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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Natural warming is driven by the level of solar activity, not the trend (CHECKMATE)

For four years now, I have periodically castigated what must be the scientifically stupidest excuse that the global warming alarmists use to dismiss the well documented natural warming effects of the solar wind.

Over and over again the alarmists claim that late 20th century warming can’t be caused by the solar-magnetic effects because there was no upward trend in solar activity between 1975 and 2000, when temperatures were rising. As Lockwood and Fröhlich put it last year:
Since about 1985,… the cosmic ray count [inversely related to solar activity] had been increasing, which should have led to a temperature fall if the theory is correct - instead, the Earth has been warming. … This should settle the debate.
Morons. It is the levels of solar activity and galactic cosmic radiation that matter, not whether they are going up or down. Solar activity jumped up to “grand maximum” levels in the 1940’s and stayed there (averaged across the 11 year solar cycles) until 2000. Solar activity doesn’t have to keep going up for warming to occur. Turn the gas burner under a pot of stew to high and the stew will heat. You don’t have to keep turning the flame up further and further to keep getting heating!

Surely this has to be motivated error. Nobody can honestly make such a profoundly stupid mistake, can they? It has to at least be willful blindness, doesn't it? Only now I discover that it is not just the anthropogenic warming religionists who are making this mistake. Everybody is, including the skeptics!


Even the real scientists are confusing level and trend

Check out the conclusion to this 2005 paper co-authored by Sami Solanki, a confirmed AGW skeptic, and Ilya Usoskin, who is no alarmist:
Note that the most recent warming trend, since around 1975, has not been considered in the above correlations. During these last 30 years, the solar total irradiance, solar UV irradiance, and cosmic ray flux, has not shown any significant secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming episode must have another source.
This is truly bizarre. As I wrote when I first came across this trope in early 2005:
Rasmus Benestad claims that, because there has not been a downward trend in GCR [Galactic Cosmic Radiation] over the period when warming has occurred (since the 60's) GCR cannot be the cause of the warming. But this attempt to dismiss the GCR-cloud theory is absurd on its face. Solar activity has been well above historical norms since the 40’s! It doesn’t matter what the trend is. The solar-wind is up. According to the theory, that blows away the clouds [by blowing away the cloud-seeding GCR] and creates warming. The wind doesn’t have to KEEP going up. It is the LEVEL that matters, not the trend. Holy cow. Benestad is looking at the wrong derivative (one instead of zero).
But John Cook cites ten scientific papers that make the same mistake (in support of making the mistake himself), and many of them are from reputable scientists, not Anthropogenic Global Warming religionists like Benestad.

If this is not motivated error, where is it coming from? As I commented on Cook's post, it would seem to be a product of the simple statistical analyses that these scientists are conducting. They found a correlation between changes in temperature and changes in solar activity, and that somehow distracted them from paying attention to the levels of solar activity (which HAS to be what matters). They have let what they are looking at (correlations) obscure in their minds what they are trying to get at: the physical process. They seem to be forgetting that, for purposes of climatology, the earth is a pot of water.

Turn the solar–magnetic flame up on a cold ocean and the planet might heat for centuries without reaching an equilibrium, but these folks would treat such an episode as evidence against solar-magnetic warming, since temperature is rising when solar activity is flat. And they still get correlation coefficients of 0.7 to 0.8. I wonder what the explanatory power of solar activity will turn out to be once our scientists stop treating evidence for solar-magnetic effects as evidence against.


Fitting to a model of the physical process

It would not be hard to estimate, for each level of global temperature, the level of solar activity that tends to create warming rather than cooling. Then estimate, for each increment of solar activity above this level, how much the rate of warming tends to increase. This could easily be combined with a physical model of the heat storage capacity of the oceans. Fitting such a model to the data would yield a picture over time of the heat store (ocean temperature) and the solar driven additions and subtractions from it.

