all the other (significant) variables; which are not known and possibly may not be known.

The lag time will vary & may ‘overlap’ other lag times depending on season, outside (cosmic) influence, and internal (geothermal, volcanoes, etc) influence. Seems overlapping lag times (if there be such) will be hard to parse out.

(or maybe it is 15.8 months)

February 4, 2020 6:20 am

Willis, you’ve highlighted the data problem at the end of the tracks for the recurring debate on solar cycles. If there is a relationship between solar cycles and weather and it took groupings of three or more cycles to gin up the effect in oceans, would we be able to see it with periodograms given the small numbers of those groupings as data points?

e.g. SC 12-16 vs. SC 17 – 23

Perhaps a logit model would work if you can assemble more data.

Not to rush you or anything but the world is in dire need of some answers.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 10:14 am

Again I’ll direct you to Leif’s prediction slide no. 18 for the multi-cycle episodes in the past. It’s a major data challenge.

February 4, 2020 6:35 am

Low solar does change the atmosphere compared to higher solar periods. The light spectrum coming from the Sun changes. There are more cosmic rays reaching the Earth during low solar and the two recent extended cold periods (Maunder and Dalton) were during extended low sunspot periods. So sunspots seem to have an effect.

But 11 years is a very short time to register an effect on the Earth’s climate with all the feedback mechanisms in place especially with the ability of the oceans to moderate any effect. Looking for an immediate effect to me is a fool’s errand. Warm water created from an active Sun takes years to dissipate, but if an inactive Sun doesn’t replace it at the current level the overall trend will be down but slowly.

We have gone through a period of a very active Sun and the oceans have warmed. As the Sun changes to a lower activity, one would expect them to cool. But as it took a while to warm, it will take a while to cool. Personally I think you need an extended period of inactivity to see the cooling and when the Sun becomes active again and the process repeats. Just my theory anyway.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  rbabcock
February 4, 2020 7:18 am

“especially with the ability of the oceans to moderate any effect.”

Seem sensible. It is said that CO₂ change lags about 800 years a corresponding atmospheric temperature change. Thus it would not surprise me if ocean temperature is first seen 800 years after corresponding TSI change.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 11:23 am

Willis – You can’t dispute the skin temperature of the ocean can change significantly during the seasons in the mid and upper latitudes. You have Siberia and Northern Canada feeding arctic air over it for 5 months. The Chesapeake Bay goes from the upper 30’s F to mid 80’s from winter to summer.. but it is only at most 60′ deep with a couple of exceptions. Not a lot of mass there. But go off the eastern shore where it is much deeper and the water temperatures are 15-20 degrees warmer.

The Gulf of Alaska has been exceptionally warm the past few years and is only now getting back to normal temperatures. It didn’t warm up due to the Sun in place, it warmed up from tropical water being pushed there. But once there it has survived two winters. What is the average water temperature off California during the year? Pretty consistent. Hint:

The shallow water right off North Carolina gets quite cold during the winter. You park an arctic air mass over it and the surface water will turn cold pretty quickly (but so will the air warm)., Go 40 miles off Hatteras and it is near 80. And from there to Africa it is toasty all year.

I guess your point is that 800 years is too long. Well, yes. But if you have an heat source that is oscillating over 11 years radiating into a huge volume of water, you aren’t going to be heating it up very fast when it is hot nor watching it cool down very fast when it is not.

Reply to  rbabcock
February 4, 2020 3:40 pm

Willis- how about the same graph for ocean temperature swings for 55 SOUTH 180 WEST?

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 1:07 pm

Willis, I agree you may see an immediate signal, but I cannot escape thinking of it in the same way as supplying a capacitor a varying DC volatage via a resistor.
Lets say the time constant for the circuit is 500 years (66% of final voltage) you will see a very small voltage change on the capacitor every year, very small.
Yes, the surface water will change temperature fast, but the propagation to the whole water mass takes time and “dilutes” the surface water temperature.

Thus in the case of the sunspot cycle, I would guess it should be possible to see the fingerprint in the upper layers of the oceans. Then again differentiating this from ocean currents and vertical convection may be extremely difficult.
The oscillation you present in graph, isn’t that the PDO?

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 2:02 pm

Willis, I see your point more clearly now.
It may show how efficient the automatic thermostat is 🙂

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 10:58 pm

Interesting, and as the increase in energy from sun rise causes the temperature to increase by 10 C in a few hours, so the increased energy from CO2 takes immediate affect.

There is no CO2 thermal lag either.

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 11:12 pm

But do you think you are looking for a weak signal in a short time frame with a lot of other factors chaotically driving the system?

For example, we know CO2 is a GH gas, we know it causes warming, but finding a correlation between CO2 and temperature, even over double the period you looked at, is impossible.

We do know cosmic rays cause clouds, CERN not only demonstrated the mechanism, but cloud chambers taken up mountains respond to cosmic rays the way they do to other radiation, as you might have seen in your physics lab at school. And clouds are albedo…

Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 5, 2020 6:14 pm

Kirkby stated that cosmic rays cause cloud condensation in the presence of biogenic vapors. He went on to say that in today’s atmosphere, due to pollution and sulfuric acid, that sulfuric acid is the primary means by which clouds are formed today.

But…. that can only be true for the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere has only 10% of the world’s population and the air is pristine, not polluted.

In the pristine southern hemisphere, cloud condensation nuclei are formed on biogenic vapors primarily from plankton. It is the southern hemisphere where cosmic rays are going to be the primary source of cloud formation. And the southern hemisphere is 80% ocean and much of the land is not accessible. So where are you going to get good
temperature data in the southern hemisphere? You are not.

If you want to disprove Svensmark’s theory, you are going to have to disprove it with data from the southern hemisphere where temperature records suck.

Reply to  Matthew Sykes
February 6, 2020 6:41 am

Do you really think 20 years of southern atmospheric and southern ocean data definitively answers the question? How about 150 years of data and particularly data taken at all depths of the ocean at many, many thousands of locations. The average depth of the oceans is about 10,000 feet and they cover 80% of the surface area of the southern hemisphere. Do you think that measurements from satellites are going to reliably measure this? Personally I think that is a f**king joke.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 5, 2020 4:20 am

Something else that has a fairly regular seasonal change is poleward ocean heat transport.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 5, 2020 5:59 am

Thank’s Willis.. now I see you pulled the old trick of changing the y-axis scale to make both graphs look equivalent. 🙂

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 5, 2020 11:00 pm

But industrial gasses also seed clouds, couldn’t this hide the effect of sun spots?

So lets say for a given humidity a cloud is formed by SO2, is there sufficient humidity left for the cloud to be made thicker by a cosmic ray? ie is there a saturation level, a cut off point such that the variation in cosmic rays is masked?

Richard M
Reply to  rbabcock
February 4, 2020 7:30 am

Not just moderate the effect, but provide their own influence. Given the short time frame of this particular analysis one could see any solar effects masked by the ENSO frequency and PDO/AMO timing. Add in volcano eruption effects and I suspect any small solar effects could easily be masked.

Don K
Reply to  rbabcock
February 4, 2020 7:52 am

“Looking for an immediate effect to me is a fool’s errand.”

Seems to me that over and above looking for immediate effects, Willis looks for periodicities with the same frequency as sunspots. That’s the Fourier and CEEMD analyses. Conceptually, that should — I think — show any periodicity similar to that of sunspots no matter what the lag. Actually, any periodicities at all as long as the sample time span is long enough to include a few cycles?

Reply to  rbabcock
February 4, 2020 8:39 am

Here’s a good link to part of a book by D.J. Easterbrook. It shows the correlation between low sunspot numbers during the Maunder Minimum and temperature.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 11:25 am

Actually, folks have been paying close attention to sunspots for the last 400 years.

