JoNova

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


Handbooks

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Archives

Books

The solar wind dumps energy into the far upper atmosphere through a kind of slow massive lightning

UPDATE: Libby Plummer at The Daily Mail  has a different take, calling this a natural thermostat that cools the upper atmosphere after solar storms. I guess we’ll have to wait to see the paper to see if this can be connected to the global surface temperature at all.

The solar wind is is coming at us at a million miles an hour, but we really don’t know much about what happens when it weaves and buffets past us. In a news release NASA GISS describe how their traditional understanding of what is going on 150 miles up can sometimes just turn inside out. That’s  “Revolutions in Understanding the Ionosphere, Earth’s Interface to Space”. It describes how energy from space weather can get into the ionosphere, and also muck up some of our satellites.

Despite climate models being sure that the Sun has hardly any effect, even NASA Giss admits there are some pretty wild things going on up there, and they are mostly due to the Sun. As the solar wind blasts in, it can set up a voltage difference between the upper layers of the atmosphere and the “magnetosphere”. A current will flow, discharging this energy into [...]

Magnetic Reconnection – Major space weather effect measured for the first time

The liquid iron flowing in the Earth’s core maybe what drives a magnetic field some 40,000 km to 370,000 km out beyond the Earth. The solar field envelopes that. At the layer where these fields interact sometimes the Sun and Earth’s magnetic field lines do something called  “reconnecting” — suddenly converting magnetic energy into plasma energy in an explosive way. We’ve finally just measured one event properly for the first time. So a 12,000km ball of lava with a thin crust of rocks and 15 km of damp air, floats in a sea of magnetically charged fields. You might think that our slithery-thin layer of humid air and clouds could be affected by the stirring of “yo-yo” like lava flows and magnetic fields that are also twisted by solar dynamos, but you would just be a silly denier. These magnetic explosions and solar winds can’t possibly affect our climate — there’s a 97% consensus that says so.

Luckily we have climate models that are 95% certain we don’t even need to include these factors — especially lucky, since we barely understand them.

This is after-all, just space weather, and it’s not like the Earth is in space, eh?

Supposedly geomagnetic [...]

Solar activity was really at exceptional lows during the cold Maunder Minimum

Fig 3 (Part VI only) Sunspot drawing of by G.D. Cassini in 1671 (Oldenburg, 1671c).

What is surprising is just how much data we have on the Sun from 400 years ago.

For some aspects of solar activity we barely have a half a solar cycle. For example, on solar spectral changes: UV and Infrared light swing up and down through the solar cycle, but we only got a good grip on these important changes in the last ten years with the SORCE mission.

But on other aspects of solar activity there is much more long term data than I expected: 400 years ago quite a few people were carefully recording detailed drawings of sun spots (like Cassini in 1671, right). Others were reporting aurorae — up to 150 a year in parish records, newspaper reports, and scientific observations, which tells us something about the strength of the solar wind. There were also observations of the solar corona during eclipses at the time, which suggest the sun was less active as well.

Lately some (Zolotova et al)  have said solar activity was not low during the cold Maunder Minimum period from 1645 – 1715. Usoskin and others have responded [...]

What’s really warming the world — NASA has no idea (Not the Sun, Never the Sun!)

In the twit-world, it’s being called Bloomberg and NASA’s “proof” that man made CO2 is causing global warming.

But it’s just a zombie rehash of the same-old routine I described in How to create a crisis graph in 6 simple steps. It’s all in the art of what you don’t say and the things you leave off the graph. This is a “NASA” graph that reduces everything about the sun to one single temperature. As if the magneto-nuclear-dynamo 1.3 million times the volume of the Earth would have a weather report that just read “still hot”. Nothing to see here…

Want to scare people with graphs? Pretend your climate models work. Ignore the missing hot spot, the pause, the record antarctic sea-ice, the lack of accelerating seas, and the utter failure of climate models to model anything before the last 150 years, as well as stuff like “rain[1]“, “ drought [2]” and “humidity[3]“. Include all the factors you can think of that don’t explain the latest bump in the squiggly line. Ignore all the factors that might like cosmic rays, solar wind, solar magnetic effects, solar spectrum cycles, lunar effects on our atmosphere, and who knows how many other potential [...]

