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Jan 12, 2010

Weather extremes equal the sun of their parts ... or do they?

A frozen northern world and new heat records in the southern hemisphere are suddenly making the impact of a deep solar minimum on the world’s weather a politically correct topic.


A frozen northern world and new heat records in the southern hemisphere are suddenly making the impact of a deep solar minimum on the world’s weather a politically correct topic.

Yet a year ago I was attacked in Crikey by global warming experts for daring to suggest, in Crikey, that something odd was happening on the sun.

It should emphasised, science has not yet linked the big freeze to the “quietest sun” since 1913 but the historical coincidences between supposedly insignificant deep solar minimums and cold weather are under review and references to them as being factors in very cold winters are appearing in places where they were previously dismissed out of hand.

The big freeze across Europe and parts of North America has energised the climate-change deniers just as the fierce dry heatwaves of this summer have encouraged global warming warriors to attack opponents of the government’s ETS, even though it was useless and dishonest in addressing what is a crisis in fossil carbon pollution of the atmosphere.

The issue for serious climate science now includes possible linkages between the appearance of an Arctic oscillation that no one predicted but that drove frigid air across Europe  and much of middle and eastern North America,  and the solar lull that has just ended.

As explained in this Clarifier, the sun blind-sided the situation by extending its normal 11-year cycle of activity to 13 years, reaching its nadir in old cycle sunspot activity in the second half of last year instead of mid-2007 as expected.

Not since the even deeper solar minimums of 1901 and 1913 had the sun been so quiet. And between or near  them, which was the first time since the Dalton Minimum of 1890-1830 that two or more such notable minimums occurred in sequence, the weather in Australia, Europe and North America produced some very harsh winters and very balmy summers.

These events included the Niagara Falls freezing solid upstream,  downstream and in situ, and several exceptional snow outbreaks in the eastern states of Australia and South Australia.

But there was no glacial response. The temperate glaciers of New Zealand and Europe continued to gradually down waste. The summers offset the severity of the winters. And the inexorable rise of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, which can be traced to the pre-industrial embrace of forest clearing, charcoal making and cement production, continued without variability, rising from 296 ppm in the Law Dome ice cores in 1901 to more than 300 ppm in 1913.

This solar minimum, which was recently ended by strongly rising numbers of new cycle sunspots, coincides with about 390 ppm of CO2 attributed to the inability of the natural carbon dioxide exchange cycles to cope with the outpourings from fossil fuel consumption, as well as synthetic halons never before seen in the atmosphere.

By April last year the GISS was acknowledging  that something was going on with the sun, but also that it was of no comfort to climate-change deniers either.

It was time, according to GISS director James Hansen, to seriously study a solar phenomenon (or lack of it), that closely tracked the prolonged cool periods of the Little Ice Age, using tools in space and on earth never available to the astronomers of the Elizabethan Age or the latter Serenissima.

Will the deep solar minimum of 2009 be followed by another, like that of 1913 after 1901, or will the solar cycle now on the upswing revert to normal, and reverse or erase whatever respite the last minimum was contributing to an overheated world.

That is a very alarming question for science and humanity to consider, and as solar physicists failed to predict the behaviour of the sun in the last cycle, no one is offering any answers with confidence just yet.


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29 thoughts on “Weather extremes equal the sun of their parts … or do they?

  1. Most Peculiar Mama

    What is most hilarious is the Warmenists repeated refusal to acknowledge the glowing orb in the sky as having any impact on global climate AT ALL.

    Instead, their sacraments are GIGO computer models and “peer-reviewed” ‘scientific’ theories that shape shift like the changing (rising?[LOL]) tides depending on the time of the month.

    You can’t get a much more stupider religious rapture than that.

    Even the druids were smart enough to know the role the Sun played in their lives and fortunes.

    And their earthly legacy has majestically stood the test of time.

  2. Virro

    Mad mama please stop naval gazing and limit your rants to the long term scientific outlook – admittedly flawed but still better than your Dirty Digger-like diatribes.

    Druids disappeared over 2,000 years ago and did not leave a written history. We rely on roman accounts of their beliefs. Let us hope that something similar will apply to you and yours in the centuries to come.

  3. Evan Beaver

    Really Mama? What I find most hilarious is when you make ‘factual statements’ that can easily be refuted by using the internet.

    IPCC “repeated refusal to acknowledge the glowing orb in the sky as having any impact on global climate AT ALL”. Oh? really?


    Now, please, for my entertainment, go over to the Hamilton article and defend Monckton.

