“Looking at the Sun” – Climate Discussion Nexus interviews CERES co-team leader, Dr. Ronan Connolly

From Ceres-Science

Recently, Dr. John Robson of the Climate Discussion Nexus (CDN) interviewed CERES co-team leader, Dr. Ronan Connolly, on the role of the Sun in recent climate change.

CDN have now published their 20 minute “explainer” video including extracts from this interview and discussion of some of CERES’ recent scientific research. Although the video covers quite a few technical points, they are explained in a very clear and accessible manner.

Topics covered include:

  1. The significance of the debates between the two main rival satellite estimates of solar activity trends since 1978, i.e., PMOD and ACRIM.
  2. How using either PMOD or ACRIM to calibrate the pre-satellite era solar data can give very different estimates of how much solar activity has changed since the 19th century and earlier.
  3. How politics and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have downplayed the possible role of solar activity in recent climate change.
  4. The urbanization bias problem of current thermometer-based estimates of global temperature trends since the 19th century.

The video refers to Connolly et al. (2021), i.e., this recent CERES-led scientific paper:

R. Connolly, W. Soon, M. Connolly, S. Baliunas, J. Berglund, C. J. Butler, R. G. Cionco, A. G. Elias, V. M. Fedorov, H. Harde, G. W. Henry, D. V. Hoyt, O. Humlum, D. R. Legates, S. Luning, N. Scafetta, J.-E. Solheim, L. Szarka, H. van Loon, V. M. Velasco Herrera, R. C. Willson, H. Yan and W. Zhang (2021). How much has the Sun influenced Northern Hemisphere temperature trends? An ongoing debate. Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics 21, 131. https://doi.org/10.1088/1674-4527/21/6/131 (preprint pdf).

See here for our press release summary of Connolly et al. (2021)

The video can be found on the CDN website here and the Youtube link is embedded below:

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June 2, 2022 6:10 pm

I looked at this yesterday. Very interesting to say the least! This is one video which should be spread around and great to see it here. Congrats to CDN for great work.

June 2, 2022 6:22 pm

Excellent video. We all know about USHCN data tampering, and now we know about TSI data tampering.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
June 2, 2022 7:45 pm

Apparently, tampering is a very popular pastime and has infected many facets of civilization. I can think of a few other instances where tampering has been detrimental for most of us.

We should all be more attentive or, as the saying goes, keep your head on a swivel.

Reply to  John Shewchuk
June 4, 2022 4:00 pm

Not to mention the TSI is a flawed metric to begin with.

Walter Sobchak
June 2, 2022 7:18 pm

Don’t be ridiculous. Its a consensus, the sun has nothing at all whatsoever to do with the climate.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
June 2, 2022 8:08 pm

Did you forget the sarc tag !

Reply to  Ashok Patel
June 3, 2022 2:30 am

Probably, but who needs it.

June 2, 2022 7:29 pm

Dr. John is burning wood in the video…he likes to tweak the CO2 is bad people?

Reply to  Anti_griff
June 3, 2022 1:40 pm

Well the “CO2 is BAD” people don’t seem to mind going on expensive flights to climate conferences, or recommending people buy stuff to replace perfectly good existing stuff, to ‘potentialy’ save on CO2, but not counting all the extra CO2 in the new stuff. So the wood burning shouldn’t bother them – actually they would consider it more sustainable and environmentally friendly, even though it actually pollutes more, if you count real pollution.

Reply to  Anti_griff
June 4, 2022 5:06 pm

it’s a well-known skeptic trick to get a 20% bonus in our checks from the secret fossil fuel company conspiracy to suppress the truth about climate change

CD in Wisconsin
June 2, 2022 7:51 pm

When alarmist scientists openly admit that they are submitting to political pressure to “adjust” science to support the CAGW narrative, then there is a serious problem. That is the corruption of science by politics, pure and simple. It perhaps explains why Trump chose not to go on the offensive against CAGW while he was in office — there was too much political opposition to it.

