Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The sun has got his hat on...

A new study purports to have found that the sun cannot have had any effect on climate change over the last thirty years or so.
A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun's output cannot be causing modern-day climate change.

It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun's output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen.

It also shows that modern temperatures are not determined by the Sun's effect on cosmic rays, as has been claimed.

Which leaves us in something of a quandry really, because how else are we to explain the solar system-wide warming that we have observed?
Global warming on Neptune’s moon Triton as well as Jupiter and Pluto, and now Mars has some scratching their heads over what could possibly be in common with the warming of all these planets.

Are we so powerful that our pollution is warming these other celestial bodies too? I doubt it.
Dr Lockwood initiated the study partially in response to the TV documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, broadcast on Britain's Channel Four earlier this year, which featured the cosmic ray hypothesis.

"All the graphs they showed stopped in about 1980, and I knew why, because things diverged after that," he told the BBC News website.

"You can't just ignore bits of data that you don't like," he said.

Oh, I quite agree, Dr Lockwood. So would you mind telling us why the IPCC did not bother to include the Briffa data showing that the divergence of tree rings (one of the IPCC's crucial proxies in divining past temperatures) from the known recent temperature record? Or the appalling inaccuracies inherent in the measurement and placement of current temperature monitoring stations?
[The IPCC] was criticised in some quarters for not taking into account the cosmic ray hypothesis, developed among others by Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Danish National Space Center.

Their theory holds that cosmic rays help clouds to form by providing tiny particles around which water vapour can condense. Overall, clouds cool the Earth.

During periods of active solar activity, cosmic rays are partially blocked by the Sun's more intense magnetic field. Cloud formation diminishes, and the Earth warms.

Mike Lockwood's analysis appears to have put a large, probably fatal nail in this intriguing and elegant hypothesis.

But the problem is, you see, that their's was but one hypothesis. They maintained that increased cloud formation reduced heating of the earth by reflecting radiation back into space. But there is another theory.

What Dr Lockwood is saying is that, since the mid-1980s, solar output has declined and we would then expect to see more clouds forming and thus the temperature of the planet should fall as the sun's radiation is reflected back into space. However, what we have seen is rising temperatures, combined with a declining solar output.

But, what is clouds did not work in the way that Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen say that they do, i.e. they do not cause cooling?

It is generally accepted that water vapour in the air, not least in the form of clouds, is responsible for by far the largest part of the so-called Greenhouse effect. If you think about it logically, this seems obvious—think of a muggy day: it is always cloudy. Equally, a cloudless night leads to very low temperatures.

The simple conclusion? Yes, the Greenhouse effect that clouds have is far greater than any reflective properties. So, actually, with reduced solar output we should see more cloud formation and rising temperatures. Which is, of course, precisely what this report has shown to be happening.

The Englishman has some more on this and links to the relevent papers.
Strangely it seems very easy to find graphs on line which claim to show the continued influence of cosmic rays on climate—for example Cosmic Rays and Climate Change, though I'm sure they haven't ignored this data. After much searching, as the BBC doesn't seem to believe in linking to the real research, here is their paper [PDF]. Fighting talk - and there seems to be counter arguments in place already, but I look forward to a detailed response.

"This should settle the debate," says Mike Lockwood: indeed it does, Mike; indeed it does.

The sun is causing the lion's share of global warming.


Mark said...

In para 5 of the "warming trend" section of the BBC story it states (refering to temps since 1985) Yet this period has seen temperatures rise as fast as, if not faster than, at any time during the previous 100 years.

There has been no average global warming since 1998 - who's ignoring data in this case?

Pogo said...

The simple fact that the BBC somehow found it necessary to headline this story on the "World" news page is, in my opinion, reason enough to treat it with massive scepticism.

Mark Wadsworth said...

No way can the Sun (the source of nearly all life and energy on planet Earth) possibly have any effect on the temperature or weather (for that is what "climate change" is), you can rule that out completely as a factor.


ericjacobson said...

By coincidence, I'd just finished reading Svensmark's 'The Chilling Stars' when I read the BBC piece.

