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Why are so many solar-climate papers flawed?

Filed under: — gavin @ 4 March 2020

The Zharkova et al paper that incorrectly purported to link solar-climate effects to movements of the Sun around the barycenter has been retracted.

This paper generated an enormous thread on @PubPeer where the authors continued to defend the indefensible and even added in new errors (such as a claim that the Earth’s seasonal cycles are due to variations in the Earth-Sun distance). Additionally, it seeded multiple nonsense newspaper articles in the UK and elsewhere (some of which were quietly deleted or corrected).

But the interesting thing is that this cycle of very public solar claim/counter-claim/claim/retraction was totally predictable.

Why is this? What is it about solar-climate links in particular that brings out the confirmation bias and the defend-at-all-costs responses? Why are the UK tabloids so excited about mini-ice age stories?

First off, it has to be clearly said that there is an enormous amount of good work done on this question. People like Judith Lean, Greg Kopp, Jo Haigh, Lesley Gray, Leif Svalgaard have been building better and better records of historical solar activity, improving the calibrations and observations of current measurements, and really drilling down into the mechanisms of possible climate impacts. Second, I have published multiple papers on the topic from a modeling perspective.

But, there has been a long history of people assuming that they *know* that solar cycles have an effect and then just looking every more deeply for the mechanism. Indeed, solar-climate links might be the ur-topic of the current p-hacking scandal that is troubling a lot of science these days.

There must be a pony in there somewhere

This goes back a very long way. Indeed, the first modern “sunspot-climate” claim (published by William Herschel in 1801), was in fact insignificant (Love, 2013), though in Herschel’s defense, statistical significance wasn’t really understood in the late 18th Century.

Slightly more recently, a classic of the genre was published in Science (Friis-Christensen and Lassen, 1991) which not only misrepresented the analysis they did to “prove” a link between climate and “solar-cycle length”, but in correcting it made even more arithmetic errors (Laut, 2003). That this massively cited paper (> 1300 cites) is still unretracted is continuing mystery.

Needless to say, very few (if any) of these solar-climate links are predictive. That is, once new data comes in, the purported correlations evaporate as fast as the credibility of the authors. And yet, the next paper that ‘fixes’ the correlation still gets published. We have, of course, discussed this before.

It’s (not) the sun

Some of this is related to a desire to find something other than human activities as the cause of the climate changes since the late 19th Century. Folks who really, really, really, don’t want climate change to impact societal choices [newsflash, it already has] often grab on to speculative solar effects as a last ditch throw of the uncertainty dice. But obviously, solar-cycle mania predates any of those concerns. For instance, what was Oscar Wilde responding to?

Why does not science, instead of troubling itself about sunspots, which nobody ever saw, or, if they did, ought not to speak about; why does not science busy itself with drainage and sanitary engineering?

Oscar Wilde (1882)

These days, the intransigence of climate change contrarians comes as no surprise. So the warm welcome afforded to solar-climate proponents by the GWPF et al is to be expected. But for anyone serious, making whoopee with such strange bedfellows is probably unwise.

It’s a minefield

To anyone who is working on this topic (including me), the conclusion that you must tread carefully is inescapable. The need for self-criticism in the design and publication of results and the importance of real peer review cannot be overstated. The normal human tendencies to rush, or be excited by a new finding, have to be tempered by the knowledge that this has led many authors to make mistakes and be premature (and wrong) in their conclusions. Zharkova et al are merely the latest in a long line of people who have fallen into this trap.

They won’t be the last.

References

  1. V.V. Zharkova, S.J. Shepherd, S.I. Zharkov, and E. Popova, "Retraction Note: Oscillations of the baseline of solar magnetic field and solar irradiance on a millennial timescale", Scientific Reports, vol. 10, 2020. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61020-3
  2. J.J. Love, "On the insignificance of Herschel's sunspot correlation", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 40, pp. 4171-4176, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/grl.50846
  3. E. FRIIS-CHRISTENSEN, and K. LASSEN, "Length of the Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate", Science, vol. 254, pp. 698-700, 1991. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.254.5032.698
  4. P. Laut, "Solar activity and terrestrial climate: an analysis of some purported correlations", Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, vol. 65, pp. 801-812, 2003. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1364-6826(03)00041-5

57 Responses to “Why are so many solar-climate papers flawed?”

  1. 1

    Ken Rice, among others, deserves a lot of credit for pointing out errors in Zharkova et al.’s paper, and for stating months ago that it should be retracted. Below are some of his articles on this:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/retract/
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/nature-scientific-reports/
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2020/01/13/zharkova-et-al-an-update/

    Nicola Scafetta, Nir Shaviv, Judith Curry, etc. should also take note, given their repeated attempts to exaggerate the impact of changes in solar forcing.

