Month: January 2018

Chinese researchers claim they discovered a 500 year solar cycle that may affect climate

This new paper has done some interesting analysis, similar to what we’ve seen done here on WUWT by Willis Eschenbach. It will be interesting to see what he and our resident solar physicist, Dr. Leif Svalgaard have to say about it.


Earth Science Research; Vol. 7, No. 1; 2018

Lihua Ma, Zhiqiang Yin & Yanben Han – National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China


Direct observations of solar activity are available for the past four century, so some proxies reflecting solar activity such as 14C, 10Be and geomagnetic variations are used to reconstruct solar activity in the past. In this present paper, the authors use rectified wavelet power transform and time-averaged wavelet power spectrum to investigate long-term fluctuations of the reconstructed solar activity series. The results show an obvious quasi 500-year cycle exists in the past solar activity. Three reconstructed solar activity series from 14C variations confirm the periodic signals.

1. Introduction

Solar activity has a profound influence upon geodynamics processes, and the Sun directly or indirectly affects some terrestrial phenomena on the Earth. Some studies showed variation of solar activity closely relates to global and regional climate change (Rasmus, 2006; Miyahara et al., 2008; Mendoza & Velasco, 2009; Ogurtsov et al., 2013; Dergachev et al., 2016). After analyzing the solar variation, global and regional sea-surface temperature, Weng (2005) concluded that inter-annual and centennial climate change signals were not purely internal, but also external because of the existence of the solar activity cycle. Kilcik et al. (2008) made use of surface air temperature, pressure and tropospheric absorbing aerosol data as climate parameters and solar flare index data as solar activity indicator, to study effect of solar activity on the surface air temperature of Turkey. With Indian temperature series of more than one-hundred years, Aslam (2014) investigated the influence of solar activity on regional climate. Results indicated that the solar variation may still be contributing to ongoing climate change.

The solar activity can influence atmospheric circulation on various time scales, and variations of the atmospheric circulation then impact precipitation process in some areas (Ratnam et al., 2014). Ma et al. (2007) investigated the connection between Indian summer monsoon rainfall and solar activity series, and believed that the solar variation affects the Indian rainfall variation to some extent. Taking into account reconstructed precipitation series in Huashan mountain area of China and solar variation series, the influence of solar activity on the Huashan mountain precipitation to some extent was found (Ma et al., 2010).

More and more people attach importance to studies about long-term solar variation (Usoskin & Mursula, 2003; Yin et al., 2007; Ma, 2007, 2009). However, direct observations of solar activity in the past four centuries are insufficient to calculate the long-term solar variation. Some proxies including 14C, 10Be and geomagnetic variations can reflect the solar activity. Therefore, solar activity in the past can be reconstructed with these proxies. In this work, rectified continuous wavelet transform reveals quasi ~500-year cycle signals existing in the reconstructed solar activity series.

4. Conclusion

In this work, the reconstructed sunspot number series in the past are analyzed to research for quasi ~500-year cycle signals. Results of the rectified wavelet analysis show the obvious time-variable characteristics exist in the solar variation. Periodic amplitude of this cycle changes with time and it is not a cycle in the strict periodic sense but rather cyclicity with a varying time scale. The quasi ~500-year cycle may be a periodic signal in the solar activity, and attention should be paid to it when the long-term fluctuation in the solar variation is studied.

5. Discussion

Pollen record reflects the dynamics of vertical vegetation zones and temperature change. Using a high-resolution pollen record from a maar annually laminated lake in East Asia, Xu et al. (2014) revealed quasi ~500-year periodic cold-warm fluctuations over the past 5350 years. To investigate the possible influence of the quasi ~500-year signals of solar activity on the pollen record, we calculate scale-averaged wavelet power from 320- to 640-year of solar activity and pollen record series and plot it in Figure 3. Here the first principal component of principal components analysis (PCA F1) loadings of the pollen record series was de-trended using polynomial fit. The residuals are regards as the pollen variation.

The paper (open access) is here:

via Watts Up With That?

January 31, 2018 at 03:09PM

Magnetic Pole Swapping and Cooling

The Earth’s North magnetic pole has been wandering at 10-year intervals from 1970 to 2020, as seen in this animation from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

This post discusses solar and geologic magnetic pole swapping (not with each other of course) and the implications for humans. First the earth and later on the sun.