The best record of the behaviour of the Sun is available for the last four centuries thanks to the observations of sunspots with telescope. These observations allow us to know the number, position, and area of sunspots as well as some specific episodes like the Maunder Minimum, optical flares, etc. link

John Tillman
Reply to  commieBob
February 4, 2020 2:18 pm

The record has been extended back in time 1610, using earlier telescopic observations of the sun.

John Tillman
Reply to  commieBob
February 4, 2020 5:08 pm

NASA is lying, then? OK, could be. GISS does.

But then I guess you haven’t been reading Dr. Svalgaard’s site. He says that the radioisotope record supports his group’s SSN reconstruction for over 400 years, ie to the beginning of telescopic observations.

John Tillman
Reply to  commieBob
February 4, 2020 7:22 pm


You must not have read The link. At the outset it says that the isotope record confirms observations for over 400 years.

Your unwillingness to accept reality staring you in the face, when it disagrees with your fixed ideas and prejudices, is why it’s pointless to present you with papers.

You’ll make up some lame, bogus excuse for rejecting the most sound statistical analysis.

Please show me I’m wrong. Read the growing recent literature on solar cycle effects on the East Asian Summer Monsoon, at time scales from annual to multi-millennial, to include the quasi 11-year cycle.

Here’s just one of dozens, looking at different intervals, using various statistical techniques and data, to include proxies, eg ostracod shells and caves.

I’d urge you to read up on the papers in just one meteorological and climatic phenomenon, if you don’t have time Or inclination to study the whole subject. The Indian Monsoon has a similar if older body of literature.

Reply to  rbabcock
February 4, 2020 9:19 am

Indeed rbabcock, but also …
Some at NASA have identified a solar effect on our upper atmosphere.

Now I wonder how that really pans out in affecting our weather and climate?

Reply to  tom0mason
February 4, 2020 9:55 am

Explanation to TCI
I mentioned above

Julian Forbes-Laird
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 5, 2020 1:31 am

Hi Willis,

You said “I haven’t found any surface weather datasets that show such a linkage.”

So that got me thinking… I looked at your list of other sunspot posts to see if I could spot (ha ha) any weather phenomena that a) might plausibly be affected by variations in SSN but which b) you hadn’t covered.

Lightning. You’ve not done lightning.

So that’s it, the missing sunspot heat (and cold) is hiding in the lightning.

Over to you, Sir!

Mr Julian Forbes-Laird
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 5, 2020 3:33 am

Excellent! We’ve done it! Now all that’s needed is to find the data to prove it!

With all good wishes


Lee Collins
February 4, 2020 6:36 am

Willis, maybe a stupid question but shouldn’t the datasets be detrended for this type of analysis?
Love your stuff btw.

Jeff Corbin
February 4, 2020 6:38 am

I have a layman’s question. Is there a correlation between eruptions VEI 3 or greater and sunspots? I have an unsophisticated awareness that volcanism produces huge numbers of earthquakes that hardly ever reach 5 and it would be nearly impossible to manage a data set of all of them. Another question please, is there any relationship between the frequency of VEI 3 or larger and earthquakes 6 and greater? If there is no relationship between Sunspots and VEI and VEI and +6 earthquakes then any discussion I would want to have would be moot. I am aware that heat from below the crust has been demonstrated to have minimal impact (global averages) on SST I am just not certain if those statistics are so flat that it misses anomalies during solar minimum. I simply don’t have the knowledge…as a climate hobbyist (climate science is a great hobby for social workers). Unfortunately, we do not have continuous gravitational variance monitoring. Would be an excellent variable to put in the mix. Thanks for you patience everything I have learned about climate and geology I learned reading WUWT and Jon Friman since 2008.

Reply to  Jeff Corbin
February 4, 2020 7:34 am

Laywoman’s question to go along with yours…As I’ve read it, the mechanism for volcanic eruption is increased cosmic rays that excite silica rich magma, not all volcanoes equally during lower solar activity. I’ve included an article link (albeit a little dated).

Reply to  Lizzie
February 4, 2020 9:43 am

Not to bring up Svensmark again, but geomagnetism, associated with solar magnesphere effects are reputed to have an effect on volcanism.

Reply to  Jeff Corbin
February 4, 2020 3:15 pm

Would axis precessional forces change magma pressures and cause periodic volcanism resulting in hot plumes and “blobs” of warm water drifting off into the oceans?


Reply to  ironbrian
February 5, 2020 4:08 am

Given the vast influence of the sun’s gravity on the Earth, you would probably be better off looking at changes in the sun’s mass as an influence on the Earth crust. We all know how the Moon changes the shape of the Earth through gravity, and we theorise about the effects of both Jupiter and Saturn on their moons, so i would guess that changes in the sun’s gravity might affect the Earth.

February 4, 2020 6:41 am

So once again it appears that the “Science” is most definitely NOT settled

Which is just as science always should be

Thanks again Willis for your thoroughness

February 4, 2020 6:44 am

OT – apologies Willis – I’ll read your post now.

Mercenary “Mad Mike” Hoare, who fought in the Congo and inspired the movie The Wild Geese, has died aged 100, his son has said.

Several decades ago, I was asked to participate in an business venture in which Mike Hoare was a principal. I declined. I regret that decision – I would have liked to know him. RIP Mike.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
February 4, 2020 10:10 am

Mike Hoare was also a prominent character in one of W.E.B. Griffen’s Brotherhood of War novels, relating his role in the joint US-Belgian Operation Dragon Rouge to rescue civilian hostages trapped in the Stanleyville by the Simba rebellion in 1964. I don’t remember now exactly which novel in the series covered that episode, but it was either The New Breed or The Aviators.

February 6, 2020 11:50 am

That brings back memories. I had a cousin who joined the mercenaries and fought in the Congo. He spoke very highly of Mike.

February 4, 2020 6:46 am

Wills, on a separate issue – have you looked the effect of submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal vents ? I remember this was discussed here quite a few years ago and the conclusion was that there was too few to make a difference. But over the past few years, there has been an exponential increase in the discovery of thousands of new volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. And it’s now believed there are at least million and maybe as many as 10 million ! I think that is worth a look again. Millions of vents spewing 400 degree waters must have a pretty big impact on the climate. Also – last year there was submarine volcano near Madagascar (the Mayotte volcano) that went off, and in less than 6 months created a huge undersea volcano 800 metres high and 5km wide. If that had gone off on the surface, we would have called it a supervolcano.

Reply to  ggm
February 4, 2020 7:28 am

ggm, I’ve had this or similar questions asked of me when I was blogging regularly about sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. As far as I know, there are no long-term datasets on the output of submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal vents.

If you know of one, please provide a link.


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
February 4, 2020 8:43 am

No Bob, the data is shockingly bad. It sounds like we have very little idea what is down there and how active it is. But it seems logical that if there are a million+ submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal vents, then that would be adding a hell of a lot of heat into the oceans. Infact, could this be the main (or a major) source of the ocean’s heat.

Reply to  ggm
February 4, 2020 9:40 am

Probably not the main source, or even close otherwise there probably would have never been a snowball earth a few times in the long term past. But I do think we have no idea how much additional heating that undersea vulcanism and hydrothermal venting of hot water does increase SST. And if that goes in some type of cycle that we don’t yet understand, then that throws a small monkey wrench into fully and completely understanding the majority of heating which mainly arrives via sunlight in its various frequencies. How all this works out in the end is going to be real interesting and geothermal heating via undersea processes might make some type of difference when we understand things better.