  2. 2
    Everett F Sargent says:

    Gavin,

    Thanks.

    Here’s another one for you by you know who (wgich cites this now retracted paper) …
    Solar Oscillations and the Orbital Invariant Inequalities of the Solar System
    (Nicola Scafetta) …
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11207-020-01599-y

    Birds of a feather …

  3. 3
    spencer says:

    As Jack Eddy, no stranger to solar-climate speculation, remarked, “there is a hypnotism about cycles that draws all kinds of creatures out of the woodwork.” The first half of the 20th century in particular was rife with cranks, and also established scientists, who devoted years of effort or entire careers to identifying weather cycles and connecting them to the sunspot cycle. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the subject was widely recognized as toxic, and good work has always fought for respectability. See https://history.aip.org/climate/solar.htm. So part of the problem is this tradition, where everyone has heard vaguely of solar/weather cycles and the media happily tap into this vein of public fascination. After all, nothing seems so obviously likely to influence weather, and temperature in particular, as the Sun.

  4. 4

    For understanding natural climate variations, instead of sunspot variations, the thinking is tending toward lunisolar tidal/gravitational forcing as the root cause.

    As with the retracted Zharkova paper, this is also in Nature Scientific Reports but it has a much more solid case behind it:

    Lin, J. & Qian, T. “Switch Between El Nino and La Nina is Caused by Subsurface Ocean Waves Likely Driven by Lunar Tidal Forcing.” Sci Rep 9, 1–10 (2019).
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-49678-w

    The consensus idea that changes in the prevailing wind is what causes switching between El Nino and La Nina is considered by them to be a circular argument — as it doesn’t explain what causes the wind to change.

    So, is this paper worth debunking as well?

  5. 5

    We had the same experience, an obviously totally wrong paper on solar influences on harsh winters in Europe still gets cited a lot more than our paper pointing out how wrong it is. http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024014

  6. 6
    SellaTheChemist says:

    In case anyone wonders why Oscar Wilde was more interested in drainage than sunspots remember that he thought everyone was “lying in the gutter, but some are looking at the stars”. ;-)

  7. 7
    Tadaaa says:

    Why are so many solar-climate papers flawed?

    Like moths to a flame

  8. 8
    Don Neidig says:

    As a retired solar physicist all I can say is “Amen!”

  9. 9
    WheelsOC says:

    Thanks Gavin for regularly crafting these mini-essays that are not only informative, but interesting and a good read.

  10. 10
    Carl Ellström says:

    Thank you for this, Gavin. That climate is controlled by the sun (over years or decades) is an idea with very little going for it, while being presented as fact over and over. People clinging to bad ideas and hacking their way to significant numbers is fuelling the reproducibility crisis. Scientific work can be very unrewarding. Many years ago, I sifted through a couple years of my fathers patient data in trial he had. The intention and hypothesis were excellent, but the data didn’t show an effect. However, I’m certain that if I had really tried, I could have manipulated the data to show that what they were doing had significance. In the short run, that would have brought my father scholarly prestige.

    But what’s the cost of lying in the long run?

  11. 11
    MA Rodger says:

    SellaTheChemist @6,
    Steady now!! You mis-quote Wilde in that he accuses nobody of “lying.” That quote is actually “No, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” This is a line from the play Lady Windermere’s Fan, spoken by a love-struck Lord Darlington who is responding to the assertion “I don’t think we are bad. I think we are all good, except Tuppy.”
    According to ‘Oscar Wilde: Interviews and Recollections Volume 1’, the quote in the OP is recorded from a conversation Wilde was engaged in during a train journey in the US in 1882. It is actually part of his response to the question “What poet do you most admire in American literature?” Having eulogised a while over Walt Whitman, Wilde continues:-

    “”Poets, you know, are always ahead of science; all the great discoveries of science have been stated before in poetry. So far as science comes into contact with our school, we love its practical side; but we think it absurd to seek to make the material include the spiritual, to make the body mean the soul, to say that one emotion is only a secretion of sugar, and another nothing but a contraction of the spine.”
    “Why does not science, instead of troubling itself about sunspots, which nobody ever saw, or, if they did, ought not to speak about? – why does not science busy itself with drainage and sanitaty engineering? Why does it not clean the streets and free rivers from pollution? Why, in England there is scarcely a river at some point is not polluted; and flowers are all withering on the banks!” And Mr Wilde again lapsed into melancholy.

