Sunday, July 12, 2015

Climate confusion

According to a UPI dispatch, Prof. Valentina Zharkova, of the University of Northumbria predicts that the Sun’s output will decrease by 60% by 2030, triggering a mini ice age. This is just 15 years in the future.

However, this prediction smells like bunk to me.

The normal fluctuation in the Sun's intensity, the 11-year sunspot cycle, has an amplitude of about 0.1%. By comparison, 60% is huge.

If the Sun's output decreased by 60%, what would be the resulting change in the Earth's temperature??

Here's a very rough estimate. Assume that the surface temperature is proportional to the Suns power output, raised to the 1/4 power.

Then a decrease of the Sun’s output by 60% would cause a new temperature proportional to

(1.0 - 0.6)0.25 = (0.4)0.25 = 0.79,

which means a decrease of 21% in the absolute (Kelvin) temperature.

Since the surface temperature is about 15 C or 288 K, the change in temperature of 21% is about 60 degrees C. It only took a decrease of about 7 or 8 C to cause the last Ice Age!!

The estimate could of course be refined, but it would not change the conclusion: If the Sun's output decreases by 60%, it would cause an extremely cold ice age.

IF (and it could be a big "IF") UPI* has accurately represented Prof. Zkarkova accurately,

then there are only two possibilities:

if Zharkova is right, the Earth is doomed to freeze to death in 15 years.

Or Zharkova could be mistaken.

*Dunno if it's still true, but at one time, UPI was owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, who do not exactly have a great reputation for accuracy.

Thomas Palm said...

The claim isn't that the intensity will drop by 60% but that the activity, as in sunspots, will drop. Then you are left with the uncertain connection between sunspots and climate, which is glossed over in the articles I've seen.

Happy Heyoka said...

Sounds like Prof Zharkova is talking about a reduction in overall output nonetheless...
from Science Daily:

"In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other -- peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun. Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other. We predict that this will lead to the properties of a 'Maunder minimum'," said Zharkova. "Effectively, when the waves are approximately in phase, they can show strong interaction, or resonance, and we have strong solar activity. When they are out of phase, we have solar minimums. When there is full phase separation, we have the conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, 370 years ago."

Assuming it's sound, how that's going to be interpreted out in the world - as an excuse for BAU or as a decade up our sleeve for mitigation - time will tell...

Fernando Leanme said...

The statement refers to "activity", not "output". Further reading here

http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13519/the-effects-of-solar-variability-on-earths-climate-a-workshop

And the physorg link

http://phys.org/news/2015-07-irregular-heartbeat-sun-driven-dynamo.html

I wouldn't get too excited about it. If we have a Maunder Minimum it will only buy a few decades or centuries breathing room. It does give us time to develop better technology.

Russell Seitz said...

Here is what she apparently said before the science journalists of UPI translated it into Moranese, the lingua franca of the Mooniverse and Murdochland:

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to derive the principal components (PCs) in variations of (i) the solar background magnetic field (SBMF), measured by the Wilcox Solar Observatory with low spatial resolution for solar cycles 21-23, and (ii) the sunspot magnetic field (SMF) in cycle 23, obtained by SOHO/MDI. For reduction of the component dimensions, principal component analysis (PCA) is carried out to identify global patterns in the data and to detect pairs of PCs and corresponding empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs). PCA reveals two main temporal PCs in the SBMF of opposite polarities originating in opposite hemispheres and running noticeably off-phase (with a delay of about 2.5 yr), with their maxima overlapping in the most active hemisphere for a given cycle. Their maximum magnitudes are reduced by a factor of 3 from cycle 21 to 23, and overlap in the Northern hemisphere for cycle 21, in the Southern one in cycle 22 and in the Northern one again in cycle 23. The reduction of magnitudes and slopes of the maxima of the SBMF waves from cycle 21 to cycle 23 leads us to expect lower magnitudes of the SBMF wave in cycle 24. In addition, PCA allowed us to detect four pairs of EOFs in the SBMF latitudinal components: the two main latitudinal EOFs attributed to symmetric types and another three pairs of EOFs assigned to asymmetric types of meridional flows. The results allow us to postulate the existence of dipole and quadruple (or triple-dipole) magnetic structures in the SBMF, which vary from cycle to cycle and take the form of two waves travelling off-phase, with a phase shift of one-quarter of the 11 yr period. Similar PC and EOF components were found in temporal and latitudinal distributions of the SMF for cycle 23, revealing polarities opposite to the SBMF polarities, and a double maximum in timing

Ethan Vishniac said...

Predicting the amplitude of the next solar cycle is a popular sport,
akin to popular dice games, but without the house percentage. Dr.
Zharkova might be right, but even so the implications for the Earth's
climate are minor.

