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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Denier weirdness: Wondering Willis Eschenbach has a touch of the sun at WUWT...

Sou | 3:51 PM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

Wondering Willis Eschenbach has a touch of the sun**. He is wondering if the sun can affect the temperature on Earth (archived here). He's been analysing the surface temperature to see if he can detect the effect of the solar cycle.

Now everyone here knows that the solar cycle does have a small impact on the amount of energy reaching the surface. The latest IPCC AR5 WG1 report states on page TS-21:

Satellite observations of total solar irradiance (TSI) changes since 1978 show quasi-periodic cyclical variation with a period of roughly 11 years. Longer-term forcing is typically estimated by comparison of solar minima (during which variability is least). This gives a RF change of –0.04 [–0.08 to 0.00] W m–2 between the most recent (2008) minimum and the 1986 minimum. There is some diversity in the estimated trends of the composites of various satellite data, however. Secular trends of TSI before the start of satellite observations rely on a number of indirect proxies. The best estimate of RF from TSI changes over the industrial era is 0.05 [0.00 to 0.10] W m–2 (medium confidence), which includes greater RF up to around 1980 and then a small downward trend. 
And elsewhere in section 5-8 :
Typical changes measured over an 11-year solar cycle are 0.1% for TSI and up to several percent for the ultra-violet (UV) part of SSI (see Section 8.4).

Willis can't find the signal because it's so tiny it's buried in the noise and he doesn't take out the other factors affecting surface temperature. (Nor would he read science. He prefers to try to figure things out for himself, which is why he gets into such a mess.)

Willis is a Gaia fan

Willis holds to a Gaia-style hypothesis, which he sets out as:
Which of course leads to the obvious question … why no sign of the 11-year solar cycles?
I hold that this shows that the temperature of the system is relatively insensitive to changes in forcing. This, of course, is rank heresy to the current scientific climate paradigm, which holds that ceteris paribus, changes in temperature are a linear function of changes in forcing. I disagree. I say that the temperature of the planet is set by a dynamic thermoregulatory system composed of emergent phenomena that only appear when the surface gets hotter than a certain temperature threshold. These emergent phenomena maintain the temperature of the globe within narrow bounds (e.g. ± 0.3°C over the 20th Century), despite changes in volcanoes, despite changes in aerosols, despite changes in GHGs, despite changes in forcing of all kinds. The regulatory system responds to temperature, not to forcing.
And I say that because of the existence of these thermoregulatory systems, the 11-year variations in the sun’s UV and magnetism and brightness, as well as the volcanic variations and other forcing variations … well, they make little difference.
Which is a circular argument. Willis doesn't say what causes the temperature change in the first place. In fact he's arguing that the earth is insensitive to forcing. Which would mean that there would be very little change in temperature and the earth would never get to any of his temperature thresholds.

Wild swings and roundabouts

But that's not what I'm writing about.  You may remember that Willis has often said (wrongly of course) that the surface temperature has varied by ± 0.3°C over the 20th Century and he's repeated that nonsense again today. He's never said where he's dug up that silliness from.  Here is a chart to show how wrong he is. The surface temperature just keeps on going up and up and up. It's not varying by ± 0.3°C at all:

Data sourceNASA GISS

What's two degrees among friends?

Today Willis wrote the following:
The earth’s temperature swings on the order of 6°C peak to peak over the course of a year. Why would it not respond over an 11-year period?

Then he changed his mind (without admitting to it) and wrote something different:
Despite the presence of the “near-infinite heat sinks” of the ocean and outer space, the global temperature changes by 4°C or so over the course of the year. And the hemispheres swing much more than that, 6°C for the southern hemisphere and a 13°C swing for the northern hemisphere.
 Heck, what's two degrees Celsius between friends at WUWT :)

[I've deleted some text here because, as Arthur pointed out I did some analysis using monthly anomalies, not monthly temperatures, which of course wouldn't show up actual differences over the year. How dumb is that! The above point still stands. Sou.]

