The Danger Of Short Datasets

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

A couple of months ago, I came across another claim that the solar sunspot cycle affects weather down here at the earth’s surface, in particular, ocean temperatures in the El Nino region of the tropical Pacific Ocean. The paper is called Evidence of solar 11-year cycle from Sea Surface Temperature (SST), by Mazza and Canuto, hereinafter MC2021. I wrote about it in my post “CEEMD Versus Joe Fourier”. In this post, I thought I’d expand my analysis a bit and clarify one of the reasons why the MC2021 claims are not true.

Now, folks who read my work may be aware that I started out as a true believer in the idea that sunspots affect surface weather. As a kid, I’d read about William Herschel’s 1801 claim that sunspots affected wheat prices in England. So I thought it would be very easy to find evidence that the variations in solar energy caused by sunspots actually changed surface weather.

But when I first went to actually look at the data, I found … nothing. So I kept looking. Since then I’ve looked at dozens and dozens of claimed correlations and found … nothing. Well, that’s not exactly true. I did find a scientific paper called “On The Insignificance Of Herschel’s Sunspot Correlation“, wherein the author looked for hard evidence to back up Herschel’s claim and found …


So, I was interested in the MC2021 paper. It says:

After having downloaded and analysed hundreds of temperature records of the earth surface, eventually, we found clear evidence for the sun’s 11-years cycle signature in some few cases, while for the vast majority of the others this wasn’t detectable, buried under other oscillations (seasonal or El-Nino related) or noise. We found that two conditions are the most favourable in finding the proper sun’s signature in temperature records: as a rule of thumbs:

Focus on the sea surface tropical temperatures, in the range 5°N – 5°S. This is not surprising, there solar rays transfer their energy to surface waters with less reflection or scattering and with an optimum incidence angle.

Forget anomalies or indices of whatever type; for our goals this is only data jamming.Look whenever possible to real sea surface temperatures (SST).

After careful analyses of the many temperature records of the whole earth surface temperature, as well as of selected regions, we identified two regions as the most affected by the 11-year solar cycle. Both of them refer to ocean equatorial regions, known to climatologist as El-Nino-3 and El-Nino-3-4.

Hmm, sez I … here’s their money graph showing the claimed relationship:

Figure 1. Figure 4 from MC2021, showing the relationship between sunspots and the cycles in the El Nino regions.

Hmmm, sez I … so I went to see if I could replicate their findings. Instead of just using the Nino4 and Nino34 indexes, I also used the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). All of these are known to correlate in some strong manner with the El Nino/La Nina oscillation in the tropical Pacific. (I have not used the NINO3 Index as they did, because it does not correlate with the others.) Here’s that result, starting in 1979, which is the start of the MEI dataset.

Figure 2. A comparison of the underlying ~ 11-year cycles in the sunspots and the tropical Pacific Ocean. Cycles have been determined using Complete Empirical Ensemble Mode Decomposition.

Hmmm, sez I … one thing is for sure. The Nino4, Nino34, MEI, and SOI are all clearly different measures of the same underlying phenomenon. In each dataset, you can see the recent very long La Nina conditions at the right side of the graph, and the datasets agree well with each other throughout.

And all of them line up quite well with the sunspots, with a lag of a couple of years between the sunspots and the tropical ocean indexes.

So what’s not to like?

Well, what’s not to like is that the data is very short. My rule of thumb is that you can’t tell much with only three cycles of some phenomenon, and I’ve been fooled more than once by even five cycles. And here we have only four cycles.

Fortunately, although the MEI only goes back to 1979, the other three indices go back much further. Here are the full datasets, starting in 1870.

Figure 3. A comparison of the post-1870 underlying ~ 11-year cycles in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Cycles have been determined using Complete Empirical Ensemble Mode Decomposition.

Since there is reasonably good agreement between the timing of the cycles of the three datasets, let me use their average to represent the long-term conditions in the tropical Pacific, and compare that to the sunspot data.

Figure 4. A comparison of the post-1870 sunspots and the average underlying ~ 11-year cycles in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Cycles have been determined using Complete Empirical Ensemble Mode Decomposition.

I’m sure you can see the difficulty. Prior to about 1945, the ocean is way out of phase with the sunspots. And the further back you go, the greater the disagreement between the two datasets. In addition, the envelopes of the signals are very dissimilar. You’d expect that if the solar signal is strong, the temperature should be strong also … but that’s not the case at all.

You can see this via Fourier analysis as well. The more recent post-1960 part of the ENSO record has a clear 12-year cycle (not 11 but 12 years, blue line, right panel) … but when you look at the full dataset back to 1870 (red line, right panel), that cycle disappears down into the noise and changes to a 13-year cycle. Note that this doesn’t happen with the sunspot data (left panel). There, the 11-year cycle is always clearly above the noise and remains steady at 11 years.

Figure 5. Fourier periodograms of the full-length (red) and post-1960 sunspots (left panel), and Nino4 index(right panel).

Unfortunately for those of us studying climate science, we’re looking at a hugely complex system. The climate is composed of six major subsystems—the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and electrosphere. Each of these subsystems has internal resonances and cycles occurring at a variety of timescales from milliseconds to millions of years. Not only that, but all the subsystems are exchanging energy on a variety of regular, intermittently regular, and random intervals on the same timescales. Finally, the system is fueled by a constantly varying source of energy.

Even the IPCC acknowledges that this system is totally chaotic, chaos that has existed for millions of years. And as a result, we often see what I call “pseudocycles”. These are cyclical variations in some given datasets. However, they are not true cycles—they appear without warning, last for some time, and then fade away and disappear, replaced by some other pseudocycles.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that so many of our weather-related datasets are so short, often shorter than one human lifetime. The MSU dataset of the lower troposphere temperature is only 44 years of data, shorter than most lives. Same for the Multivariate Enso Index. Same for the post-1970 data used in the paper under discussion, MC2021.

And this intersection of short datasets and pseudocycles leads to lots of claims of cyclical behavior in surface temperature datasets, particularly regarding sunspots, where no true, unchanging cycles actually exist.