Harry Twinotter said...

Even if a Maunder Minimum does occur, there is not much good evidence that it will affect the global climate much.

There has been some papers suggesting it might influence circulation patterns and thus affect the climate in some regions, but not global.

Fernando Leanme said...

I think Russel is thinking the drop in the ultraviolet will lead to lower ozone concentration, and this will alter circulation patterns, which in turn cools down North America and Europe by a few degrees C.

If we assume the land temperature will increase 1 degree from now until 2050 we could end up about 1 degree cooler than the temperature in the 1850s. That has a negative impact on warming for sure, because it drops humidity in the tropics. It should also lead to a very nice sea ice extent around Antarctica (I wouldn't dare guess about the Arctic ice).

It's going to get weird. But we may have been saved by the bell and the Pope can go back to the religious characters ready room.

Tom Gray said...

The reference to "conditions last seen during the Maunder Minimum" is ripe for misinterpretation. I'm guessing it was intended to refer to the sun, not our climate.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

I have NASA's listing of the annual sunspot number, and Svalgaard's TSI. The two have mutual figures for the period 1850-2007. r = 0.979, r^2 = 0.958. A very tight correlation. But the regression equation is TSI = 1365.51 + 0.0069 N. Mean N for the period is 55.7, so a 60% drop would change TSI from 1365.9 to 1365.7, or 0.2 W/m^2. Climate effects would be negligible.

EliRabett said...

No, she's playing the usual game of coy to the scientific community and not very coy to the public. The generic Random Russian (ok, she is Ukranian)

It also appears that she is overestimating historical changes in TSI based on old reconstructions

Anonymous said...

Curious. I'm pretty sure a lasting drop of 60 Celsius would produce an "iceball Earth".

Principal components of harmonics in time series are really tricky to interpret, in my experience. Principal components are, after all, a linear decomposition. Accordingly, a single harmonic might be represented in one component or nine (pulling a number out of the air). I wonder if uncertainty estimates were calculated? Yeah, I could read the paper, but I'd both need to find it and care enough to slog through.

It's interesting, but probably wholly unconnected, that the EOF/PCA technique is what was used during Professor Mann's investigation of tree rings so long ago which caused such a dust-up. In my personal reconstruction of that episode, what impressed me was a failing of readers to understand what Professor Mann and colleagues were doing from a statistical perspective. I wonder if a similar "hole of ignorance" will develop to surround this report.

David B. Benson said...

BPL has it right. Resulting forcing is a triviality.

Russell Seitz said...

If what Fernando thinks he knows about what I think is any measure, he doesn't know what he is talking about. In convective equilibrium, the solar surface radiates sixtysomething megawatts per square meter .

It will take a lot more than cosmetic changes to horse that kind of system around because is exothermic to the core

John said...

Thanks for the comments. My original article turned out to be confused, because when Zharkova said solar "activity" she didn't mean power (TSI) but sunspot activity. The original UPI dispatche, located here doesn't clarify things. So i have to eat a reasonably large portion of crow on that point

And if the Earth really has a mini-ice-age? During the Maunder Minimum, often dated from the latter half of the 17th century, the Sun had hardly any sunspots or faculae, and was less bright. If we had another cooling period, it would be detectable, but not a disaster.

Bernard J. said...

There's a discussion of this at Sou's:

http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2015/07/theres-only-two-year-reprieve-if-sun.html

You might not need a crow pie John - a little tart might do...

And yes, that parses two very different ways.

Fernando Leanme said...

hell, I must have been talking to the other Russel.

According to the other Russel the impact is multifaceted. The straightforward TSI reduction is 0.2 watts per m2. The other effect we have seen documented is the reduction in stratospheric ozone, due to reduced UV Rays. The reduced ozone changes stratospheric circulation and cools the northern hemisphere. The cooling effect is enhanced by feed backs, some model runs predict areas in the USA and Canada will be 6 degrees C cooler (this is from a GCM, so it's just a "might happen").

The overall impact cools large areas in North America, Europe, and Asia. The cooling effect in turn dries up the atmosphere, and this can cool the planet (however, the model results I saw show the ultra cooling takes place over land in the northern hemisphere).

A properly configured model using the reduced TSI and emissions from the Paris talks will show the planet cools and the northern hemisphere enters a Little Ice age. Voila.

Fernando Leanme said...

hell, I must have been talking to the other Russel.

According to the other Russel the impact is multifaceted. The straightforward TSI reduction is 0.2 watts per m2. The other effect we have seen documented is the reduction in stratospheric ozone, due to reduced UV Rays. The reduced ozone changes stratospheric circulation and cools the northern hemisphere. The cooling effect is enhanced by feed backs, some model runs predict areas in the USA and Canada will be 6 degrees C cooler (this is from a GCM, so it's just a "might happen").

