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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Another La Nina? Climate models just flummoxed. This is not supposed to happen!

We can hear the angst and confusion — Another “nasty La Nina?”, “Something weird is going on”, “They (La Ninas) don’t know when to leave”. Oh no!

These are not the words we’d expect to hear from experts who can 97% predict the climate a century from now. The bad news for the modelers is that the climate on Earth seems to be controlled more by the Pacific Oscillation than anything else and they have no idea what drives that pattern, so they can’t predict it more than a few months ahead, and sometimes not even then. And if they can’t predict the Pacific — they can’t predict anything. The hottest of hot years are El Nino, and the coldest years are La Nina and the greatest modelers the world-has-ever-known still get their barbecue summers wrong. The droughts, the floods and the bushfires follow the swinging surface water of the worlds largest ocean. Whenever they happen, the models say “climate change” but the models never tell us which will hit us this time next year.

So here we are with hints that there might be another La Nina, a third in a row, and Oh-the-disappointment! The modelers thought there […]

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 […]

Solar Wind bombardment “worse than we thought”, but we *know* particles at 800km/s have No effect on our climate

Solar Wind, Earths magnetosphere. Image: NASA

The Solar Wind is a torrent of space weather cruising past at 500 — 800 kilometers per second which is around 1.5 million miles per hour or, if you prefer, Mach 2,000.* It’s so powerful it erodes rocks on Mars, ejects particles up high and creates a kind of atmosphere of tiny rock particles which we can study. Then it blows that Martian atmosphere away.

In this new research people realized it was not just the rain of tiny high-speed protons fritzing Mars at 800 km per second that were carving up the rocks — the main role was from the heavy and highly charged He2+. (Now there’s a molecule you don’t see too often).

You might think that a variable torrent of charged particles that are constantly changing speed and direction might have an impact on our atmosphere, but you’d be wrong (or at least, politically incorrect). On Earth the solar wind “just causes the northern lights”. How do we know? We’ve got climate models. In all known GCMs the total global forcing for solar wind is “zero”. Must be true.

Thus and verily the IPCC can conclude that a flow […]

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 […]