There’s a final problem. This has to do with the fact that natural weather datasets are often what’s called “autocorrelated”. This means that today’s temperature is often related to yesterday’s temperature, and this month’s temperature is often related to last month’s temperature.

The problem is that autocorrelated data often includes cycles … cycles that may or may not mean something. For example, here’s a random autocorrelated dataset, of a type called “Fractional Gaussian Noise” or “FGN”. As the name implies, it’s just noise, no meaningful signals. Note how closely it resembles say a natural temperature dataset.

Figure 6. An example of random fractional gaussian noise (FGN).

And here’s the CEEMD decomposition of that same FGN dataset. Remember, this is just noise, no actual signals present.

Figure 7. CEEMD analysis of an example of random fractional gaussian noise (FGN). (Click to enlarge)

So … what are we looking at here? Well, the left panel shows the individual signals resulting from the decomposition of the FGN noise. As you can see, there are signals at a variety of frequencies, with a residual showing what’s left after all the regular signals are removed.

The right panel, on the other hand, shows “periodograms” of each of the signals in the left panel, with corresponding colors. The periodograms show what the strongest cycles are in the decomposed signals. As you can see, the strongest cycle is at 10 years, shown in green. You can see that signal on the left panel. Must be from sunspots! … oh, wait, it’s just random Gaussian noise …

However, the ten-year cycles are far from a regular signal. Both the amplitude and the cycle length are constantly changing, as can be seen in the green line of the left-hand panel. It’s also revealed by the smaller peaks in the green line on the right-hand panel.

That, dear friends, is what I have termed a “pseudocycle”. It’s “pseudo” because it is not an unchanging, persistent cycle. Instead, it’s just one of the many cycles that we find in all autocorrelated data, meaningless cycles that appear, change, and disappear.

Notice also that the FGN noise contains a persistent trend, the black line at the bottom right of the left panel. This is the result of the same thing, autocorrelation. As discussed in the AGU article “Nature’s Style: Naturally Trendy“, trends in natural datasets may mean just as little as the trend displayed by this FGN data.

And this is why in climate science folks must always, each and every time, adjust their statistical claims for autocorrelation … for example, without adjustment for autocorrelation, the statistics of the FGN signal shown above say the trend is very meaningful, with a p-value of <2e-16.

But once we adjust for autocorrelation and use the Bonferroni calculation to adjust for the fact that I looked at 5 FGN datasets to find that one, it turns out that it’s not statistically significant at all, with an autocorrelation and Bonferroni adjusted p-value of 0.075 … just random noise after all.

Climate science. Hidden potholes everywhere.

My best wishes to all,


The Usual Request: Quote the exact words you are discussing. I can defend my words. I can’t defend your (mis) understandings of my words. Thanks.

Further Readings: Most of my prior sunspot investigations …

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March 18, 2023 10:17 am

Is this approach saying the oceans cannot store heat and produce large lag effects?

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 6:22 am

“…but even a lagged response to sunspot-related variations would be revealed by CEEMD or Fourier analysis.”

Sounds like handwaving to me. Why don’t you prove your statement by determining the exact lag using CEEMD between something easily verified, like Nino3 and Arctic Sea Ice Extent, otherwise I’ll be suspicious you might just be bs-ing us again.

“The sun raises the temperature of the ocean today, not in two years”

No Willis, the ocean is not a reflector, the ocean lag during one solar cycle is one year or less, however one solar cycle doesn’t change the climate by itself. The longer term lag that controls the climate is associated with 11 solar cycles, or 120 years.

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“if you want to establish a “lag effect” you need to provide a plausible physical explanation for it. And those explanations are almost always lacking.”

My explanation isn’t lacking; but yours is just completely missing. Sunshine is absorbed at depth and it takes time for the ASR to upwell as sensible surface heat.

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Reply to  Bob Weber
March 19, 2023 7:41 am

How would that work? You are basically saying that the energy gets transferred in the first 200m of the ocean and then disappears into the depths only to reappear later. The warmer water is going to be less dense than the colder water. It does not seem possible that it would not rise to the surface.

Bob Weber
Reply to  g3ellis
March 20, 2023 7:30 am

“It does not seem possible that it would not rise to the surface.”

It does rise, and I count on it rising. We know it does by observing the heated water rise from underwater Kelvin waves to the surface.

The right question really is whether overall the ocean loses heat as fast as it absorbs solar energy. Can we agree if it did that the ∆SST=0?

If there were no absorption at depth and subsequently zero upwelling time, the ocean surface would then be acting as a perfect reflector.

If Willis Eschenbach were being honest with himself, he would admit this is exactly the position he has taken in spite of him not directly saying so when he claimed there is no SST lag from ASR in the ocean depths.


Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 20, 2023 7:04 am

Your continual use of strawman arguments and avoiding direct answers are both indicators of your inherent dishonesty Willis Eschenbach.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 20, 2023 9:21 am

“It appears you have little knowledge of my species of humans.”

What species is that I wonder?

“…we won’t stand for charming folks like you calling us liars.”

FWIW, I didn’t call you a liar, but I can be charming when I want to be.
BTW, who is this “we” and “us”, as it was only “you” I was referring to?

PS-“Your false claim is equivalent to saying…”

I actually didn’t make a false claim, but you did gaslight me Willis as I was not talking about the specific thing you said, but something else.

“I don’t “BS” anyone, Bob.” – Obviously you don’t realize you do this.

“Come back when you’ve learned to keep a civil tongue in your mouth, and we can discuss the science.”

Projecting again. That’s some advice you should take Willis.

My lady read this thread and made some interesting observations. She said you are acting like a child, like someone who can’t take the heat.

She said I gave you the science in my first comment, but you ignored it, and that you actually were the uncivil one, quite unreachable too. She didn’t think the things I said were nasty but what you said were.

In terms of you discussing any science with me in the future, drawing from long experience now, I am sure it will be as one-sided as usual.