What On Earth?

Newsweek chose to report yesterday on earth’s meandering north pole as shown in the cool graphic above. That article (here) aims at sensational possible calamities, including high energy radiation, space particles, ozone depletion and electrical blackouts. A more sober assessment is provided by the conversation Why the Earth’s magnetic poles could be about to swap places – and how it would affect us By Phil Livermore and Jon Mound of U. Leeds.Excerpts below with my bolds.

The Earth’s magnetic field surrounds our planet like an invisible force field – protecting life from harmful solar radiation by deflecting charged particles away. Far from being constant, this field is continuously changing. Indeed, our planet’s history includes at least several hundred global magnetic reversals, where north and south magnetic poles swap places. So when’s the next one happening and how will it affect life on Earth?

During a reversal the magnetic field won’t be zero, but will assume a weaker and more complex form. It may fall to 10% of the present-day strength and have magnetic poles at the equator or even the simultaneous existence of multiple “north” and “south” magnetic poles.

Geomagnetic reversals occur a few times every million years on average. However, the interval between reversals is very irregular and can range up to tens of millions of years.

There can also be temporary and incomplete reversals, known as events and excursions, in which the magnetic poles move away from the geographic poles – perhaps even crossing the equator – before returning back to their original locations. The last full reversal, the Brunhes-Matuyama, occurred around 780,000 years ago. A temporary reversal, the Laschamp event, occurred around 41,000 years ago. It lasted less than 1,000 years with the actual change of polarity lasting around 250 years.
In 2003, the so-called Halloween storm caused local electricity-grid blackouts in Sweden, required the rerouting of flights to avoid communication blackout and radiation risk, and disrupted satellites and communication systems. But this storm was minor in comparison with other storms of the recent past, such as the 1859 Carrington event, which caused aurorae as far south as the Caribbean.

The simple fact that we are “overdue” for a full reversal and the fact that the Earth’s field is currently decreasing at a rate of 5% per century, has led to suggestions that the field may reverse within the next 2,000 years. But pinning down an exact date – at least for now – will be difficult.

Since 2014, Swarm—a trio of satellites from the European Space Agency—has allowed researchers to study changes building at the Earth’s core, where the magnetic field is generated.

Historically, Earth’s North and South magnetic poles have flipped every 200,000 or 300,000 years—except right now, they haven’t flipped successfully for about 780,000 years. But the planet’s magnetic field is at long last showing signs of shifting.

The Earth’s magnetic field is generated within the liquid core of our planet, by the slow churning of molten iron. Like the atmosphere and oceans, the way in which it moves is governed by the laws of physics. We should therefore be able to predict the “weather of the core” by tracking this movement, just like we can predict real weather by looking at the atmosphere and ocean. A reversal can then be likened to a particular type of storm in the core, where the dynamics – and magnetic field – go haywire (at least for a short while), before settling down again.

The difficulties of predicting the weather beyond a few days are widely known, despite us living within and directly observing the atmosphere. Yet predicting the Earth’s core is a far more difficult prospect, principally because it is buried beneath 3,000km of rock such that our observations are scant and indirect. However, we are not completely blind: we know the major composition of the material inside the core and that it is liquid. A global network of ground-based observatories and orbiting satellites also measure how the magnetic field is changing, which gives us insight into how the liquid core is moving.

Solar Pole Swapping Puts Earth to Shame

White lines show the magnetic field emanating from the sun’s surface. NASA


The sun as a whole also has a “global” magnetic field, oriented more or less north-south. So we can think of the sun as a large N-S magnet, like our Earth, but with smaller variously (but not randomly) oriented and continually evolving mini-magnets distributed over its photosphere (visible surface) and throughout its corona (extended atmosphere).

However, unlike our Earth, the sun’s large scale magnetic field flips over on a regular basis, roughly every 11 years. (Actually, Earth’s flips too, very irregularly. The last time was 780,000 years ago. But that’s another story.) Solar magnetic reversals occur close to solar maximum, when the number of sunspots is near its peak, though it is often a gradual process, taking up to 18 months.

