NASA says that something unexpected is happening on the Sun. This year, 2013, is supposed to be the peak of the 11-year sunspot cycle—the year of Solar Max. Yet solar activity is well below the expected level. Out somnolent star refuses to behave according to the predictions of Sun watching scientists, leading some observers to wonder if forecasters missed the mark. The botched solar forecast not only has implication for our understanding of the physical processes inside the Sun, it has possible links to future climate change here on Earth. Scientists admit that no one knows for sure what the Sun will do next.
The 11 year solar cycle—the waxing and waning of activity on the Sun—is well known, if not well understood. The solar cycle is the periodic change in the Sun's activity, including changes in levels of solar radiation and the ejection of solar material. Solar cycles have been observed for hundreds of years by earthbound observers noting changes in the sun's appearance. Generations of scientists have kept detailed records of changes in the number of sunspots, flares, and other visible manifestations. Changes in solar activity affects space weather, which can be important when launching satellites. It can also impact conditions here on Earth, adversely affecting communications, radio broadcasts and power grids. For these reasons, forecasting the solar cycle is not just an idle pursuit for Sun gazing scientists.
When George W Bush declared war on an abstract noun – "Terror" – he was widely and inevitably mocked by the left for his foolishness. Not to be outdone, Barack Obama has used his second inaugural address to declare war on an even more nebulous threat to the security of the world: reality, itself.
Here's how he put it in his inaugural address: (H/T Theo Spleenventer; Bishop Hill)
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.
The first sentence is a blatant untruth. Concerted global action so far to deal with the threat of climate change has resulted in: higher energy prices; more deaths from fuel poverty; more intrusive regulation; the destruction of rainforests and the squandering of agricultural land on biofuels; higher food prices; famine and food riots – as a result partly of the drive for biofuels; the entrenchment of corporatism and rent-seeking to the detriment of free markets; the ravaging of the countryside with ugly solar farms and even uglier wind turbines; the deaths of millions of birds and bats; the great recession. How any of this has in any way benefited either our children (who are going to find it far harder to find a job) or future generations is a complete mystery.
The Science and Public Policy Institute has been asked to comment on the apparent inconsistency between the news that July 2012 was the warmest July since 1895 in the contiguous United States and the news that the Meteorological Office in the UK has cut its global warming forecast for the coming years. The present paper is a response to that interesting question.
Early in August 2012, the NOAA issued a statement to the effect that July 2012 had been the hottest month in the contiguous U.S. since records began in 1895. NOAA said the July 2012 temperature had been 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 0.2 F° warmer than the previous July record, set in 1936.
However, NOAA’s statement was based on incomplete information that has since been revised. Updated data available at the NCDC website (NCDC is the division of NOAA that maintains national climatic data for the United States) show that July 2012’s temperature was not 77.6 °F, as NOAA had previously claimed, but 76.9 °F, half a degree Fahrenheit below the record 77.4 °F set in July 1936
Even this revised value may be a considerable exaggeration. In response to criticisms of the siting of U.S. temperature monitoring stations, in 2008 NOAA introduced a new network of carefully sited stations with up-to-date, standardized, properly monitored equipment. The Climate Reference Network, as it is called, shows that the July temperature for the continental U.S. was 75.6 °F, lower by 1.3 °F than stated by the NOAA in August 2012 based on incomplete data from its older, poorly-sited stations influenced by urban heat-island effects, and lower by 2 full Fahrenheit degrees than the 77.6 °F that NOAA had published in August 2012.
This is a welcome contribution to the study of global temperature. When others reached the same conclusion they have been ridiculed; so this admission should provide some pause for reflection by those who have attacked the very idea of a recent temperature standstill, often without understanding the data, focusing on who was making the argument and their alleged non-scientific motives.
According to Hansen et al. the Nasa Giss database has 2012 as the ninth warmest year on record, although statistically indistinguishable from the last 12 years, at least. Noaa says it’s the tenth warmest year. The difference is irrelevant.
Hansen discusses the possible contributions to global temperature in the past decade from stochastic variability and climate forcings. Personally I don’t think that the variations are demonstrably stochastic.
Astrophysicist and weather expert, Piers Corbyn who runs WeatherAction.com, has been uncannily accurate so far this winter. Londoner Corbyn produces long-range weather forecasts so good that they never cease beating and baffling Britain’s gigantic £200 million-a-year official weather forecaster, the Met Office.
What is truly remarkable is that the details for Corbyn’s daring January 2013 forecast were made 45 days ahead, a task beyond the competency of “traditional” methods. In the early part of this winter this mild-mannered and avuncular upstart had already made fools of the Met Office (MO) for their “Beast from the East” scare. The MO flunked badly while Corbyn’s bold prediction for a mild early winter proved totally accurate.
On January 10, 2013 The Daily Express front page quoted Piers Corbyn when some standard forecasters started to see WeatherAction’s very icy blasts and blizzards coming (see graphic). However although WeatherAction’s very cold weather soon came Met models still dithered about heavy snow / blizzards until they were almost upon us and, lo and behold, on January 15, 2013 there was a dramatic switch towards copycatting WeatherAction – again. Perhaps some bright spark at the MO has decided to sign up to Corbyn’s paid services, at a tiny fraction of the cost of the heavily taxpayer-subsidized misfits.
Something unexpected is happening on the sun. 2013 is supposed to be the year of Solar Max, but solar activity is much lower than expected. At least one leading forecaster expects the sun to rebound with a double-peaked maximum later this year.
Talk about bees clustering round a honeypot… When are we going to wake up to the extraordinary goings-on at the heart of Britain’s energy policy?
Last week, it was announced that Charles Hendry — who was, until September, the minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in charge of wind farms — is to become chairman of Forewind, a consortium planning to build the world’s biggest and most lucrative wind farm in the North Sea. His predecessor, Lord Deben (formerly John Gummer), had to step down when he was made chairman of the Climate Change Committee, the hugely influential body set up under the Climate Change Act to advise DECC on Britain’s energy policy. Deben’s appointment was approved by the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, chaired by his friend Tim Yeo, who makes more than £200,000 a year advising firms in the “low-carbon” energy sector.
It was also announced last week that a new company, Greencoat, is to be floated on the Stock Exchange and given £50 million of taxpayers’ money to buy stakes in six wind farm companies, and that one of its directors is William Rickett, formerly head of the Energy Group at DECC.
Mr Hendry has also been hired by a cross-party lobby group, CarbonConnect, to co-chair a review of energy policy with Baroness Worthington. She is the former Friends of the Earth campaigner who was hired by the Department for Environment to mastermind the drafting of the 2008 Climate Change Act. This put at the centre of our energy policy a plan to spend £100 billion on up to 30,000 wind turbines, so hopelessly inefficient that they have to be given absurdly lavish subsidies. For offshore windfarms like the one planned by Mr Hendry’s firm, the subsidies amount to 200 per cent of the value of the electricity they produce.