Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jo Nova's Solar Force be With You - if you're a wacko science denier

Sou | 11:06 PM Go to the first of 36 comments. Add a comment

...solar and volcanic forcings, the two dominant natural contributors of climate change since the pre-industrial time.

I was pointed to Jo Nova's wacky blog today. Jo Nova is the screen name of a born again science denier from Western Australia, who comes up with some of the more outlandish "theories" you'll see about global warming (ie crazy, unscientific nonsense of the wackadoodle variety).

She was waxing sarcastic about the influence of the sun on climate (archived here). Jo was trying to tell her readers that climate scientists ignore the impact of the sun on the earth. So I thought that while WUWT is deep in conspiracy theory land, I'd hit Jo's silliness on the head.

IPCC on solar irradiance

The quote up top is not from Jo's blog, as if you couldn't guess that already. It's too sensible. It's from Chapter 8 of the latest IPCC report on climate. There is a whole heap more about natural drivers of climate where that came from. For example from page 688 there is discussion of solar variability, volcanic forcing and asteroid impacts:
Several natural drivers of climate change operate on multiple time scales. Solar variability takes place at many time scales that include centennial and millennial scales (Helama et al., 2010), as the radiant energy output of the Sun changes. Also, variations in the astronomical alignment of the Sun and the Earth (Milankovitch cycles) induce cyclical changes in RF [radiative forcing], but this is substantial only at millennial and longer time scales (see Section Volcanic forcing is highly episodic, but can have dramatic, rapid impacts on climate. No major asteroid impacts occurred during the reference period (1750–2012) and thus this effect is not considered here. This section discusses solar and volcanic forcings, the two dominant natural contributors of climate change since the pre-industrial time.

One of the reasons I've not written much about solar radiation is that it's such a highly specialised field, full of jargon that has to be learnt. I'd want to become much more familiar with the subject before attempting to explain the ins and outs in a blog article. The reason I'm writing this now is because science deniers often like to claim that climate scientists disregard solar influence on climate. With all that follows and more, you can tell that's balderdash. There is a huge amount of effort and investment that has gone into learning about the sun and its influence on our climate.

Solar acronyms galore

Most of the IPCC report's section on solar radiation is not for novices or the general public. It requires at least a working knowledge of more acronyms than you could ever wish for, like:
  • TOA - top of atmosphere - the outer limits of the atmosphere of earth
  • TSI - total solar irradiance, which is the amount of energy from the sun at the point it hits our outer atmosphere
  • TIM - total irradiance monitor, which measures the amount of solar irradiance hitting earth, and is carried on SORCE (see next)
  • SORCE - Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, which is a NASA satellite carrying TIM (see previous) as well as three other instruments including the Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM), Solar Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE), and the XUV Photometer System (XPS).
  • PMOD - Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos, which is another record of TSI (total solar irradiance). It's an interesting one, with its roots in tuberculosis research.
  •  ACRIM -  Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor, records TSI using satellite-based sensors developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
  • RMIB - Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, for which a search led me to a page on GERB or geostationary Earth radiation budget, more satellite-based instruments for monitoring TSI and other things. (The English version of GERB seems to have been written by someone for whom English is not a first language, so it's a bit hard to follow.)
  • PREMOS - PREcision MOnitor Sensor (PREMOS) which is a ground-based instrument from PMOD (see above)
  • SOHO - Solar and Heliophysics Observatory - a NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft "designed to study the internal structure of the Sun, its extensive outer atmosphere and the origin of the solar wind, the stream of highly ionized gas that blows continuously outward through the Solar System".
  • and many, many more.

In researching solar influence on climate, you'll come across some of the ugliest websites ever built. Solar scientists wouldn't win any prizes as graphic designers, that's for sure :) (I see that SORCE has improved its website recently.)

Recording solar irradiance

If you can get past all the acronyms, you'll be faced with concepts like drift in calibration (of instruments), gaps in data collection and the fact that at least some of the TSI records are composites. That is, they've been constructed from different sources. Some records are considered more accurate than others. Chapter 8 of the IPCC report (WGI AR5) states that most climate models were using an outdated estimate of TSI (total solar irradiance), but because the difference is only a few tenths of a per cent, it doesn't make a huge difference to climate projections. And in any case "the larger uncertainties in cloud properties have a greater effect on the radiative balance".