Reply to  ggm
February 5, 2020 8:32 pm

Seem to remember a piece by Bob many moons ago where this came up.

Although it may be short term warming there was a very obvious plume of warm water emanating from Iceland and it was questioned.

I tend to agree that we know far too little about submarine thermal activity but this monster…

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  ggm
February 4, 2020 1:31 pm

How long have the volcanoes and vents been doing their thing?
Maybe they mostly shut down and caused the Little Ice Age.
Then, they started again and Earth warmed.
Have they been doing more or less recently, say since Ford began making V8 engines?

I find the issue interesting Earth Science. “Climate Science” — I don’t think so.

Reply to  ggm
February 5, 2020 4:12 am

And even if the output is constant (which I doubt), the locations change over time, due to tectonic movement. The movement is not quick, but it certainly adds to the complexity fo what we try and model over long time periods,

February 4, 2020 6:47 am

Early in my personal search for knowledge this paper by Alexander was helpful:

Ulric Lyons
February 4, 2020 6:56 am

AMO anomalies shift in and out of phase with sunspot cycles, because the lows in solar wind speed/pressure do. With stronger solar wind conditions associated with colder AMO states, and weaker solar wind conditions associated with warmer AMO states.

And if you can open this it verifies an inverse correlation between solar wind speed and North Atlantic SST changes.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 5, 2020 3:47 am

I am unimpressed with your irrelevant response. It’s not patently not a regular cycle. AMO anomalies inversely follow the sunspot cycle length for 3-4 cycles during the warm AMO phase, and then takes typically half a sunspot cycle to shift phase, and then directly follows sunspot cycle length during the cold AMO phase for a couple of cycles.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 5, 2020 3:53 pm

It is irrelevant and a complete distraction, and a bug. AMO anomalies are locked to solar cycles, so it is not a case of a different length cycle drifting in and out of phase with solar cycles. And the phase transition periods are short. During the cold AMO phase, AMO anomalies are always the coldest close to sunspot minimum, because the solar wind is stronger there, and is the weakest at sunspot maximum as in 1969 and 1979-80. During the warm AMO phase, AMO anomalies are never the coldest around sunspot minimum, because the solar wind is usually weaker there.
And if you want to split hairs about noise detail in the AMO anomalies be aware that there are lagged feedbacks from El Nino in many of the warm AMO pulses.

Mark Broderick
February 4, 2020 6:59 am

Willis Eschenbach

“Anyhow, the idea I had was to divide monthly gridded temperature datasets into months where the sunspots were higher than the median sunspot number for the period, and months where sunspots were lower than that media median. ” ?

Great post Willis

Stephen Richards
February 4, 2020 7:11 am

I seem to remember a Brazilian analysis of river levels which correlated well will solaire output.

John Tillman
Reply to  Stephen Richards
February 4, 2020 9:36 am

Also rainfall there, unsurprisingly.

February 4, 2020 7:13 am

I disagree with your hypo Willis. The Sun-global temperature relationship is apparent but messy because the PDO (and AMO) and ENSO induce complications.

See Sections 11 and 12 in this paper – re Shaviv and Soon.

By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc.(Eng.), M.Eng., January 10, 2020

Greg Goodman
February 4, 2020 9:55 am

Willis’ periodogram shows a peak in SST at about 8.5y. This is likely 8.85y which is a lunar period.

Attempts to find a solar signal are notorious for drifting in and out of phase with SSN. That is because at best it is no stronger than the totally ignored lunar effects.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 12:31 pm

Willis – Repeating from above:
“See Sections 11 and 12 in this paper – re Shaviv and Soon.” The figures depict their data. I find their data compelling, but a bit messy – kind of like nature.

I’ve spoken with both Nir and Willie and also drank a lot of beer with Willie in Calgary, so I have confidence in their integrity. I also spent four hours talking shop with Willie and Sallie Baliunas in Boston this summer – malheureusement, it was too early for beer.

I’ve also examined this specific problem in some detail, and the Pacific Ocean has a ~3-year period ENSO that occasionally erupts into a major El Nino (1998, 2016) that sheds a ton of heat and totally messes up the solar-temperature relationship, and the longer PDO does so as well. So there is not a pretty correlation for very good reasons, but the correlation is there.

Steven Mosher
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 4:25 pm

yup. but hey have a few beers and the science is settled

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 14, 2020 5:47 pm

Response for Willis:
Sorry for the slow reply. I was traveling and only now cleaning my mailbox.

Here are several papers:

These are two papers that show that the amount of heat going into the oceans every solar cycle is huge (an order of magnitude more than just changes in the solar irradiance).
Paper I:
Shaviv, N. J. 2008. Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the solar radiative forcing.Journalof Geophysical Research (Space Physics),113(A12), 11101.

Paper II:
Howard, Daniel, Shaviv, Nir J., & Svensmark, Henrik. 2015. The solar and Southern Oscillationcomponents in the satellite altimetry data.Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics,120(5), 3297–3306. 2014JA020732

This is a more recent graph using ocean heat content, showing exactly the same thing (though not in a refereed paper):

I also suggest you take a look at my blog post from last summer in which I discuss why the arguments against a strong solar forcing are incorrect.

— Nir

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 16, 2020 8:52 am

Thank you for your response Willis.

Rather than hash this out here, let’s just agree to disagree. I have a lot of confidence in Nir and Willie and their work.

Given the low solar intensity now, I expect some cooling, similar to what happened circa 2008-2009 at the end of SC 23. Global temperatures (UAH LT) remain moderately high, but we did experience a major crop failure in the Great Plains of the USA and Canada in the 2019 growing season, and record cold in the USA, Canada, India, etc.

In 2002, I (we) predicted moderate global cooling to start by 2020-2030 based on low solar activity.

As I have stated many times, I hope you are correct and I am wrong. Humanity and the environment suffer during cold periods.

Regards, Allan

February 4, 2020 7:29 am

As others already pointed out: sun spots are just the symptom, not the cause. Also you should not expect temperatures to correlate to intra-cycle sun spots. Then I need to go back to a much older post..

“As you can see, there is very little support for the “solar minima cause cool temperatures” hypothesis in the CET. Just as in the Lamb winter severity data and the Berkeley Earth data, during both the Dalton and Maunder minima we see the temperature WARMING for the last part of the solar minimum. IF the cause is in fact a solar slump … then why would the earth warm up while the sun is still slumping? And in particular, in the CET the Dalton minimum ends up quite a bit warmer than it started … how on earth does this support the “solar slump” claim, that at the end of the Dalton minimum it’s warmer than at the start?”

This quote is written under a chart that indicates ~0.7K cooling after the year 2000, which should give the answer anyhow. The Central England record shows a significant random variation (aka weather), where temperatures can move up or down against the prevailing trend. Since these variations obviously will not negate recent warming, why would they falsify the Maunder Minimum or the affiliated Little Ice Age? If you consider this aspect, the record is actually a good match with regard to the Maunder Minimum.

Of course there are plently of witnesses of the Little Ice Age, like progressing alpine glaciers destroying villages, which did not go unnoticed or unrecorded, to name just one instance. But I guess that is not even at question.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Leitwolf
February 4, 2020 7:46 am

Yet the three coldest periods were during the Maunder, Dalton, and Gleissberg solar minima.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 6:06 pm

There is nothing wrong with my claim in the slightest, one of the three coldest periods was patently during the Dalton minimum. I didn’t say anything about average.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
February 5, 2020 3:22 am

Your red smoothed line shows one of the three coldest periods in CET during the Dalton Minimum, between 1807 and 1817. The following warm peak wasn’t really in the Dalton minimum.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
February 5, 2020 11:04 am

“Ulric, if the Dalton Minimum is supposed to be cold, why did it start warming half-way through it? And yes, the following warm peak IS in the Dalton Minimum. You don’t get to change the time of the Minimum to fit your theories.”