If you paid attention to my charts from my first comment you would know my case is so strong that you now know your years-long anti-solar activism failed, that physics has trumped your auto-correlation concerns.

The facts I presented say 120 years of sunspot activity dictates the climate, falsifying your claim of no ASR lag. You were proven wrong.

The real source of your vitriol is you knowing you lost this debate to me.

Every time you are confronted with contrary evidence you lash out.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 20, 2023 9:59 am

Sunspot cycles might be regular cycles but grouped high/low cycles are not regular and thus not being picked up by this type of frequency analysis tool. In the absence of better explanations of these grouped sun cycles and their variability on ocean heat storage plus data limitations on long ocean heat cycles like AMO turning points, the issue will sit and provide cover for the doom mongers pushing policy.

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Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 20, 2023 12:06 pm

Sorry, I was referring to Leif’s solar cycle slides in various presentations showing SC 12-16 as grouped, low cycles and higher intensity grouped cycles before and after. The SCs 5 and 6 are also low. See How-to-Predict-Solar Cycle 25 (2021). Leif probably has similar slides of long-term cycle comparisons in other presentations. The AMO link above is just a reminder of ocean cycles.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 21, 2023 12:02 pm

You mean like circulation?

Reply to  ResourceGuy
March 18, 2023 12:31 pm

Are 14 cycles enough?

Indian monsoon strength at solar cycle peaks.

And in Suess cycles during the 500 years of the Allerod:

Last edited 12 days ago by Milo
Reply to  Milo
March 18, 2023 2:33 pm

Same goes for the East Asian monsoon:$002fclim$002f32$002f10$002fjcli-d-18-0288.1.xml?t:ac=journals%24002fclim%24002f32%24002f10%24002fjcli-d-18-0288.1.xml

The Indian and East Asian monsoons’ fluctuations are just two of many climatic phenomena strongly correlated with solar cycles of décadal to centennial durations. Probably millennial as well.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 8:17 pm

This is what passes for science these days? A statement that something “may” (or may not) be true?”

Geez, Willis, a whole lot worse than this passes for “science” these days … as they say, you just have to “follow the science”. 🙂

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 9:34 pm

I’ve provided it for the last 13,600 years, to include the past six and 14 solar cycles.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 10:07 pm

You need to do the work of actually studying the climate system before presuming to pass judgement on the work of real scientists.

You clearly don’t have a clue as to how the atmosphere works.

Here is one way in which solar radiation and its varying effect on the ozone layer in the startosphere affects air pressure in the troposphere, hence the trad winds and ENSO.

The stratosphere, unlike the troposphere, gets warmer with height. The main reason for this is the ozone layer, which absorbs UV radiation from the sun, warming air around it. The difference is dramatic. The average temperature of the stratosphere is about -110 degrees F. It warms to around freezing at the top of the stratosphere, thanks to the ozone layer.

As noted, UV flux varies by a factor of two during the more or less 11 years of a solar cycle. Hence, the ozone layer varies greatly in its ability to warm the stratosphere. At its warmest, the stratosphere expands, pressuring the troposphere.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 3:20 pm

To which study are you objecting? The first, 14-cycle paper? How is its reanalysis, used for one of three phenomena, invalid?

The correlation between monsoons and the solar cycle is based upon observations. It has been studied since before and by Gilbert Walker, who discovered the SO.

Have you read the papers I cited?

Last edited 12 days ago by Milo
Stephen Wilde
March 18, 2023 10:47 am

Well, my view is that it takes more than one solar cycle to have a measurable effect and that is further confounded by internal ocean cycles which can be out of phase in different ocean basins.
Solar effects might be rapid in small areas of the tropical oceans but any global effect is a wholly different issue.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
March 18, 2023 12:53 pm

Maybe you should try ChatGPT
“Vuk V. Vukcevic, a retired engineer, has proposed a theory that connects solar activity to Earth’s climate using data from the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The AMO is a cycle of variation in sea surface temperature over the North Atlantic Ocean that lasts for several decades at a time. Vukcevic suggests that changes in the sun’s activity, specifically the oscillations of its magnetic field, affect the ocean currents that create the AMO cycle.”

Got a bit of my name wrong, but rest near enough.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 3:27 pm

There is significant degree of correlation

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 20, 2023 2:05 am

What was unexpected is that the ‘ChatGPT’ would pick up this particular one out of many other matters I wrote on the solar activity related or otherwise, to the geomagnetic events.
NOAA data is good as long as it shows the ‘East geomagnetic component’ of the field.
Geomagnetic term refers to the wide range of Earth’s magnetic field events from daily geomagnetic storms – directly associated with the solar activity, to multi-millennial core variability.
Dr Svalgaard is the world’s top expert on the ‘GM east component’ variability, so I will refer you to
Of course, you are welcome to look at the alternatives.

Reply to  vuk
March 20, 2023 2:37 am

Look up AMO and the North Atlantic dawnwelling
For the geomagnetic data in the area look here (calculate the annual difference in column 7 1880-present)

Last edited 10 days ago by vuk
Reply to  vuk
March 20, 2023 5:33 am

East component of the magnetic field; Y is positive eastward magnetic declination.
Solar magnetic & geomagnetic East component variability
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Image credit: Dr.Leif-Svalgaard

Last edited 10 days ago by vuk
Reply to  vuk
March 20, 2023 5:44 am

Annual change in East component as calculated from above data referrence

Y- east GM component.gif
Reply to  vuk
March 18, 2023 5:23 pm

Vuk, you might want to listen to the March 17 Heartland podcast. Most of it is on the SVB banking mess but the last 15 or 20 minutes relates an experience with ChatGPT. To say it is horrifying I don’t think is an exaggeration.

Tom Halla
March 18, 2023 11:07 am

I think Fig 4 has mislabeling. No yellow on graph.

Dave Burton
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 18, 2023 12:19 pm

Yellow=blue, maybe a nod to the embattled Ukrainians.