The overall impact cools large areas in North America, Europe, and Asia. The cooling effect in turn dries up the atmosphere, and this can cool the planet (however, the model results I saw show the ultra cooling takes place over land in the northern hemisphere).

A properly configured model using the reduced TSI and emissions from the Paris talks will show the planet cools and the northern hemisphere enters a Little Ice age. Voila.

cRR Kampen said...

Just another climate revisionist. Just another instance of 'an ice age cometh' tripe.
Zharkova is not 'mistaken', that is presumption of innocence that is not there.

Fernando Leanme said...

Brother Kampen is right. Sharkova is guilty of Climate Revisionism, we must notify climate church authorities and hold a trial. I'll notify the climate inquisition and tell the climate monks to prepare the climate heretic wood pile.

cRR Kampen said...

Of course not. Leave it to the God of Droughts. E.g. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/WCAS-D-13-00059.1 and Sao Paulo is next.
If Magnum, P.I., is already stealing water then something must be going on in God's California, too.

Hank Roberts said...

Has anyone collected Fernando's back story somewhere? Given the certainty with which he tells us the future, it's likely he's been prognosticating for a few decades to develop such confidence in himself. A review would allow credit where due.

Fernando Leanme said...

Hank, it's a parody of famous scientists predicting absolute climate disaster by 2036 (you know, the one they got published in Scientific American). I do have a pretty good record on the foreign relations front, I predicted Clinton was lying about the Kosovo genocide, and that Baby Bush was lying about the Iraq WMD. Now I'm predicting the weather. Oh, and that RCP8.5 is hocus pocus.

KAP said...

UPI's source was the RAS, and I emailed the RAS on Friday to alert them that their press release was misleading, to say the least. Sadly, all I got was a form reply sticking by their story.

It's a sad, sad day for the RAS. It was they that used the word "solar activity" to describe the predicted 60% decline in sunspot numbers. One would think astronomers would know the difference. One would be wrong.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

FL: I predicted Clinton was lying about the Kosovo genocide

BPL: Wow, he predicted something that wasn't true! I'm not surprised to see FL defending fascists, though, since he is rather a fascist himself.

Kevin O'Neill said...

BPL - it was only forced relocation accompanied by rape, murder and other assorted maltreatments - but not, not I tell you - genocide. So there!

I, and half the world, knew that Sadaam didn't have any weapons of mass destruction (i.e., the half that was paying any attention).

On top of that, the sun came up again today - I'm on a streak of more than 15,000 days in a row being right predicting that.

Happy Heyoka said...

Sounds like I should stick to Velikovsky as my authority on solar physics then? :-^

Sou's write-up most informative.

Fernando Leanme said...

I like to bring up the Kosovo incident because it was a masterpiece of deception carried out by the USA and British governments in cooperation with the media. The USA started bombing in late March 1999. Now I challenge you to show me proof there was a genocide in late 1998 and early 1999. Also explain, if there was such a genocide why was the international tribunal unable to convict milosevic for said genocide?

Returning to the weather, Sharkova believes she has identified a mechanism which produces changes in solar activity and therefore TSI. We also have the results of at least two studies which investigate how TSI changes in the ultraviolet have unexpected impacts. If we read those studies we can see they show severe regional cooling, mostly in the northern hemisphere. It's clear that such models, if run with a more realistic emissions pathway (something like an RCP6 minus) , will yield severe cooling in North America and Europe. That's not my prediction. That's what can be seen in GCM results. I think the outcome will depend on the sun's behavior. If it goes quiet for 100 years we are going to have very cold winters.

luminous beauty said...

"Also explain, if there was such a genocide why was the international tribunal unable to convict milosevic for said genocide?"

Milosevic died before a verdict was reached. Duh.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Fernando - in the last months of 1998 and the first few of 1999 increasing reports of 'ethnic cleansing,' murder, rape, and other assorted maltreatments of Kosovar Albanians spurred NATO to intervene.

Those reports were by and large confirmed. It would be incorrect to call it genocide, but then again it was rather nipped early in the bud. Apparently 'ethnic cleansing' is OK by you. That says plenty about your morality. Why you feel vindicated by events is beyond me.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I think the lynch mob is out of control here. It should be obvious to anybody paying attention that Zharkova was talking about sunspots and sunspot activity - that's what the paper was about. Even the students who slept thru class should have figured that out if they read beyond the misleading headline.