    And there are some would would think Wilde could be right about poets always being ahead of science as this Robinson Jeffers poem from the early 1960s they see as predicting global warming.

    [Response: Thanks! – gavin]

  12. 12

    Carl Ellstrom claimed:

    “That climate is controlled by the sun (over years or decades) is an idea with very little going for it, while being presented as fact over and over.”

    Be careful on this because obviously the sun is responsible for the seasonal climate. And equally obviously, Zharkova’s claim that slight variations in the sun’s distance from the earth is at best a minimal decadal perturbation on the climate (which she then exaggerated). But what happens if the annual signal from the sun interacts with another forcing which can then create a decadal variation?

    It’s clear that this is happening during ENSO climate cycles, as a detailed spectral analysis reveals that a double-sideband carrier suppressed modulation is occurring. This is evident from the following chart whereby even though the fundamental carrier — the annual signal — is not observed in the frequency spectrum, the full complement of symmetric sideband satellite peaks emerge. Folding the amplitude spectrum about the 0.5 per year frequency:

    https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/1042x394q90/r/922/YmyFPN.png

    Using such signal processing techniques may help us better understand natural climate variations.

  13. 13
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Why are so many papers flawed? Because mistakes are what humans do. The first thing humans did on the moon was to make a mistake, when Neil made his famous “first step” statement. He forgot the word a in front of “man”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCt1BwWE2gA

    BUT his next door neighbor, Mr. Grosky, got lucky that night:

    https://ridemonkey.bikemag.com/threads/good-luck-mr-grosky.142536/

    :)

  14. 14
    Jim Eager says:

    obviously the sun is responsible for the seasonal climate

    Ah, no, it isn’t. It’s the tilt of earth’s axis as it orbits around the sun that is responsible for earth’s seasonal climate. This is elementary school level science, for Pete’s sake.

  15. 15
    Ignorant Guy says:

    #12 Paul Pukite
    This is intriguing. I know (in an uneducated layman kind of way) what a double-sideband carrier suppressed modulation is in the context of signal transmission, eg radio or optics. But how can that appear in the ENSO cycle? I tried a Google search but didn’t come up with anything useful. Can you give a plain word description of the mechanism to produce such a pattern? Or point me towards some source of information (book, web-page) that gives a reasonably simple description?

  16. 16
    CCHolley says:

    RE. Mr. Know Nothing @13

    Why are so many papers flawed? Because mistakes are what humans do.

    Aw yes, humans make mistakes.

    I guess that means President Trump is especially *human* and I suppose that thought should somehow placate people who are concerned with those mistakes regardless of the consequences.

    So apparently Mr. KIA wants us to believe that since humans make mistakes, then mistakes— especially those made by those that wish to deceive the public into inaction on AGW—are just humans being *human*, no need to worry. Nice deflection.

    The point of peer reviewed science along with self-reflection is to help correct those *human driven mistakes* be they honest or dishonest. I guess Mr. KIA misses the point as he so often does.

    “The need for self-criticism in the design and publication of results and the importance of real peer review cannot be overstated. The normal human tendencies to rush, or be excited by a new finding, have to be tempered by the knowledge that this has led many authors to make mistakes and be premature (and wrong) in their conclusions. Zharkova et al are merely the latest in a long line of people who have fallen into this trap.” –Gavin Schmidt

  17. 17

    “Ignorant Guy” asked:

    “But how can that appear in the ENSO cycle? I tried a Google search but didn’t come up with anything useful. Can you give a plain word description of the mechanism to produce such a pattern? “

    I haven’t found anything about it either, but wrote up a longer post describing the analysis on the blog. Why it hasn’t been discovered before is that perhaps no one was looking for it — since the main carrier is suppressed there are no hints that the annual signal is involved.