March 18, 2023 11:16 am

Are you saying that the sun has zero effect on the climates of the planets? In which case what drives climate?

Dave Burton
Reply to  JohnC
March 18, 2023 12:43 pm

Willis didn’t say that. What he said was, the solar sunspot cycle [is not well correlated with] ocean temperatures in the El Nino region of the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Obviously, sunlight affects climate: it’s a lot colder where I live, when the days are 10 hours long, than when they are 14 hours long. But solar irradiance and solar magnetic field (both of which could plausibly affect Earth’s climate) change much more subtly over the course of sunspot cycles, so it isn’t a given that there’ll be detectable effects from that cycle on our climate.

Note that systems don’t necessarily need external drivers to exhibit oscillatory behavior, either with regular oscillations, or with highly irregular ones.

Reply to  Dave Burton
March 18, 2023 1:24 pm

The UV portion of TSI changes far more than subtly. That high energy component is what makes and breaks ozone, with profound effects upon surface pressure, hence the trade winds which rule ENSO and its knock-on effects, such as Asian monsoons.

UVA also penetrates deeply into seawater:,nm)%20in%20most%20oligotrophic%20waters.

The results indicated that the penetration of the blue-green radiation for most oceanic waters is ∼30–40% deeper than the commonly used euphotic zone depth; and confirmed that at a depth of 50–70 m there is still ∼10% of the surface UVA radiation (at 360 nm) in most oligotrophic waters.

Last edited 12 days ago by Milo
Reply to  Milo
March 18, 2023 2:18 pm

That was my understanding from papers I’ve read. TSI changes by about 0.1% but UV appears to change by several percent over the 11 year solar cycle. Is the TSI/UV change across the 22 year cycle (N to S to N) asymmetrical across the two 11 year cycles (N to S and S to N)?

Reply to  JohnC
March 19, 2023 5:13 am

“It is clear from the discussion of Section 5.3 that ozone is produced by short wavelength solar ultraviolet radiation and destroyed by radiation at somewhat longer wavelengths. Because the amplitude of solar cycle variability is greater in the far ultraviolet (see Section 5.2) ozone production is more strongly modulated by solar activity than its destruction and this leads to a higher net production of stratospheric ozone during periods of higher solar activity. Observational records (Figure 29a) suggest a peak in ozone response of about 2% over the solar cycle in the upper stratosphere, with a secondary maximum in the lower stratosphere, although the restricted length of the data series means that these results are not yet statistically robust. Ozone column (Figure 29b) shows 0.5 – 4% higher values in ozone columns at 11-year cycle maximum relative to minimum.”(Haigh 2007, p 33)

Haigh, J.D., 2007. The Sun and the Earth’s climate. Living reviews in solar physics4, pp.1-64

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 1:08 pm

Clearly you haven’t looked for such evidence.

I’ve provided it in these comments.

When UV flux is at its height in the solar cycle, the ozone layer warms the steratosphere more, increasing air pressure, which does affect the troposphere below. That’s why monsoons are stronger at solar cycle peaks.

You refuse to address this inconvenient truth. It’s not based upon models, although reanalysis does confirm observations. Sir Gilbert Walker found the correlations among the solar cycle, air pressure and monsoons more than a century ago, in the data, but since you’ve never studied the relevant disciplines, you wouldn’t know that.

Real atmospheric physicists and meteorologists find the same today. Now however they understand the causation better than Sir Gilbert could.

Since you fancy yourself a polymath competent in statistics, I recommend this on Sir Gilbert’s contributions to the discipline applied to atmospheric physics, climatology and meteorology:

Statistical Science 2002, Vol. 17, No. 1, 97–112 Sir Gilbert Walker and a Connection between El Niño and Statistics Richard W. Katz

Last edited 11 days ago by Milo
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 2:59 pm

Anyone who has ever studied solar radiation spectra knows that UV varies by a factor of two over the ~11-year cycle.

That ENSO depends on air pressure determined trade wind direction and strength I assume you know. That ozone concentration affects air pressure then I guess is your issue.

Last edited 12 days ago by Milo
Reply to  Milo
March 18, 2023 3:16 pm

Numerous studies have found the role played by ozone variations in ENSO. Here’s one:

Matthew W
Reply to  JohnC
March 18, 2023 12:52 pm

You read the entire post and that’s what you thought he said?

Reply to  Matthew W
March 18, 2023 2:10 pm

Just clarifying in my own mind.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  JohnC
March 18, 2023 12:55 pm

Oooh that Gaia – she’s such a little tease isn’t she….

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 18, 2023 9:15 pm

And, she can also see CO2. 🙂

Reply to  JohnC
March 19, 2023 2:22 am

Tye incoming energy from the sun, as measured at the top of Earth’s atmosphere, has not changed enough in the satellite age to cause even 0.1 degree C. of climate change. I said it, if no one else will, To prove this statement is false, you must offer evidence that NASA satellites are not measuring correctly, or that NASA is lying, which is always a possibility.

The amount of solar energy that reaches Earth’s surface has very likely changed due to changes in cloudiness, changes in air pollution and changes in albedo, including UHI and dark soot continually deposited on Arctic ice and snow.

It is now time for all the “sun worshippers” to get mad at me.

Last edited 11 days ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  Richard Greene
March 19, 2023 1:54 pm

TSI is not the metric which matters. While it changes little, its UV component varies by a factor of two (100%), vs. TSI by only 0.1% over a solar cycle, ie on the order of 1000 times more. That’s significant in itself, but also, UV radiation is qualitatively different, as well as quantitatively, as it controls ozone levels and stratospheric heating, hence air pressure and winds in the troposphere.

So by ‘sun-worshippers’, you must mean ‘atmospheric physicists’, who understand Earth’s air a lot better than you do.

Last edited 11 days ago by Milo
March 18, 2023 11:29 am

What is your take on the work of Labitzke, van Loon on the ultraviolet, ozone, stratosphere, QBO link?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 5:05 am

What about the work of Joanna D Haigh?