From the WUWT comments

There is an awful lot of nonsense in the comments as you can imagine.  However, the first comment is from a rational human being.  Nick Stokes is the first cab off the rank and corrects just one of Willis' errors in the quote and says:
May 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm
“I hold that this shows that the temperature of the system is relatively insensitive to changes in forcing. This, of course, is rank heresy to the current scientific climate paradigm, which holds that ceteris paribus, changes in temperature are a linear function of changes in forcing." 
The standard climate science view is not that the climate is insensitive to changes in solar forcing, but that no significant changes have happened. That, while the sun is indeed the energy source, it is a very steady source. So no stability mechanism need be postulated.
Adding quickly:
OK, I can hear the protests – I mean no big oscillations in solar output in the period Willis is looking at.

To which Willis Eschenbach weirdly responds (extract - removed Nick's comment):
May 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm
Dear heavens, save me from pettifogging lawyers. Nick, the standard view is exactly what I said it was—that changes in temperature are a linear function of the changes in forcing. If you don’t understand that, read up on the supposed “climate sensitivity”. It has nothing to do with the sun at all. w.
What is Willis on about - does he not regard the sun as a forcing? That would be truly weird. Nick Stokes can't figure him out either, from the look of it, and says:
May 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm
Willis Eschenbach says: May 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm “Dear heavens, save me from pettifogging lawyers.”
No pettifog here. Your proposition is that a lack of sunspot cycle in the data supports a “dynamic thermoregulatory system”. I say that there was no significant change in forcing in the first place, so lack of observed response does not support thermoregulation.

Blue Sky says:
May 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm
Willis Eschenbach creates a straw man and than destroys it. Stick a feather in his hat.

You'll enjoy this comment. RoHa says, quoting Willis:
May 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm
“Unfortunately, the dang facts got in the way again”
They often do. I’ve told you before,you should leave those things alone and stick to pure speculation.

Roy Spencer doesn't bother pointing out that Willis' whole article is about chasing a phantom, but is enjoying the to and fro and says:
May 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm
Willis, I’m always happy to see someone other than myself pi$$ off a bunch of people. :-)

Because the topic is the sun, Lief Svalgaard joins in from time to time as usual. At one point he says:
May 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm
DaveR says: May 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm Put another way…. because the earth climate is not responding to the 11-year sunspot cycle (which we know is creating variable energy output) there must be some equally offsetting effect in the interface between the two systems.
No, the more likely reason is simply that the variation of the energy output is too small to have any significant effect.

Roy UK begs Willis to give him a clue as to what is causing the remarkably rapid rise in global temperature and says:
May 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm
So its not the sun. And it ain’t CO2. What in the world is it? C’mon Willis give us a clue…
Or is it just something that we should not worry about?

Louis has a bright idea to counteract nonsense like CO2 or Milankovitch forcings and says cosmic dust caused the ice ages:
May 24, 2014 at 6:36 pmIf it isn’t Sun cycles that cause changes to the climate, what other causes could there be?
Astronomers say we are currently located inside a low-density zone that is about 10 times lower in neutral atoms than the average of 0.5 atoms/cc elsewhere in the Milky Way on average. So what effect would there be if the solar system passed through a denser medium, such as an interstellar cloud? Could a higher-density zone block some sunlight from reaching Earth or have some other effect?
After a search, I found the following comment at
“When the solar system enters such a cloud, the first thing that will happen will be that the magnetic field of the Sun, which now extends perhaps 100 AU from the Sun and 2-3 times the orbit of Pluto, will be compressed back into the inner solar system depending on the density of the medium that the Sun encounters. When this happens, the Earth may be laid bare to an increased cosmic ray bombardment.”
Could passing through a cosmic dust cloud have caused ice ages in the past? If increased cosmic rays cause more clouds, couldn’t that cause cooling and possibly account for past ice ages? I have no idea one way or the other. I’m just throwing it out there because I haven’t seen any mention of such a possibility.

