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Global Warming Sun's Role

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  • 29-Aug-09 Sun spot frequency has an unexpectedly strong influence on cloud formation and precipitation
    (in TWTW Oct 2, 2010)

    Guest Editorial by Dr. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt


    Oct 2, 2010

    Policy makers at the head of government in the United States and elsewhere apparently want to believe, and to have others believe, that human use of fossil fuels accelerates global warming. They pursue this quest in order to impose ever greater and clearly unconstitutional control on the economy and personal liberty in the name of a hypothetically omnipotent government. There exists no true concern by the President or Congressional Leadership about the true effects of climate change - only a poorly concealed, ideologically driven attempt to use conjured up threats of catastrophic consequences as a lever to gain authoritarian control of society.

    There has been an absolute natural increase in global surface temperature of half a degree Centigrade per 100 years (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last three and a half centuries.[1] Observational climate data and objective interpretations of those data strongly indicate that nature, not human activity, exerts the primary influence on this current long term warming and on all global climate variations. Human influence through use of fossil fuels has been and remains minor if even detectable.[2] Claims to the contrary only find support in highly questionable climate models that fail repeatedly against the reality of nature. What, then, stimulates historically and geologically observed, sometimes slow and sometimes radical, changes in climate?

    The primary alternative hypothesis to human-caused global warming is natural climate change driven by the Sun.[3] Unfortunately, the "human-caused global warming" or carbon dioxide forcing hypothesis has become embedded in the minds of otherwise strong teams of observational scientists and their publication outlets. They cannot entertain any other alternative to enhance and amplify variations in the natural heating of the Earth by the Sun[4] - nor can they prove their own hypothesis of human-caused global warming.[5]

    As many scientists have documented, the position and orientation of the Earth in its orbit around the sun, and the Sun's variable influence and activity, determine weather and climate.[6] Seasons vary because of changing solar energy input in annual response to the varying orientation of Earth's Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Indeed, the Earth's 23-degree inclination to the rays from the Sun and its annual orbit around that star guarantee large seasonal changes away from the equator. Further, variations in solar radiation received by the Earth correlate with short-term variations in Earth's weather, based on the slow movement of loops called "Rossby waves"[7] in atmospheric jet streams.[8]

    Observations by astronomers over the centuries, as well as studies of tree rings,[9] stalagmite layers,[10] and other pre-historic and geological records[11], have defined an 11-year sunspot cycle superposed on a number of longer climate cycles[12]. Much modern research documents that the sunspot cycle also correlates with variations in stratospheric winds[13] and ozone production,[14] cosmic ray flux,[15] ionospheretroposphere interactions,[16] and the global electrical circuit that exists between the ionosphere and the Earth's surface[17]. Correlations of records of seasonal changes, solar activity cycles, and local and regional rainfall oscillations all confirm that in some way radiation emanating from the Sun drives changes in weather and climate.[18] Solar interplanetary magnetic fields, whose polarity varies every 22 years or twice the sunspot cycle, may play an additional role as their strength varies directly with increases and decreases in numbers of sunspots.[19]

    As a further natural demonstration of the importance of the Sun in determining climate variation, the well-documented solar shielding effects of atmospheric ash and aerosols from volcanic eruptions document the tie between solar irradiance and at least short-term climate swings. Particularly illustrative have been eruptions such as Huaynaputina (1600)[20], Tambora (1815)[21], Krakatoa (1883)[22], and Pinatubo (1991)[23]

    More broadly, geological and planetological observations show that major perturbations in climate relate to the position and orientation of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun. For example, as Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovic pointed out in 1941,[24] has have many others since,[25] initiation of the major ice ages on Earth correlate with a 23,000-year precession cycle, a 41,000-year obliquity cycle, and a 100,000-year eccentricity cycle in the position of the Earth relative to the Sun. Cyclic variations measured in oxygen isotope ratios that correlate with the growth of ice sheets and biogeochemical responses closely reflect the 23,000-year precession cycle.[26] Also, a half-precession cycle appears to be related to the dynamics of the East African Equatorial monsoon[27]. In addition, the 41,000-year obliquity cycle shows strongly in North American marine depositional records.[28]

