Sunspots, or lack of them

September 15, 2009 at 10:51 am | Posted in Climate, Climate Change, Sunspots | 1 Comment
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We may, if we are lucky see a rare thing in the next few days, it is just possible that a sunspot may appear as the sun rotates round, the SOHO Behind satellite seems to be recording activity at high latitude, which should indicate a cycle 24 spot.  We are now at day 13 of the current spotless run, we had a brief 4 day spotted run before this current spell, but before that we had a full 52 days without any spots at all.

This year to date we have had 206 spotless days, that’s 80% of the days this year (not that the sun knows what one of our years is), with a total of 717 spotless days since 2004. The average number of spotless days since records began is 485 days, so we are climbing the listings for quiet cycles.

There have been various comments about the strength of this cycle with much criticism of Hathaway at NASA.  What has happened is that his forecast is early, as he had forecasted a much quieter cycle 25 rather than 24.  The last 3 cycles, 21, 22 and 23 were strong and short, although 23 was weaker than 22 and 22 was weaker than the big 21, but now the sun has switched off, at least as far as sunspots are concerned.  There was a period earlier in the year where it looked as though this cycle was starting to take off, but that lasted just over 2 months and the slumber resumed.

What does this do to the climate? Records show that during the Dalton minimum and the earlier Maunder Minimum parts of Western Europe had shorter growing seasons and much colder winters. Parts of the Northern American Plains In the US and Canada were also substantially cooler.  This year, many US Mid West States were substantially cooler than the norm.  Parts of the UK have had a washout of a summer, with a jetstream that has been consistently further south than is normal for the time of year.   Viewing the way the climate has behaved in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres this year, it seems that the warmer weather from sub tropical zones seems to be drawn closer to the equator, with the colder polar zones expanding, from the poles, giving a small net cooling of the whole planet, but with large regional variations.

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Weather, Climate and Loans

April 6, 2009 at 11:32 am | Posted in Climate Change, Finance, Weather | Leave a comment
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Short termism. How many times have you heard that comment? Whether it\’s applied to stock market investors, or any other form of looking forward, it seems to be a particularly human condition. The reasons for short termism are many and varied, but I\’d like to concentrate on the type of thinking that is thought of as \”Group Think\” and see where it\’s applied to a very well known concept, man made Global Warming.

Recent Geological history shows us that, as recently as 12,000 years ago, large parts of the planet were covered in ice sheets up to a mile thick. The area covered included much of the North American continent, as far south as Chicago, Northern Europe, covering all of Scandinavia, significant parts of the Northern European Plain, and almost all of the area now filled by the North sea, as far south as the English North Norfolk Coast. In fact, the only part of Norfolk that has any significant elevation above current sea level is the terminal Moraine of that ice sheet. Many of the problems being talked about now in southern England where sea levels are rising is not due only to any l warming effect, but is primarily due to an isotactic rebound of the earths crust. The excess weight of al the ice actually deformed and depressed the crust. Once the ice had melted the crust rebounds back to it\’s equilibrium position This means that areas north of, approx. Manchester are lifting as the crust rebounds, but areas south of this are actually sinking as the crust pivots. This effect an be seen in other parts of the world as well, especially in Alaska.

Going again to the geological record, we see that the interglacials between the successive ice ages are generally quite short, in the region of 10-14,000 years, our current interglacial is at 11,500 +/- 500 years at the moment and we also see that when Glaciation occurs it is rapid, in the range of decades rather than centuries before summertime ice sheets are established. Once these summer ice sheets exist, they act as a positive feedback mechanism to the cold, keeping night time temperatures at or below freezing, even it the daytime tems rise above that. They also have the effect of increasing the albedo of the earth, this is a measure of how well the earth reflects the energy provided by the sun without absorbing it. So it could be said that a new plunge into cold is imminent, if not overdue.