Like curing an alcoholic, the first step is admitting that this problem exists in science and addressing how it is going to be dealt with. I will not be holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
June 2, 2022 10:05 pm

Its worse than curing an alcohlic. I would compare it to trying to get someone out of a cult. You have to break down there belief system piece by logical piece. It takes a long time to get someone to realise they have been brainwashed. Agree don’t hold your breath.

Reply to  Simonsays
June 3, 2022 4:54 pm

“Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired” – Jonathon Swift. Oft repeated, but Swift was first – in 1721. Nothing has changed.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
June 2, 2022 10:43 pm

By now it is a well established behavior pattern, the climate-change scientists’ MO. Whenever the data deviates from their expectations their natural response is to ‘adjust’ it accordingly.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
June 4, 2022 4:01 pm

Science isn’t science when you get to change the data!

June 2, 2022 8:18 pm

Great video.

A few years ago, I looked into how surface weather station average annual distance from the equator (DFE) varies over time in the main temperature datasets (GHCN, GISS, CRUTEM, etc). I also compared changes in station DFE with sunspot counts.

An example using GISS v4 data is shown below. After 1961, there seems to be a reasonable correlation.

Not being a scientist, I can’t draw any conclusions from this, but I think it’s an interesting comparison.


GISSv4_Sunspots vs Stn Location.png
June 2, 2022 9:41 pm

It is a well substantiated suspicion. Me personally I am not into the sun-climate relation, although I do assume there is strong connection. It is simply too well established with regard to maunder minimum and the little ice age, as with other occurencies.

However, with the warming over recent decades, I think we just need to look into contrails.


Chris Hanley
June 2, 2022 9:56 pm

Here is a paper ‘ACRIM3 and Total Solar Irradiance database’ (2014) by Richard C Willson who is mentioned in the video that is way above my pay grade but I can understand the final paragraph of the conclusion (inter alia):
“Ongoing investigations of climate change and its forcings cannot ignore the fact that historical records show that on decadal and longer time scales global climate trends always correlate with the solar magnetic activity level and TSI but have anti-correlated with the the CO 2 content of the atmosphere on a number of occasions”.

June 2, 2022 11:01 pm

An important thing about the Connolly et al. (2021) paper is that they made a basic mistake with their statistics so all the attribution percentage results they report are wrong.

They were saying that two things (solar activity + human activity) contribute to temperature change, and claim they can use simple statistical fits to work out how much each one contributed. It seems they accidentally did one statistical fit at a time, which is quite a rudimentary maths mistake that I’m sure they’ll correct and replace with simultaneous regression once they realise.

If they trust their arguments then the maximum possible solar contribution they could calculate is more like 10%, although the data generally support a cooling solar contribution in recent decades.

They will hopefully correct the record at some point.

Reply to  WeightedLOESS
June 3, 2022 6:25 am

“…they’ll correct and replace with simultaneous regression…”

In the 1990s, Judith Lean used multiple regression to separate ENSO from solar activity, treating ENSO like an independent variable, like what is done contemporaneously by many others with ENSO, clouds, and GHGs.

Lean’s results were the reason the solar contribution is considered the smallest compared to GHG forcing by the IPCC. Based on my work, I think the multiple regression method lead to erroneous conclusions.

“…then the maximum possible solar contribution they could calculate is more like 10%…”

This perspective must change to include lagged long-term ASR heat storage.

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The entire sun-climate issue can be reduced down to the lack of appreciation for accumulated shortwave energy absorbed by the ocean when solar activity is/was above average and above my sun-ocean warming threshold, something radiative forcing neglects, and the effect of solar cycle minima and maxima on tropical step-ups/downs resulting in ENSO activity, clouds, and warming.

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The odds against this are about 5 billion to one. Thus ENSO activity was very dependent on solar activity over at least the past 9 solar cycles. The Solar Modern Maximum was essential in driving global warming.

