No solar hiding place for greenhouse sceptics?

Very little other than the bleedin’ obvious I fear. Inel laments her lack of access; but has read it and provides a copy of the Nature comment, but not the Proc Royal Soc original. Not having read the original, I’m not sure what was in it worthy of publication; the lack of a trend in solar is known already. But the septics are rather like Monty Pythons Balck Knight: no matter how many limbs you chop off they hop around on one leg or offer to bite your shins, and they need to be stomped on every now an again.

Even if you’re mad enough to insist that solar forcing changes might be strong enough to explain climate change; or that they are amplified by some mysterious mechanism involving clouds or space aliens; you’re still left with the minor problem that (a) the trend in solar, if there is one, is downwards and (b) any trend is much smaller than the 11-y solar cycle which you certainly don’t see in the sfc data; see wiki for example.

The new paper won’t stop the loonies, of course; nothing will (and anyway, this being published in Proc Royal Soc and nature just means its part of the Vast Global Warming Conspiracy ™). But it may be handy for editing into wikipedia.

[Update: the paper is available (thanks F) and the abstract is There is considerable evidence for solar influence on the Earth’s pre-industrial climate and the Sun may well have been a factor in post-industrial climate change in the first half of the last century. Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures. -W]

41 thoughts on “No solar hiding place for greenhouse sceptics?”

  1. Too busy to look up the linky now, but Solanki in 2001-2002-ish showed the sun-climate connection was bunk. He had pretty graphs and I used to use this paper often. He concluded that maybe there was a connection, but now that has been overwhelmed by man.




  2. And (c) there’s still a whopping big CO2 trend and you haven’t come up with a convincing argument as to why that doesn’t matter. 😉


  3. I wanted to post the original article, however it was not available on the Proc. Royal Soc. A site yesterday when the Nature comment came out, and as I’m looking it’s still not online in the “First Cite” section. I’m glad someone had a copy here…Cheers.


  4. I looked for the article on the Proc Royal Soc A site also and when I couldn’t find the paper, I emailed Mike Lockwood – he said it comes out next Thursday and kindly emailed a copy of the paper. It’s a very useful paper in that it references a whole heap of other studies on the topic. It doesn’t seem to break any new science – it just filters out the 11 year solar cycle to calculate the long term solar trend and notes that it’s opposite to temperature trends. Solanki’s study is more rigorous in setting upper limits on possible solar influence.

    I think Munin might be onto something – surely the sheer number of studies disproving a solar link to global warming will finally put this one to rest (maybe I’m naieve in thinking this). Despite the fact that cosmic rays show a similar lack of correlation (or anti-correlation to be precise) with temperature, I anticipate it’ll become the last refuge of GW skepticism.


  5. Actually John, I wasn’t thinking of the effect of cosmic rays on clouds in particular. It appears to me that the general understanding and modelling of clouds represent a weakness in current global climate models.

    That said, my understanding on the topic doesn’t stretch far beyond the Economist article linked above – I’d be delighted to be proven wrong.


  6. John, sadly no, there were any number of papers showing the original Friis-Christensen cosmic ray paper was best used in the smallest room so they kept reinventing it.

    Marsh and Svensmark on one level is a real so what, ions can nucleate aerosols. Cosmic rays make ions. That has been well known forevah The bigger question for clouds is what makes aerosols grow (and shrink). One of the things that seems to control this is SO2 concentrations.


  7. It may turn out that the Svensmark mechanism does have some relevance to atmospheric cloud condensation nucleus concentrations. There are some issues, however. Eli has it right that ions can nucleate aerosols and cosmic rays make ions. But it is still unclear whether or not ions nucleate sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere – there is an ongoing debate whether the nucleation is induced by ions or not (in fact, Svensmark’s most recent invention is an incredible mechanism whereby fresh nuclei spill out electrons which then nucleate more particles – and this is to explain their lab result that is in fact readily explainable by the homogeneous nucleation mechanism which involves no ions).

    Eli’s also (partially) correct about the growth of the particles. The growth may have as much (or even more) to do with organic vapors as SO2 (and, BTW, the growth seems to be quite irreversible in most circumstances). In any case, over the oceans the growth is slow, and it may well take a few days before the particles have reached cloud nucleus sizes – and within that time, most of them may have been washed out by cloud droplets or rain.


  8. If I understand it correctly, Svensmark saw nucletion when they applied an electric field in their chamber. The electric field removes charges – that’s why people doing lab experiments of homogeneous nucleation apply it. So, when you see nucleation while you have the electric field on, you’d assume homogeneous nucleation. But that would ruin Henrik’s (current) theory – thus, the suggestion that a very low concentration of electrons can cause the nucleation: it’s a matter of catalysis! The only problem is, if you only have one charge per nucleus, why would it get kicked out?

