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New study: could the sun have warmed the world? February 10, 2010

Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
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New study: could the sun have warmed the world?

Andrew Bolt
Herald Sun, February 10, 2010

Yet another paper questioning the theory that man is behind the warming of the earth over the past half-century:

The notion that scientists understand how changes in Earth’s orbit affect climate well enough for estimating long-term natural climate trends that underlie any anthropogenic climate change is challenged by findings just published.

The new research was conducted by a team led by Professor Eelco Rohling of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science hosted at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton…

According to the ‘anthropogenic hypothesis’, long-term climate impacts of man’s deforestation activities and early methane and carbon dioxide emissions have artificially held us in warm interglacial conditions, which have persisted since the end of the Pleistocene, about 11,400 years ago….

The researchers found that the current interglacial has indeed lasted some 2.0-2.5 millennia longer than predicted by the currently dominant theory for the way in which orbital changes control the ice-age cycles. This theory is based on the intensity of solar radiation reaching the Earth at latitude 65 degrees North on 21 June, the northern hemisphere Summer solstice.

But the anomaly vanished when the researchers considered a rival theory, which looks at the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth the same latitude during the summer months. Under this theory, sea levels could remain high for another two thousand years or so, even without greenhouse warming.

“Future research should more precisely narrow down the influence of orbital changes on climate,” said Rohling: “… And that is essential for a better understanding of any potential long-term impacts on climate due to man’s activities.”

Why is Rohling’s research interesting? Because the IPCC’s argument that man’s gases have caused most of the post-war warming is based not on proof that those gases did indeed do that, but on an inability to think of any other cause. Rohling suggests he may just have found that alternative explanation, or part of it.

And, he adds, our long-tern future looks chilly.



1. greg2213 - February 11, 2010


Isn’t that a damning statement? The inability to think of…?

Inability to think of an alternative is not proof of anything other than the inability to think of something. Perhaps it’s just a CYA policy?

On a related topic: If a hypothesis is falsified it says nothing about any other hypothesis. If the CO2 causes catastrophic warming (CW) idea is proven wrong it doesn’t mean than idea B gets a lift.

Unless Idea B is what proves that CO2 is wrong. For example: Falsifying CO2 as a climate driver doesn’t prove the pirate/warming connection, either (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster#Pirates_and_global_warming) all it does is disprove CO2 as a climate driver.

But if the pirate thing could be proven… 😉

So the inability of “scientists” to look at any of the dozens of other factors influencing climate is not proof of anything regarding CO2, just their unwillingness to look elsewhere. They could always ask a few skeptics and get some ideas, but that would endanger their funding and expose them to heated attacks from the Gore crowd.

Now, a good theory that is shown to be correct, through real world measurements and data, certainly would falsify competing theories. A good theory can also make good predictions. “We couldn’t think of anything else…” is pretty poor support of anything except a closed mind.

As far as Rohling’s research goes, as you say, it’s interesting. It’d be nice to see a lot more research to support it, but there’s that funding issue. I’d also like to see what it can accurately predict. Is his theory good enough to knock off CO2=CW, an idea which has been shown not to work?

Personally, I think any good theory of how climate works will be very complicated since it will involve many factors that are not well understood (ocean heat transfer, clouds, precipitation, etc.) and how those factors work with and on each other. Given a certain degree of chaos in the system it may not even be possible to create theory that accurately predicts climate, other than very generally.

So I’m looking forward to more of these ideas and I hope that more funding will support that research.

2. Movers - February 11, 2010

The sun has not changed the way its been producing heat, i mean cmon, global warming makes sense, but the speed of the warming is man made.

3. jefft - February 12, 2010

The published abstract of Rohling’s paper is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2009.12.054. It is copied below. It says that natural conditions may delay the onset of the next ice age. It says nothing at all about the relatively abrupt warming in the last half century.

“The exceptionally long interglacial warm period known as Marine Isotope Stage 11 (MIS-11; 428–397 ky ago vs. ky vs. kyr) is often considered as a potential analogue for future climate development in the absence of human influence. We use a new high-resolution sea-level record—a globally integrated ice-volume signal—to compare MIS-11 and the current interglacial (Holocene). It is found that sea-level rise into both interglacials started over similar timescales relative to the respective insolation increases, and progressed up to − 50 m at similar rates of 1.0–1.2 m per century. Subsequent weak insolation changes anomalously prolonged the MIS-11 deglaciation over more than 20 ky. The main sea-level highstand was achieved at the second MIS-11 insolation maximum, with a timing closely equivalent to that of the Holocene highstand compared to its single insolation maximum. Consequently, while MIS-11 was an exceptionally long period of interglacial warmth, its ice-volume minimum/sea-level highstand lasted less than 10 ky, which is similar to the duration of other major interglacials. Comparison of the ends of MIS-11 and the Holocene based on timings relative to their respective maxima in mean 21 June insolation at 65°N suggests that the end of Holocene conditions might have been expected 2.0–2.5 ky ago. Instead, interglacial conditions have continued, with CO2, temperature, and sea level remaining high or increasing. This apparent discrepancy highlights the need to consider that: (a) comparisons may need to focus on other orbital control indices, in which case the discrepancy can vanish; and/or (b) the feedback mechanisms that dominate the planetary energy balance may have become decoupled from insolation during the past 2 millennia.”

4. bubba - February 13, 2010

you’re wrong. look up the maunder minimum.

5. bubba - February 13, 2010

to clarify my last comment was directed to movers.

6. John Ackerman - February 16, 2010

The primary short-term effect of the Sun is not due to changes in the solar radiation. It is due to the influx of pulses of charged particles due to Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) which strike the Earth. CMEs result from impacts on the solar surface which produce sunspots. There has been an absence of significant sunspots for several years recently and that is the reason for the recent ‘cold snap.’ A period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries, termed the ‘Little Ice Age,’ corresponded to a 75-years dearth in sunspots, during which millions of people died.. We may be in for a similar fate in the centuries to come.

I have always wondered what form the Biblical ‘Great Tribulation’ might take. But such a colder climate, the failure of the world financial system and the hopelessly contenscious malfunctioning of the US congress combined, might indeed qualify for that title.

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