The post video serves as a reminder that people like Judith Lean have had an outsize influence for decades on the climate discussion due to her motivated reasoning, which was on display in the video.

Her presumption was always to limit GHGs; her statement to this effect, at 9:15 into the video:

“The fact that some people could use Willson’s results as an excuse to do nothing about greenhouse gas emissions is one reason we felt we needed to look at the data ourselves,” says Lean. [my bold]

“Since so much is riding on whether current climate change is natural or human-driven, it’s important that people hear that many in the scientific community don’t believe there is any significant long-term increase in solar output during the last 20 years.”

This attitude was also conveyed by Pia Zacharias, in the video at 9:25:

“A conclusive TSI time series is not only desirable from the perspective of the scientific community, but also when considering the rising interest of the public in question related to climate change issues, thus preventing climate skeptics from taking advantage of these discrepancies within the TSI community by, e.g., putting forth a presumed solar effect as an excuse for inaction on anthropogenic warming.” [my bold]

Isn’t it obvious they both put the cart before the horse? Action on GHGs was always their agenda. They went out of their way to downplay solar activity.

My three images were part of my 2022 Sun-Climate Symposium poster from a few weeks ago, my third SCS. I met Claus Frolich and Leif Svalgaard at the first meeting, and Judith Lean at my second in 2020 as well as at the 2018 AGU fall meeting, and dozens of other solar scientists. She is well-loved and respected; I don’t imply any disrespect by disagreeing with her.

The Sun controls the climate, absolutely.

Reply to  Bob Weber
June 3, 2022 8:26 am

Whatever else could be done, Connolly et al. just tried multiple regression but calculated one regressor at a time. I’d expect first year stats students to know this is wrong, and it’s trivial to prove that it’s wrong too.

If Connolly et al. wanted to publish something accounting for lags due to heat uptake then they should have done – as it is they should retract the paper and have another pop IMO. It’s important for scientific integrity to correct your mistakes.

Gordon Lehman
June 3, 2022 8:21 am

Regardless variations in TSI, which have been small in the last 20 years, CERES data clearly shows that increased absorbed solar radiation caused more than 3x more warming than CO2 and all other trace GHG’s combined; that LW radiation to space has increased despite the increase in these trace GHG’s (thankfully); and that the GHE of these trace GHG’s is fully functional only in the 1/3 of the planet with clear skies.

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Gordon Lehman
June 3, 2022 11:03 am

Look, fellows: Prof Hayden (prof emeritus of physics, UConn) shows in his “Basic Climate Physics” series (#1 of 10), that the First Law of Thermo holds, even if the subject system is the entire Earth, including its atmosphere. His equation (as he calls it, the “Primary Heat Balance”) starts with

Iin = Isun (1-a)/4,

where Iin [w/m^2] is surface averaged flux absorbed by the planet; Isun is the flux from the Sun in the same units; and a is the Earth’s albedo.
Since, in equilibrium, all properties are independent of time, then

Iout = Iin, else something changes. So, final form of the Primary Heat Balance is Iout=Isun(1-a)/4, or, in equilibrium, the flux amount leaving the system depends only on the amount entering the system from the Sun modulated by the Earth’s albedo.

Seems to me that it’s obvious that the Sun’s flux sets the properties of the system, including its temperature.

Ned Nikolov, Ph.D.
June 3, 2022 7:21 pm

There appears to be a grand confusion among both skeptics and mainstream climate scientists about the role of Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) in Earth’s climate. That is probably because no one has properly quantified the sensitivity of the climate system to TSI and absorbed solar radiation. We, Nikolov & Zeller (2022), have recently done this in a blog article at the Tallbloke’s TalkShop:

Exact Calculations of Climate Sensitivities Reveal the True Cause of Recent Warming
Earth’s climate sensitivity to TSI is fairly small, ~0.05 K/(W m-2). However, the climate sensitivity to absorbed solar radiation is much larger: ~0.3 K/(W m-2). In the above article, we show that the small negative trend in reflected solar radiation measured by CERES completely and fully explains the observed mild warming since year 2000. Hence, the issue is not about TSI controlling climate, but about Sun’s magnetic activity affecting the global cloud cover/albedo. In other words, Sun’s effect on Earth’s climate is not through TSI, but indirectly through cloud albedo.