A solar flare (the white patch on the sun), and an erupting prominence reaching into space, are features of our active sun, and place the size of Earth in context. NASA

Paul Cally solar physicist Monash U (here)

About the Current Quiet Sun

Euan Mearns considers the implications at Energy Matters The Death of Sunspot Cycle 24, Huge Snow and Record Cold  Excerpts below with my bolds.

8 meter snow depth in Chamonix in the shadow of Mont Blanc in the French Alps January 2018

It looks like the snow in this drift is ~ 8m deep. And this is in the valley, not in the high basins where the snow fields that feed the glaciers lie. Now it’s obviously far too early to begin to draw any conclusions. But IF we get a run of 3 or 4 winters that dump this much snow, it is not inconceivable for me to imagine Alpine glaciers once again beginning to advance. I’m totally unsure how long it takes for pressure in the glacier source to feed through to advance of the snout.

So what is going on? We’ve been told by climate scientists that snow would become a thing of the past. We’ve also been told that global warming might lead to more snow and less snow. And we’ve been told that warming might even lead to cooling. The competing theory to the CO2 greenhouse is that the Sun has a prominent role in modulating Earth’s climate that was so eloquently described by Phil Chapman in his post earlier this week. This theory simply observes a strong connection between a weak solar wind (that is expressed by low sunspot numbers) and cold, snowy winters in the N hemisphere. Uniquely, most of those who argue for a strong solar influence also acknowledge the overprint of anthropogenic CO2. The IPCC effectively sets the Sun to zero. The Sun is entering a grand solar minimum already christened the Eddy Minimum by the solar physics community.

Figure 2 It is crucial to look at the baseline closely that in 2009 actually touched zero for months on end. This is not normal for the low point of the cycle. Figure 3 shows how cycle 24 was feeble compared with recent cycles. And it looks like it will have a duration of ~10 years (2009-2019) which as the low end of the normal range which is 9 to 14 years with mean of 11 years. Chart adapted from SIDC is dated 1 January 2018.

Mearns provides this summary of his article Cosmic Rays, Magnetic Fields and Climate Change

Cosmic rays are deflected by BOTH the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields and there may also be variations in the incident cosmic ray background. Cosmogenic isotope variations, therefore, do not only record variations in solar activity.

This has two significant implications for me: 1) when I have looked into cosmogenic isotopes in the past I have been perplexed by the fact that in parts you see a wonderful coherence with “climate” (T≠climate) while else where, the relationship breaks down, and 2) my recent focus has been on variations in spectrum from the Sun (which may still be important) but to the extent that the Laschamp event (Earth’s magnetic field) may also be implicated in climate change then the emphasis needs to shift to cosmic rays themselves i.e. what Svensmark has been saying for years.

For readers not familiar with Earth’s magnetic field. It periodically flips but on a time-scale of millions of years. The N pole moves to the S pole and in the process of doing so the magnetic field strength collapses as evidenced by “Figure 7” in Phil’s post. The last time this happened was during the Laschamp event ~ 41,000 years ago. There was a full but short lived reversal, but the Earth’s magnetic field did collapse.

Now here’s the main point. We know that the glacial cycles beat to a 41,000 year rhythm that is the obliquity (tilt) of Earth’s axis. The magnetic field originates in Earth’s liquid mainly iron core. This raises the question, can changes in obliquity affect the geo-dynamo. You have to read what Phil has written closely:

Since we absolutely know (don’t we?) that the interglacial to glacial transitions of the current ice age are caused by Milankovitch forcing, the usual interpretation is that there must be some unknown mechanism by which changes in the orbit of the Earth and/or the tilt of the polar axis affect the geodynamo, triggering the excursions.

For decades to centuries, Earth’s N magnetic pole was pretty well fixed to a point in northern Canada. Not much in the news, but it has recently begun to migrate, quite rapidly.


Earth’s magnetic field, in blue, shields the planet from the solar wind. NASA

via Science Matters

January 31, 2018 at 01:39PM

Green Myth Exposed: China’s CO2 Emissions Jumped By 4% Last Year

By Paul Homewood



I reported back in November how provisional figures suggested that coal consumption was on the rise again in China, along with emissions of CO2.