  4. Most Peculiar Mama

    Try harder Evan:

    “No Sun link to Climate Change: IPCC”


  5. heavylambs

    To echo Evan,MPM,why do you make such easily refuted proclamations? The IPCC reports repeatedly and profusely acknowledge only that the climate system is a PRODUCT of the interplay of many factors. How could it be any other way? Your earthly legacy of stupid is far more resilient than the druidic legacy of whatever.

  6. Most Peculiar Mama

    Try harder Evan:

    “No Sun link to Climate Change: IPCC”


  7. Most Peculiar Mama

    @ heavylambs

    You’ve had your arse handed to you so many times on this topic yet you keep coming back.

    If not for the general hilarity your ‘posts’ provide on an otherwise dull day I wouldn’t even bother replying.

    But I can’t help myself.

  8. Evan Beaver

    Are you joking? I provide you a link to the actual IPCC website that discusses the link between solar activity and radiative forcing, which completely refutes your statement that “repeated refusal to acknowledge the glowing orb in the sky as having any impact on global climate AT ALL”, and then try again, by showing me a paper that shows that the IPCC have studied the effects of sun? What on earth are you smoking?

  9. Pete WN

    Oh dear – MPM, is the Christmas wine still making its way through the system? Or did no-one turn up to your New Years Eve poetry recital? Either way, the earthly legacy of my amusement will majestically stand the length of this article; thanks for the laugh.

  10. Ben Sandilands

    Er, in between volleys, I need to correct a typo. The Dalton Minimum was 1790-1830.

    OK, please continue. This is more fun than anything else on immediate offer.

  11. bitpattern

    Peculiar Mamma – Saying that solar activity can’t explain the last forty years of warming is NOT the same as saying the sun has no impact on global climate AT ALL. With comprehension problems like this it is little wonder you don’t “believe” in all that “science”.

  12. bitpattern

    Sandilands – The Dalton Minimum also coincided with high volcanic ativity and increased albedo, it’s little wonder it got so cold.

  13. Most Peculiar Mama


    …from my link:

    “…This paper reinforces the fact that the warming in the last 20 to 40 years can’t have been caused by solar activity,” said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of climate science.

    The IPCC’s February summary report concluded that greenhouse gases were about 13 times more responsible than solar changes for rising global temperatures.

    But the organisation was criticised in some quarters for not taking into account the cosmic ray hypothesis, developed by, among others, Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Danish National Space Center…”

    Tsk tsk.

  14. bitpattern

    LOL, the beeb isn’t a ‘paper’, MPM!

    And, I’ll repeat what I said before, saying that solar activity can’t be responsible for the last forty years of warming isn’t the same as saying it has no effect at all. Insolation as a climate forcing is well understood and recognised.

  15. Ben Sandilands

    BITPATTERN is right. However the volcanic event in Indonesia associated with the ‘year without summer’ occurred midway through the Dalton.

    Which raises the wicked thought, is there any correlation between patterns in solar behaviour and a discernible seismic response. OK, the chances of this seem utterly unlikely, and sort of verges on the madness of attributing events to planetary alignments, but what if the internal electrical dynamics of a star ‘could’ affect those of a planet with a molten core.

    OK, will go back to my cell and keep quiet now…..

  16. scottyea

    Thank you Ben, this is the most credible and coherent comment on climate change I’ve heard or read in oh, about eight years.

    That was when my geography lecturer, a professor at UWA, pointed out that the climate in general (climate meaning the natural systems for redistributing the sun’s energy throughout the globe) is way, way, waaay big, and that we are way, way, waaaaay teeny tiny – and that climate cycles may extend far, far beyond durations that we might think sensible, or even possible.

    Australian society’s capacity for quick and sensible adaptive measures needs to be examined…that seems more sensible than hollywoodesque plans to engineer the weather (to suit us, I might add).

  17. Most Peculiar Mama


    Can you even read?

  18. Most Peculiar Mama

    @ Ben Sandilands

    “…is there any correlation between patterns in solar behaviour and a discernible seismic response….”

    Interesting point.

    If the moon – with one-sixth the gravitational pull of Earth – controls our oceans and tides maybe the people of Tuvalu need to charter one of Dick Branson’s coconut-fueled rocket ships and blow it up?

    That’s about as smart a suggestion as Tim Flummery has of firing sulphur pellets into the air from the top of Centrepoint Tower.