Javier Vinós
Reply to  JohnC
March 19, 2023 12:54 am

I guess he doesn’t have an answer to that. Solar-climate studies have been misguided for over 200 years and Willis is just following that tradition.

TSI changes by only 0.1% over the solar cycle. The expected effect at the surface of that change is too small to be detectable. Yet a detectable effect of about 0.1 ºC is found. It is not distributed over the entire surface, as could be expected, but a signal of about 0.4 ºC is found in the northern middle-high latitudes. There is at least a 10 times amplification of the signal, and the amplification mechanism has been worked out and named the top-down mechanism.

If you want to find something you should look where it should be expected to be. Willis looks at the surface, like scores of researchers before. He gets the same result and claims to prove something about the sun-climate. He obviously doesn’t.

UV 200-315nm changes with the solar cycle are 3%, i.e., 30 times bigger. And they have a clear double effect on ozone at the stratosphere, by increasing the ozone amount by about 3%, and by increasing the temperature at 30 km high by about 1 ºC. This is obviously the place where to start looking for a solar effect on climate, and it is the place where Karin Labitzke found it.

At fall the stratosphere starts to transition from a radiatively controlled environment to a dynamically controlled environment. Poleward heat and mass circulation becomes controlled by the thermal wind balance, the strength of the zonal circulation, and the effect of planetary wave flux on the mean meridional circulation. Atmospheric waves are the power that drives stratospheric (Brewer-Dobson) circulation, and they are the ones that provide the energy required by solar activity changes to change the climate. This is obviously way over the top of Willis’ head.

The main effect of solar activity changes on climate is in the amount of heat transported poleward when the Sun is not shining. It is clearly not a direct radiative effect, but an indirect dynamic effect. The way the stratosphere conditions are set, mainly by the QBO, determines the magnitude of the effect, so expecting a linear relation with sunspots is self-defeating. The stratosphere-troposphere coupling that acts through the annular modes is responsible for translating the effect to the troposphere and surface during the cold season. This is why a relationship between solar activity and the Arctic Oscillation keeps being found. This sets the position and strength of the tropospheric jets and storm tracks.

The main evidence that this is so is that the Oct-Jan acceleration in the speed of rotation of the Earth measured by the length-of-day displays a clear modulation by solar activity. This is known since the 1970s. To be able to change the speed of rotation, solar activity must have an effect on the global atmospheric circulation big enough to affect the transfer of momentum. The effect of circulation changes on ENSO is indirect. The entire meridional heat transport of the Earth, particularly in the NH winter, responds to solar modulation. This explains why the solar variability effect on surface temperature is most noticeable in the middle-high latitudes of the NH because changes in the amount of heat directed toward the pole produce changes in the air-mass exchange between the Arctic and the continents.

Willis is looking in the wrong places with the wrong techniques as if he didn’t want to find anything. The problem of the solar-climate effect has been solved. Its solution is just not what we were expecting it to be. It is a lot more complicated and will take many years to work out the details. Willis is just adding to the noise. He won’t admit to being wrong because that means his dozens of articles on this issue were a waste of time to him and his readers and because he has his own pet hypothesis that sinks if it turns out that solar changes are driving climate change.

Javier Vinós
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 12:01 pm

As to what Labitske “found”, it’s a joke.

That opinion of yours is a joke. Labitzke’s finding is confirmed and accepted by atmospheric researchers.

I don’t have to demonstrate anything to you, and your opinion is irrelevant. Only the physical reality and our collective knowledge about it matter.

Early attempts to associate the solar cycle with weather and climate variations involved surface or tropospheric observations (Pittock, 1978). Labitzke (1987) examined stratospheric data and found a relationship involving the solar cycle, North Pole temperatures at 30 hPa, and the phase of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), as defined by the direction of the 50-hPa equatorial stratospheric winds. These results were met with some skepticism for two reasons: (1) the short data record meant that the results were marginally significant, and (2) there was no mechanism to explain the relationship.

Since 1987 there have been four developments which provide evidence in favor of a solar influence on the atmosphere:

Strong statistical relationship in the data record: Labitzke’s (1987) discovery was followed by several papers which expanded on the original result (e.g., van Loon and Labitzke, 2000; Labitzke, 2004, this issue). Strong correlations are seen year-round between the solar cycle and stratospheric geopotential heights and temperatures in both hemispheres, irrespective of the phase of the QBO. Primarily during northern late winter the QBO appears to modulate the direct correlation with the solar cycle (Dunkerton and Baldwin, 1992). Although the relationships are not as strong as in the stratosphere, variations approximately in phase with the solar cycle are also seen in satellite records of global temperature in the lower troposphere (e.g., Douglass and Clader, 2002), the North Atlantic Oscillation (Kodera, 2003), surface temperature (North and Wu, 2001), and upper ocean temperature (White et al., 1997).

Solar-ozone mechanism: The UV spectrum varies by several percent over a solar cycle. Since UV radiation is absorbed by ozone in the stratosphere, the concentration of ozone varies with the intensity of UV radiation (Haigh, 1994). This radiative-photochemical mechanism effectively amplifies the solar cycle through a positive feedback with the ozone concentration, apart from dynamical feedbacks. Ozone variations have a direct radiative impact on the stratosphere and troposphere, and observations of temperatures are broadly consistent with the expected radiative forcing.

Model simulations: General circulation model (GCM) simulations of the solar effect (Matthes et al., 2003) reproduced an upper stratosphere global annual mean solar signal in good agreement with observations. However, the models failed to simulate seasonal patterns and the observed response in the lower stratosphere. One study (Matthes et al., 2004), with improved tropical dynamics but without interactive ozone, shows an improved signal in northern winter and the lower stratosphere. An important aspect of solar and QBO effects is the cumulative influence of these forcings over the course of a winter season, as seen in the stratosphere’s response to the QBO (O’Sullivan and Dunkerton, 1994, Gray et al., 2003).