Our old mate, Roger Sowell talks about it being "prudent to act" (though Roger admits he knows bugger all) - and prepare for the ice age that cometh! (extracts):
May 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm
I agree that “it’s the evidence, stupid.” But, it is not the 11-year cycle that is the evidence of interest. the long-term solar cycles, of which we know very little, are the subject of interest, at least to me. They may or may not be regular cycles.
It is well-known that climate gets very cold when the sunspots disappear for decades on end. We have, as far as I know, no proven, accepted causal mechanism why the absence of sunspots causes the Earth to cool. There is the cloud and cosmic ray hypothesis, with cosmic rays modulated by the sun’s magnetic field.
Do we actually need a proven, causal mechanism before it is prudent to act?...
...In my May, 2012 speech to the chemical engineers in Southern California, I made the point that we have excellent correlations over hundreds of years that show weak sunspot cycles produce global cooling. ...

Mick draws an analogy and says:
May 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm
Willis, You can’t see the 100Hz AC if you stick a thermometer in the chicken soup coking on the hot-plate.
This doesn’t mean there is no oscillation of incoming energy, but the thermal inertia is acting as a low-pass filter…..
Also…. 0.5deg Celsius variation is significant for us humans, for our comfort. But looking at it in absolute terms, not much different between 300K or 300.5K ..about as much as in the Sun’s delta TSI ….me think.
(I hope my English is comprehensible enough…. apologize if it’s not, spell check struggle to understand my accent)

sabretruthtiger quoted Christopher Monckton (who joined the fray and opposed Willis), and sensibly, if somewhat incompletely, says that the sun (and volcanoes) would of course cause natural variation in climate (excerpt):
May 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm
...Nicely put, Mr Eschenbach put in his place somewhat.
Honestly there can surely be no other cause of natural variability other than the sun, it, along with axial tilt/proximity cycles can be the only causes of variability once electromagnetic and volcanic earth-based anomalies are discounted as the system is heat driven.
But what do I know, I’m not a climate scientist, Mr Eschenbach it would be extremely helpful if you could respond to Monckton’s assertions and give us an alternative to what drives natural variability.

There is a lot of nonsense in the comments, which you can read here, if you've nothing better to do.

** I couldn't find this on the internet, but in my part of the world having a "touch of the sun" means that a person has temporarily lost his marbles :D


  1. In the UK we'd also also describe 'having a touch of the sun' as 'going Doolally'. Thats an anglicisation of Deolali: an Indian town that had a British Army transit camp. It was infamous because newly arrived Brits would go out in the mid day sun with unfortunate results.

  2. I find it kind of amazing how little filtering there is at WUWT. One sees the most amazingly incompetent crankery presented with a straight face ...

    1. No filtering, they're desperate to keep the 'conversation' going. I have no idea who they think they're having a conversation with! Eschenbach is just recycling his own rubbish in that post.

  3. Hi Sou - I don't think you can get seasonal temperature variations from the anomaly numbers, they have the seasonal variations subtracted out (anomalies are calculated relative to climatological averages for each month. Not the whole year). You'd need to look at raw temperature data to find the seasonal changes.

    1. Of course you are correct, Arthur. The monthlies are the anomalies for the months, not the actual temps. What a dumbo I am. I'd better correct it before BS comes along :)

    2. Hey, we're human, we all make mistakes. Interesting how Watts and friends can never admit to their own though...

  4. OT have claimed the peter laux $10000 challenge but refuses to give his details so i can pursue further,

    1. Good luck with that, John. I hadn't come across that challenge before. Maybe he had a change of heart.

    2. he has gone into hiding my challenge was simple really

      1 the warming is unequivocal
      2 peter's comment : "all you have shown is the RF for CO2 not that it is human "
      3 law of conservation of matter is not debatable

      has blocked me............... trying to change the rules from the statutory declaration,

    3. Looks as if he's shifted his position a tad, acknowledging that CO2 is a radiative forcing.

      I see he's a train driver. I wonder did he ever drive a steam train? (He's probably old enough to have done so.)

      Does he know that when the coal that was shoveled in burnt it released CO2?


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