New telescopes see magnetic flux ropes on Sun (which can’t possibly affect Earths climate).

A new telescope has peered into the Sun to see solar magnetic flux ropes for the first time. Severe flux rope twists have been described as being like “earthquakes” on the sun, and are linked to eruptions of large solar flares that change magnetic fields, and cause radiation and energetic particles to rain on Earth.

We don’t know much about solar magnetic flux ropes. We know they affect space weather, but thanks to climate experts we already “know” they can’t possibly, ever in a million years, affect Earth’s weather. Even though we’ve only just been able to see them and have no long term data on them, we have Global Circulation Climate models (which don’t include these solar factors), so we have 95% certainty that none of the particles, fields or radiation changes have much impact on Earth. They might fritz satellites, electronics and communications, but Earth’s atmosphere has no electrical component (wink), and the models “work” (kinda, sorta, apart from “the pause”, the arctic, the ocean, the antarctic, and the holocene) without any of this fuzzy solar stuff. Got that? Repeat after me. The Sun does not affect Earth’s climate. (Good boys and girls. You are fit for a [...]

Paper suggests solar magnetic influence on Earth’s atmospheric pressure

 “…the role of the Sun is one of the largest unknowns in the climate system”

Meteorologists are already aware that changes in the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) can affect the polar regions of Earth. Now, for the first time Lam et al report the magnetic field appears to influence atmospheric pressure in the mid latitudes. Lam compared the average surface pressure at times when the magnetic field is either very strong or very weak and found a statistically significant wave structure similar to an atmospheric Rossby wave. They claim to show that this works through a mechanism that is a conventional meteorological process, and that the effect is large enough to influence weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. The size of the effect is similar to “initial analysis uncertainties” in “ensemble numerical weather prediction” (which I take to mean “climate models”).

They are suggesting that small changes in this solar influence on the upper atmosphere could produce important changes through  “non-linear evolution of atmospheric dynamics”.

Jo suggests that IPCC-favoured climate models don’t include any solar magnetic effect at all, which is just one of many reasons why they don’t work.

The large scale wandering convolutions of the jet stream [...]

Study finds global warming over past 400 years was due to increased Solar activity

TODAY June 7th 2011: Phenomenal eruption on the sun (see the bottom of the post for more info).

Apparently previous studies of the sun-climate connection looked at the equatorial polar magnetic field which produces sun spots, but they did not consider the polar magnetic component of the solar dynamo. The polar fields are less strong than the equatorial fields, but it is claimed that the total magnetic fluxes of both fields are comparable. With proxy data they derive an empirical relation between tropospherical temperatures and solar equatorial and polar magnetic fields. The polar field could contribute about 30% as much as the equatorial field.

The paper, published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics focused on the period 1844-1960 (but extended at least one graph back to 1600) and finds our current warming period is not that different from earlier episodes and that the increase in solar activity in the last 400 years explains the warming, without any need to invoke a man-made enhanced greenhouse hypothesis.

[...]

If carbon didn’t warm us, what did?

Svensmarks Cosmic Ray Theory. TOP: If the sun’s magnetic field is weak it allows more cosmic rays, which may seed more clouds on Earth. BOTTOM: A strong solar magnetic field blocks the same rays and could mean less clouds and clearer skies.

People have known for 200 years that there’s some link between sunspots and our climate.  In 1800, the astronomer William Herschel didn’t need a climate model, he didn’t even have a calculator — yet he could see that wheat prices rose and fell in time with the sunspot cycle. Since then, people have noticed that rainfall patterns are also linked to sunspots.

Sunspots themselves don’t make much difference to us, but they are a sign of how weak or strong the sun’s magnetic field is. This massive solar magnetic field reaches out around the Earth, and it shields us from cosmic rays. Dr Henrik Svensmark has suggested that if more cosmic rays reach further down into our atmosphere, they might ionize molecules and help “seed” more clouds. As it happens, this year, the sun has almost no sunspots, but for much of the late 20th Century, the solar magnetic field was extremely active. If the theory is [...]