  19. Ben Sandilands

    Although not relevant to real challenges global warming, there is something I’d recommend to those who visit our best art galleries. Seeks out the rooms where the painters worked between 1400 and the late 1700s. They did not know it but they saw the Little Ice Age. They lived through prolonged episodes of minimal solar activity. Those incredible skies full of towering clouds in the Turners, and the ice fields on the Umbrian and Pennine hills, in high summer, over the shoulders of the portraits of wealthy Venetian traders or high clerics, are not affectations. That are how it was. These are the clouds and skies of our planet in a minor glacial episode within the current interglacial. These works also contain accurate indications of the prevailing albedo in climatic zones where science can reconstruct reasonable measures of the weather of the times, and even the movement in tree lines and flora that exhibits prompt responses to more heat or cold or sunlight.

    The ‘light’ in the 21st century is decidedly different that of the 15th-late 18th, and even in the 19th, when there seems to have been a larger range of extremes in many parts of a world where art and literature yields clues to the everyday weather.

    In short, you can visit the Little Ice Age in almost any art gallery of size whenever you wish.

  20. merlot64

    As summarised on http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm

    ” * Erlykin 2009: “We deduce that the maximum recent increase in the mean surface temperature of the Earth which can be ascribed to solar activity is 14% of the observed global warming”
    * Benestad 2009: “Our analysis shows that the most likely contribution from solar forcing a global warming is 7 ± 1% for the 20th century and is negligible for warming since 1980.”
    * Lockwood 2008: “It is shown that the contribution of solar variability to the temperature trend since 1987 is small and downward; the best estimate is −1.3% and the 2σ confidence level sets the uncertainty range of −0.7 to −1.9%.”
    * Lockwood 2008: “The conclusions of our previous paper, that solar forcing has declined over the past 20 years while surface air temperatures have continued to rise, are shown to apply for the full range of potential time constants for the climate response to the variations in the solar forcings.”
    * Ammann 2007: “Although solar and volcanic effects appear to dominate most of the slow climate variations within the past thousand years, the impacts of greenhouse gases have dominated since the second half of the last century.”
    * Lockwood 2007: “The observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen after 1985 cannot be ascribed to solar variability, whichever of the mechanism is invoked and no matter how much the solar variation is amplified.”
    * Foukal 2006 concludes “The variations measured from spacecraft since 1978 are too small to have contributed appreciably to accelerated global warming over the past 30 years.”
    * Scafetta 2006 says “since 1975 global warming has occurred much faster than could be reasonably expected from the sun alone.”
    * Usoskin 2005 conclude “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.”
    * Solanki 2004 reconstructs 11,400 years of sunspot numbers using radiocarbon concentrations, finding “solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades”.
    * Haigh 2003 says “Observational data suggest that the Sun has influenced temperatures on decadal, centennial and millennial time-scales, but radiative forcing considerations and the results of energy-balance models and general circulation models suggest that the warming during the latter part of the 20th century cannot be ascribed entirely to solar effects.”
    * Stott 2003 increased climate model sensitivity to solar forcing and still found “most warming over the last 50 yr is likely to have been caused by increases in greenhouse gases.”
    * Solanki 2003 concludes “the Sun has contributed less than 30% of the global warming since 1970”.
    * Lean 1999 concludes “it is unlikely that Sun–climate relationships can account for much of the warming since 1970”.
    * Waple 1999 finds “little evidence to suggest that changes in irradiance are having a large impact on the current warming trend.”
    * Frolich 1998 concludes “solar radiative output trends contributed little of the 0.2°C increase in the global mean surface temperature in the past decade”

  21. Robert Garnett

    Hey! Sun warms earth and sonmetime more than at other times. Known to cause sunburn on bald pates. Answer wear a hat. UV and visible radiation falling on head falls to negligible levels. Replaced by re-radiation from hat as infra red.

    Whoa! Whats going one here. Can it be that somthing as simple as a hat can render the sun harmless?

    Not according to the skeptics. You will have to wait for another sun minimum before you venture outdoors.

    On another note. I read an article of the AGW which claimed that CO2 is colorless, odourless and non toxic gas. Hello.?

    The atmosphere is 76% Nitrogen 21% O2 with other small amounts of gas making up the balance. Now anyone with year 11 chemistry knows Nitrogen is an inert gas. They also know that CO2 when dissolved in water forms carbonic acid although like Nitrogen it will not support combustion. Question for skeptics what would happen to the worlds population if we could instantly replace all of the Nitrogen with CO2 whilst keeping the O2 at 21%.