Of course this physical process will yield statistical correlations between changes in solar activity and changes in global temperature, but the state of the heat sink always has to be kept in mind. If a given level of solar activity were stabilized long enough (while holding other climate determinates constant, such as the amount of GCR entering the solar system, the earth’s magnetic field strength, the phase of the earth’s orbit, and way down the list, human burning of fossil fuels), this stable level of solar activity should lead eventually to a stable global temperature, with higher steady levels of solar activity leading to higher equilibrium temperatures, but there is no reason to think that the planet is very often in such a steady state. Given the size of our heat sink, equilibrium should be rare, yet this is in effect what a focus on trend rather than level assumes: that climate is constantly in a state of long run equilibrium.

To develop a running estimate of the planet’s state of adjustment toward long run equilibrium would require a full climate model. As the earth warms, there may be negative feedback effects, like the increasing efficiency of the rain cycle in a wetter atmosphere, opening columns of dry air for the heat released by condensation to rise through. Whatever the mechanisms, equilibrium is reached when the radiation emitted by the planet is equal in energy to the radiation absorbed.

If Gavin Schmidt and the other eco-religionists who run NASA’s expensive GCM’s would stop excluding solar-magnetic effects, we might even get such modeling. In the meantime, just don’t take the correlation between solar activity and temperature to mean that solar activity must be going up for it to cause temperatures to go up.

Even crude modeling should raise the amount of temperature variation that is statistically "explained" by solar activity or GCR, if the physical model is on the right track. This provides a test of sorts for the GCR-cloud theory. Instead of analyzing simple correlations, fit to a physical model of the GCR-cloud process and see if explanatory power goes up. This should be a simple matter. We have all the data. It's just a matter of decomposing it more effectively.


Svensmark’s and Friis-Christensen's answer to Lockwood and Fröhlich

I got onto this issue again (and discovered that the AGW religionists are not the only ones who fail to distinguish trend from level), by visiting Cook's SkepticalScience post on Svensmark's and Friis-Christensen’s reply to Lockwood and Fröhlich.

Cook posts Svensmark’s graphic of the close correlation between GCR and de-trended temperature and draws what at first glance appears to be a logical conclusion:

Svensmark, via The Reference Frame

Cook suggests that if changes in GCR fit so perfectly with changes in de-trended temperature, then something beside GCR must account for the TREND in temperature.

Wrong. The “something else” is the LEVEL of GCR. 60 years of relatively cloudless skies kept pumping heat into the oceans, both by direct absorption of sunlight, and from exposure to air warmed up by the relatively sunny landmasses. The skies didn't have to keep getting more and more cloudless for this warming process to continue. They just had to remain relatively cloudless. The work is being done by something besides changes in GCR, but it is still being done by GCR.

Why wasn’t warming uniform from 1940-2000 if the level of GCR was pretty much trend-less? The Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Take out the PDO and, as the Svensmark’s graph shows, the ups and downs of the 11 yr. solar cycle match the ups and downs in the temperature anomaly. (If you want, you can look at the Svensmark graphic as comparing de-trended temperature to de-trended GCR, given that the GCR trend is essentially zero).

Svensmark and Friis-Christensen show that they are not oblivious to the primacy of level over trend when they note that:
By Lockwood and Frohlich's own data, solar magnetic activity is still high compared with 100 years ago.
But even they still try to describe the path of global temperature as a function of the trend in solar activity:
The continuing rapid increase in carbon dioxide concentrations during the past 10-15 years has apparently been unable to overrule the flattening of the temperature trend as a result of the Sun settling at a high, but no longer increasing, level of magnetic activity.
Maybe what they mean here is that after 300 years of recovery from the Little Ice Age, and sixty years of a steady high level of solar activity, there is evidence that climate actually did reach long run equilibrium at the end of the 20th century, where the flat high level of solar activity came to correspond with a steady global temperature. Indeed, this could well be the situation, but it is unfortunate to see Svensmark and Friis-Christensen trying to couch this possibility in essentially the same language that Lockwood and Frohlich use, speaking as if it is the trend in solar activity that is driving global temperature.