    Regarding lab studies of sulfate nucleation, I don’t think it’s well understood. Berndt et al. (Science 2005) experimented by irradiating SO2 with UV and saw nucleation at 3 (or so) orders of magnitude lower sulfuric acid concentration than in an experiment with vaporized sulfuric acid. And the acid is assumed to be main cause of the nucleation.


  9. Similarly off topic, but on the subject of climate model predictions, I was recently pointed towards the latest model development paper from NASA.

    Most of the paper goes so far over my head it leaves vapour trails (or chemtrails?), but I have to say I was surprised at the scale of some of the discrepancies between model and data. For example, as discussed by Gavin below, model predictions of summer, mid-continental temperatures are up to 5C too warm in places (fig 17).

    As he says, it looks like there’s room in the models for some “new physics” (though I don’t think he’s talking about string theory).

    [Ah well, he should use hadcm3. Or do I mean hadgem? -W]


  10. In the above-linked BBC article I thought it was amusing that Lockwood had been inspired to do the research after he saw TGGWS:

    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.


  11. The results of Lockwood and Frohlich are based on the fact that solar irradiance does not show a positive trend since 1985. However, Waple and Mann showd in a paper in Climate Dynamics a couple of years ago that there is a lag of 20 to 40 years between solar output and global temperatures. If this is true, the effect of the solar grand maximum in 1985 should be felt about today.

    [If you’re right, then the solar folk are stuffed, cos they don’t do lagged correlations; all the supposed wonderfuo correlations Durkin showed are based on 0 lag. Though I suppose it wouldn’t be beyond him to adjust the axes to produce a 20 y lag.

    Being slightly more serious, if you mean the 2002 paper then its abstract indicates nothing about lags: the “40 y timescale stuff” means frequencies of that order:

    Comparisons are made of long-term empirical and model-estimated patterns of solar irradiance forcing during a 200-year period (1650-1850), which precedes any apparent anthropogenic influence on climate. This interval encompasses a considerable range (approximately 4 W/m(2)) of estimated variation in solar output, including the ”Maunder” and ”Dalton” Minima of solar irradiance, and an intervening interval of relatively high values of irradiance, but does not encroach into the industrial era wherein it is difficult to separate solar and anthropogenic influences. Particular emphasis is placed on comparing empirical and modeled patterns of forced surface temperature variation. The empirical patterns bear a greater similarity to the pattern of forced response of a coupled ocean-atmosphere general circulation model (AOGCM) than with an independent model simulation result using an ocean with specified heat transport, both in terms of the spatial pattern of response and implied global mean sensitivity to forcing. Heightened sensitivity in the western Pacific warm pool apparent in the empirical response pattern, is not observed in the forced response of the coupled model. It is possible that this pattern is the result of feedback processes not currently reproduced in course-resolution coupled models. The greatest empirical response is found at the multidecadal-to-century ( > 40 year period) time scale, for which the forcing is dominated by the roughly 90-year Gleissberg Cycle of irradiance. This indicates a global-mean sensitivity (approximately 0.3 K/W/m(2)), which is close to the coupled model result (approximately 0.4 K/W/m(2)). At decadal time scales (8-25 year period), for which the forcing is dominated by the 11-year and 22-year period solar cycles), the temperature sensitivity is moderately reduced, and its spatial pattern of response is dominated by an apparent resonance with known decadal modes of climate variability.



  12. Dear Duthrie,

    sure, here is it:
    Waple A, ME Mann, and RS. Bradley, Long-term patterns of solar irradiance forcings in model experiments and proxy based surface temperature reconstructions.
    Climate Dynamics 18, 563 (2002)

    All of them very well known authors …

    You can go directly to Table 1. Perhaps more accurate values of the lag between solar forcing and temperature response are 10 to 15 years. If the last grand solar maximum took place in 1985 (Lockwood and Frohlich) then the response should be seen, ehem.., 1995-2000. Maximum of observed T so far was in 1998-2005


  13. Dear mr I’ll spell your name wrong,
    unfortunately I don’t have access to these papers, but I’m sure the climatologists on here do, so at least that gives them a starting point.
    However, your first statement regarding 20 to 40 years, is now changed to 10 to 15 years. I’m sure you understand this calls into question everything you have to say on the matter. Unfortunately also your last point is complete mince, because if you strip out 1998, an El Nino year, which are always warmer than the long term average, the temperature has been rising. 2005 was not as far as I am aware an el Nino year, yet was around about as warm as 1998.


  14. Update: Royal Society has published a follow-up paper that really knocks the “it’s all the sun” myth and the notion that we can tell anything from short time periods on the head. Better still, to celebrate their 350th anniversary, access to the paper is free.

    For those concerned about how science is under political attack, sign my petition supporting the right of climate scientists to work without harassment. And tell others by whatever means you have (e.g. Twitter, with a request to retweet, Facebook, etc.).


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