    Overall the concept is simple to explain: a strong annual impulse caused by the seasonal solar cycle is interacting with another external forcing such as the fortnightly tropical tide (~13.6 d). This gravitational force is strong enough to cause variations in the rotation rate of the earth so it likely will also force an inertial response in the ocean, via thermocline sloshing. However, the tidal response is somewhat complicated so the symmetric sidebands are complicated. The annual carrier is suppressed because all tidal cycles are balanced around zero, so only produce the sidebands according to a multiplicative trig identity, cos(a t) * cos(b t) = 0.5* ( cos((a+b)t) + cos((a-b)t) )

    Other supporting evidence for this is the observation that an annual spring predictability barrier exists for forecasting El Nino or La Nina episodes, indicating that the annual cycle is critical.

  18. 18
    Al Bundy says:

    CCHolley,
    No, mrkia does not miss the point. He, like the rest of us, is immune to climate change problems. The kids will suffer while we laugh or cry. mrkia is laughing. Do you diss that?

  19. 19
    Everett F Sargent says:

    #12 Paul Pukite (@whut),

    What the heck are you plotting anyways? Please remember that I understand data analysis forwards and backwards. Period. Full stop.

    Can you even make a prediction on ENSO conditions over say the next few (say six) years?

    That would be on the front page of Nature AND Science magazines!!!

    In fact, and this has been bothering me over most of this episode, your rather dismissive attitude throughout this whole sorted affair with regards to this deeply flawed paper. You bob and weave to anything else, you post to PubPeer …
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/3418816F1BA55AFB7A2E6A44847C24#288
    “Please, no need for any more comments on this article, as it has apparently been retracted. Thank you for your efforts, and you no longer need to waste your valuable time.”

    And I don’t really much care but: Are you the master of PubPeer discussions?

    You then jump up and pose a challenge, as in REFUTE THIS (middle finger implied).

    In general, you run about, talking nonsense against climate scientists of all stripes. Why can’t these climate scientists see the forest for the trees type stuff.

    It’s QBO, it’s the MOON, look at my 0.99999999999999 correlation with ENSO or some such.

    Now I know that I am crazy, but I do expect better from others, and I do expect you to talk about things other than just your own stuff or stuff that satisfies your own confirmation biases.

    Good day. /:

  20. 20

    #17, PP–

    …a strong annual impulse…

    What sort of “impulse”, exactly? I can’t tell what you mean. Following on from there, you speak of kinetic ‘sloshing’ which, however, also affects the distribution of thermal energy–ie., ‘thermocline sloshing.’ But it remains unclear to me what the physical basis of the ‘impulse’ is supposed to be.

    After all, your data is the ENSO index, which is a pattern observed in several related parameters–not just temperature, but also pressure and wind fields.

  21. 21
    Jim Eager says:

    Why is Al Bundy’s personal abuse of other RC posters tolerated?

  22. 22
    nigelj says:

    Mr KIA @13 says “Why are so many papers flawed? Because mistakes are what humans do.”

    See what hes trying to do? Its morphed from solar papers to just ‘papers’, as he tries to discredit climate science as a whole. This is the sort trash he routinely delivers.

  23. 23

    Everett said:

    “What the heck are you plotting anyways? Please remember that I understand data analysis forwards and backwards. Period. Full stop.”

    Because of the moderation delay you likely didn’t see the followup on comment #17 where I elaborated on the plot.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2020/03/why-are-so-many-solar-climate-papers-flawed/#comment-759457

  24. 24
    Entropic man says:

    One of the hardest things in science is letting the data tell you what you need to know, rather than seeing in the data a pattern you want to believe.

  25. 25

    Entropic Man said:

    “One of the hardest things in science is letting the data tell you what you need to know, rather than seeing in the data a pattern you want to believe.”

    In the Zharkova case, she is obviously searching for solar variability impacting the Earth’s temperature variability but was struggling to come up with a plausible mechanism. According to Everett Sargent’s analysis it appears she was having issues with aliasing of her data sampling over a long time-series of many cycles. The exaggeration of her claim was partly from the artificial aliasing that she was applying and what emerged from that aliasing, which she went on to believe was real.

    There were a lot of other obvious errors in the paper as well.

