Celestial Origins of Climate Oscillations

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Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications by Nicola Scafetta

Abstract: We investigate whether or not the decadal and multi-decadal climate oscillations have an astronomical origin. Several global surface temperature records since 1850 and records deduced from the orbits of the planets present very similar power spectra. Eleven frequencies with period between 5 and 100 years closely correspond in the two records. Among them, large climate oscillations with peak-to-trough amplitude of about 0.1 $^oC$ and 0.25 $^oC$, and periods of about 20 and 60 years, respectively, are synchronized to the orbital periods of Jupiter and Saturn. Schwabe and Hale solar cycles are also visible in the temperature records. A 9.1-year cycle is synchronized to the Moon’s orbital cycles. A phenomenological model based on these astronomical cycles can be used to well reconstruct the temperature oscillations since 1850 and to make partial forecasts for the 21$^{st}$ century. It is found that at least 60% of the global warming observed since 1970 has been induced by the combined effect of the above natural climate oscillations. The partial forecast indicates that climate may stabilize or cool until 2030-2040. Possible physical mechanisms are qualitatively discussed with an emphasis on the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators.

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0 thoughts on “Celestial Origins of Climate Oscillations

  1. Hm. Doesn’t that mean that he got a component with a period of 100 years from a time series of only 150 years? That is 1.5 oscillations. From the standpoint of time series analysis this sounds at least questionable. Have to read the article to comment further.

    1. Joe, he gets the periods from 2 sources, global temps and the movement of the Sun around its center of mass. He compares the periods of these two sources. The longer periods are from the CoM of the Sun.

      1. It is beyond me why we should regard this search for multiple harmonics as more plausible, or more useful, than Dr. Jeff Glassman’s elegant piece of (solar) signal processing (which he knows a real lot about given his long background in microelectronic and telemetry):

        http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2010/03/sgw.html

        We should bear in mind that we have considerable historical (e.g. Nile flows, RWP, MWP, LIA) and paleoclimatic proxy evidence of the amplified influence of TSI (or correlates thereof) on the terrestrial climate.

        Please, Occam’s Razor wherever possible.

      2. Steve, because its a more distal cause than TSI, which is the proximal cause of the climate oscillations.

  2. Hm. Doesn't that mean that he got a component with a period of 100 years from a time series of only 150 years? That is 1.5 oscillations. From the standpoint of time series analysis this sounds at least questionable. Have to read the article to comment further.

  3. It is mostly a curve fit exercise.

    There does appear to be a 60+/- yr oscillation in the temperature trend (and lots of people have noted it). And it may well be that much of the recent warming (post 1970’s) is due to an upswing in that natural oscillation. Ditto the possibility that a natural downswing in that oscillation will offset some/all forcing induced warming over the next 20 years. But claiming that there is some causal relationship between this observed oscillation and the orbital motions of planets, while offering no physically justified causal explanation, strikes me as silly.

    1. Its not silly to offer a theory that does not yet have complete causal explanation. He does offer a direction for investigating that explanation as linked oscillators. Figure 15 is particularly appropriate. Consider the assumptions:

      1. there are a number of feedback loops that can oscillate in the earth system (yes)
      2. they would have a variety of weak links with different natural period (yes)
      3. they would be exposed to weak forcings from a range of solar interactions with the atmosphere (yes)

      Based on this model, the herd of cats that is the weak oscillators that is the weak oscillators would be corralled into phase with the weak driver, with certain characteristics:

      1. larger amplitude than the driver
      2. a split 1/3 ratio of period (20 vs 60 years)

  4. It is mostly a curve fit exercise. There does appear to be a 60+/- yr oscillation in the temperature trend (and lots of people have noted it). And it may well be that much of the recent warming (post 1970's) is due to an upswing in that natural oscillation. Ditto the possibility that a natural downswing in that oscillation will offset some/all forcing induced warming over the next 20 years. But claiming that there is some causal relationship between this observed oscillation and the orbital motions of planets, while offering no physically justified causal explanation, strikes me as silly.