What has this to do with Short termism? Simple, the \”Group Think\” that has been evident over the last 20 years has us all looking in the wrong direction, we should be looking at the potential problems with displacement of people south of their current home countries, rather than looking at the problems of Global Warming. A couple of things must be done to being to sort out the whole crazy mess that is the current debate about the world\’s climate.

First, we need to use a consistent set of data to provide evidence for, or against Global warming.

Secondly, trends in either direction must be recognised as such.

Thirdly, there must be a much longer term view taken on what variation there have been in previous epochs.

Weather is related to climate, but in much the same way that day to day spending is related to the paying off of a loan. Daily spending may vary by huge amounts day by day, whereas the payment of a loan is constant except for variations in interest rates. the interest rate goes up, repayments go up, interest rate goes down payment goes down. But this variation in payment may well affect the day to day spending, if the ineterst rate goes up, it means that the loan is more expensive, so the amount available to spend day by day goes down. This is a simple inverse rule, whereas with heat input from the sun, it\’s simply less heat = colder planet. As the amount of extreme UV from the sun decreases, and it has decreased by 6% since 1999, the atmosphere contracts, NASA is reporting less Atmospheric drag on Satellites, smaller atmosphere makes for a smaller heat collection area, therefore less heat being absorbed ad retransmitted downwards into the planet. Allied to this is an increase in Global Cosmic rays that increase cloud cover and we have a potential problem with cooling that has a positive feedback loop.

Sorry, once again I have too many things to say and not enough structure in what I’m saying.  “Group Think” was mentioned at the beginning of this post, and I believe most scientists have allowed themselves to be dragged into this “Group Think” on Global warming without applying rigorous scientific methods to their beliefs.  Just as, a few months ago, it was commented in the financial press that Sir Fred Goodwin of the Royal Bank of Scotland had a Board Room that, although there were no out and out “Yes Men”, he commanded the Board Room in such a way that they all acquiesced to his way of thinkin g. We can se the same sort of problem happening throughout science, where Isaac Newton, arguably Britains greatest scientist was reknowned for petty squabbles and arguing against anyone who questioned his views.

The fact is that science progresses when people question the orthodox, not agree with it.  The discussion of the effect of Galactic Cosmic Rays was first put forward just a couple of years ago and is still not well known outside scientific circles.  If the team concerned had bowed to the orthodoxy, they would either not have investigated, or not have published their results.

The fact is we need the free thinkers, too many have been pidgeon holed into a area of research and not allowed to comment outside their area of expertise. We need more people that can bridge subjects and join the dots between them.  As it stands today we have islands of knowledgein a sea where there are few navigable routes between the islands. We need to generalise without dumbing down.

So, we possibly stand on the edge of an Ice age and all our Governments want to Tax us for using Carbon based fuels.  I have no arguement with the idea that we should ALL live cleaner Greener lives and have less impact on the planet, however we need to remove the fear factor of Global warming from the Politics of today.

NASA, Climate And the MSM

March 18, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Posted in Climate Change, Politics, Science | Leave a comment
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Two different types of media show the difference between old and new journalism and the way that the Main Stream Media (MSM). MSM picks an idea and runs with it, casually ignoring facts while telling us what we should think by feeding us soundbites.

Look at the Guardian today with NASA’s James Hansen saying that “The Democratic Process isn’t working”. What Democratic Process? Where is my right to display what the Science really says rather than the sounbites that the MS cherry pick and feed us. Do they, the MSM, believe we cannot absorb the information? I know I can, as can most people at places like wattsupwiththat.

The Internet is seen as a place for anarchists, paedophiles and the like.  Well, I’m none of those, but I can find Science presented in as much detail as I can take.  Technical details, mathematical formulae, everything I need to get a better understanding of some of the complex problems around us.  There are, no doubt people that are much cleverer and those that have a much better grasp of the intellectual problems, but without the internet, I’d be condemned to looking in old books and have immense difficulties in getting information.

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