Dynamical mechanism to amplify solar effects: Observations (e.g., Kodera et al., 1990, Dunkerton, 2000, Kodera and Kuroda, 2002) and models (e.g., Gray et al., 2003) show that circulation anomalies in the upper and middle stratosphere move poleward and downward during the winter season and are linked to anomalies in wave-induced momentum transport. The anomalous wave forcing (interacting with the mean flow) can be regarded as a dynamical mechanism to maintain or even to enhance the amplitude of anomalies as they migrate downward into regions of higher atmospheric density. Perturbations originating in the tropical upper stratosphere (e.g., due to the solar cycle) therefore may be transmitted to higher latitudes and to lower altitudes by this dynamical mechanism. Within the stratosphere proper, the relevant waves are planetary-scale Rossby waves propagating on the potential vorticity gradient at the periphery of the polar vortex (Perlwitz and Harnik, 2003, Ortland and Dunkerton, 2004).1 In the troposphere and lowermost stratosphere, synoptic-scale baroclinic waves, owing to the instability of the tropospheric flow, may also contribute to the apparent downward propagation of anomalies Baldwin et al., 2003a, Baldwin et al., 2003b. Induced mean meridional circulations are important in both regions, and may be particularly important in communicating the annular-mode signal all the way to the surface (Ortland and Dunkerton, 2004).

These four developments provide evidence that the 11-year solar cycle could have an effect on the lower atmosphere, and merit further study in this area.

Baldwin, M.P. and Dunkerton, T.J., 2005. The solar cycle and stratosphere–troposphere dynamical couplingJournal of atmospheric and solar-terrestrial physics67(1-2), pp.71-82.

You probably don’t know who Mark Baldwin (14760 citations) and Tim Dunkerton are. They are two of the top 20 researchers of the stratosphere in the world.

Your main talent appears to be statistical. That won’t help you with what happens in the stratosphere, which requires a good knowledge of atmospheric waves, how they generate and propagate, and the effect they have. You will not contribute anything to our understanding of the solar effect on climate. You are stuck within the first line quoted. “Early attempts to associate the solar cycle with weather and climate variations involved surface or tropospheric observations.” It is useless to try to explain things to you. I have tried and failed.

Last edited 11 days ago by Javier Vinós
Javier Vinós
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 20, 2023 1:02 am

That’s not science.

That’s science, as you would know if you were a scientist. In science, all knowledge is provisional and liable to be revised and changed at any time. As Richard Feynman said, “we don’t know what’s true, we’re trying to find out and everything is possibly wrong.” So that is how scientists express themselves. There is no room for knowledge to advance if no room for doubt is left about what we think we know. Baldwin & Dunkerton are talking about things for which there’s evidence from a multitude of studies. The right attitude for a scientist is to go to the bibliography of the article to read the articles they quote and to assess the evidence those articles present, then repeat it with the bibliography of those articles, until knowledge is gained of what the evidence supports regarding the issue of interest.

As I said, this is all above your pay level. You should stop writing about things that are more complex than you can handle and about which you refuse to study and learn. The only thing all those articles you write about a solar-climate effect shows is how little you know about that complex field. As with any field, there is good science and bad science. You specialize in criticizing bad science and dismissing good science. There is no possible learning or advancing from what you do and it is essentially useless.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 2:39 pm

Please read what Javier, a real scientist instead of playing one on a blog, actually said. He told you where the signal is and of what it consists. Typically, you pretend he didn’t , because you can’t handle the truth.

“TSI changes by only 0.1% over the solar cycle. The expected effect at the surface of that change is too small to be detectable. Yet a detectable effect of about 0.1 ºC is found. It is not distributed over the entire surface, as could be expected, but a signal of about 0.4 ºC is found in the northern middle-high latitudes. There is at least a 10 times amplification of the signal, and the amplification mechanism has been worked out and named the top-down mechanism.”

Had you ever studied climatology, you’d know about Arctic and high temperate latitude amplification.

It’s highly arrogant of you to presume to comment on subjects about which you’re so woefully ignorant.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 21, 2023 12:47 pm

Willis writes “If you were paying attention, you’d know that I’ve never denied that the sunspot cycle has an effect on the upper atmosphere. I’m a ham radio operator, and every operator knows that. What I’ve not been able to find is any trace of that at the surface.”

Are you suggesting the upper atmosphere is effectively disconnected from the lower atmosphere?

Mark BLR
March 18, 2023 12:06 pm

Fortunately, although the MEI only goes back to 1979, the other three indices go back much further.

Although not ideal, datasets using “old” MEI algorithms are available at the PSL (NOAA) website, in the “MEI[.ext] data access and publications” sections near the bottom of each webpage.
“MEI.old” was updated from 1950 to (November) 2018, while the even older “MEI.ext” went from 1871 to 2005.

URL 1 :

URL 2 :

Dave Burton
March 18, 2023 12:12 pm

Nice work, Willis!

Many natural cycles have variable periods. If you can say of a cyclical phenomenon that each period is predictably within some fairly broad range (e.g., 9-14 years, for sunspot cycles), then it’s still fair to call it a cycle. It’s just not a particularly regular cycle, and Fourier analysis won’t work very well on it.

Joseph Zorzin
March 18, 2023 12:29 pm

Meanwhile, I keep hearing fools say “climate science- it’s settled”. It sure ain’t. And of course, the oceans aren’t boiling. Will Gore ever live that down?

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 19, 2023 2:33 am

The same people who claim that climate science is “settled”, continually present new “studies” and predictions of climate doom. In fact, they throw out so many claims and predictions that Climate Realists don’t have enough time to refute all of them.

The science is settled? .. but we keep hearing more and more “It’s worse than we thought” stories. That’s unsettling junk science, not settled real science.

The only thing settled about modern climate science is the conclusion that every claim must scare people That was settled in 1979.