No the cold 1807-1817 is halfway through it, i.e. roughly between the peaks of solar cycles 5 &6. The idea (theory?) that the Dalton Minimum continues to around 1830 is incorrect. 1807-1817 is one of three coldest periods in CET according to your chart.

“The Wolf Minimum occurred during not just a warm period, but during the warmest period in the record. Similarly, the Sporer Minimum occurred during the warm period just before the drop to the “Little Ice Age” of the 1600s.”

The Wolf Minimum began around 1315 so your ‘money graph’ is counterfeit. Sporer as called was in fact two separate centennial solar minima, a very long one from close to 1425, and a shorter one from close to 1550. Which agrees with the temperature proxy.

“Then we have the Maunder Minimum. Temperatures started dropping about 150 years before the start of the Maunder Minimum, and during the first hundred years of dropping temperatures, the sunspots were increasing. So obviously, the sun was not the cause of the drop in temperature.”

About 150 years before must have been a previous centennial minimum.

“Next, although the Dalton minimum occurred during a cold period. temperatures started dropping some seventy years or so before the start of the Dalton minimum … and temperatures warmed from the start to the end of the Dalton Minimum.”

Try looking at an instrumental temperature series rather than tree rings from Scotland, like CET, it has a slight warming trend from 1740 to the late 1700’s with the 1770’s being the warmest.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
February 6, 2020 8:16 am

“Ulrich, you claim that the Dalton is not what I’ve used”

I said “The idea (theory?) that the Dalton Minimum continues to around 1830 is incorrect.” I also think that including the second half of solar cycle 4 is ridiculous.

Roughly between the sunspot maximums of solar cycles 5 & 6 is where most of the cold in Dalton minimum should be, the 1807-1817 period. That is when the solar wind was weakest. Page 11:

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
February 7, 2020 8:35 am

Applying that theory to the Maunder Minimum, my findings on the planetary ordering indicate that the bulk of the cold for Europe should have been roughly between the sunspot cycle maximums at 1672 and 1705, which is what CET shows. Most of the 1650’s and 1660’s were warm to hot.

Many of the popular descriptions of the timing and duration of past centennial solar minima are assumptive and sloppy work, particularly with the Sporer Minimum.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 7, 2020 5:33 pm

On the contrary, the Dalton minimum is NOT what you or Encyclopedia Britannica claim it to be, and you’ve ignored everything that I’ve said. Tree ring proxy data from Scotland contravening CET instrumental data is a joke.

The 1807-1817 decade was the coldest since Maunder, but it was followed by an equally cold period 1836-1845 in CET. Both of those cold periods show in multiple European temperature series:

comment image

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 8, 2020 5:30 am

You cannot use specious start and end dates for the Dalton Minimum to prove anything. Ask Leif, he reckons the Dalton Minimum was over by about 1820. And as I said including the latter half of solar cycle 4 is ridiculous. The intelligent thing to do is to ask why specific parts of centennial minima see increased negative NAO/AO conditions, rather than blindly presume that the whole centennial minimum should be cold.

Reply to  Ulric Lyons
February 11, 2020 1:01 pm

Ulrich Lyons:

In view of your go-arounds with Willis regarding the Dalton Minimum, you need to read my Feb. 9 Post to John Tillman.

In it I prove that there was NO cooling from sunspot activity during either the Maunder or the Dalton Minimums, the cooling was all caused by SO2 aerosol emissions from large volcanic eruptions.

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 11, 2020 1:32 pm

And you fail to mention the cause of volcanic activity and seismic activity during solar minimum there is a direct correlation between low sun activity and CRF .

Reply to  B d Clark
February 11, 2020 6:37 pm

B d Clark:

It is impossible to infer sunspot activity from any proxy measurements if there are any SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere, because they block or attenuate any incoming radiation either, solar or cosmic, giving the false impression that solar activity has decreased.

Only visual records of sunspot activity would be acceptable, and it would have to be shown that they are not merely coincidental with increased volcanic activity During the Little Ice Age, for example, low temperatures were already being experienced ~40 years before the start of the Maunder Minimum.

Can you provide a link to any visual records?

We are currently in a period of low sunspot activity, and !record high temperatures are regularly being reported. Shouldn’t we be cooling, instead?

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 11, 2020 11:00 pm

I asked you what triggers seismic and volcanic activity in solar minimums ,you avoided the question,I also gave earlier in the thread links to studies of observerd solar sun spots or lack suggest ablanket of volcanic aerosols is nonsense and is not immediate, to suggest we are seeing warming is nonsense again, would you like to go down the path of Australian Bush fires is that your warming? Or shifts in the magnetosphere effecting every weather pattern on the planet, and the cause of? You pick!

Reply to  B d Clark
February 13, 2020 8:26 am

You said “I asked you what triggers seismic and volcanic activity in solar minimums, you avoided the question”

No, I attempted to answer it. Let me try again.

Since the invention of the telescope in 1609, it has been possible to observe observe the number of sunspots on the face of the sun.

According to Wikipedia, the Maunder Minimum spanned the cold years 1645-1715, with the 28 year period 1672-1699 having fewer than 50 sunspots.

Thus, low sunspot activity began 27 years after the descent of the climate into frigid temperatures.
due to large volcanic eruptions, which continued until 1850, the end of the Little Ice Age.

The solar minimum was simply coincident with, and not the cause of, the extensive volcanism, so the answer to your question is that there is NO physical relationship between the two events.

You also said “to suggest a blanket of volcanic aerosols is nonsense”.

The plot of Central England Temperatures, 1650-1875, which I recently completed, shows essentially 100% correlation between lower temperatures and large volcanic eruptions around the globe, which could only be due to the spreading of their SO2 aerosols through the atmosphere. Even today, there is a world-wide haze of anthropogenic SO2 aerosols around Earth, except at the poles.

With respect to the Australian warming, it is being caused by repetitive stalled High-Pressure weather systems, which allow the protective haze of dimming SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere to settle out within the stalled areas,, cleansing the air, and increasing solar insolation.

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 13, 2020 8:38 am

Your talking rubbish you have not answered the question of what causes volcanic and seismic activity during solar minimums ,not once have you addressed the point, instead you bang on about sun spots a completly different phenomenon, that you also clearly know nothing about, to surgest as you do that weak or enhanced solar magnetic fields have no effect on the earth ,is straight out of the global warming alarmist camp.

Reply to  B d Clark
February 13, 2020 12:07 pm

B d Clark:

Are you not able to understand what I told you?

Solar minimums (periods of low sunspot activity) are simply coincidental with periods of increased volcanism (the Maunder Minimum began 27 years BEFORE any decreased sunspot activity was observed, so the lack of sunspots could not have been responsible for the onset of cooling–or any other cooling not related to volcanism).

Further, I have found no evidence of any warming or cooling that cannot be proven to have been caused by increased or decreased levels of SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere. If solar magnetic fields have any effect upon the earth’s climate, it is so small as to be undetectable

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 13, 2020 12:47 pm

Your still avoiding the question ,because you cant find a correlation many people and hundreds of papers have done so ,I toldyou to look back at a previous link, you have stated no sun spots could be observerd, did it cross your mind that there was none to observe , try reading this

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 13, 2020 8:47 am

I never asked you about Australia warming, I asked you to show any catastrophic global warming , in regard to Australia I asked you about the Bush fires which you again failed to answer, are you going to justify the Bush fires on global warming or not? Do you even understand why the Bush fires were so prolific this year ,but not in a historical sense. Your obfuscating every question I pose to you,typical warmest answers.

