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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Ominous space-weather: A mild Solar CME caused a bigger geomagnetic storm on Earth than anyone expected

This week a mild Coronal Mass Ejection off the sun blasted past Earth. It was only a mild CME with solar winds at 500km per second, which is a medium kind of speed. The experts were all predicting a G1 class Geomagnetic storm, and were a bit astonished when we got much bigger G3 storm instead. (NOAA’s G scale runs from G1 up to G5).

This occurred near the minimum weak point of the solar cycle, and we’re going to get much bigger blasts as Cycle 25 ramps up. But if mild CMEs can rattle the Earth’s magnetic field this much, things might get much more exciting when moderate or strong CME’s shake the cage. Satellites and networks could be in trouble. “Grid’s Away”…

Is Earths magnetic field weaker or more vulnerable than we thought? How could we miss that?

As Cap Allon of Electroverse said:

“Nobody saw the KP Index hitting 7.

…when I say nobody, I mean nobody predicted this: not NASA, NOAA, ESA or IPS in Australia.”

It was not dense, and the filament released was hardly cause for concern.

“There is absolutely nothing in the history of […]

NASA hides page saying the Sun was the primary climate driver, and clouds and particles are more important than greenhouse gases

ZeroHedge asks: What the hell are NASA Hiding?

The NASA site used to have a page titled “What are the primary forcings of the Earth system?“. In 2010 this page said that the Sun is the major driver of Earth’s climate, that it controls all the major aspects, and we may be on the cusp of an ice age. Furthermore NASA Science said things like clouds, albedo and aerosol behaviour can have more powerful cooling effects that outdo the warming effect of CO2.

Today that page says Share the science and stay connected, and “Access Denied”.


Whatever you do, don’t tell the world that NASA says the Sun is more important than CO2.

The Wayback Machine captured the same NASA “Primary Climate Forcings” link in 2010.

Click to enlarge.


Here’s the text from the original page (my bolding).

NASA 2010: What are the primary forcings of the Earth system?

The Sun is the primary forcing of Earth’s climate system. Sunlight warms our world. Sunlight drives atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns. Sunlight powers the process of photosynthesis that plants need to grow. Sunlight causes convection which carries warmth and water vapor up into […]

Solar cycles to blame for jellyfish plagues (not coal fired plants)

Image Erin Silversmith

Three amazing things in this story. One that solar cycles might influence the oceans to such an extent that jellyfish plagues are cycling in tune with the sun. Second is that the sun might control food for jellyfish on Earth somehow but have no effect on clouds, temperature or our climate (join the dots that expert climate models don’t). Third is that (briefly) there was actual scientific debate published on the ABC (even if only a few Australians were exposed to it). No one called anyone names, and both sides got to speak (albeit on different channels). Put it in your diary.

A couple of weeks ago on the ABC jellyfish were booming and it was because of climate change:

Jellyfish are causing mayhem as pollution, climate change see numbers boom

RN By Hong Jiang and Sasha Fegan for Late Night Live

…the brainless, spineless, eyeless, bloodless creatures are booming in numbers — and causing mayhem around the world.

Some scientists think jellyfish numbers are increasing as the climate changes — the creatures reproduce well in warmer waters.

Last year, Nick Kilvert of the ABC saw it as a […]

The Sahara may flip from desert to grass every 20,000 years. Blame The Sun.

MIT researchers think they have solved a bit of a mystery regarding Sahara dust, but if they’re right it means the Sahara Desert has already come and gone 3 – 5 times since humans walked the Earth. The Sahara is the largest desert on Earth, and this would be the largest and longest drought “ever” on the planet (as far as we know).

UPDATED: Commenter Javier points out these drying cycles were known years ago. (See below)

This would rather redefine the whole idea of “climate change” — 3.5 million square miles of Green Sahara turns into Dust-bowl Sahara — and it’s all thanks to sunlight. The drought doesn’t just last 7 years, but more like 7,000. And it’s happening over 9 million square kilometers, an area larger than Australia. The major climate models leaned towards the monsoonal cycle, rather than the longer ice age one. So this theory may have resolved one of the 495 contradictions in climate models. Or not. But the bigger message here is that the sun causes climate change and on a massive scale.

h/t to Roger Tallbloke.

The Sahara is the largest dust bowl in the world, dumping 10 million trucks of dust across […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.

7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings […]

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 […]