Last edited 11 days ago by Richard Greene
Dave Burton
March 18, 2023 12:49 pm

What’s the tilted yin-yang-ish symbol on your graphs?
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March 18, 2023 1:05 pm

he Nino4, Nino34, MEI, and SOI are all clearly different measures of the same underlying phenomenon.

these measures are total fabrication, subjective indices like “sun spots”

human inventions, constructs with NO underlying physical UNITS.

with no units here is no dimensional analysis, with no units there can be no physical

law or relationship.

just chance correlation

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 18, 2023 9:27 pm

… with no units there can be no physical law or relationship. just chance correlation

Not so. Variables without assigned measurable units can be analyzed statistically with rankings. I’d generally consider an ‘Index’ to be essentially a ranking.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 19, 2023 1:14 pm

Thanks for the vote Mosh’.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 20, 2023 7:14 am

Thumbs are meaning free here. They are awarded serially, based on the commenter. All you need to see are the fraction of dissed/approved comments with no reply.

Toughen up and be like bdgwx. Don’t give ’em, and ignore them.

March 18, 2023 1:54 pm

The argument the climate alarmists use is “today is Special”. With that as an anchor assumption, Willis’ use of 120 year old data is not relevant. What is relevant is 1) what is happening “now” (post 1979, satellite era), and 2) how anthropologic CO2 impacts (as modeled) the climate cycles.

As technically informed skeptics, we follow the key geological premise that “the past is key to the future “. The Kerry/Mann/Drescher position is that the present is not the key to the future as the critical features of the present (CO2) are NOT like the past.

I’m terribly frustrated by our continual fight based on a premise that the past is a predictor of the future. Biden and Gore and Gates and Trudeau and, and, don’t operate from that premise.

Our only true hope for a return to sanity is to demand they address their failed predictions with modifications of their forecasts. That and demand they walk their talk; given how existential their crises are said to be.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
March 18, 2023 2:27 pm

Speaking of autocorrelation, random noise, climate science and hidden potholes I would appreciate your comments on something that appears to have an 11-year cycle.

I grew up in northwestern North Dakota, surrounded by sloughs (potholes). At about age 12, I noticed that old, abandoned fence lines were inundated with drifts of topsoil. My Mom explained to be that they resulted from the “dirty thirties”.

Next, I noticed that all the sloughs that had been full of water “all my life”, in 1958 were all dried up. But by 1969 they were overflowing, and 11 years later, 1980, they were dry again, only to refill by 1991 and dry up by 2002. but by 2013 were overflowing nearby roads. My expectation is the sloughs will once again be mostly dry by 2024 (I won’t be around to see what happens in 2035)!

It’s tempting to associate this phenomenon with the 11-year solar sunspot cycle. In the interest of full disclosure, I should have added “more or less” behind each of the dates, but as stated the dates are very close.

I’m not a climate scientist, but I studied college engineering level chemistry, physical geography and geology. My BS in electrical technology and pipeline cathodic protection work helped me understand the same diversity in earth currents “associated” with solar cycles that I observed.

I’m of the mind that what I’ve observed is more than random noise and that I havent’ “autocorrelated”. Kindly suggest any probable errors in my reasoning.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 9:34 pm

However, they are by no means stable or unchanging.

One could say the same thing about the sunspot cycles! Perhaps therein lies the problem. Even if something had a fixed period of 11-years, it would drift in and out of sync’ with sunspots because the sunspot cycle is variable.

David Dibbell
March 18, 2023 2:29 pm

Good post, Willis! Thank you.

“Not only that, but all the subsystems are exchanging energy on a variety of regular, intermittently regular, and random intervals on the same timescales.”

Yes, and there are very strong exchanges going on.

I have been looking at hourly tide gauge data recently. One subsystem. Specifically, I was curious about the phase difference between the U.S. west coast and east coast.

Why? Because for every foot of slow rise, the ocean does about 8.6 Watt-hours per square meter of work against the atmosphere, and vice versa as it falls. Here I have plotted the time-synched difference between Los Angeles and New York tide gauge water levels.

Bottom line? Powerful energy exchange is going on in the world of cyclic phenomena, which the climate models cannot possibly represent by computation. Just another reason to see that any claim to have diagnosed the climate response to GHGs is unsound, as I see it.

Last edited 12 days ago by David Dibbell
David Dibbell
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 6:03 pm

I agree with your point about the gravity vector as the source for the tidal movements. In any case, the potential energy of the overlying column of the atmosphere increases and decreases with the water level rising and falling. And it is interesting to ponder that the column of the atmosphere has not expanded or compressed – just higher or lower in respect to the center of mass of the earth.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 6:21 am

That terminology is interesting (to this non-scientist). What would be an example of work that IS done by the ocean? Would the ocean resisting the force of the wind be considered work done by the ocean?

Reply to  David Dibbell
March 18, 2023 5:58 pm

smart man

David Dibbell
Reply to  David Dibbell
March 19, 2023 4:29 pm

Just pointing out that I am using the terms “work” and “potential energy” in the sense expressed here.

March 18, 2023 3:47 pm


In an earlier thread i had posted a link to my article :”The Definitive Cause of La Nina and El Nino Events”, which showed 100% correlation with them being caused by increasing or decreasing levels of SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere, primarily as the result of volcanic eruptions, which you had commented upon

In NO way are they cyclic events, yet here you are, ginning up cycles in this thread.

You are being fooled by your graphical programs! Volcanic eruptions occur so frequently that graphical programs can give the impression there are cyclic effects. You need to look at each discrete event to see what actually caused it, as I did, for the representative period that I examined.. .

March 18, 2023 5:36 pm

Yours is a delightful and timely essay because of the way you have shown that assumptions about data must be tested.
We live in a world of altered climate observations, yet we seldom see tests of whether alteration has affected the results.
You mention a data break at the time of WWII. Recall that Climategate had many mentions of a desire to get rid of some observations taken during WWII. I do not think it so in this case, but the question could be raised if your CEEMD analysis gave different results for altered versus unaltered observations.
With colleagues, looking at many Australian daily temperature data sets, we find an unexpected pattern that day of the week can show a repeatable difference to other days. Like stories of Lemon automobiles made on Fridays, some data sets have different Sundays. The effect can be magnified on adjusted data versus raw data, though it is getting hard to work out what is really raw.
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As another example, years ago I objected to the adjustments made to satellite observations of energy at Top of Atmosphere, with incoming and outgoing values around 1360 W/m2 being subtracted to find a balance where people were looking for 1 W/m2 difference as meaningful. But, the satellite platforms were up to 12 W/m2 different on average, so adjustment was made to bring them into line, to homogenize them. What if the adjustment assumptions are wrong?
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Further, of course, there are the many objections already made by others about the dangers of testing climate model performance against historic data that have been adjusted.

