Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The changeable sun

Horrors for the Warmists. They normally ignore totally the possibility that solar changes may be what drive earth's temperature changes. Note however below that it's not only the sun that is changing. For once the sun IS acknowledged below as a source of climate change -- and in the Warmist "New Scientist" at that.

That solar activity has dropped and we have had a lot of unusually cold weather in the last 2 years is just coincidence of course. Not that you would know we have had any unusually cold weather from the "massaged" statistics of Hansen & Co. As in Orwell, Big Brother "revises" the past

SUNSPOTS come and go, but recently they have mostly gone. For centuries, astronomers have recorded when these dark blemishes on the solar surface emerge, only for them to fade away again after a few days, weeks or months. Thanks to their efforts, we know that sunspot numbers ebb and flow in cycles lasting about 11 years.

But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The sun is under scrutiny as never before thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what?

The stakes have never been higher. Groups of sunspots forewarn of gigantic solar storms that can unleash a billion times more energy than an atomic bomb. Fears that these giant solar eruptions could create havoc on EarthMovie Camera, and disputes over the sun's role in climate change, are adding urgency to these studies. When NASA and the European Space Agency launched the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory almost 15 years ago, "understanding the solar cycle was not one of its scientific objectives", says Bernhard Fleck, the mission's project scientist. "Now it is one of the key questions."

Sun behaving badly

Sunspots are windows into the sun's magnetic soul. They form where giant loops of magnetism, generated deep inside the sun, well up and burst through the surface, leading to a localised drop in temperature which we see as a dark patch. Any changes in sunspot numbers reflect changes inside the sun. "During this transition, the sun is giving us a real glimpse into its interior," says Hathaway.

When sunspot numbers drop at the end of each 11-year cycle, solar storms die down and all becomes much calmer. This "solar minimum" doesn't last long. Within a year, the spots and storms begin to build towards a new crescendo, the next solar maximum.

What's special about this latest dip is that the sun is having trouble starting the next solar cycle. The sun began to calm down in late 2007, so no one expected many sunspots in 2008. But computer models predicted that when the spots did return, they would do so in force. Hathaway was reported as thinking the next solar cycle would be a "doozy": more sunspots, more solar storms and more energy blasted into space. Others predicted that it would be the most active solar cycle on record. The trouble was, no one told the sun.

The latest solar cycle was supposed to be the most active on record. The trouble was, no one told the sun

The first sign that the prediction was wrong came when 2008 turned out to be even calmer than expected. That year, the sun was spot-free 73 per cent of the time, an extreme dip even for a solar minimum. Only the minimum of 1913 was more pronounced, with 85 per cent of that year clear.

As 2009 arrived, solar physicists looked for some action. They didn't get it. The sun continued to languish until mid-December, when the largest group of sunspots to emerge for several years appeared. Finally, a return to normal? Not really.

Even with the solar cycle finally under way again, the number of sunspots has so far been well below expectations. Something appears to have changed inside the sun, something the models did not predict. But what?

The flood of observations from space and ground-based telescopes suggests that the answer lies in the behaviour of two vast conveyor belts of gas that endlessly cycle material and magnetism through the sun's interior and out across the surface. On average it takes 40 years for the conveyor belts to complete a circuit (see diagram).

When Hathaway's team looked over the observations to find out where their models had gone wrong, they noticed that the conveyor-belt flows of gas across the sun's surface have been speeding up since 2004.

The circulation deep within the sun tells a different story. Rachel Howe and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, have used observations of surface disturbances, caused by the solar equivalent of seismic waves, to infer what conditions are like within the sun. Analysing data from 2009, they found that while the surface flows had sped up, the internal ones had slowed to a crawl.

These findings have thrown our best computer models of the sun into disarray. "It is certainly challenging our theories," says Hathaway, "but that's kinda nice."

It is not just our understanding of the sun that stands to benefit from this work. The extent to which changes in the sun's activity can affect our climate is of paramount concern. It is also highly controversial. There are those who seek to prove that the solar variability is the major cause of climate change, an idea that would let humans and their greenhouse gases off the hook. Others are equally evangelical in their assertions that the sun plays only a minuscule role in climate change...