Reply to  B d Clark
February 13, 2020 12:37 pm

B d Clark:

Yes, I DO blame the Australian Bush fires on Global Warming.

The incidence of Stalled High Pressure Weather Systems is reported to increase with higher temperatures, and they generate the higher temperatures, cloudless skies, and lack of rainfall which is the cause of the Australian Bush fires.

And, yes, I am a warmist, in the sense that our warming climate is being caused by man’s activities.

HOWEVER, man’s activity that is causing the warming is the reduction in the amount of anthropogenic SO2 aerosol emissions into the atmosphere because of Clean Air activities (these aerosols have fallen from 136 Megatons in 1979. to 80 Megatons, or less, at this time, and the resultant cleansing of the troposphere is responsible for essentially all of the anomalous warming that has occurred since then.)

There has been ZERO warming due to the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is all a hoax!

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 13, 2020 12:57 pm

Bush cant burn unless it reaches a temperature of over 300c theres no global warming that can cause a Bush fire to burn, humans enacting ridiculas policys of leaving dry dead organic matter on wood floors contribute to spreading of fires ,did you look up how many have been prosecuted for starting fires? You say atmospheric conditions started the fires ,ssee my point 1, atmospheric conditions are incidental to Bush fires not a causation ,
A strong wind will fan a fire, that is not a causation , rain will put a fire out it’s not a causation of the fire but a causation of putting a fire out, your global warming analogy is flawed.

Reply to  B d Clark
February 13, 2020 2:42 pm

B d Clark:

You are being nit-picking.

The cloudless, dry skies of stalled high pressure weather systems provide the perfect environment for Bush burning, whether it is ignited by lighting strikes, or is intentionally set. Poor forest management practices exacerbate the burning, and they are fanned by the high wind velocities at the boundaries of
Low and High pressure weather systems.

Conversely, Bush fires are rare during the cooler, wetter temperatures associated with low pressure weather systems systems . Currently, the rain from a low pressures system has drenched the fires.

There is no flaw in my reasoning that I am aware of.

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 13, 2020 2:56 pm

Self diagnosis is never ones strong point 🤪

Reply to  B d Clark
February 13, 2020 6:19 pm

B d Clark:

“Self-diagnosis is never ones strong point”


(I added that comment to see whether you might have a reasonable alternative explanation)

B d Clark
Reply to  Burl Henry
February 13, 2020 1:03 pm

The copied text you wrote is interesting in fact I’ve been looking for such information

“HOWEVER, man’s activity that is causing the warming is the reduction in the amount of anthropogenic SO2 aerosol emissions into the atmosphere because of Clean Air activities (these aerosols have fallen from 136 Megatons in 1979. to 80 Megatons, or less, at this time, and the resultant cleansing of the troposphere is responsible for essentially all of the anomalous warming that has occurred since then.)”


Reply to  Leitwolf
February 4, 2020 8:27 am

… the retreating glaciers in most parts of the Northern Hemi-sphere are still larger today than they were in the early and/or mid-Holocene. link

The alarmists will insist that things like the MWP and LIA weren’t global in extent. Glaciers say otherwise.

Steven Mosher
Reply to  commieBob
February 4, 2020 4:25 pm

glaciers are not global

Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 4, 2020 5:44 pm

Mosher you are right. That CO2 attacks Australia than moved to CA to attack and narrowly misses the midwest.

You are a bore

Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 4, 2020 7:19 pm

The only continent that lacks glaciers is Australia. link Glacier extent provides a better low pass filtered indication of global temperature than any other proxy I can think of.

Reply to  commieBob
February 4, 2020 10:51 pm

The Australian tectonic plate includes continental Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea and sundry other islands….effectively the Pleistocene continent of Sahul.
If current sea levels were 50m lower, which they were and more during the Pleistocene, Australia [or Saustraliahul] would have glaciers.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 8:59 pm

Ok. First of all we know that sun spot cycles are in some way interconnected, they are not independent instances. We know there are times where there have been very few sun spots, cycle for cycle. And of course the opposite, that is a inter-cycle period of heavy sun spot activity, has been observed as well.

Then there is a bigger picture. The sun is extremely hot, as we all know, though with an extremely cold “crust” if you will. Extremely cold in this context means less than 6000K, as opposed to millions of Kelvin in the Core, or the Corona.

Btw. this brings up the interesting question if not a larger object falling into the sun could wipe out all life on Earth. The thing is, that major turbulences at the surface of the sun would to get the heat out way more effectively thus possibly frying Earth.

Then we have the issue of measuring TSI. There is a well defined spectrum of solar radiation, or rather a spectrum on where it is usually relevant. The problem is, we all know the sun does not necessarilly obhere to such a definition. Solar storms can bring a lot of energy well beyond these spectra. And it is energy that is not just passing us by.

Betelgeuse, a red giant, has dimmed to only a quarter of its “normal” brightness within the last months. Of course this star is no way comparable to our sun, yet it may serve as a reminder of what stars are and can be. They are not just bright life providing discs in the sky, but rather erratic monsters.

These different perspectives may seem a bit lose and not connected. But nature does not readily provide us these connections, rather we have to find them. It is our job to connect these different perspectives into a conclusive picture, if we want to make sense of it.

Sitting just there and insisting on a single perspective seems a bit simple minded. “I want my sun spot count to translate into surface temperature” is an order that will likely not be served. And yet, there seems to be a connection.

PS. I am not really invested here. There is a much bigger story going on, the solar cycle/climate correlation is just a piece of the puzzle fitting in nicely.

A C Osborn
February 4, 2020 7:44 am

How can any serious person use Berkely Earth or Giss data for any kind of scientific work unless it is Raw data only.
It beggars belief to look for anything meaningful doing so.

John Finn
Reply to  A C Osborn
February 4, 2020 9:02 am

Which data would you prefer to use?

Steven Mosher
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 4:29 pm

Willis we post raw as well.

global not gridded

A C Osborn
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 6, 2020 2:56 pm

I have already told you.
Max & min Northern Hemisphere either GHCN v3 or Hadcrut 3, not later and not GISS or Hadcrut4 beacuse they have adjusted even the so called raw data.
Preferably Actuals and not anomalies, ie reproduce what zeke did here.
comment image

A C Osborn
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 6, 2020 3:01 pm

There were 2 other charts, but they are no lnger available, but I still have copies of them.

A C Osborn
Reply to  John Finn
February 4, 2020 11:21 am

I said Raw data only.
Not adjusted or gridded or anything else.

A C Osborn
Reply to  John Finn
February 4, 2020 11:35 am

As well as that it should not be the daily average, but max & min, possibly not even an annual value but monthly or quarterly data.
It should be the Northern Hemisphere, which is where the Ice Age and LIA shows up the most

Because we don’t know how it starts or how it ends or when it shows itself.

A C Osborn
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 3:37 pm

Read what he said again!
“Which data would you prefer to use?”
Not dataset.

February 4, 2020 7:50 am

the Maunder minimum occurred when the sun was minus any sun spots. The average earth temperature dropped two degrees with bitter winters. People skating on the Thames etc. Also Abdussamatov in Russia believes that the decline of the TSI is crucial and signals the beginning of another little ice age which will manifest itself increasingly over the next decade.

John Finn
Reply to  Terri Jackson
February 4, 2020 9:09 am

The average earth temperature dropped two degrees with bitter winters.

Really? On what evidence do you base this assertion?

People skating on the Thames etc.