    What would happen if we replaced only 20% of the Nitrogen with CO2.

    No I’m not talking carbon MONOXIDE and I am not talking about climate change. I am talking toxicology.

    Answer please.

  22. New Cassandra

    @Robert Garnett
    you are on some great drugs, man!

  23. Ben Aveling

    @Most Peculiar Mama

    From your link:

    “The IPCC’s February summary report concluded that greenhouse gases were about 13 times more responsible than solar changes for rising global temperatures.”

    They don’t say there is no effect, just that it is relatively minor.

    Yes, the heading is “‘No Sun link’ to climate change”. But that’s the BBC. If you think that what a journalist says about someone’s views is always accurate, well, more fool you.

  24. bitpattern


    Can you even read?”

    Better than you can evidently! :p

    Now, are you willing to admit your understanding of what climate scientists actually say about the sun and climate is mistaken?

    And if you have misunderstood a point as basic as that, will you admit that maybe, just maybe, you’ve misunderstood other aspects of what climate scientists are saying?

  25. bitpattern

    Sandilands – Just a couple of points, I don’t think anyone has ever denied that the LIA was largely driven by low solar activity, but that low solar activity was exacerbated by the high volcanic activity of the time and, if I’m not mistaken, there was more than just the Krakatoa eruption that contributed to the high albedo rates.

    Also, is there not a school of though that suggests sulfate particulates generated by the industrial revolution could have played some part?

    But the important thing not to lose sight of here is that, despite the deep solar minimum we are currently coming out of, the last few years have still been record high temps, which supports the idea that solar activity is a minimal determining factor when compared against the rapid increase in CO2 concentrations.

    Anyway, this chapter from Fagan (1999) gives a run down on the ‘remarkable’ volcanic activity during the LIA (“an aver­age of five major eruptions per century that equaled the intensity of the Krakatoa eruption”)


  26. John Bennetts

    MPM, I don’t buy what you are selling, but please tell me what you are smoking.

  27. Earl_E

    If you suggested a year ago that the sun was doing something odd, like a sunspot minimum, your definition of “odd” is in question.

    If You awoke this morning and breathed, would that also be odd?

    To suggest that 1913 was a long time ago in solar years is incorrect.

    As we learned during the 1930s, farming practices can yield large black storms that run for months at a time. Soil conservation stopped the dustbowl, but it took a decade.

    The issues that science deals with is a growing list.

    The most important relationship discovered yesterday and coming out over the next weeks is about the relationship between the Gulf Stream and the Bering Strait.

    When the Bering Strait is closed due to sea-level dropping, the Gulf Stream picks up speed and transports more heat into the North Pole. This eventually melts the pole, raises sea level, and opens the Bering Strait.

    Once the Pacific fresher water inundates the North Atalantic via the Artic ocean, the salt-water pump that drives the Gulf Stream slows and this send us back to another ice age.

    Right now the Gulf Stream has slowed 30% and will continue until ice expands enough to lower sea level enough to close the Bering strait.

    Then the process repeats.

    We are in a slowing of the Gulf Stream, we are heading for the next ice age. However by rapidly assisting in melting of the ice, we can bring about this ice age much faster by de-salinizing the Norrth Atlantic, which we are with black carbon, nitous oxide, methane, and CO2.

    Maybe this is the big shift to what was predicted in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.”

    Let’s hope not.

  28. Ben Sandilands


    The science you reference is widely respected and quoted. Nevertheless, the general coincidence of quiet suns with colder weather has encouraged some researchers to wonder what is being missed (if anything)?

    Although it was once considered perhaps too speculative, the GISS and NASA have referred to the possible consequences of the associated drop off in the strength of the solar wind, which allows cosmic radiation influences on the earth to increase. The solar wind was described by NASA last year as having fallen to its lowest levels on record, which was not surprising, since it is only in modern times that we’ve been able to closely study and monitor it.

    Mainstream research into cosmic radiation influences on the formation of tenuous high altitude clouds which may in turn affect weather is being conducted, notably in the CERN Cloud experiment.

    This tension between observation and theory, and the need to identify and explain discrepancies, drives good research.

  29. bitpattern

    “The science you reference is widely respected and quoted. Nevertheless, the general coincidence of quiet suns with colder weather has encouraged some researchers to wonder what is being missed (if anything)?”

    By “colder” weather, are you talking about mean global temperatures that are among the top 10 ever recorded?

    And by “some researchers”, do you mean the same researchers that have ben unsuccessfully trying to demonstrate a link for over 15 years now?


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