    Climate cycles related to internal solar activity are superposed on long-term orbital cycles. For example, the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300) and the Little Ice Age (1400-1900) correlate, respectively, with very active and very passive periods of recorded sunspot activity.[29] As a fairly recent example of solar influence on climate, the Little Ice Age occurred during a 500-year long sequence of three deep reductions in sunspot frequency.[30] The coldest temperatures came during the last of these minima, a 70- year period of exceptionally few sunspots (the Maunder Minimum).[31] The Medieval Warm Period, (when the Vikings colonized Greenland, glaciers retreated, and farmers could at least survive)[32] also correlates to repeated multi-century long, high sunspot frequency.33 Since the end of the early 1900s, peak values in sunspot activity rose steadily until 1960, leveling off at higher than normal values until apparently starting to fall about 2000.[34]

    The 11-year sunspot cycle repetitions are superposed on a number of long-term cycles of past highs and lows in solar activity. For example, the Gleissberg cycle has imprecisely defined periods of 90±30 years in length.[35] More energetic sunspot activity in the Gleissberg cycle may correlate with temporary decades of warming, such as in the 1930s and 1990s with the reverse being true in the 1810s and 1910s. Analyses of tree rings, lake levels, cave deposits, tree ring variations in cosmic ray-produced isotopes (14C and 10Be)[36], and oxygen isotope ratios record what appear to be other long period solar cycles, specifically, 2400, 1500 years, 200, as well as the Gleissberg cycle[37].

    Many advocates of human-caused global warming agree that solar cycles show correlations with regional climate variations[38]; but, absent a proven amplification mechanism to enhance small solar energy (irradiance) variations, they reject nature in favor of fossil fuel burning. These reviews all document broadly accepted relationships of weather and climate with many different repetition cycles in solar activity[39], ranging from significant but random solar flares affecting jet stream tracks,[40] to the 11-year sunspot cycle,[41] to the long-term Milankovic orbital repetitions discussed above.

    Specifically with respect to the last 120 years, the correlation of measured solar energy input variations with global surface temperature and sea surface temperature is very strong.[42] The statistical correlation of solar irradiance with air temperature has been about 79%.[43] In contrast, during the last 50 years, the correlation of measured carbon dioxide increases with global surface temperature has been only about 22%. This directly contradicts the assumption that carbon dioxide has had a large influence on climate in the last 50 years.[44]

    Since the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, the increase in total energy from the Sun has been about 0.6 watts per square meter,[45] an increase of less than 0.05% over an average total of about 1367 watts per square meter. On shorter time scales, total variations reach about 3 watts per square meter, or 0.22% from the average.[46] Considering the actual amount of possible atmospheric heating (30% of incoming solar energy is reflected to space), this variation results in a third to a half a degree Centigrade (0.6 to 0.9 degree Fahrenheit) global temperature change over seven years, that is, a half solar cycle.[47] Various natural mechanisms for visible, infrared, and UV light reflection, adsorption, emission, and water vapor feedback determine the net solar heating effect on the Earth.[48] Global atmospheric circulation moderates the short-term solar energy inputs, particularly upward convection of oceanic heat and water vapor in the large scale equatorial Hadley Cells that span latitudes from 30ºS to 30ºN .[49] Ocean circulation overall moderates the long-term transfer of solar energy around the globe.[50]

    Evidence for the existence, if not the nature, of a means for amplifying solar energy-solar magnetic field interactions with Earth comes from the oceans. Determination of the total contribution of the oceans to heating of the atmosphere, using three independent observational measures of oceanic heat flux, shows that the oceans' heat contribution to be five to seven times larger than variations in total solar energy input.[51]

    Additional support that an amplification mechanism exists comes from recent observational data on variations in stratospheric water vapor concentrations over three decades. These data suggest that decreases in water vapor have contributed to amplified sea surface cooling since 2000 while increases between 1980 and 2000 accented surface warming.[52] This relationship may correspond with stratospheric cooling and lower water retention due to lower than average solar energy input since 2000.