Which was possible several occasions during the Medieval WARM Period. The Thames froze over more often in the pre-19th century era because of the slow flow of the river which allowed water to freeze.

Also Abdussamatov in Russia believes that the decline of the TSI is crucial and signals the beginning of another little ice age which will manifest itself increasingly over the next decade. >/i>

I’m happy to have a sizeable wager on this outcome. I think Abdussamatov is wrong.

Don B
February 4, 2020 7:53 am

Here is a 42 minute video presentation by Nir Shaviv on the sun climate connection.

Reply to  Don B
February 8, 2020 5:32 pm

Nir Shaviv has explained why there is no short-term correlation to be found:
Here is the quick summary from the comments on his blog:
“The key point to understand is that earth has a finite heat capacity. This implies that the whole climate system is like a low pass filter. Modulations on the 11 year solar cycle are damped, leaving only 10 or 20% of the temperature variations that would have been seen if the system could have reached equilibrium. Over 50 years, it is of order 50%, and over a century, about 80%. This is all because it takes time for the oceans to heat and cool. The last 20% or so, are obtained only after waiting several centuries, letting the ice-caps adjust. –

He goes into more detail on this point in this article:
“The lack of correlation between the annual values is due to the fact that they are looking for an instantaneous linear relation, that is, they carry out a linear regression in the form
T(t) = a F⊙(t) + b ln(p CO2) + … [ where F⊙(t) is the solar forcing ]
However, the key point here is that Earth’s climate is a low pass filter. This means two things. First, the relation between the forcing and temperature changes and is not instantaneous (there is a lag and smearing because of the heat diffusion, primarily in the oceans). Second, the ratio between the forcing and the response on short time scales and the ratio between the forcing and the response on long time scales is different (because of the low pass filter behavior of the climate system, it damps response over short time scales). The ratio is a factor of around 3 to 4 between the 11 year response and the centennial response. As a consequence, the fit suppresses any solar contribution over long times scales because the short term variations due to the solar cycle will ruin the fit. So, any linear regression to the annual data is bound to fail.” –

Paul Aubrin
February 4, 2020 7:53 am

De Larminat attempted to use the recent Detection and Attribution technique to climate data.
Surprisingly, according to his research work, solar activity is much more detectable in climate data than any other attempted cause.
Some indications tend to dismiss this hypothesis:
–In the free identification, solar activity contributes to explain the medieval warm period and the little ice age. It is not so in forced identification (Fig. 9-d).
– As a result, the error output visibly increases over these periods.
–A significant cross-correlation (not shown here) appears between the solar activity indicator and the output error, sign of a causality not taken into account.

February 4, 2020 7:59 am

There is a solar cycle correlation to the Great Lakes water level with some exceptions
to the rule.

Scott McIntosh made reference to the cycle in an interview last fall.—>

So far that prediction has been accurate. His observation about currents and storm tracks are apparent this

Also the sediment studys of the ancient city Cahokia has a correlation to the solar cycle with some exceptions of the rule. Don’t give up looking….

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 1:23 pm

Because there are only singular drivers of events, when something does not mesh 100% perfectly, it proves it false. That is not how science works. Many times theories that are not 100% accurate at prediction are correct. Imagine if every theory about weather and climate were disregarded because the people disregarding them refused to look at how volcanic eruptions cause it to not line up on occasion?
Nice “Science bro” thing you got going on there.
I read your stuff, I almost never seem to feel like you are being fully honest.

John Tillman
Reply to  astonerii
February 4, 2020 4:23 pm

Mendel reported the results of his pea breeding experiments which supported his conclusions, which have been confirmed. There are often good reasons for results not to be 100% in line.

But Willis runs for the door and refuses even to look at good studies he deems unworthy for whatever made up, handy excuse, without reading the papers.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 2:23 pm

I view the weather/climate system as being a non-linear chaotic force.
The Execs involved with Ag production are taking a risk management
approach that is now looking very hard at what is happening with
the very difficult weather conditions. And Space Weather is very much
a part of that. Too much is at stake. They are pouring resources into
new equipment to deal with the potential risks. Tell us why
some of the correlations are missing–there is more to this than some
simple alignment..

February 4, 2020 8:03 am

Hi Willis
I’ve spent all morning thinking about this.
Nah-I’m going to stay with the observation that the Little Ice Age was associated with the Maunder Minimum.
I can’t refute this one and I don’t think anyone else can either.
And for ages most knew that on the changes from ice expansions to interglacials that the temp swing of some 10C was more than the changes in the Sun’s output would suggest.
Used to wonder about that one.
Until Svensmark’s and later Shaviv’s work on cosmic rays, clouds and cooling.
Makes sense to me.
I’ve been “in the field” so to speak since completing my degree in geology and physics in 1962.
And it has been essential to have an explanation of “Ice Ages” that is personally satisfactory.
The initial inspiration was “IGY”. Yes, “International Geophysical Year”of 1957.
Also, that was the year cartoonist Walt Kelly published “G.O. Fizzickle Pogo”.
And I still have my original copy. According to the upper left corner–the price was “$1.”.
It has been a fascinating trip.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 3:05 pm

I was posting my view.
Not arguing with you nor trying to change your extensive article.
Also expressing what a long and wonderful learning process it has been.
And at each step in the advance of knowledge in climate since the early 1970s has been a personal revelation.
Right up to the Cosmic ray story.
No offense offered, non taken.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Bob Hoye
February 4, 2020 5:22 pm

Problem is, we don’t know was causes the swings to and from glacials and interglacials. We have hypotheses and stuff, but we don’t really know. If you have a theory you like, more power to you, but it doesn’t make it any more right than aliens did it.

Mark Lee
February 4, 2020 8:09 am

Layman here. Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get. As a layman, I never thought that a single cycle with low sunspot activity, or more precisely, low solar irradiance, would have much effect simply because of the climate inertia. 11 years is an awfully short period of time to have an effect on the oceans. I think your studies should concentrate on trends in solar activity. Probably at least 3 cycles of low, lower, really low activity and high, higher and really high activity. See if a long trend in one direction over a generation has an effect.

Side note. This is why I throw out anecdotal accounts that start, “when I was a kid…”. Human lifespans are barely enough to see a trend versus a cycle. I grew up in Alaska and “when I was a kid”, we had a foot of snow on the ground by Halloween. In later years, after I had moved to the lower 48 for school, the Navy, etc., there were reports of no snow at Christmas, or not enough snow to start the Iditarod dog sled race. Then years later, no more lack of snow issues. Cycles. I think it is pretty normal for someone in their 40’s to expect that seasonal highs and lows where they grew up are different “now” than they were “then”. And by the time they are in their 60’s, it’s back to their childhood.

February 4, 2020 8:18 am

Can anyone tell me why I can’t see current Solar Data on the WUWT Solar Reference Pages?
I can see pictures on the sum (current) but pretty much everything else is showing me old (2015 – mid 2019) data. Thanks.

Steven Mosher
February 4, 2020 8:24 am

Nice work Willis.

Here is what I predict. I predict a bunch of people will tell you how you should have done the analysis.
It is easy to find “problems” or sugestions, or “well I would have done x and y” blah blah blah.

Its much hard to actually do the work.

And here’s the thing

Folks can believe in this influence of the sun ONLY AS LONG AS THEY NEVER DO THE WORK THEMSELVES

Once they do the work… well they will find what you found


John Tillman
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 4, 2020 10:11 am

Have you read the vast scientific literature finding solar influences on WX and climate? Had you, you might be less dismissive of the work of hundreds (at least) of distinguished (some less so) meteorologists, climatologists, computer gamers, atmospheric physicists and chemists over the past 200 years.