While my comments sound negative, they do not in any way detract from the outcomes Willis has shown here.
Geoff S

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 18, 2023 7:26 pm

Thanks Willis,
You mention autocorrelation in terms of one day like the next, one month like the next. Bonferroni corrections. “Climate science. Hidden potholes everywhere.”
One point is that autocorrelation can often be shown on various timescales of temperature series, daily, monthly, annual. Some of these effects seem to be natural, while others can be man-made, in both raw and adjusted data. The interesting ones cover the whole period of available data. Some are undoubtedly “here today, gone tomorrow” effects. Example, a thermometer observer with one preference for certain numbers replaced by another observer with a different signature. How does the Bonferroni correction deal with this? Surely you have to split the data at changeover date, if known or discoverable. You have the question of whether the Bonferroni adds certainty or uncertainty depending on whether the autocorrelation deals with man-made or natural effects.
I have used examples from daily data over land, when over sea as in your El Nino case are different probably different. No UHI for example.
All this to emphasise “Hidden potholes everywhere.”. I for one appreciate your approach of questioning the fundamentals. Modern climate science is full of scientific amateurs failing to question. Geoff S

March 18, 2023 10:01 pm

The climate is composed of six major subsystems—the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and electrosphere.

You forgot the big number seven “subsystem”:
Leftist Baloney

It doesnot add up
March 19, 2023 4:54 am

Given that climate is a complex chaotic system there is another possibility to consider. It may be the case that for periods of time the main drivers are some simple combination of factors before the equilibria that support that get undermined and the system moves to a more chaotic area of its phase space.

The problem of course is that even if this is true, it is not very useful, because to be able to make useful forecasts we need to be able to decipher when these simpler mechanisms get undermined, and to navigate the chaotic aftermath.

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If we consider a portion of the Mandelbrot set, and take the colour coding as a proxy for say temperature we can see portions of the space where the colour varies little, and others where eddies produce significant variations in a tight spiral. The transition can be quite sudden, and depending where you are move to a very different regime. Obviously it is a gross simplification, but hopefully it helps convey the idea.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 19, 2023 4:13 pm

You don’t even know what the data are.

Your ignoramus fan boys here who rate your drivel up are even greater nincompoop scientific and staistical illiterates than you. Ignorance loves company.

Poseurs like you shame climate change skeptics. Please shut up!

Last edited 11 days ago by Milo
Crispin in Val Quentin but really in Kigali
March 20, 2023 3:49 am


Your general question is to provide some evidence of a solar cycle (activity level) on weather, or climate. Taking you at your word but not addressing at all your analysis above, I feel there is such a correlation (cause and effect) presented in the work of Prof Qing-Bin Lu of Waterloo University, Ontario, Canada.

He is in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, cross-appointed to Departments of Biology and Chemistry, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

His thesis is that variation in CR’s, CGR’s and UV causes a large change in the ozone concentration over Antarctica which essentially opens, closes or modulates a huge heat vent. After postulating the effect(s) he replicated the chemistry in his lab. Solar activity is a modulator of cosmic rays. (His is not the mechanism proposed and demonstrated by Svensmark.)

Relevant papers are

“Correlation between cosmic rays and ozone depletion”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 118501 (1-4) (2009)

Cosmic ray driven electron-induced reactions of halogenated molecules adsorbed on ice surfaces: implications for atmospheric ozone depletion and global climate change”, (2010a) Phys Rep. 487, 141-167 (published online in 2009).

“What is the major culprit for global warming: CFC’s or CO2?” (2010b) J. Cosmology 8, 1846-1862.

“On cosmic ray driven electron reaction mechanism for ozone hole and chlorofluorocarbon mechanism for global climate change” (2012) arXiv:1210.1498 []

“Cosmic ray driven reaction and greenhouse effect of halogenated molecules: Culprits for atmospheric ozone depletion and global climate change.” Int. J. Mod. Phys. B27, 1350073 (1038).

“Cosmic ray driven reaction and greenhouse effect of halogenated molecules: culprits for atmospheric ozone depletion and global climate”, Journal of modern physics B vol 27 No. 17, 1350073 (2013).

Reply to “Comment on ‘Cosmic ray driven reaction and greenhouse effect of halogenated molecules: culprits for atmospheric ozone depletion and global climate’ ” by Rolf Muller and Jens-Uwe Gross, same journal Vol 28, No 13 1482002 (2014).

Reply to “Comment on ‘Cosmic ray driven reaction and greenhouse effect of halogenated molecules: culprits for atmospheric ozone depletion and global climate’ ” by Dana Nuccitelli et al”, all ditto ending 1482004 (2014).

Those two seem to be “the team” trying to block further investigations. I think there are at least 8 other preliminary papers as well, examining atmospheric chemistry modulated by CR’s, which are in turn (mostly) modulated by solar activity. He had an atmospheric chamber where he could test all this, and did so.

“Eli Rabbet” attacked his ideas online and embarrassed himself (as far as I was concerned) by sneakily using data from the wrong satellite to show “no effect”. The correspondence online is Eli being rude and Prof Lu being polite.

To me, essentially, he proposes a second “Iris Effect” as per R Lindzen, that operates over the South Pole. In one paper he claimed he can explain all global temperature variation from 1960 onwards with this mechanism. I have no idea how that claim stands up in light of the Pause and the Recent Pause.

Michael S. Kelly
March 20, 2023 2:21 pm

There’s also a magnetosphere. Just sayin’.

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