A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Do winds control the climate or does the ocean control the wind? Kininmonth on England 2014.

William Kininmonth essentially says that it’s possible that the trade winds have changed the climate, but asks why the winds themselves changed. Kininmonth explains that the ocean is much larger and holds much more heat than the atmosphere, and that the ocean drives the winds rather than the other way around. He points out again (as he did before here so eloquently in more detail) that what the paper describes is what we’ve known for a long time about the ENSO patterns and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO): when an El Nino Strikes, trade winds fall, ocean surface doesn’t turn over as much, the ocean surface is warmer, and the air stays hot above. When La Nina’s occur, trade winds speed up, the ocean stirs, and the cold deep water takes the heat out of the surface of the ocean and the air above.

His points are:

“Natural variability” is hardly a credible, useful scientific explanation. The IPCC said natural variability was small, so if it is larger now, then it was also larger during the rest of the 20th Century? This reduces the effect CO2 had earlier (and the effect it will have in future).


Guest [...]

Can the Moon change our climate? Can tides in the atmosphere solve the mystery of ENSO?

Image by Luc Viatour

The Moon has such a big effect — moving 70% of the matter on the Earth’s surface every day, that it seems like the bleeding obvious to suggest that just maybe, it also affects the air, the wind, and causes atmospheric tides. Yet the climate models assume the effect is zero or close to it.

Indeed, it seems so obvious, it’s a “surely they have studied this before” moment. Though, as you’ll see, the reason lunar effects may have been ignored is not just “lunar-politics” and a lack of funding, but because it’s also seriously complex. Keep your brain engaged…

Ian Wilson and Nikolay Sidorenkov have published a provocative paper, Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric Tides in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an epic effort of 14,000 words and a gallery of graphs. As these atmospheric tides swirl around the planet they appear to be creating standing waves of abnormal air-pressure that slowly circle the planet, once every 18 years. If this is right, then it could be the key to finally understanding, and one day predicting, the mysterious Pacific ENSO pattern that so affects the global climate. Even at this early stage, brave predictions are on [...]

Does the PDO drive global temps, and is there a Siberian connection?

This is a post for those who like the intellectual stimulation of unraveling the cause and effect links at the bleeding edge.  It’s a weekend puzzle.

Frank Lansner (of Hidethedecline) wants to toss out his latest thoughts and findings for discussion. With a very simple equation he’s managed to recreate a curve just like Hadcrut temperature profile, using just the Nino 3.4 data (see Fig. 1). If it stands up, this would imply the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) pretty much determined a significant part of the climate — which is not a shock, but nonetheless there’s not a lot of room for CO2. The turning points do seem to match well (unlike the temperature versus CO2 “turning points”). As William Kininmonth reminded us, the oceans cover 70% of the planet, and are 4km deep, and most of that water is very very cold, even under the equator. If the surface of the central pacific cools by 1 degree does that drop global temperatures by 0.1C?

Of course, the mystery of what drives the PDO still stands. On that score, Frank looks at Siberia and Alaska, and finds an interesting correlation with the Nino3.4 when it is lagged by 15 -18 months. [...]

The SOI still rules

Who would have thought that if you knew the air pressure in Darwin and Tahiti in June, you could figure out that the start of 2011 might be a Stalingrad Winter up North and a cooler wetter summer down south (Not that people in Sydney feel all that cool right now). But the air pressure ratios are reported as the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) and it’s the handiest thing if you like predicting global temperatures 7 months ahead. Look at that correlation.

Since June last year Bryan Leyland has been using the simple connection described by Carter, De Freitas, and  McLean in 2009 to predict up and coming temperatures.

So far, for what it’s worth, he’s right on track.

Such is the power of the stored pool of cold that is the bottom three-quarters of the Pacific Ocean. And when you look at how vast the Southern Pacific ocean is, is it any wonder it has such an influence? All that heat capacity…


The oceans, clouds and cosmic rays drive the climate, not CO2

Dr Noor van Andel

Dr Noor van Andel spoke at the Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI), provocatively concluding there is no observational evidence for the influence of CO2 on past or present climate. He has released a high caliber slide set. He is the former head of research at Akzo Nobel.

In the very long run, we need not mind about CO2 or global warming, but instead about higher [galactic cosmic ray] activity and global cooling. There is no way we can influence [galactic cosmic ray] activity, originating in active black holes and imploding supernovae.

Essentially he uses empirical evidence to draw the conclusion that most recent climate variability is due to Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and to Cosmic Ray effect as described by Svensmark. This fits with what William Kinninmonth explained and I described as essentially a massive pool of “stored cold”  in the abyssal depths of the oceans, which erratically reaches up and pulls in heat from the insubstantial atmosphere above. Air temperatures are at the beck and call of the releases of this “cold” (yes I know cold is just an absence of heat). In El Nino years when the cold pool lies deep and unstirred, the incoming [...]