Here’s a good survey paper from ten years ago:

While its authors are in the climate consensus camp, they point out those effects which had been well demonstrated by 2010 and those suggestions less well supported.

John Tillman
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 12:21 pm

There are scads in the study I cited. Any scientist trying to argue for no solar influence would have read all of them.

That’s why scientific papers have literature sections.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 4, 2020 2:27 pm


The running is all yours. You refuse to educate yourself on the voluminous literature.

Please read the survey I linked. It doesn’t cite bogus papers. Where issues have been raised with some studies, the authors address them.

It is standard scientific practice to familiarize yourself with the literature on a specialized topic before contributing to it.

Please put yourself through a course on the interdisciplinary topic of solar effects on climate and WX, rather than asking others to do your research for you.

John Haddock
Reply to  John Tillman
February 4, 2020 5:08 pm

This comment and your subsequent one are classics.
Classics in the sense that you make a claim, or dispute a claim, and then have the temerity to suggest that someone else should do the work. No one is buying your argument. If you think Willis is wrong, and don’t want to be simply accused of arm-waving, prove it. Prove it by doing the work. As you said the data is all out there. Should be easy for you.
The ball is in your court, not Willis’.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 4, 2020 5:21 pm


You don’t have the guts actually to study the topic on which you’ve chosen to post.

Why should I pick one, when there are hundreds? As always, you’ve been shown today many papers, which as usual, you dismiss without reading or simply ignore.

Show some courage and read for once Javier and Joel’s links, which no surprise you’ve so far studiously avoided. They are real scientists and their links are to valid scientific papers.

Please educate yourself by reading the papers in my link. Are you afraid of what you’ll find?

It’s ironic that the sun drives tropical thunderstorms, yet you can’t find solar influence on WX and climate. That strikes me as strange.

Please read what the scientist who understands atmospheric physics better than anyone alive has to say about the effect of the sun on Earth’s weather, climate, air and ocean circulation:

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  John Tillman
February 4, 2020 5:26 pm

” WX”

Is it too difficult to spell the word “weather”? Where does the X come from?

John Endicott
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
February 6, 2020 11:55 am

Jeff, for someone who constantly bangs on about the proper use of words at the mere sight of a typo, you seem awfully ignorant of a very common abbreviation that’s been in use for well over a century, dating back to the days of the telegraph and Morse Code.

February 4, 2020 8:32 am

Is it possible the effects of solar changes are on a delay? That seems more likely than an instantaneous effect. Some years ago I read about Dr David Evans working on something like that.

Gary Pearse
February 4, 2020 8:37 am

Ingenious methodology as usual, Willis. Probably a foolish question: are the numbers of high SSN periods ~equal to the numbers of low SSN periods in your samples?

February 4, 2020 8:43 am

“Does this mean that the sunspot cycle doesn’t affect surface weather?”
But then you analyze global surface TEMPs. The important WEATHER is over LAND aka jet stream oscillation in North America and how that affects surface temperatures, especially regarding crops (and possibly cold spell energy shortages in those states stupid enough to hate fossil fuels). Does the solar cycle in some way effect jet stream oscillation?

Clyde Spencer
February 4, 2020 8:46 am

I’ve played around with this too. I used the BEST data for monthly average highs, lows, and mid-range temperatures, and subjected the data to FFT decomposition. I was surprised to find only small peaks around the nominal 11-year solar cycle. However, there were stronger peaks centered around 21.3 years. Indeed, the 21.3-year peak was stronger than the 1-year peak, which, even for the whole Earth, should at least be reflecting the eccentricity of our orbit. Incidentally, the results for high and low-temperature series look a little different, suggesting that the lows may have a better correlation with the magnetic cycle.

When I make some time, I’ll go back and look at data for just the northern hemisphere land temperatures. I think that should be more sensitive to variations than global and sea surface temperatures. In any event, with lots of competing influences, I think that it is noteworthy that the complete solar magnetic cycle appears to show up in the FFT analyses.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 5:12 pm

You asked about long-term variations in the solar magnetic field. I wouldn’t expect such information to go back more than a few decades, at most.

John Finn
February 4, 2020 8:50 am

This quote is written under a chart that indicates ~0.7K cooling after the year 2000, which should give the answer anyhow.

1. The CET record shows significant annual variation but the 20 year mean temperatures (since 2000) exceed the Lamb reconstructed temperatures from the warmest period of the MWP.
2. I can’t see any 0.7 degree cooling immediately after 2000 in the CET.
3. It is almost certainly the case that Lamb (& the IPCC) used the CET in order to reproduce the MWP & LIA graphic. See Steve McIntyre’s post on this.
4. Willis’ use of the CET was prompted by a readers suggestion that the CET demonstrated a link to solar activity (sunspots). It doesn’t.

Of course there are plenty of witnesses of the Little Ice Age, like progressing alpine glaciers destroying villages,

Right, so you’ve got some anecdotes about alpine glacier advance to ‘prove’ that the LIA was a global event.

February 4, 2020 8:54 am


Very nice piece, thank you. I have studied some 2000 years of British climate, of which the last 700 years are in considerable detail as records become better and references relating to religion and superstition become less prevalent.

I examined sun spots as part of a longer piece some 5 years ago entitled ‘the intermittent little ice age’ expecting to see evidence of the effects of sun spots on climate. Here is an extract;

“Whilst the various charts, such as Figures 6 and 7, together with Met office and other data referenced, demonstrate many individual cold years and more surprisingly perhaps, many warm ones as well, what can’t be discerned is one long uninterrupted block of blue representing very cold years extending from the beginning of the record and expiring sometime in the middle of the 19th century, thus matching the ‘official’ definitions of the LIA.

So clearly the period wasn’t one monolithic cold era. Indeed, this occurrence of warm and very warm years amongst the cold and moderate ones clearly confuses our popular understanding of this period. (See 3.9 for the scientific definition) Whilst the era might be characterised as generally cold with many moderate to very warm spells, it might also almost be characterised as generally warm with many moderate to very cold years.

Another notable feature is the sheer variability that can be observed in Figures 6 and 7, with the intermittent nature of genuinely cold years being juxtaposed in close proximity to years with a very different temperature profile. Any lengthy periods when the cold clearly predominated are rather limited.

The effect of sunspots on the climate is contentious. Looking at the data in Figure 8, it appears that the impact of the second half of the Sporer minimum on temperatures is difficult to discern. The Maunder minimum however appears to largely coincide with colder years, whilst the Dalton minimum is more mixed. However, there had been many cold years prior to the onset of these sunspot minimums and cold years returned after they had finished, so the relationship appears unproven and may be coincidental, where there is some correlation.”

So as you can see I am certainly in the ‘not proven’ camp as regards the direct impact of sunspots .
What has better correlation is wind direction. Generally when it comes from the west (for the UK) it is often cloudy mild and wet. when it switches to the east it is often cooler and sunnier in winter and hotter and sunnier in the summer, this latter obviously warming up the oceans.

Whether sun spot activity affects wind direct/jet stream etc I don’t know.


John Tillman
Reply to  tonyb
February 4, 2020 4:55 pm

Climate is like the stock market. There are secular trends, with counter-and pro-trend cycles within the prevailing trend.

It’s not surprising that the counter-trend cycles in cool periods are like the dead cat bounce rallies on short covering during bear markets. The early 18th century warming, coming out of the LIA depths of the Maunder, bounced higher and lasted longer than the late 20th century pro-trend cycle of the Modern Warm Period.

The LIA was chiefly due to its four solar mínima, with counter-trend dead cat bounce warming cycles in between. The Medieval WP, by contrast, suffered just one shallow minimum. (Some would say the MWP had two minor mínima and the LIA three major.). The Modern WP has not yet endured even one minimum. Its counter-trend cooling cycles have been driven by normal oceanic and atmospheric circulations.