  26. 26
    Glen says:

    Jim @14: Perhaps because most people live in a single hemisphere, the northern one, it seems widely forgotten that there is a secondary seasonal solar effect that is not small. The sun is about 3% closer to the Earth at the peak of the austral summer, making the disk about 6% bigger, so total solar irradiance then is about 6% higher. That probably contributes to northern Australia having the highest skin cancer incidence in the world.

  27. 27

    Kevin asked:

    What sort of “impulse”, exactly? I can’t tell what you mean. Following on from there, you speak of kinetic ‘sloshing’ which, however, also affects the distribution of thermal energy–ie., ‘thermocline sloshing.’ But it remains unclear to me what the physical basis of the ‘impulse’ is supposed to be.

    After all, your data is the ENSO index, which is a pattern observed in several related parameters–not just temperature, but also pressure and wind fields.

    The annual impulse is inferred largely based on two pieces of evidence: (1) the cross-spectral analysis of any ENSO index (NINO34, SOI, etc) shows an almost ideal symmetry about the frequency of 0.5 cycles/year, which indicates an annual impulse is modulating some other signal (cf the signal processing behind DSB-SC modulation) (2) its long been noted that there is an apparent spring predictability barrier that acts to trigger an El Nino for the coming months.

    The idea is that the annual impulse is always there but the uncertainty is removed if one considers what the tidal force is during that time interval. So one inductive approach to take is to input the known tidal forcing and check to see if that will move the annual trigger toward El Nino or La Nina for the rest of the year across the historical record.

    The thermocline is critically important in this because that’s where the ENSO behavior forms and the reduced effective gravity between the higher density, cooler water below the thermocline and the lower density, warmer water above the thermocline is incredibly sensitive to tidal forcing, which is what the Nature SciReport paper by Lin & Qian from last year is also inferring.

    The pressure and wind fields are trivially related to the temperature record, with the pressure related to temperature by the inverted barometer effect and the wind arising from the spatial pressure differential across the ENSO dipole. The wind is apparently a chicken&egg issue in that the consensus views the wind as causing ENSO, while the wind is more likely a result of ENSO. The lead/lag relationship between the two has been worked out by Lin & Qian, in which they clearly show that the ENSO thermocline sloshing clearly leads the temperature and wind pattern.

    This is at odds with the consensus view and why my 1st comment mentioned the Lin&Qian SciReport paper. It is at least as significant a challenge to the consensus as Zharkova intended, but will need a lot more effort to debunk.

  28. 28
    nigelj says:

    Paul Pukite @27, not always a fan of your views but perhaps you might be right that there is some link between el nino and lunar cycles and tides. I recall a study finding a correlation between undersea seismic activity and lunar cycles, suggesting its because of tidal effects on fault lines.

  29. 29
    Mr. Know It All says:

    12 – Paul Pukite
    “Be careful on this because obviously the sun is responsible for the seasonal climate.”

    Almost got it. The sun is responsible for ALL climate on earth – without it, earth’s surface would be a cold, frozen ball of rock and ice, right?

    “They got it now, Robbie.” Crank it up:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2z7LXpAX3Q

    26 – Glen
    “…The sun is about 3% closer to the Earth at the peak of the austral summer, making the disk about 6% bigger, so total solar irradiance then is about 6% higher….”

    Antarctic winters occur when earth is farthest from the sun, but Arctic winters occur when earth is closest to the sun. Is that why Antarctica has 10,000 feet of ice built up, but the Arctic only has a few feet of sea ice?

    22 – nigelj
    “See what hes trying to do? Its morphed from solar papers to just ‘papers’, as he tries to discredit climate science as a whole. This is the sort trash he routinely delivers.”

    No, I did not try to discredit anything. I merely pointed out that humans make mistakes. Please refer to the question in the title. ;)

    Nigelj, WTF is happening down under? Is this another effect of climate change? Has that hot summer got tempers flaring?

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11094967/coronavirus-horror-woman-knife-fight-toilet-paper-supermarkets/

    Quote from that link:
    “Sustainable toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap has claimed that purchases of toilet paper has increased by 800 per cent.”