The speculation that the climate reached a state of long run equilibrium with respect to the level of solar activity needs to be spelled out, and distinguished from the normal disequilibrium state of affairs where a flat level of solar activity will drive temperature change. Surely Svensmark and Friis-Christensen do not think that if solar activity had leveled out at a higher level, the fact that solar activity was level would have kept temperature from going up further, but their actual statement can be interpreted that way, which is a serious lapse when answering people like Lockwood and Frohlich who are misinterpreting the science in exactly that way.


The last redoubt of the AGW religionists is completely indefensible

It is an interesting state of affairs. The Anthropogenic Global Warming religionists have placed all their eggs in this non-existent basket. They are systematically using an errant focus on trend instead of level as their primary excuse for dismissing the solar warming alternative, despite overwhelming evidence for solar-magnetic effects. This is their last redoubt, and it is completely indefensible.

The only reason they even have a veneer of scientific legitimacy at this point is because real scientists have been making the same mistake. It’s like playing a game of chess and realizing that you’ve been overlooking an opportunity for mate.

We can’t afford such a lapse. We are in the fight of our lives here. The humanity-hating eco-religionists are trying to use the AGW hoax to unplug industrial capitalism, which they see as gobbling up the planet. They are not actually concerned about climate at all, but will use any excuse to try to shut down economic activity, as they have been attempting since the 1960’s.

These powerfully placed religious lunatics are on the verge of securing the draconian restrictions they so fervently desire, but scientifically they are already in check and mate. Their position is dead, and they have nowhere left to go.

We had better make that scientific result stick, before the AGW theocracy becomes a political fait accompli.

Comments:
I came up with a simple graph a while back to demonstrate solar activity using sunspot numbers. I don't know that anyone had cracked the code on a simple representation of 2nd-half solar activity increases as shown by sunspots. Here is my attempt.
 
What about data indicating that the Martian polar caps have been shrinking during the last quarter of the 20'th century? Doesn't this suggest that the sun was putting out more energy, warming up both the Earth and Mars at the same time? The level of the sun's magnetic activity would then just be another indication of fluctuations in the solar output.
 
"Morons. It is the levels of solar activity and galactic cosmic radiation that matter, not whether they are going up or down. Solar activity jumped up to “grand maximum” levels in the 1940’s and stayed there (averaged across the 11 year solar cycles) until 2000. Solar activity doesn’t have to keep going up for warming to occur. Turn the gas burner under a pot of stew to high and the stew will heat. You don’t have to keep turning the flame up further and further to keep getting heating!"

If solar heating was all there was to it, you would think the Earth would have evaporated away by now, after 4.5 billion years. It hasn't because at the same time the Earth radiates away heat into space. In fact, it radiates away as much energy per second as it receives from the Sun. The Earth is in thermal equilibrium. Similarly, your pot would not evaporate if you left on the stove top too long. Eventually it would reach an equilibrium temperature.

The other thing is the sudden jump in the rate of increase of global mean temperature in the last few decades. The Sun's output didn't suddenly increase. Why would it? What process in the Sun would cause that? (And no, anonymous, fluctuations in Mars' polar caps do not indicate that. It happens that Mars' rotation axis wobbles. There are 8 planets and many minor bodies in the solar system. Do you know of any signs of a sudden increase of solar output on all of them? Because that's what it would take.)
 
Alfredo,

Alec does not say that there is no energy leaving the earth. That is what you put in the discussion from nowhere.

If you turn the heat up, eventually the same amount of energy will come and go. But the level of incoming energy determines the eventual state of the equilibrium, i.c. the 'final' temperature. It depends on the system how long it takes to reach this equilibrium. In the 'stew' example it's about the effectiveness of all types of heat transfer and the heat capacity of the stew. The time scales vary enormously between the stew and the system 'Sun/Earth', but the principle is the same.

I think your post reflects the typical level of AGW 'scientists'. The discussion around GW has some characteristics similar as the one around evolution. For tries to keep scientific and come with arguments, against takes up everything to try to win. Religious is the word.

AGW is not happening. But if you can get political advantage out of it, who cares?
 
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