The effect from even the biggest volcanic eruptions is too short-lived to matter. But the late 20th century warming was helped by the developed world’s cleaning up its air.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 4, 2020 9:07 pm

John Tillman (and others):

“The LIA was chiefly due to its four solar minima

As, I have previously pointed out to you, it is IMPOSSIBLE to determine any changes in solar irradiance by any kind of proxy measurements when there are interfering layers of SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere (which were plentiful during the LIA) because of their attenuation of any incoming radiation, either
solar or cosmic.

Solar minima during the LIA is pure fiction!

You also state that “the effect of even the biggest volcanic eruption is too short- lived to matter”

I would remind you of the chain of 6 VEI5 eruptions of Tarawera in 1310, 1311, 1312, 1313, 1314, and 1315 whose cooling of the climate caused the death of an estimated 7,500,000 people in the Great Famine of 1315-1317. It mattered to those people, and they were only VEI5 eruptions.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 9, 2020 2:26 pm

John Tillman:

I have just completed annotating the plot of the Hadley Center Central England Temperature (HadCET) data set, for the years 1660-1875, with the dates of all recorded VEI4?, VEI5, VEI6, and VEI7 volcanic eruptions within that period.

This was done by enlarging their plot 400 times, which gave the horizontal axis a resolution of 1.2 years per millimeter. These years cover most of the Maunder Minimum and all of the Dalton Minimum.

WITHOUT EXCEPTION, the dates of the sixteen VEi5-7 eruptions fell precisely on a downward temperature excursion, proving that it was caused by the cooling from volcanic SO2 aerosol emissions, rather than from any reduced sunspot activity.

At least five of the VEI4? eruptions also coincided with a downward temperature excursion, with the result that all of the cooling shown on their plot from 1660-1775 was simply due to volcanic SO2 aerosols.

Along with the impossibility of measuring solar activity at the Earth’s surface by any proxy measurements, this should destroy the hypothesis that reduced sunspot activity will result in cooler temperatures.

Burl Henry
Reply to  tonyb
February 13, 2020 7:51 pm


A question, if I may:

The Hadley Centre listing of Central England temperatures shows the temperatures of the following years to be:

1875 9.48 deg. C
1876 9.53
1877 9.19
1878 9.26
1879 7.44
1880 9.10

What do your records show?

February 4, 2020 9:00 am

There really aren’t a lot of choices for the origins of forcing’s that can explain the variation in temperatures we have observed during the Holocene. Variation in solar activity is certainly a possibility. There are lots of papers in the scientific literature that show a relationship between solar activity and surface temperatures. Below is one, though I don’t know that the entire paper has been translated.

Periodicities of solar activity and the surface temperature variation of the Earth and their correlations ZHAO XinHua*, FENG XueShang*
State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, Center for Space Science and Applied Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, ChinaAbstract:Based on the well-calibrated systematiCmeasurements of sunspot numbers, the reconstructed data of the total solar irradiance (TSI), and the observed anomalies of the Earth’s averaged surface temperature (global, ocean, land), this paper investigates the periodicities of both solar activity and the Earth’s temperature variation as well as their correlations on the time scale of centuries using the wavelet and cross correlation analysis techniques. The main results are as follows. (1) Solar activities (including sunspot number and TSI) have four major periodic components higher than the 95% significance level of white noise during the period of interest, i.e. 11-year period, 50-year period, 100-year period, and 200-year period. The global temperature anomalies of the Earth have only one major periodic component of 64.3-year period, which is close to the 50-year cycle of solar activity. (2) Significant resonant periodicities between solar activity and the Earth’s temperature are focused on the 22- and 50-year period. (3) Correlations between solar activity and the surface temperature of the Earth on the long time scales are higher than those on the short time scales. As far as the sunspot number is concerned, its correlation coefficients to the Earth temperature are 0.31-0.35 on the yearly scale, 0.58-0.70 on the 11-year running mean scale, and 0.64-0.78 on the 22-year running mean scale. TSI has stronger correlations to the Earth temperature than sunspot number. (4) During the past 100 years, solar activities display a clear increasing tendency that corresponds to the global warming of the Earth (including land and ocean) very well. Particularly, the ocean temperature has a slightly higher correlation to solar activity than the land temperature. All these demonstrate that solar activity has a non-negligible forcing on the temperature change of the Earth on the time scale of centuries.

Reply to  Nelson
February 4, 2020 9:55 am

I admire Willis’s work.

But as mentioned upthread, solar cycles MUST affect weather and temperature, even if observations don’t show a correlation.

Reply to  Snape
February 4, 2020 10:36 am

Here is how a correlation would be easily observed:

Measure SST for months with high sunspot activity. Compare this to SST for the SAME months had there been low sunspot activity. Apples to apples.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 1:11 pm


The evidence is physics based. SWIR has been shown to affect the temperature of a body that absorbs it. Only sometimes?

What if I took a drink from a pint of beer and asserted the volume of liquid in the glass had decreased?

Would you need me to take measurements before agreeing?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
February 4, 2020 6:06 pm


I am saying that changes in solar insolation will have an effect on weather and temperature (basic physics), even when the effect cannot be detected. Here’s an analogy:

Hershey is a member of the S&P. As such, it has an effect on the market. When Hershey’s stock is up it is better for the S&P than when Hershey’s stock is down. Basic math.

So shouldn’t there be a correlation? Not necessarily. If Hershey was the only member of S&P, then yes, a clear relationship. As it is, there are over 500 other companies to muck things up. Almost zero correlation is actually observed between the performance of Hershey and the S&P.

Effect, yes. Correlation, no.

Reply to  Snape
February 4, 2020 8:13 pm

“A difference that makes no difference.”

Lol. Yes, that’s one way of looking at it.


Suppose your house is a comfortable 70 F. You crank the thermostat to 80 F, but at the same time open a window, letting a cool breeze through. The temperature stays at 70 F.

Which is more accurate?
A) turning up the thermostat made no difference in temperature.
B) turning up the thermostat prevented your house from cooling to 60 F.

Reply to  Snape
February 4, 2020 9:58 pm

I really am impressed by your work, BTW.

February 4, 2020 9:02 am

Here is an old post from the Reference Frame blog that addresses the issue.

John Finn
Reply to  Nelson
February 4, 2020 2:40 pm

It is old – from 2004. Some of the points made in the article are now known to be wrong. The F-C & L Solar Cycle length and temperature has completely broken down.

Steve Z
February 4, 2020 9:32 am

The lack of a correlation between sunspot activity and sea surface temperature found by Eschenbach may not indicate that sunspots do not affect the climate or weather, but may only reflect the fact that the oceans have a huge heat capacity, and that any response in sea-surface temperatures to sunspot activity (a relatively small percentage of the normal solar radiation intensity) will necessarily be slow, over a matter of months or years, and the response may be delayed, with a large phase shift and/or damping coefficient.

There does seem to be some correlation between the Maunder Minimum and the relatively cold climate at that time, which was noted over land. Dry land has a much lower heat capacity and a lower albedo than the oceans, so that air temperatures over land may be much more responsive to sunspot activity (or lack thereof) than sea surface temperatures.

It is also possible that mankind’s ability to measure sunspot activity and measure temperatures over large land masses was more limited during the 1700’s than now, so that the older data may have a larger margin of error than more recent data (if they are not massaged or fudged by global-warming advocates).

If there is a correlation between sunspot activity and the climate, it would more likely be found over land than at the surface of oceans.

February 4, 2020 9:44 am