Chapter 8 of AR5 has a couple of figures that are of interest when it comes to climate change. This first one is total solar irradiance since the late 1970s, averaged annually:

Figure 8.10 | Annual average composites of measured total solar irradiance: The Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor (ACRIM) (Willson and Mordvinov, 2003), the Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos (PMOD) (Frohlich, 2006) and the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMIB) (Dewitte et al., 2004).These composites are standardized to the annual average (2003–2012) Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) (Kopp and Lean, 2011) measurements that are also shown. Source: IPCC AR5 WG1

The chart shows the differences between the different records - ACRIM, PMOD, RMIB and TIM. The differences aren't huge. It looks to be less than 1/1361 Wm-2 max.

The next chart is looking back to 1745, around the beginning of the industrial revolution.

Figure 8.11 | Reconstructions of total solar irradiance since 1745; annual resolution series from Wang et al. (2005) with and without an independent change in the background level of irradiance, Krivova et al. (2010) combined with Ball et al. (2012) and 5-year time resolution series from Steinhilber et al. (2009) and Delaygue and Bard (2011). The series are standardized to the Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos (PMOD) measurements of solar cycle 23 (1996–2008) (PMOD is already standardized to Total Irradiance Monitor). Source: IPCC AR5 WG1

What the second chart shows is the lull around the late 18th century, then a fairly steady TSI leading up to a high in the mid to late twentieth century. It also shows the current TSI as lower again, being around the same as the early twentieth century. So if "it's the sun", then global surface temperatures should be around what they were in the 1930s or so. Instead they are much, much hotter.

The Resurrection of The Notch

Jo Nova and her partner, the Rocket Scientist from Luna Park, haven't given up on their Force X and the Notch, which they reckon comes from the sun. They still want to persuade anyone silly enough to believe them, that global cooling is about to come - any day now. Jo wrote, furiously panhandling:
David’s solar notch delay theory, which predicts cooling, by the way, is doing very well. We’ll be discussing an update and more news on his theory that TSI is a leading indicator (but not a direct cause) of temperature changes on Earth in up and coming posts. Energetic particles, solar winds, changes in radiation and magnetic fields, are all candidates for the force (or forces) that influence Earth’s climate, but are delayed by half a full solar cycle (of ~22 years) from changes in the TSI. Previous problems with Fourier transform approximations have been fixed, and a delay is indeed implied by the notch. Sorry about the big gap in publications on it, there is something scientifically big going on (separate from the ND solar theory) behind the scenes and he prefers to work with a low profile rather than in the “blood sport” distraction that publicity brings. Thanks to all the people who support our ground breaking research. Donations to this blog keep us both going. To the team who make independent science and independent science commentary possible — We’re very grateful, we can’t do this without you.

I'm not too excited. Given that their promised cooling by 2014 turned out to be the hottest year on record so far, there's not much chance that their denier predictions of ice ages comething will eventuate in the next 50,000 years or so. Not unless there's an asteroid that crashes into earth, or a few supervolcanic eruptions, or maybe an all out nuclear war. Any and all of which are more likely than Jo and her Rocket Scientist partner from Luna Park writing a coherent treatise on their mysterious Force X and the Notch causing global cooling.

From the comments at blog Nova

The main article was supposed to be about "the first high-resolution images of the flaring magnetic structures known as solar flux ropes at their point of origin in the Sun’s chromosphere".  With Jo implying they are causing climate change, or something. Yet you'd think the comments were from deniers of thirty years ago. There are endless references to Galileo and Alfred Wegener. Oodles about ice cores proving something or other. At least one comment quoting Albert Einstein and it only takes one (they are still waiting for the "one"). However Drs. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren were noticeable by their absence, despite the blogger being from Western Australia. Oh, and there was the essential reference to cosmic rays causing climate change - not! Here's a sample:

Like most of the inhabitants at Nova's place, TdeF is off with the fairies
April 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm · (excerpt)
...There has been no warming for nearly 20 years. Possibly none in the 1980′s/90s after all and none in the 20 years before that. In fact there may not have been any warming in the 20th century! There is almost no man made CO2 in the air. Galileo was locked up because of his observation and plotting of sunspots and solar rotation. Still the fundamental concern driving these discussions is man made Global Warming, not sunspots.

Yeah, right!

Data source: GISS NASA

el gordo writes, after the hottest year on record, and the hottest three months on record that:
April 29, 2015 at 10:08 pm
It appears cooling has already begun. Two datasets agree its not a plateau, more a slippery slope.