Now, according to the NYT, official figures are confirming this:




DAVOS — Chinese President Xi Jinping galvanised supporters of the climate-change fight last year when he told an audience at the World Economic Forum that the effort “is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”

This week, as they gather again in Davos for the annual global gabfest, world leaders continue to see China as a major force in that fight.

Yet new figures show a complicating development: China’s emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases may be rising again.

China — which already emits more carbon from burning fossil fuels than the United States and Europe combined — saw electricity use jump last year as its economy accelerated.

Much of the extra demand was met by burning more coal, a particularly dirty fuel. Oil use has also risen as China has become the world’s largest car market, and so has natural gas consumption.

Experts say one annual increase doesn’t indicate China is returning to an era when its emissions grew by leaps and bounds. But the increase illustrates the challenges and compromises Beijing must juggle if it wants to stoke its economy and at the same time keep its environmental promises. […]

But China’s National Development and Reform Commission released detailed data this week showing that the country’s electricity consumption jumped 6.6 percent last year. Wind and solar energy grew quickly, but not nearly enough to meet the extra demand. Electricity generation from the burning of fossil fuels, almost entirely coal, rose 5.2 percent in China last year.

“The increase last year is a one-off — it’s not likely to be sustained — but Chinese emissions are not likely to go down, either,” said Trevor Houser, a partner at the Rhodium Group, a New York consulting group specializing in China. Rhodium estimates that China’s energy-related carbon emissions climbed last year 2.2 percent to 4.1 percent.

By contrast, China had somewhat weak industrial production in the second half of 2015 and the first half of 2016 because of a financial crisis. That hurt the Chinese economy and fossil fuel consumption in both years. China still burns coal to generate three-quarters of its electricity.


According to the NYT, China’s generation of electricity by wind power climbed by about one-quarter last year, while solar power jumped by three-quarters, Mr. Yan said.

But, of course, this is from a very low base of 4% and 1% respectively. The quoted increases would amount to 110 Twh.

Fossil fuel generation in 2016 was 4387 TWh, so an increase of 5.2% equates to 228 Twh.

Nobody seriously expects China’s energy demand or emissions to continue at the rapid rate of the early 2000s. Economic growth will progressively come from low energy intensive sectors.

Also the use of coal for domestic and local industrial purposes will be cut back, for genuine pollution concerns, just it was in western economies half a century ago.

Nevertheless, energy demand will continue to grow. While it does, renewable energy is unlikely to make much more than a dent in emissions.


January 31, 2018 at 01:39PM

Whoa! Scientific American excoriates Bill Nye

This was unexpected. Alarmists are starting to eat their own over Trump. From “Scientific American”, a once great magazine.

Bill Nye Does Not Speak for Us and He Does Not Speak for Science

By attending the State of the Union with NASA administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine, the Science Guy tacitly endorses climate denial, intolerance and attacks on science

By 500 Women Scientists on January 30, 2018

Tonight, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will accompany Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Trump’s nominee for NASA Administrator, to the State of the Union address. Nye has said that he’s accompanying the Congressman to help promote space exploration, since, he asserts, “NASA is the best brand the United States has” and that his attendance “should not be … seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community.

But by attending the SOTU as Rep. Bridenstine’s guest, Nye has tacitly endorsed those very policies, and put his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large. Rep. Bridenstine is a controversial nominee who refuses to state that climate change is driven by human activity, and even introduced legislation to remove Earth sciences from NASA’s scientific mission. Further, he’s worked to undermine civil rights, including pushing for crackdowns on immigrants,ban on gay marriage, and abolishing the Department of Education.

As scientists, we cannot stand by while Nye lends our community’s credibility to a man who would undermine the United States’ most prominent science agency. And we cannot stand by while Nye uses his public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science.

The true shame is that Bill Nye remains the popular face of science because he keeps himself in the public eye. To be sure, increasing the visibility of scientists in the popular media is important to strengthening public support for science, but Nye’s TV persona has perpetuated the harmful stereotype that scientists are nerdy, combative white men in lab coats—a stereotype that does not comport with our lived experience as women in STEM. And he continues to wield his power recklessly, even after his recent endeavors in debate and politics have backfired spectacularly.

Wow, harsh. Read the full excoriation here:

via Watts Up With That?

January 31, 2018 at 01:32PM