    :)

    Back to climate science:
    On solar influence and climate, what caused the cycles of ice ages followed by warm periods for 100’s of thousands of years? And what causes the warm periods that occur every few hundred years, like the one we are in now? Those very long cycles, and also the shorter cycles occurred long before FFs were burnt. If they were caused by changes in earth’s orbit, isn’t the earth’s location with respect to the sun why the temperature changed? Right or wrong, the occurrence of these cycles before we burned FFs are a common, and powerful, argument fueling doubt about Al Gore Warming (AGW) theory.

  30. 30
    zebra says:

    #27 Paul Pukite,

    Paul, I think I understand what you are trying to say, but your language is confusing.

    By “annual impulse” I think you mean that there is a signal with a period of one year, and that the spring tidal condition is the amplitude of that signal.

    That’s the only way it makes sense, because you say that it “modulates” the other signals.

    It would be helpful if you could explain what physical mechanism you think is causing that signal to vary over time… perhaps it is in one of your references but it would be nice not to have to go searching for it. Why is the tidal condition not constant year-to-year?

  31. 31

    NigelJ said

    “I recall a study finding a correlation between undersea seismic activity and lunar cycles, suggesting its because of tidal effects on fault lines.”

    That correlation with seismic activity may be kind of weak compared to other more direct geophysical measures. Instead, I urge others to look at the direct correlation of tidal forcing on the variations on the rotation of the earth, otherwise known as delta length-of-day (ΔLOD). The following chart is one that I produced based on high-resolution data since 1962. The expected response to the lunar cycle forcing is so faithful that it even accurately reproduces the 18.6 year nodal envelope, which is best shown by the similarity in the patterns shown in the 3 panels.

    https://geoenergymath.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/baa0cq.png

    Scientists at NASA JPL are apparently closely looking into the tidal to climate link, even though they have not published much yet. There is this presentation called “Earth-Moon-Sun alignments influencing El Niños and water/air mass momentum” from 2011 : http://web.gps.caltech.edu/seminars/yly_seminar/past/2011.htm, which makes the connection between the change in angular momentum reflected in the ΔLOD and a similar response that the ocean’s El Nino sloshing shows. This is Newton’s first law in motion, which is observed any time an earthquake occurs, with videos of swimming pools in action appearing on Twitter (my collection from this January’s Jamaica quake : https://youtu.be/5wTFCcw3VOc).

    NASA JPL maintains the solar system ephemerides that are used to calibrate the ΔLOD precisely against the cyclic Earth-Moon-Sun alignment. The sad part of this saga is that Zharkova was also using the JPL ephemerides to bolster her argument, but completely botched the analysis. This is bad news for research into solar-influences on climates because Zharkova’s misguided efforts essentially poison the well for others that may want to pursue the possible connections.

  32. 32
    Jgnfld says:

    “Antarctic winters occur when earth is farthest from the sun, but Arctic winters occur when earth is closest to the sun. Is that why Antarctica has 10,000 feet of ice built up, but the Arctic only has a few feet of sea ice?”

    Wow!!! Comparing Antarctic continental ice on land in the Antarctic geographical setting to Arctic sea ice in the Arctic geographical setting WITHOUT any trace of analysis of the differences! Simply amazing!

    How thick is Antarctic sea ice compared to Arctic sea ice? What about the relative thicknesses of the Greenland ice cap on land to that of the Antarctic ice cap on land. (Hint: There are definite diffs for both still as the environments are still quite different, but not of the order you are trying to suggest. And those diffs are well explained by geographical factors.)

  33. 33
    nigelj says:

    Mr KIA @28, I don’t live in Australia. They are all a bit mad in Australia :) NZ hasn’t really had much panic buying apart from hand sanitiser. Curiously enough I have already posted a link on new research connecting global warming to increased violence, on the UV thread. Read it.

    “On solar influence and climate, what caused the cycles of ice ages…”

    Have you heard of using google?

  34. 34

    KIA, #29–

    Antarctic winters occur when earth is farthest from the sun, but Arctic winters occur when earth is closest to the sun. Is that why Antarctica has 10,000 feet of ice built up, but the Arctic only has a few feet of sea ice?

    No.

    If [those very long glacial cycles] were caused by changes in earth’s orbit, isn’t the earth’s location with respect to the sun why the temperature changed?

    Predominantly, no.

    Right or wrong, the occurrence of these cycles before we burned FFs are a common, and powerful, argument fueling doubt about Al Gore Warming (AGW) theory.

    Doubt, maybe. Reasonable doubt, no.