If you think deniers at WUWT live on another planet, those at Jo's place live in a different universe. Tom O wrote:
April 30, 2015 at 3:38 am
Please recognize that “science,” including the ice cores and what they prove or disprove, is supposition. I suppose this is a possibility. Data tends to support it. And always recall Einstein’s comment about his theory, as is the same for all theories, paraphrased here – there can be mountains of evidence that supports a theory, but it doesn’t prove it, but one datum that does not support the theory can disprove it. There are NO absolutes in science, which might also include absolute zero since we haven’t been there to know for sure what does or does not happen. Nothing in “science” is an absolute fact, but we treat it that way, and for the most part, can get away with it. So if there is anything at all that we can honestly be absolutely sure about, it would be that there is nothing that we are absolutely sure about! 

Gerald Wilhite probably doesn't understand the notion behind cosmic rays and clouds. He just wants to think it's "anything but CO2" causing global warming.
April 30, 2015 at 2:52 am
This discussion reminds me of Professor Henrik Svensmark’s cosmic ray-cloud connections with climate. Of course this is all worthless research since the US President has proclaimed that “Climate Science is Settled”. Also there’s an even bigger problem in that it came from Professor Henrik Svensmark, a renegade European climate scientist who insists on using old fashioned procedures. He is a very dangerous man with worthless ideas, according to the conventional AGW climate science community and their masters.

Wayne Job has never read any climate science:
April 30, 2015 at 11:49 am
Science should be based on facts not conjectures, so I have two facts. 1] The sun is our only heater. 2] If a heater varies in output the heated objects temperature varies.
The AGW mob must have the belief that the sun is an unvarying constant, this is instantly disproved by solar cycles and the suns hissy fits. I do tend to feel some pity for the true believer scientists of AGW, as in the long term they will find their careers wasted on BS.

Now you know why I rarely bother with the fringe of the fringe denier blogs, like Jo Nova's.

Related from HotWhopper


  1. Underestimation of Jo Nova + blog. The Aussie govt proves her success.

  2. What a great primer on solar stuff.

  3. Christ, have these people never heard of occam's razor? we already have a working explanation for the global temperature evolution over the last century. Why throw in additional, unnecessary assumptions?


  4. "Science should be based on facts not conjectures..."

    Maybe Wayne should take note that Force X is a conjecture...

  5. I find JoNova's blog far worse than even Anthony's WTFUWT. And that's saying something. I once went there after a forum discussion with someone who linked to one of JoNova's hatchet jobs on Will Steffen with a faked graph supposedly based on one of Richard Alley's GISP2 ice-core studies.


    I tried to post that the graph's data actually ended in 1855 not 2000 as their label claimed. "Present" was 1950 for that series, so 95 years before present was 1855. Even provided links to the original sources for the data and info about GISP2 and my post was very polite.

    I got a moderator reply that I must be a friend of one of the "others" and that it was too late to make a post on a blog article that was several days old, so my post would not appear. I replied that they obviously had no interest in facts and had zero integrity in not correcting their graph or their false claims based on it. No response from them. I was disgusted. That she is Australian makes it even worse.

    1. Their denier agenda is pretty clear, they are hostile to genuine discussion that contradicts this agenda. It does not take much to be put into moderation, my guess it is a standard delaying technique they use.

  6. Joanne Codling is an unrepentant ignoramus, propagandist, shill and/or ideologue. Take your pick.

    I have pointed out a number of times there and elsewhere that the planet responds in a directional sense rather rapidly to changes in insolation, and as evidence I proffered the diurnal and annual seasonal cycles. If, on a planetary scale, the Earth was a thermal flywheel sensitive to insolation received decades previously, to the extent that it manifests as a consequence the current warming, then the climate system is equisitely more sensitive than science understands - to the point that our nights should probably follow a temperature trajectory as they do in the atrocious movie After Earth.

    Of course the other implication of an Earth so sensitive to insolation decades earlier is that it will be similarly sensitive to the retention of the heat trapped by 'greenhouse' gases. The only way to ignore this inconvenience is to pretend that the radiative physics involved doesn't actually exist...

    Oh, of course...

  7. I actually emailed Jo Nova about one of the most egregious errors found in this article.

    David Evans had written this originally in footnote 2: "See NOAA’s PDF, table T1 (on page 14): heat content change for the 0 – 700m layer of the world’s ocean of 15.913 * 10^22 Joules corresponds to a change in mean temperature of 0.168 deg C, so 10^22 Joules in 0-700m of the world’s oceans is 0.168/15.913 = 0.0106 deg C." from Levitus 2009

    I pointed out that the units deg C/joules doesn't work out to deg C. The proper way to calculate the change in total heat content is by total mass*del(degrees C)*specific heat capacity of seawater.