First off, Lockwood completely ignores the millenia of correlation between 'cosmic ray incidence' and 'global temperature' illustrated by Svensmark. Clearly there IS a high degree of correlation, yet this isn't even mentioned.

Moreover, Svensmark never claims that a reduction in solar activity is IMMEDIATELY followed by a reduction in global temperature. Indeed, I'd be surprised if such were the case. What he does claim is that there is a high degree of correlation, and I personally would expect temperature change to lag change in solar activity by some period X.

Further, Svensmark's team HAVE provided empirical evidence that cosmic rays do 'create clouds' with all that that implies for climate--and as Svensmark himself comments, the current IPCC models completely ignore 'clouds' in their projections--akin to ignoring 'horsepower' when trying to rate a car engine.

I suspect the BBC article is just another attempt by a large, well-organized interest group to shut us all up in pursuit of their own loathsome agenda.

Neil Harding said...

Now let me see if I have this straight - the sun is cooling and that warms the earth up - hey novel - I am sure you guys know your science. But I am sure that you climate change deniers have argued the opposite in the past.

In any case read this new scientist article - hey maybe new scientist are in cahoots with the climate change business as well - who knows - but when it comes down to whose argument is more comprehensive - lets just say Devil's Kitchen and his right-wing nutjob friends' GCSEs just don't cut it for me.

Devil's Kitchen said...


The sun is not cooling: the report looks at the sun's total output of radiation in all frequencies. If you are unable to work out the significance of that, then I am not going to bother to enlighten you.


Neil Harding said...

Why is NewScientist wrong on these points?

All the myths you lot crow about seem to be covered here - including it is changes in the sun's heat/radiation etc.

Devil's Kitchen said...


Where to start? Well, with the first one: Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter. (I am too busy to look for links now, but I think that I'll start a series at The Kitchen debunking the debunkings, as you are the second person to ask me to do this.)

Ice cores show that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have remained between 180 and 300 parts per million for the past half-a-million years. In recent centuries, however, CO2 levels have risen sharply, to at least 380 ppm

Unfortunately, this isn't true. Accurate measurements by atmosphere performed by chemists in the 19th century show that CO2 levels were much higher then, as high as 430ppm. These reports are not included in the IPCC reports as they are apparently not accurate: the IPCC relies instead on such proxies as tree rings which have been conclusively shown (by the Briffa data mentioned above) to be inaccurate.

I would also point you to uncertainties over the measurements of ice-cores amid concerns over contamination.

Further, the CO2 measurements from Mauna Loa have also been called into question. The fact is that the graph that they show is a fake: the increase line has been "normalised" and the cycle is far more random that it would suggest.

Human emissions of CO2 are now estimated to be 26.4 Gt per year, up from 23.5 Gt in the 1990s, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in February 2007 (pdf format).

The IPCC has yet to release its raw data and so we are unable to assess how they have come by these estimates.

About 40% of the extra CO2 entering the atmosphere due to human activity is being absorbed by natural carbon sinks, mostly by the oceans.

This is, of course, disputed by the ever-outraged Professor Carl Wunsch who maintained, quite correctly, that a warmer ocean would hold less CO2; therefore, as we see the oceans warm, we would expect to see more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Those are some of the specifics.

Finally, however, a few general points: as I have said before, any "serious" science publication which still wholeheartedly embraces and endorses the Stern Review simply cannot be trusted to evaluate any kind of data.

Second, nowhere in that article does it mention that the radiation blocking properties of CO2 are roughly logarithmic, not exponential. In other words, a increase of 150ppm to 300ppm does not double the warming effect.

Third, that article does not point out, anywhere, that the total percentage of CO2 in our atmosphere is still only 0.03%.

Fourth, you might notice that not once in that above article does it prove, or even purport to prove, that the amount of CO2 that we might be putting into the atmosphere is in any way making a difference to the warming effect of the earth's atmosphere.

The article is based on very dodgy reports and the omissions that it makes -- given the vast numbers of reports available -- are at best deceptive and, at worst, deliberately deceitful.

As I said, I shall start gathering the papers (with links) and look into debunking all of these.


Devil's Kitchen said...