    Climate change driven by the Sun constitutes a strongly competitive, purely scientific hypothesis to the climate modeling-political hypothesis of human-caused global warming advocated by climate modelers and their acolytes in the science, media, and political establishments. Solar influence ranges from significant but random solar flares affecting jet stream tracks[53], to the 11-year sunspot cycle,[54] to the 22- year magnetic cycle, up to the long-term Milankovic orbital repetitions discussed above. The current decade or longer period of cold winters in the northern United States and Europe coincide with a relatively prolonged reduction in sunspot activity below even the norm for a minimum in the 11-year cycle.[55]

    Actual observations show that climate varies in response to natural forces and that human burning of fossil fuels has had negligible effect over the last 100 years.[56] Lets us hope that State and national policy makers taking office in 2011 and 2013 will understand the facts about natural climate change and the fictions about human influence on change before taking enormous constitutional and economic risks - and before liberty and incomes suffer further erosion.

    References can be found in the TWTW document for this Science Editorial.

    View The Week That Was in which this editorial appeared.

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    SEPP Science Editorial #27-2009
    (in TWTW Aug 29, 2009)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    Sun spot frequency has an unexpectedly strong influence on cloud formation and precipitation

    Aug 29, 2009

    Climate modelers seem puzzled that small fluctuations in total solar irradiance (TSI) appear to have large influence on the climate. They feel it necessary to take recourse to complicated mechanisms. For example, Gerald Meehl of the US-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and his team [1] have been able to calculate how the extremely small variations in TSI bring about a comparatively significant change in the system "Atmosphere-Ocean" They try to explain how 'sunspot frequency' has an unexpectedly strong influence on cloud formation and precipitation, according to a press release from the GFZ (German Research Centre for Geosciences), the home of Katja Matthes, a co-author of the study. One suggested mechanism is a solar-UV enhancement of stratospheric ozone, leading to circulation changes in the troposphere, a possibility explored earlier by British researcher Joanna Haigh. Another complicated mechanism suggested is increased heating and evaporation from cloud-free regions of the ocean, with the additional moisture transported into the equatorial zone, followed by some kind of positive feedback. But the answer may really be very simple: the tiny (~0.1%) variation of TSI during the solar cycle is only the '1tip of the iceberg.' The much stronger variability is that of solar activity (solar wind and magnetic fields), which explains the observed modulation of Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR); in turn, the GCR affect cloudiness in the lower troposphere (the 'Svensmark mechanism'). And what makes me so sure about the GCR hypothesis? It is the observational evidence from isotopic data in stalagmites (shown in the NIPCC summary report [2] and used there to challenge the IPCC conclusions).

    But the GCR explanation is not congenial to AGW alarmists, who have been brainwashed by the IPCC. The latest (2007) IPCC report ignores the cosmic-ray effects, and by focusing only on TSI, disingenuously considers solar influences on climate to be insignificant when compared to the forcing by GH gases.

    In this sense then, the paper by Meehl et al constitutes some kind of conceptual breakthrough -even if it is not correct in all its conclusions. Professor Reinhard Huettl, Chairman of the Scientific Executive Board of the GFZ agrees: "The study is important for comprehending the natural climatic variability, which - on different time scales - is significantly influenced by the sun. In order to better understand the anthropogenically induced climate change and to make more reliable future climate scenarios, it is very important to understand the underlying natural climatic variability."

    1. Meehl, G.A., J.M. Arblaster, K. Matthes, F. Sassi, and H. van Loon (2009), Amplifying the Pacific climate system response to a small 11 year solar cycle forcing, Science, 325, 1114-1118. [We note that one of the coauthors is Harry van Loon, a pioneer in studies of solar influences on climate.]

    2. NIPCC summary report Nature - Not Human Activity - Rules the Climate

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