CLIMATE modelers seem puzzled that small fluctuations in total solar irradiance (TSI) appear to have large influence on the climate.
They feel it necessary to take recourse to complicated mechanisms.
For example, Gerald Meehl of the US-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and his team have been able to calculate how the extremely small variations in TSI bring about a comparatively significant change in the system “Atmosphere-Ocean”. 
They try to explain how ‘sunspot frequency’ has an unexpectedly strong influence on cloud formation and precipitation.
One suggested mechanism is a solar-UV enhancement of stratospheric ozone, leading to circulation changes in the troposphere, a possibility explored earlier by British researcher Joanna Haigh. Another complicated mechanism suggested is increased heating and evaporation from cloud-free regions of the ocean, with the additional moisture transported into the equatorial zone, followed by some kind of positive feedback.
But the answer may really be very simple.
The tiny (~0.1%) variation of total solar irradiance (TSI) during the solar cycle is only part of the story. The much stronger variability is that of solar activity (solar wind and magnetic fields), which explains the observed modulation of Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR); in turn, the GCR affect cloudiness in the lower troposphere (the ‘Svensmark mechanism’).
And what makes me so sure about the Galactic Cosmic Ray hypothesis? It is the observational evidence from isotopic data in stalagmites. 
But the GCR explanation is not congenial to AGW alarmists. The latest (2007) IPCC report ignores the cosmic-ray effects and by focusing only on TSI, disingenuously considers solar influences on climate to be insignificant when compared to the forcing by greenhouse gases.
In this sense then, the paper by Meehl et al does constitute some kind of conceptual breakthrough –even if it is not correct in all its conclusions.
Professor Reinhard Huettl, Chairman of the Scientific Executive Board of the GFZ agrees: “The study is important for comprehending the natural climatic variability, which – on different time scales – is significantly influenced by the sun. In order to better understand the anthropogenically induced climate change and to make more reliable future climate scenarios, it is very important to understand the underlying natural climatic variability.”
Notes and Links
1. Meehl, G.A., J.M. Arblaster, K. Matthes, F. Sassi, and H. van Loon (2009), Amplifying the Pacific climate system response to a small 11 year solar cycle forcing, Science, 325, 1114-1118.
[Harry van Loon, a pioneer in studies of solar influences on climate.]
2. NIPCC summary report “Nature – Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate” http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf
This is an edited version of SEPP Science Editorial #27-2009 (8/29/09) by Fred Singer. http://www.sepp.org/
Fred Singer lives in Arlington, Virginia, and holds a B.E.E. in Electrical engineering from Ohio State University and an A.M. and PhD in Physics from Princeton University
Photograph of Fred Singer taken in New York by Jennifer Marohasy in March 2008
It’s odd how a hoax may lead to some real answers. Just not the ones the hoaxers intended.
Larry Fields says
Svensmark’s hypothesis deserves further *quantitative* investigation. On a *qualitative* level, it’s reasonable to assume that cosmic rays have some effect on cloud formation in the lower troposphere. The mechanism is the same as that of the cloud chamber, the invention of which earned Charles Wilson a shared Nobel in 1927.
Nasif Nahle says
Worst of it; some solar physicists have settled the minimum activity of the Sun adducing that the baseline is zero sunspots. As it is impossible the Sun undergoes <0 sunspots, then the baseline of all reconstructions cannot be calculated to values below 1364.4 W/m^2. This is bogus science because those solar physicists are not taking into account the rates of nuclear fusion in layers below the photosphere.
The absurdities created by those solar physicists have gone so far that they have had to invent pseudoscientific vindications on trying to solve the paradoxes created by their own antiphysics charades.
I am absolutely sure that the rate of protons interacting in the Sun for nuclear fusion can be reduced by many effectors, including the main factor related to kinetic energy of each particle, which for protons (in all the stars in the known Universe) is quite below the necessary level for overcome the Coulomb barrier and undergo nuclear fusion.
I know also that the Sun is not a static star. As any thermodynamic system existing in the known Universe, the Sun undergoes fluctuations in pressure, temperature and content of available energy. The Sun shows huge magnetohydrodynamic fluctuations which can easily make the energy radiated by the Sun decline to levels below the baseline of 1364.4 W/m^2.
I have found always the futility of taking measurements of the TSI by satellites in orbit around the Earth. Despite the fact that those satellites can give flawed measurements from failures in sensors and transmissions of information, those satellites register a very small spot of the whole, as if the solar photon stream was microscopic.
I find your article, Dr. Fred Singer, very interesting and scientifically bright; however, with due respect, it would have been superb if you had included something about the issue explained in the above paragraphs.
Graeme Bird says
They underestimate the effect because they take out the time factor and think in terms of watts. Psychologically thinking in terms of watts gives a fella a one second time horizon. But with changes of climate we are talking about joules accumulating and decumulating.
The standard model is too over-aggregated and therefore most mysteries ought to be solved by some form of disaggregation or another.