    The response I got from David was "Overlooks the obvious: it just scales heat and temperature rise correspondingly. If 15.193 * 1022 J corresponds to 0.169 deg C, then 1.0 * 1022 J corresponds to 0.169 / 15.193 = 0.0106 deg C. The division is (note units) 0.169C / (15.193 * 1022 J / 1.0 * 1022 J) = 0.0106 deg C."

    At this point I just gave up, I didn't have the heart to tell David and Jo that ocean THC is dependent on temperature and not the other way around.

    1. Hah hah! Would you believe I found the same thing, and gave up trying to convince Deniersville Central about it. He's just taking the OHC *increase by volume since 1955* that the scientists already carefully calculated (that 0.168C was from Levitus et. al. 2012, IIRC), and divided a number that had *no need to be divided by anything* to, what, make it look less scary to the deniers?

      This is especially galling to me, a non-scientist, as Levitus' paper is one of the most accessible to us laypeople and I actually understand it. All of it. Evans had me doubting that I understood it until I worked through the numbers myself from first principles and discovered that he had made a total blunder. The hardest part is finding the total volume of the oceans, and you also have to account for the fact that seawater is more dense than fresh water. Unfortunately, the calculation is too long to post here. But the correct answer is a lot closer to 0.168C than Evans' botched result. What a freakin' eedjit he is.

    2. Correction: that 0.168C increase in volume mean temperature of the OHC was from 1955 - 2008, as per Levitus et. al. 2009. The increase from 1955 - 2010, so just two more years worth of data, is 0.18C according to Levitus et. al. 2012. That's... pretty scary.

  8. Since they are in Perth, maybe Jo Nova and David Evans can join Lomborg's Australian Consensus Center and get in on some of the AU$4M, although Lomborg is awfully good at spending money himself.

    See View from the Street: So, is Copenhagen Consensus Centre just a US postbox? in SMH, or This tweet for a quick pie chart of the spending.

  9. I notice that these days Evans has a wingnut welfare "visiting scholar" gig at an obscure (previously to me, anyway) DC think tank, in which capacity he has conducted a Capitol Hill briefing (meaning to Republican staffers) on at least one occasion.

    There's a steady stream of these people marching up there to provide cover for the extreme views we see being expressed as Republican policy these days. That they are essentially lunatics, or more charitably are just making stuff up in exchange for an easy paycheck, seems to be more feature than bug.

  10. I may be alone, but I'm happy this nuttiness is back. The denio-sphere was getting boring, while Jo Nova is hilarious!

    Side note - great article on solar basics!

    Other side note - can you add a chart on sea level over time?

    1. Hi Joe, good suggestion. I've now added two sea level charts to the rotating chart page, and included one in the latest article.

    2. Thanks Sou! And thanks for deciphering the nuttiness on our behalf. If I tried to do what you do, my forehead would hurt from too many face-palms :)

  11. If you wonder why these ideas get promoted, read history:

    The plan: fool enough of the voters enough of the time.

    1. "The plan: fool enough of the voters enough of the time."

      It worked well in Australia in 2013, and it would be dangerous to doubt that it couldn't happen at the next federal election.

    2. Speaking of elections it seems that yesterday's one in the UK, on top of Australia's 2013 result, proves that there is almost no flavour of conservatism that isn't palatable these days short of the rabid sort that characterised the Newman government in Queensland.

      Given the pre-polling indicated something entirely different, it's evident that there is no difficulty at all in swaying the electorate at the last minute to follow the whatever populist carrot can be trotted out to distract them from the long-term.

      This does not bode well for the forwad-thinking that the world needs in order to salvage any sort of hope for future generations.

    3. I'm not up with UK politics, but I'd not regard David Cameron as being on par with Tony Abbott. Even more, I'd say that the UK Conservatives would be regarded as left-wing zealots by US Republicans :(

      The press can probably still have some sway with swing voters. (The Scottish National Party wreaked havoc, didn't it. How conservative/liberal is it?)

    4. Sou, I think that it would be hard to get anyone who is on par with Tony Abbott!

      That said Canada seems to be trying hard, given some of their responses to science over the last few years....