    I could elaborate on these bare negations, but is there a point? If KIA really wants to know, this stuff is easy to look up.

  35. 35
    Wzrd1 says:

    There is one thing that I’m trying my level best and entirely failing to comprehend.
    An astrophysicist declaring that F=ma is no longer valid. Well, either that is her argument or the mass of earth is variable, depending upon the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn.
    After all, Newton long ago established the math behind gravitation, Einstein improved that understanding and she seems to ignore that, due to reasons of hand wave.
    If a force moves Sol, the force of gravitational attraction on every planet will be altered in accordance in the change in distance to the center of mass of Sol.
    Seriously, this stuff was settled back when Newton was still alive!

  36. 36

    KIA 29: On solar influence and climate, what caused the cycles of ice ages followed by warm periods for 100’s of thousands of years?

    BPL: Google “Milankovic Cyles?”

    KIA: And what causes the warm periods that occur every few hundred years, like the one we are in now? Those very long cycles, and also the shorter cycles occurred long before FFs were burnt. If they were caused by changes in earth’s orbit, isn’t the earth’s location with respect to the sun why the temperature changed?

    BPL: There are no such cycles.

    KIA: Right or wrong, the occurrence of these cycles before we burned FFs are a common, and powerful, argument fueling doubt about Al Gore Warming (AGW) theory.

    BPL: Only in the minds of people completely ignorant about climate science, and people, like you, who try to spread that ignorance.

  37. 37
    Jim Eager says:

    One again KIA demonstrates that he knows nothing at all. So predictable.

  38. 38

    Everett F. Sargent said:

    “Now I know that I am crazy, but I do expect better from others, and I do expect you to talk about things other than just your own stuff or stuff that satisfies your own confirmation biases.”

    Well, this is a climate science site and I like to talk about the most challenging aspects of climatology — things like what causes natural variability, understanding climate behaviors such as El Nino, exploring novel approaches to solving Navier-Stokes and other geophysical math that goes into GCMs.

    I realize it’s easier and perhaps funner to take on Zharkova, but at some point it becomes like beating a dead horse. Do we need one more person to pile on, or would it be more constructive to discuss potentially non-flawed approaches?

    To answer the question of the blog post, so many of the solar papers may be flawed because the people working on this may be barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps pick a different tree?

  39. 39
    Al Bundy says:

    mrkia,

    I’ve always heard that Antarctica’s deep freeze is maintained by the isolating effect of the fast current that spins around the continent. Re-connect South America with the Antarctic peninsula and Antarctica warms. Other less obvious stuff, such as continually injecting fresh water via melt at both poles could also affect said isolation. Drastically slowing, stopping, or reversing the AMOC would be a fun experiment…

    …if we didn’t live in the lab.

  40. 40
    Lena Synnerholm says:

    How can any climate scientist (if she really is that) claim our seasons to be due to changing distance to the sun? To someone familiar with the seasonal cycles in different parts of the world this is evidently not the case. Not only do the seasons take place at opposite times in the northern and southern hemispheres. But areas close to the equator lack any noticeable differences in temperature over the year.

  41. 41
    rhymeswithgoalie says:

    “The Zharkova et al paper that incorrectly purported to link solar-climate effects to movements of the Sun around the barycenter has been retracted.”

    Reminds me of the second part of my Nonsense adage:
    Those who refuse to do the math are condemned to talk nonsense.
    Those who only do the math are condemned to talk nonsense.
    Many of the rest of us are condemned to talk nonsense, too.

  42. 42

    rwg said:

    “Those who refuse to do the math are condemned to talk nonsense.
    Those who only do the math are condemned to talk nonsense.”

    Those who do the math modeling incorrectly is the issue here. The annual synchronization of the sun-moon distance does appear in the Sa, Ssa, etc tidal factors but this of course is difficult to resolve against the nodal cycling in insolation variation across the seasons. This is a deep research topic with respect to atmospheric modeling right now, see https://geoenergymath.com/2020/03/11/stratospheric-sudden-warming/

  43. 43
  44. 44

    Zebra said:

    “It would be helpful if you could explain what physical mechanism you think is causing that signal to vary over time… perhaps it is in one of your references but it would be nice not to have to go searching for it. Why is the tidal condition not constant year-to-year?”

