13 May 2007

The Solar Conveyor Belt, Sunspots, and Climate

NASA has found that the "solar conveyor belt", which is intimately connected with future sunspot cycles, has slowed significantly. This slowing points to a long and weak sunspot cycle, peaking in the early 2020s.
The Sun's Great Conveyor Belt has slowed to a record-low crawl, according to research by NASA solar physicist David Hathaway. "It's off the bottom of the charts," he says. "This has important repercussions for future solar activity."

see captionThe Great Conveyor Belt is a massive circulating current of fire (hot plasma) within the Sun. It has two branches, north and south, each taking about 40 years to perform one complete circuit. Researchers believe the turning of the belt controls the sunspot cycle, and that's why the slowdown is important.

...."Normally, the conveyor belt moves about 1 meter per second—walking pace," says Hathaway. "That's how it has been since the late 19th century." In recent years, however, the belt has decelerated to 0.75 m/s in the north and 0.35 m/s in the south. "We've never seen speeds so low."

According to theory and observation, the speed of the belt foretells the intensity of sunspot activity ~20 years in the future. A slow belt means lower solar activity; a fast belt means stronger activity. The reasons for this are explained in the Science@NASA story Solar Storm Warning.

"The slowdown we see now means that Solar Cycle 25, peaking around the year 2022, could be one of the weakest in centuries," says Hathaway.

The relationship between cycle length and Earth temperatures is not well understood. Lower-than normal temperatures tend to occur in years when the sunspot cycle is longest, as confirmed by records of the annual duration of sea-ice around Iceland. The cycle will be longest again in the early 2020's.

We know that the IPCC approach to climate is ludicrously myopic and inadequate. We know this because the metric most commonly referenced by IPCC reports--surface temperatures--is logically the wrong metric to use for measuring Terran heat content.
The IPCC SPM conclusion that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” is wrong as it ignores the lack of such warming in recent years by these other metrics of climate system heat changes. Their focus on the global average near surface temperature trends neglects to report that there are major issues with the robustness of this climate metric of global warming as reported in the papers cited in

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res. in press,

many of which were available to the writers of the IPCC SPM but conveniently ignored. At the very least, the lack of recent tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling in the RSS data and the warming claimed for the near surface air temperatures conflicts with the multi-decadal global climate models in terms of how these temperatures are predicted to change.

Hat tip Cuanas and M. Simon

One of my favorite bloggers recently asked for me to prove that human released CO2 is not responsible for "global warming." Such a demand is prima facie evidence of lack of training in causation and epistemology. Yet the blogger in question is undeniably talented, intelligent, and broad in outlook.

Of course, youth and inexperience may account for much of the inability of the public to sort through evidence and reasoning that deals with such issues as CAGW. But what about the masses of older people who are easily swayed by the media, and by special-interest science? What excuse do they have? Public school education? Post modernist scrambled brains?

Anyway, recent research suggests a link between solar magnetic activity and cosmic ray penetration into earth's atmosphere. Further, this research suggests that increased cosmic ray penetration leads to increased cloud cover, and decreasing solar heating effect.

A curious phenomenon, which I have been rather slow to take seriously--yet it certainly bears watching. Certainly if cosmic ray penetration can affect speciation and extinction of life forms on earth, it is not a great stretch to think they could also affect cloud formation and climate. We shall see.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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