3 Papers: Alarmist Glacier Claims are Overblown

Three peer-reviewed studies published within the past 2 weeks alone have indicated alarmist claims of anthropogenic, unprecedented, rapid glacier melt are overblown:

1. Climate Change Will Affect the Asian Water Towers

* IPCC claim of Himalayan glacier melt by 2035:
* "overstated by several hundred years"
* "oversimplified"
* "impact less than anticipated"
* IPCC false claims were "a first-rate disaster"
* "some scientists saw the error and tried to alert senior authors, but it was "too late" to get the report corrected"

2. 100-year mass changes in the Swiss Alps linked to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

* "half of the glacier loss in the Swiss Alps is due to natural climate variability— a result likely to be true for glaciers around the world."
* "current glacier retreat might be equally due to natural climate variations as it is to anthropogenic greenhouse warming."
* "Glacier mass loss was particularly rapid in the 1940s and since the 1980s. "

3. Is the recessional pattern of Himalayan glaciers suggestive of anthropogenically induced global warming?

* "the rate of recession of most of the glaciers in general is on decline"
* "These observations are in contradiction to the widely popularized concept of anthropogenically induced global warming."
* "It is believed that the rise of temperature of around 0.6°C since mid-nineteenth century is a part of decadal to centennial-scale climatic fluctuations that have been taking place on this Earth for the past few thousands of years."


New Miskolczi Paper: CO2 not cause of Global Warming

Ferenc Miskolczi, a former NASA physicist, has a forthcoming paper to be published in Energy & Environment which shows empirically that change in the greenhouse effect due to CO2 would likely have been detected if it had been present in the last 61 years. Miskolczi also demonstrates that the IPCC-claimed positive feedback from water vapor does not exist.

The Stable Stationary Value of the Earth’s Global Average Atmospheric Planc-weighted Greenhouse-Gas Optical Thickness

by Ferenc Miskolczi Energy & Environment, 21:4 2010.


By the line-by-line method, a computer program is used to analyze Earth atmospheric radiosonde data from hundreds of weather balloon observations. In terms of a quasi-all-sky protocol, fundamental infrared atmospheric radiative flux components are calculated: at the top boundary, the outgoing long wave radiation, the surface transmitted radiation, and the upward atmospheric emittance; at the bottom boundary, the downward atmospheric emittance. The partition of the outgoing long wave radiation into upward atmospheric emittance and surface transmitted radiation components is based on the accurate computation of the true greenhouse-gas optical thickness for the radiosonde data.

New relationships among the flux components have been found and are used to construct a quasi-all- sky model of the earth’s atmospheric energy transfer process. In the 1948-2008 time period the global average annual mean true greenhouse-gas optical thickness is found to be time-stationary.

Simulated radiative no-feedback effects of measured actual CO2 change over the 61 years were calculated and found to be of magnitude easily detectable by the empirical data and analytical methods used. The data negate increase in CO2 in the atmosphere as a hypothetical cause for the apparently observed global warming.

A hypothesis of significant positive feedback by water vapor effect on atmospheric infrared absorption is also negated by the observed measurements. Apparently major revision of the physics underlying the greenhouse effect is needed.


Whitewash versus Paint

The northern summer months mean winter in the Antipodes so we drove to Anthony Watts‘ presentation in the dark even though it was only 6 pm. He was the principal author of Watts Up With That?, a climate change skeptic’s blogsite that gets about 3 million hits per month. And now he was in Australia on a speaking tour. The site has a large following in Australia probably due to two things. The first is his symbiotic relationship with the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt, who is Australia’s blogger/mainstream journalist — a combination you don’t often see — who appears to combine the strongest features of both and who quotes Watts continuously and extensively so that climate skepticism has become as it were, the new occult knowledge. Second, Watts’ focus on the weather taps into a major preoccupation in Australia: crops.

As a consequence there is, one may be surprised to learn, a Climate Skeptics Party in Australia and a huge appetite for knowing Watts Up With That. Climate change is a much bigger political issue in Australia than in the USA. The audience filed into the auditorium with a near-religious reverence for Watts. He was preceded by two speakers, one an economist and the other an expert on the effect of solar cycles on climate. The first argued that CO2 was undervalued and the second explained the effects of sunspots on cloud formation. But it was Watts presentation that stole the show. Why?

Not for any superiority in presentation. What distinguished it from theirs was that Watts talk wasn’t really about a logical argument. It was about how to create a logical argument of sufficient authority to challenge the establishment. He was describing an open source research project, though perhaps much of the audience failed to realize it. Watts reeled them in as good speakers do, by telling them a story. He described how he had originally been a Global Warmist who had experienced a Pauline conversion on the most innocent of grounds. He had fascinated by measuring instruments and gadgetry and always had been. After retiring from a career as a TV weatherman he began to wonder whether a change in the specification of the paint used to coat temperature measuring stations might have anything to do with the rise in recorded readings. It was a simple enough idea. When temperatures were first collected the temp stations consisted of a whitewashed birdhouse like structure with a mercury thermometer in it. As recently as the 60s the whitewash was still used to maintain a consistency in experimental apparatus. And then the weather service changed the spec to paint. So he asked: Watts Up With That?