    Tidal signals continuously change over time because there are 4 fundamental cycles that are incommensurate with one another and therefore the aggregated tidal forcing has a very long repeat cycle (every 57 years they almost get in synch). This makes it very hard to find a pattern in oceanic cycles such as ENSO when in addition any nonlinear effects will distort the amplitude — due to the extra harmonics on the fundamentals.

    So unless the GCMs include the tidal factors and they are run for at least 100 years, they won’t pick up the pattern. Our approach can find the pattern because we solve the GCM’s analytically along the equator and it only takes a split second to calculate the Pacific ocean’s response over a 100 year time interval.

    This is all described in our peer-reviewed monograph in

    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781119434351.ch12

    “By “annual impulse” I think you mean that there is a signal with a period of one year, and that the spring tidal condition is the amplitude of that signal.

    That’s the only way it makes sense, because you say that it “modulates” the other signals.”

    One way to consider modulation is to think of the impulse that happens during an eclipse. The alignment of the sun, the moon, and the earth at a particular geographic location suggests an exaggerated tidal forcing will occur and that can modulate the regular seasonal cycle of temperature changes. The sharpness of this impulse is not known but it must be sharp enough that averaging over the shortest fortnightly tidal cycle does not average the response out. And we can prove that some type of annual impulse occurs because of the double-sidebanding observed in the ENSO spectrum described in comment #12 above.

  45. 45
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin McKinney: There’s more–but perhaps I should quite while I’m a head.

    AB: Naw. You’ve got the brains and the sense to utilize it productively.

  46. 46
    zebra says:

    #44 Paul Pukite,

    Thanks very much for your more clearly written response. However, I am inclined to agree with rwg #41 on this.

    If you don’t even have a hypothetical physical mechanism/narrative for this “annual impulse”, the claim about double-sideband is not really convincing.

    I was just reading a book review:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/books/review/dream-universe-david-lindley.html?algo=identity&fellback=false&imp_id=293150483&imp_id=236594179&action=click&module=Science%20%20Technology&pgtype=Homepage

    As it says, Dirac predicted what would be discovered physically from what his math told him. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  47. 47

    zebra says:

    “If you don’t even have a hypothetical physical mechanism/narrative for this “annual impulse”, the claim about double-sideband is not really convincing.”

    It’s straightforward to pick out the annual impulse from the raw data. First consider that climatologists typically filter out the annual signal of indices such as NINO34 so as to separate the perfectly periodic part from the erratic cycling. So, what you see in the published NINO34 index is mostly the latter.

    Given that, this is a chart resulting from analyzing the raw NINO34 data and extracting the annual impulse and replotting it side-by-side with the impulse used in the moel.

    https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/821x357q90/r/921/JPiLyf.png

    It’s clear that there is an impulse in the annual signal, otherwise it would be perfectly sinusoidal. The fact that the model impulse I use is sharper and appears on the leading edge may be a result of the behavior being triggered by a higher-order derivative of the temperature change, i.e. as stream-flow is the gradient of pressure in Navier-Stokes. On the other hand, either one of these time-series is sufficient to create a double-sideband spread in the frequency spectrum.

    What could be the physical mechanism for this annual impulse? There’s obviously an annual sine wave in the solar signal and there’s obviously a semi-annual sine wave due to the hemispherical asymmetry of the two opposing nodal crossings of the equator. From basic Fourier series, constructing a waveform from these two components will always create an imbalance resulting in something approaching an impulse. So the real question should be how one can not assume an annual impulse.

  48. 48
    zebra says:

    #47 Paul Pukite,

    Paul, in my original question (#30), I asked you why the impulse would be different from year to year. But here you provide a graph showing an identical impulse every year.

    So, if what you call the “spring tidal condition” is the same every year, how is it relevant to variations in ENSO in different years?

  49. 49

    zebra,
    The annual impulse interacts with the varying tidal forcing, which has been known for ages to not align with the annual cycle. The combination of the two is often referred to as a compound tide. So, do you agree that the two cycles are incommensurate with each other?

  50. 50
    Oxyaena says:

    “Why are the UK tabloids so excited about mini-ice age stories?”

    Maybe it’s because UK tabloids are UK tabloids? Almost everything they publish is some form of bullshit or half-truth. As the old saying goes, “a sucker’s born every minute.”

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