Some amusing facts from Wikipedia.

Carbon dioxide is present at a very small 383 ppm (.000383) of the volume of the earth's atmosphere...

The twenty year smoothed Law Dome DE02 and DE02-2 ice cores show the levels of CO2 to have been 284 ppm in 1832.[10] As of January 2007, the measured atmospheric CO2 concentration at the Mauna Loa observatory was about 383 ppm.[11] Of this 99 ppm rise in 175 years, 70 ppm of it has been in the last 47 years.

Unfortunately, as the NS article pointed out, we have been unable to measure accurately C14 in the atmosphere since 1954, so we are unable to tell how much of this is caused by humans.

Another interesting omission by the NS.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Neil H, don't start with the stupid phrase "climate change deniers", nobody is denying THAT the climate changes over time, we are arguing over WHY it is changing, WHAT the impact will be and WHAT (if anything) we can or should do about it.

ericjacobson said...


Your very first statement betrays your ignorance of Svensmark's work.

Like so many of the anthropogenic warming crowd, you appear utterly ignorant of scientific method, never mind well-established fact.

Nobody claims that 'the sun is cooling'--what a ridiculous assertion for you to make. No: what is happening--without any doubt at all--is that the sun is less active, which lessens the ability of the heliosphere to deflect inbound cosmic radiation. That much is well-established fact.

Svensmark has established an extremely high degree of correlation between heliospheric field strength, cosmic radiation hitting the earth, and cloud formation.

Do yourself a big favor: learn the theory before criticizing it. Until then, you are merely one of the fascists who are trying to shut out all dissent, and (it would appear) criminalize those of us who take issue with the unproven assertion that climate change is induced primarily by human activity.

This whole 'denier' issue is really beginning to get me riled.

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Why does it have to be warming because of one OR the other?

Either Sun OR human activity.

Why not both?

Neil Harding said...

Henry, it could well be the Earth is warming due to both sun and human activity.

What is not in doubt is that humans are putting more CO2 into the atmosphere every year and CO2 is a greenhouse gas. It is also not in doubt that world temperatures are rising and accelerating. This is the simple science behind all the other stuff and those facts alone are pretty convincing.

It wasn't long ago that people were denying that the world was warming, it is a dwindling number doing that now. In the face of mounting evidence, those who deny human activity as a significant factor in warming will also dwindle.

Devil's Kitchen said...


The point here is "are we a significant factor in warming?" Even Climate Audit admits that CO2 is not normally a forcing factor (although it can be a positive feedback mechanism).

Since almost all climate scientists admit that the biggest greenhouse gas is water vapour (responsible for between 70% and 90% of the greenhouse effect), how significant is CO2 (which is, as I remind you , on 0.03% of our atmosphere)? Esecially when it is at near-saturation in terms of radiation retention anyway?


Pogo said...

ISTR reading somewhere that the highest CO2 level taken from an ice-core was something like ten times the present level... The prevailing climate at the time was, if I remember correctly, the mid-point of an ice-age.

With the political obsession with CO2 are we in danger of becoming guilty of the old "making important that which we can measure rather than measuring that which is important"?

Frank O'Dwyer said...

"Global warming on Neptune’s moon Triton as well as Jupiter and Pluto, and now Mars has some scratching their heads over what could possibly be in common with the warming of all these planets."

I bet it has, especially the type of person who is unaware that two of them aren't planets.

Remind me again, how many temperature sensors have we got on these celestial bodies and who is monitoring their appropriate placement? That's vital, right, before we can conclude anything at all about warming? These "mars is warming" frauds will also have some hockey stick graph or the like which you'll be busy debunking. Yes?

I mean after years of quibbling about whether the planet that you're actually standing on is getting warmer or not, I'm sure it would take sceptics such as yourselves at least 3 decades to get over your borderline solipsism and conclude that warming was occurring somewhere else in the solar system. Right? You're not gonna tell me now that uber sceptics such as yourselves are now convinced that mars is warming after seeing only a couple of photos and hearing from some dude who thinks that neptune's moon is a planet. Otherwise people might conclude you're less than sincere.