Watts bought a bunch of standard measuring stations and coated one with whitewash and the other with the newly specified paint and found the painted stations gave higher readings than the stations finished in the older calcium carbonate. This disturbed him but as way led on to way it brought him face to face with another discovery. Most of the temperature stations had been sited, for ease of reading, right next to buildings else urban sprawl had overtaken them so that stations formerly standing in a field were now in the middle of parking lots, sewage plants, airports and heat sinks of a similar nature. Watts was now confronted with the possibility that his whole belief structure was wrong because the data on which it was established was erroneous. Somewhere along the line a light bulb went on his brain and the fun began.

My guess is that the former weatherman understood something that neither of two pure academicians who preceded him fully grasped. If he was going to challenge the established storyline he was going to need power. Where did it come from? Power comes from owning information; second power comes from being able to gather info that nobody else can. So he began an open source project to study as many temperature recording sites as he could. Watts’ biggest asset was not his scientific background but an organizational/businessman’s ability and the media practicioner’s understanding of how to use publicity. In this instance he decided to use his blog to solicit volunteer data gathering. The result was SurfaceStations.Org.
In 2007 Watts launched the “” project, whose mission is to create a publicly available database of photographs of weather stations, along with their metadata, in response to what he described as “a massive failure of bureaucracy to perform something so simple as taking some photographs and making some measurements and notes of a few to a few dozen weather stations in each state”. The project relies on volunteers to gather the data.[8] The method used is to attract volunteers of varying levels of expertise who undertake to estimate the siting, usage and other conditions of weather stations in NOAA’s Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) and grade them for their compliance with the standards published in the organization’s Climate Reference Network Site Handbook.[9]

Soon after launching the project, when 40 or so of the 1221 USHCN climatological surface temperature monitoring stations had been surveyed, Watts stated that his preliminary findings raised doubts about NOAA’s temperature reporting. “I believe,” he said, “we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment.”[10] By 2009, the project had documented over 860 stations using over 650 volunteers.[11] In a report entitled Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?, published by the Heartland Institute,[11] Watts concludes that “the errors in the [U.S. temperature] record exceed by a wide margin the purported rise in temperature…during the twentieth century.

Watts’ presentation at the hall consisted of seemingly unending stream of slides from his volunteers showing not just US, but foreign weather stations sited in the most laughable of ways: in the path of jet exhaust, air conditioning heat dumps, fermenting sewage plants, concrete heat sinks, in close proximity to machinery, motors, engines, incinerators and even atop tombstones. He then proceeded to flash a series of infrared images of the same sites showing the surrounds of the temperature stations all lit up. Then he piled Google Earth image upon Google Earth image of the temperature collection sites in winter showing the snow stretching far and away but for the little islands of heat in which the gauges were located.

It was a tour de force. He understood the power of irrefutable reptition. Following the old rule of “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them”, Watts pitched his message to the denominator everyone could grasp. He had a weatherman’s instinct for making a complex subject concrete and in your face. But he could do this only because he had mobilized a legion of part time snoops, guys who would drive out to airports near them, walk around universities to snap photos of temperature stations, go down some dirt road to find an obscure little measuring device or spends hours on Google Earth zooming in on a known coordinate. He could do this because he had a dataset — a dataset not even the weather service had. His open source project gave him more information about the condition of their terrestrial network than the weather service had.


Billions for Green Jobs - Whatever They Are

Buried deep inside a federal newsletter on March 16 was something called a "notice of solicitation of comments" from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor.

"BLS is responsible for developing and implementing the collection of new data on green jobs," said the note in the Federal Register, which is widely read by government bureaucrats and almost never seen by the general public. But the notice said there is "no widely accepted standard definition of 'green jobs.'" To help find that definition, the Labor Department asked that readers send in suggestions.

The notice came only after the department scoured studies from government, academia and business in search of a definition. "The common thread through the studies and discussions is that green jobs are jobs related to preserving or restoring the environment," the notice said. Beyond that blinding insight, a precise definition has eluded Labor Department officials.

On Capitol Hill, a staffer for Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was poring through the Federal Register and spotted the note. Then he went to the Department of Labor website, where he found a number of announcements like these:

-- U.S. Department of Labor Announces $100 Million in Green Jobs Training Through Recovery Act

-- U.S. Department of Labor Announces $150 Million in "Pathways Out of Poverty" Training Grants for Green Jobs

-- U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $190 Million in State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants for Green Jobs

In the staffer's mind, two and two came together. The Labor Department is shoving money out the door for "green jobs," yet at the same time is admitting it doesn't know what a "green job" is.

Cue Grassley, a longtime watchdog of funny business in the federal bureaucracy. In a June 2 letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Grassley noted that there was an enormous amount of money in the $862 billion stimulus bill for those still-undefined green jobs.