Campbell Joseph
Reply to  Ned Nikolov, Ph.D.
June 4, 2022 6:16 am

Ned: No argument from me (or Prof Hayden). Note, his heat balance equation has two independent variables: Isun and a (albedo)…

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Campbell Joseph
June 6, 2022 6:55 am

One more comment for ‘Ned”: Please look at “Basic Climate Physics #6 (of Prof Hayden’s 10 “one facts at a time” series) where he discusses albedo effects…

Reply to  Ned Nikolov, Ph.D.
June 4, 2022 8:04 am

“Earth’s climate sensitivity to TSI is fairly small…”

It appears you have misunderstood TSI sensitivity.

In 2015 I calculated the SST-TSI sensitivity empirically to be 0.5 K/W/m^2/Year, and used this along with my F10.7-TSI curve and the SWPC sunspot/flux prediction in late 2015 to predict within the margin of error for HadSST3 (0.02 K) the 2016 HadSST3 global year end temperature based on my calculated change in TSI over the year, using SORCE TSI.

“In the above article, we show that the small negative trend in reflected solar radiation measured by CERES completely and fully explains the observed mild warming since year 2000.”

You’re lost in the clouds. Clouds/lack of clouds aren’t why the ocean warmed since 2000.

The ocean warmed in accordance with the sun-ocean warming threshold I developed in 2014-15.

I showed this in my 2018 AGU poster Fig. 13, with the detrended sum of SORCE TSI above my threshold and HadSST3. My 2018 predictions in Fig. 13 of cold winters & hot dry US summers through the solar minimum came true, following the detrended sum of TSI above my threshold.

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Secondly, using Rathore etal Fig. 1 SH OHC plot b, SST cools/warms correlating well with TSI above/below my threshold, partly due to SC24 max TSI peak occurring near SH perihelion.

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“Hence, the issue is not about TSI controlling climate, but about Sun’s magnetic activity affecting the global cloud cover/albedo. In other words, Sun’s effect on Earth’s climate is not through TSI, but indirectly through cloud albedo.”

NASA Goddard scientist Steven Platnick reported at the recent aforementioned SCS meeting that high cloud fraction highly correlates with Nino3.4, based on MODIS and VIIRS cloud data.

I have shown for the last 6-7 years the solar influence on the tropics, including today in my earlier comment, so it should be patently obvious by now that each solar cycle recharges the Nino3.4 region, and while that happened more clouds were generated, yet tropical warming continued in spite of more clouds only until TSI fell below my warming threshold.

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The regular solar cycle decline into the minimum until the next solar cycle reaches the warming threshold again means tropical cooling, fewer clouds, less rain, drought, and high land temps.

“In other words, Sun’s effect on Earth’s climate is not through TSI, but indirectly through cloud albedo.”

No Ned, Sun’s effect on Earth’s climate is through TSI, not indirectly through cloud albedo.

“There appears to be a grand confusion among both skeptics and mainstream climate scientists about the role of Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) in Earth’s climate.”

In other words, you are the one who is confused because you have it backwards by you missing the cloud dependence on the sun-tropics link.

June 4, 2022 5:02 pm

what’s funny is that you can find references to #4 at least as early as the 1960s

it was one reason they launched the satellites, and why the surface record was supposed to be obsolete afterward

but to take the reported contemporary surface temperatures from before the first launches compared to what they report today at face value, you’d have to believe that, far from suffering from UHI effects, the pre-satellite era was so beset by spurious cooling trends that they got the sign wrong for decades

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