For example we want to disaggregate the composition of the light. And see how far each wavelength tends to penetrate. Light that punches deep into the ocean can accumulate better and as well does double-duty on the way up. Or at least the joules originating from this more penetrative light do double duty. Light that makes it only halfway down the troposphere has to be considered almost ephemeral and therefore not worthy of any weighting.
If solar wind is flowing charged particles thats an electric current right there and one might expect that to be converted to heat energy at some stage.
So that’s it,Fred? No analysis? Because Meehl et al’s mechanism is “complicated”,it can be dismissed? Svensmark’s “mechanism”,on the other hand, is a walk in the park,eh?
Louis Hissink says
Fred’s post here, comparing Svenmark’s experiments with Meehl et al’s, seems to have caused some consternation and some thoughtful posts, but misunderstanding about the physics remain.
Firstly the, so called, transistor effect explaining the small energetic fluctuations in the sun causing amplified effects on the Earth isn’t a problem for the Plasma Model. The only factor missing from the equation is electric current.
So Larry is correct in his analogy with a cloud chamber in which, according to Wiki, alpha and beta particles, at high energy, collide with water vapour in a closed system to produce “clouds”. (Google it).
Alpha and Beta particles are protons (electrically positively charged particles) and Beta particles, electrons (or electrically negatively charged particles), colliding with water molecules form clouds. These are usually as electricity by the morons but as cosmic rays by the enlightened.
As cloud cover, according to Roy Spencer in a recent post, covers 70% of the Earth at any point in time, means that the Earth is continually receiving, or sending out alpa and beta particles that interact with suspended water molecules (water vapour) to produce clouds.
In the Plasma Model terminology, this is restated “As cloud cover, according to Roy Spencer in a recent post, covers 70% of the Earth at any point in time, means that the Earth is continually receiving, or sending out electric currents that interact with suspended water molecules (water vapour) to produce clouds.”
The Earth also has a quiescent electric potential of 100 volts per vertical meter – which means that there is a significant electric potential between the Earth’s surface, and the ionosphere, between which electric currents flow, in both directions one might add. We do not see these currents under normal circumstances because they flow under the conditions of dark current mode plasma. When energy levels rise electric currents in plasma jump to glow mode (like the fluro tubes or the Earth’s Aurora) and when energy levels rise further, jump to arc mode (lightining and electric discharges that emit X rays and other high energy radiation).
The TSI as measured is simply the measurement of an effect of an underlying unrecognized process powering the Sun. The Sun is thought to be powered by a solar fusion engine (in science you cannot explain observations with unproven physical processes) but such a mechanism cannot produce sun-spots, nor cannot it show modulation of energy production. After all no one has shown experimentally that an uncontrolled, let alone a controlled, fusion reaction is possible, and nuclear reactions do not modulate by themselves, according to the standard theory.
The Sun also has an inconvenient thermal gradient (or profile) along which it actually gets hotter the further away from the Sun you go. This is impossible for the fusion reactor model, and is much like asserting that you get warmer the further away away from a fire you move. The Earth has a similar temperature profile, but that is no mystery since the Earth gets its energy externally.
So the Sun.
Minor fluctuations in the solar TSI are simply measurements of some larger, hitherto invisible, effect which the Plasma Model understands as electric currents of solar and galactic magnitudes, mostly operating in dark plasma mode, and hence “invisible”. (The unknown, unknowns Bob Foster guessed at in a previous thread).
Svenmark’s model, based on a the explanation of cosmic rays ionising water molecules to form clouds etc, (the Plasma Model) is simpler than a competing one not permitted to use electricity as a physical force. Hence Meehl et al need to resort to complex, invariably ad hoc, processes to explain their observations.
It’s basically asking mechanics to explain the workings of an Apple Mac, or HP PC, using only a hammer, nails, and wires.
Ask an electrical engineer and knowing what electricity does, he would come up with a simpler explanation, the Plasma Model.
There is one interesting point to be made – that of the transistor effect associated with the Sun and Earth.
Physicist Wallace Thornhill coined this a couple of years back (http://www.holoscience.com/news.php?article=aapprbh6)
‘It has been shown that the Sun’s constancy of light and heat output is due to a natural transistor action of the plasma sheaths forming the photosphere and chromosphere of the Sun. A very small voltage between the body of the Sun and the underside of the photosphere controls the enormous current that lights the Sun. Nature, as we have come to expect, has found a beautifully simple method of steadying the light output of main sequence stars.’
This is called plagiarism.
For the Plasma Model, http://plasmascience.net/tpu/TheUniverse.html
The rest requires, as expected of all University undergraduates, literature search.
But Google Eric Lerner, Halton Arp, Hannes Alfven, Irving Langmuire, some who were Nobel Laureates in Physics, (not in politics).
A ~0.1% variation of total solar irradiance (visible electromagnetic wave spectrum) does not reveal the whole story. X-rays increase 10 fold and ultra violet rays increase 2-3 fold within a 0.1% increase in TSI.
John Irvine says
And the Mayans just might be right – if the heliosphere is now passing through the high energetic galactic plane and the energy flux just might be enough to tip us into a warmer climate as is being seen on Triton, Mars and Pluto,.