"According to the administration, the Recovery Act contains more than $80 billion in clean-energy funding to promote economic recovery and develop clean-energy jobs," Grassley wrote. "However, it has come to my attention that the (Labor Department) is just now attempting to define what a 'green job' is. Interestingly, this comes more than a year after the Recovery Act was signed into law and after millions of dollars in funding have already been distributed for green jobs."

Since the Labor Department is looking for a definition after spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on green jobs, Grassley asked, then what definition of green jobs did it use when it spent the money? The question applies beyond the Labor Department. What about all the other government agencies that are spending zillions on green jobs? They don't have a widely accepted definition, either.

Grassley voted against the stimulus. But since it passed, he wants to hold the administration accountable for the money. "This inquiry is a measure of oversight to make sure the money is spent the way supporters of the legislation said it would be spent," he says. "I'm asking how the administration is distributing the money for what it said would go to clean-energy jobs. If the criteria were too broad or poorly defined, the money might be going for other kinds of spending."

So far, the Labor Department has not yet responded to Grassley, and a spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, even as it searches for the definition of a green job, the Labor Department is assuring Congress that everything is going gangbusters on the green-job front. "The demand for green-job training opportunities is enormous," Solis told a Senate committee in March, adding that the Labor Department had by that time already spent $500 million on green jobs, with more to come. "The department has been unable to keep pace with the record number of applications for grants."

Last year, Republicans complained that the Obama administration planned to spend billions on an ill-defined concept of green jobs. Now, billions have been spent, and many more will be spent, and the administration still can't tell you what a green job is. Just look at the Federal Register.

President Obama says he values accountability. How about accounting for those green-job billions?


Was Margaret Thatcher the first climate sceptic?

Margaret Thatcher was the first leader to warn of global warming - but also the first to see the flaws in the climate change orthodoxy

A persistent claim made by believers in man-made global warming – they were at it again last week – is that no politician was more influential in launching the worldwide alarm over climate change than Margaret Thatcher. David Cameron, so the argument runs, is simply following in her footsteps by committing the Tory party to its present belief in the dangers of global warming, and thus showing himself in this respect, if few others, to be a loyal Thatcherite.

The truth behind this story is much more interesting than is generally realised, not least because it has a fascinating twist. Certainly, Mrs Thatcher was the first world leader to voice alarm over global warming, back in 1988. With her scientific background, she had fallen under the spell of Sir Crispin Tickell, then our man at the UN. In the 1970s, he had written a book warning that the world was cooling, but he had since become an ardent convert to the belief that it was warming. Under his influence, as she recorded in her memoirs, she made a series of speeches, in Britain and to world bodies, calling for urgent international action, and citing evidence given to the US Senate by the arch-alarmist Jim Hansen, head of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

She found equally persuasive the views of a third prominent convert to the cause, Dr John Houghton, then head of the UK Met Office. She backed him in the setting up of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, and promised the Met Office lavish funding for its Hadley Centre, which she opened in 1990, as a world authority on "human-induced climate change".

Hadley then linked up with East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) to become custodians of the most prestigious of the world's surface temperature records (alongside another compiled by Dr Hansen). This became the central nexus of influence driving a worldwide scare over global warming; and so it remains to this day – not least thanks to the key role of Houghton (now Sir John) in shaping the first three mammoth reports which established the IPCC's unequalled authority on the subject.

In bringing this about, Mrs Thatcher played an important part. It is not widely appreciated, however, that there was a dramatic twist to her story. In 2003, towards the end of her last book, Statecraft, in a passage headed "Hot Air and Global Warming", she issued what amounts to an almost complete recantation of her earlier views.

She voiced precisely the fundamental doubts about the warming scare that have since become familiar to us. Pouring scorn on the "doomsters", she questioned the main scientific assumptions used to drive the scare, from the conviction that the chief force shaping world climate is CO2, rather than natural factors such as solar activity, to exaggerated claims about rising sea levels. She mocked Al Gore and the futility of "costly and economically damaging" schemes to reduce CO2 emissions. She cited the 2.5C rise in temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period as having had almost entirely beneficial effects. She pointed out that the dangers of a world getting colder are far worse than those of a CO2-enriched world growing warmer. She recognised how distortions of the science had been used to mask an anti-capitalist, Left-wing political agenda which posed a serious threat to the progress and prosperity of mankind.

In other words, long before it became fashionable, Lady Thatcher was converted to the view of those who, on both scientific and political grounds, are profoundly sceptical of the climate change ideology. Alas, what she set in train earlier continues to exercise its baleful influence to this day. But the fact that she became one of the first and most prominent of "climate sceptics" has been almost entirely buried from view.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


No comments: