28 August 2009

No Sunspots Throw Climate Models Into Disarray

Modern climate models make many erroneous assumptions. Bad assumptions lead to errors in inference, when examining model output. One of the most significant data crimes of modern climate modelers is in ignoring the variability of Sol, our variable star.Fortunately, real scientists (not mere modelers) are beginning to examine the very real climate effects that arise from the solar energy flux when going from solar maximum to solar minimum.
A new study in the journal Science by a team of international of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research have found that the sunspot cycle has a big effect on the earth's weather. The puzzle has been how fluctuations in the sun's energy of about 0.1 percent over the course of the 11-year sunspot cycle could affect the weather? The press release describing the new study explains:

The team first confirmed a theory that the slight increase in solar energy during the peak production of sunspots is absorbed by stratospheric ozone. The energy warms the air in the stratosphere over the tropics, where sunlight is most intense, while also stimulating the production of additional ozone there that absorbs even more solar energy. Since the stratosphere warms unevenly, with the most pronounced warming occurring at lower latitudes, stratospheric winds are altered and, through a chain of interconnected processes, end up strengthening tropical precipitation.

At the same time, the increased sunlight at solar maximum causes a slight warming of ocean surface waters across the subtropical Pacific, where Sun-blocking clouds are normally scarce. That small amount of extra heat leads to more evaporation, producing additional water vapor. In turn, the moisture is carried by trade winds to the normally rainy areas of the western tropical Pacific, fueling heavier rains and reinforcing the effects of the stratospheric mechanism.

The top-down influence of the stratosphere and the bottom-up influence of the ocean work together to intensify this loop and strengthen the trade winds. As more sunshine hits drier areas, these changes reinforce each other, leading to less clouds in the subtropics, allowing even more sunlight to reach the surface, and producing a positive feedback loop that further magnifies the climate response.

These stratospheric and ocean responses during solar maximum keep the equatorial eastern Pacific even cooler and drier than usual, producing conditions similar to a La Nina event. However, the cooling of about 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit is focused farther east than in a typical La Nina, is only about half as strong, and is associated with different wind patterns in the stratosphere.
We are currently experiencing a rather unusual transition from solar cycle 23 to cycle 24. Sunspots have been very slow in appearing, and solar scientists are at a loss to explain why all of their predictions for the current cycle transition have failed.
...something is unusual about the current sunspot cycle. The current solar minimum has been unusually long, and with more than 670 days without sunspots through June 2009, the number of spotless days has not been equaled since 1933 (see http:// users . telenet .be/ j . janssens/ Spotless/ Spotless .html). The solar wind is reported to be in a uniquely low energy state since space measurements began nearly 40 years ago [Fisk and Zhao, 2009].

Why is a lack of sunspot activity interesting? During the period from 1645 to 1715, the Sun entered a period of low activity now known as the Maunder Minimum, when through several 11- year periods the Sun displayed few if any sunspots. Models of the Sun’s irradiance suggest that the solar energy input to the Earth decreased during that time and that this change in solar activity could explain the low temperatures recorded in Europe during the Little Ice Age [Lean et al., 1992]. _Eos_PDF_via_Reason
Real scientists are teaching the climate modelers a lesson: models are not the climate. Climate models are merely hypotheses in mathematics and computer code. They have to be thoroughly tested by scientific observations, before society is massively disrupted to suit the models.

Climate catastrophists wish to skip the normal steps of the scientific method, and pass from hypothesis directly to a massive overhaul of society and economy. I can hear you saying, "but that is sheer folly!!" Yes, I quite agree, but unfortunately, the US government has recently fallen into a quagmire of folly. Escape from the quagmire will not come easily.

Daily solar photos and solar status are available from SpaceWeather.

Update 28 Aug 2009, Further Reading:
How Small Fluctuations in Solar Radiation Lead to Large Climate Effects

The Oceans Really Are Getting Cooler

The Idiots and Their "Collapsing Ice Sheets"

Why the Oceans are such a good measure of Earth's heat content

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Blogger neil craig said...

However, at least in the USA where the records have been checked, Stephen McIntyre has proven that 1933 was the warmest on record.

Saturday, 29 August, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

I admire your optimism, Neil.

Of course we will have to wait to see whether the trend will be sustained long enough to overpower the natural climate cycles of sun, ocean, and atmosphere.

Saturday, 29 August, 2009  

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

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