Face it John - you jumped to an erroneous conclusion and ran with it. It happens to everybody. This was your turn.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Also, I note that although everybody is right that the changes in overall solar output in a minimum are small, that is not true of the UV and EUV components (as Fernando has mentioned).

These changes can affect lower stratospheric temperatures, tropopause heights, and potentially weather patterns.

see, e.g., http://www.space.com/19280-solar-activity-earth-climate.html

Russell Seitz said...

Sorry your porkship, but Zarkhova has since given an interview declaring she means an ice age is in the statistical works, so I'll have to ask Brian to pass the crow and the mustard , and John to check the soft money trail

Barton Paul Levenson said...

FL: Now I challenge you to show me proof there was a genocide in late 1998 and early 1999.

BPL: Let's just say I have it from someone who was there.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

FL: I think the outcome will depend on the sun's behavior. If it goes quiet for 100 years we are going to have very cold winters.

BPL: And if your mama had wheels, she'd be a trolley.

Hank Roberts said...

> severe regional cooling, mostly in the northern hemisphere.

And that of course can't be explained by the Exceptional twentieth-century slowdown in Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation because Conspiracy and because Anything but Climatology.

When you have eliminated anything but, it has to be the Sun.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

@Russell Seitz

Er, Nevermind.

She is a nut.

Hank Roberts said...

The press office at Moscow State University chimes in, and EurekAlert picks it up:

----excerpt follows-----
The arrival of intense cold similar to the one raged during the "Little Ice Age", which froze the world during the XVII century and in the beginning of the XVIII century, is expected in the years 2030--2040. These conclusions were presented by Prof. V.Zharkova (Northumbria University) during the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno in Wales by the international group of scientists, which also includes Dr Helen Popova of the Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics and of the Faculty of Physics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, professor Simon Shepherd of Bradford University (UK) and Dr Sergei Zharkov of Hull University (UK).
------------------------

Who are these people?

Fernando Leanme said...

Even, the reports were never confirmed. Milosevic was held on trial for many years (I believe five). That fact alone turns the trial into a soviet style monkey trial. The FACT that no genocide took place meant they could not convict. To cover up this FACT, the monkey court shifted gears and re indicted slobo for preDayton (non Kosovo crimes. These couldn't be linked to Slobo, so they stretched the trial waiting for the man to die.

Most of you grew up being taught a lie, or you swallowed it. It's like the Iraq WMD, but in this case it was Clinton doing the lying (which also means Clinton is a war criminal). My suggestion is to grow antennae to detect baloney instead of feeding on it. You will be outside the Matrix, and you will realize your tuna sandwich is fish scales.

Fernando Leanme said...

Here's a link to a webpage about the Kosovo incident seen from an American leftist point of view.

http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200005--.htm

I lived/worked in Russia in the 1990's, and my job required I be very well informed about political events (we were in those shifting sands between the Soviet collapse and the emergence of the Putin siloviki faction). Thus my sources at the time were both "western" and "non western". The information I saw in 1998 and 1999 made it clear the Kosovo incident was orchestrated, based on a lie, and this means mr Clinton can be considered a war criminal.

I'm anti communist simply because I fled communism, and I there's a vendetta undertone to the way I feel after the horrors I have seen. This means I don't particularly like Chomsky. However, Chomsky does have some good lines and can make good points , even though his morals are flexible. If you don't like Chomsky go look up Ramsey Clark's legal work regarding what happened in Kosovo.

Mr Levenson: my mother is dead.

cRR Kampen said...

On Kosovo and that trial my views are on line with Leanme's, based on what I saw while following both events real-time.
The case against Milosevic had indeed fallen apart shortly before he died. For this reason I've even found that death suspicious.

Not defending Milosevic who was a semi-fascist bastard, but fairness & realism first please.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

"If your mama had wheels, she'd be a trolley" is a traditional American sarcastic reply to a silly supposition.

I trust my source since he was there in Former Yugoslavia and you were not, and neither were Noam Chomsky or Ramsey Clark. Chomsky has denied mass murder before, as when he refused to admit for years that the new Cambodian government had murdered millions of people. He has also written a preface for Holocaust Denier Robert Faurisson's book. In short, I don't trust Chomsky as far as I could throw him.

Hank Roberts said...

"... the international group of scientists, which also includes Dr Helen Popova of the Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics and of the Faculty of Physics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, professor Simon Shepherd of Bradford University (UK) and Dr Sergei Zharkov of Hull University (UK)."

Seriously, how about a brief focus on climate?

As in -- who are these people?

John said...

Finally, the Washington Post weighs in with an article that lays the controversy to rest. A reporter who took the trouble to get comment from climate scientists. Zharkova refuses to say whether or not she is a climate change denier. No word about whether or not she believes in evolution.