      As to the SNP, I think that's an issue of nationalist fervour. In a way Labor had no chance when both the Scottish and English nationalisms were variously whipped up before the election.

      This sort of conservatism (and oft-accompanying xenophobia) is a typical symptom of a plateauing of resources, of which there are many manifesting across the landscape. I hope that you are correct and that Cameron maintains a left-wing zealotry of some sort, because a world of Tony Abbotts is too awful to contemplate.

    5. the SNP aren't nationalists in the racist sense, but rather in favour of Scottish autonomy/independence. which, given how crappily Westminster have treated them over the last few decades in general, and the last couple of years in particular, doesn't seem all that unreasonable to me.

      they've come to power on the back of a Labour Party that's spent most of the last 5 years intent on out-Torying the Tories, flanking them on the left with a platform of anti-austerity, protecting public services and scrapping Trident.

      though it's been...interesting watching political parties and media outlets that were utterly opposed to Scottish independence and replacing our shitty FPTP electoral system with something remotely representative suddenly decide that it's terribly undemocratic for Scottish MPs elected via FPTP to have any say in how the country is run.

      (hope this is vaguely comprehensible; it's been a long 24 hours...)

  12. From the "Rocket Scientist" link - "Joanne Nova and Dr David Evans speak on science, climate, and money and gold"

    That's right. If the FarceX lunacy was not enough, they are also "gold bugs".

    Which is probably partly why they are desperately panhandling.

    1. Indeed. Try googling 'Jo Nova' and 'corruption is everywhere' some time. It really is impossible to satirize these people.

  13. Jo has competition. JC has just posted a desperately pathetic piece by some chemist guy about low atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
    Curry has reached that devine space to which many on the right aspire. That space of unembarrassability. She shares it with the likes of Screaming Lord Such, Sara Palin and Donald Trump. (And no Nic you can't remove her name from your paper)

    1. "chemist guy?".

      Make it an engineer. Unsurprisingly.

      Let's see if Curry again comes with the excuse that she is not endorsing anything, she just puts it up for discussion.

    2. Yeah he's was a chemical engineer. Dangerous job. You can end up inhaling a lot of neurotoxins.

  14. The pressure on UWA from its staff, students, alumni, peer institutions, and the general public has resulted in them tearing up the Lomborg contract:


    Expect an avalanche of righteous umbrage from the deniers donning their tinfoil hats and declaring censorship, conspiracy, and any and every other excuse for the university’s administration seeing sense.

    1. Weird. I tried posting about this about an hour and a half ago but it didn't appear.

      It must be a conspiracy...

    2. You must be psychic, Bernard! See if you can guess who this is? -

      'There is no saving our universities. The Lomborg Consensus centre has been axed in response to pure emotional hysteria. The Abbott government should immediately set up the centre anyway, make it independent from universities, which don’t deserve another cent.

      Bjorn Lomborg, who believes the IPCC science, but disagrees with their economics, is too “dangerous” for UWA. Poor petals! He wants to get more environmental and human benefit from government spending – which is a disaster for the Green Gravy train. Lomborg commits the unforgivable sin of failing to feed friends of big-government.

      [Bold in the original]

      Yep, we should defund Australia's Universities, and have the government set up its own facilities to educate the public directly! Doesn't sound bad, does it? I assume that's what all 'Libertarians' think, then?...

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Thank you Bill for visiting that swamp so that we don't have to.

      No archive link, is there?


    5. Bill, the one thing that I didn't quite expect was that Codling would be as rabid as she turned out to be - and nicely documented by Sou.

      Once again the Denialati prove that there is no bottom to Stupid.

    6. Bernard, you should have read Jo's comments when she was writing articles for the ABC's The Drum a few years ago. Talk about rabid, she was so over the top you wouldn't believe it. I tried to find it a while back, but wasn't able to do so. It was back when a climate article at The Drum got 1,000 plus responses in a matter of hours. So many that it used to break the comment system. The IPA used it as their freebie PR outlet - ie free to them but paid by we taxpayers. (I haven't been there lately. It might still happen.)

    7. I found one on the WayBack Machine. (Reminded me that Jo is money mad, but hates bankers - typical gold bug. She subscribes to some of the anti-semitic/style conspiracy theories IIRC though she'd probably not wanted the origins of her conspiracy theories pointed out.)


    8. Oh, I just saw you were there too, Bernard. So you probably don't need reminding :)


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