  5. Its not silly to offer a theory that does not yet have complete causal explanation. He does offer a direction for investigating that explanation as linked oscillators. Figure 15 is particularly appropriate. Consider the assumptions:1. there are a number of feedback loops that can oscillate in the earth system (yes)2. they would have a variety of weak links with different natural period (yes)3. they would be exposed to weak forcings from a range of solar interactions with the atmosphere (yes)Based on this model, the herd of cats that is the weak oscillators that is the weak oscillators would be corralled into phase with the weak driver, with certain characteristics:1. larger amplitude than the driver2. a split 1/3 ratio of period (20 vs 60 years)

  6. Joe, he gets the periods from 2 sources, global temps and the movement of the Sun around its center of mass. He compares the periods of these two sources. The longer periods are from the CoM of the Sun.

    1. Funny, yes, but I am sure they meant astronomical. I have noted that the period of Saturn is ~30years not 60, so I don’t know what the story is there.

  7. Funny, yes, but I am sure they meant astronomical. I have noted that the period of Saturn is ~30years not 60, so I don't know what the story is there.

    1. That’s a good point. If the system is so sensitive to intial
      conditions, why not sensitive to small periodic forcings?

  8. One can look for a similar mechanism elsewhere, to show the hypothesis can be valid. Then one can do the calculations to see if the effect is significant on Earth. This way –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter#Galilean_moons
    The orbits of Io, Europa, and Ganymede, some of the largest satellites in the Solar System, form a pattern known as a Laplace resonance; for every four orbits that Io makes around Jupiter, Europa makes exactly two orbits and Ganymede makes exactly one. This resonance causes the gravitational effects of the three large moons to distort their orbits into elliptical shapes, since each moon receives an extra tug from its neighbors at the same point in every orbit it makes. The tidal force from Jupiter, on the other hand, works to circularize their orbits.

    The eccentricity of their orbits causes regular flexing of the three moons’ shapes, with Jupiter’s gravity stretching them out as they approach it and allowing them to spring back to more spherical shapes as they swing away. This tidal flexing heats the moons’ interiors by friction. This is seen most dramatically in the extraordinary volcanic activity of innermost Io (which is subject to the strongest tidal forces), and to a lesser degree in the geological youth of Europa’s surface (indicating recent resurfacing of the moon’s exterior).

    There exists a model involving orbits, resonances, heating, cyclicities. Others can do the sums as to whether it happens on Earth. Maybe that’s what is behind the paywall.

    ( Only partially related – Has anyone published a magnitude for frictional heat generated by wind blowing over land and water and for water moving over ocean floors?)

    1. From solving equations of these systems, there are some weird harmonics in the planetary system. Approximations are made, but a more precise solution with all the non-linearities is even more interesting no doubt.

  9. One can look for a similar mechanism elsewhere, to show the hypothesis can be valid. Then one can do the calculations to see if the effect is significant on Earth. This way –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter#Galilean_m…The orbits of Io, Europa, and Ganymede, some of the largest satellites in the Solar System, form a pattern known as a Laplace resonance; for every four orbits that Io makes around Jupiter, Europa makes exactly two orbits and Ganymede makes exactly one. This resonance causes the gravitational effects of the three large moons to distort their orbits into elliptical shapes, since each moon receives an extra tug from its neighbors at the same point in every orbit it makes. The tidal force from Jupiter, on the other hand, works to circularize their orbits.The eccentricity of their orbits causes regular flexing of the three moons' shapes, with Jupiter's gravity stretching them out as they approach it and allowing them to spring back to more spherical shapes as they swing away. This tidal flexing heats the moons' interiors by friction. This is seen most dramatically in the extraordinary volcanic activity of innermost Io (which is subject to the strongest tidal forces), and to a lesser degree in the geological youth of Europa's surface (indicating recent resurfacing of the moon's exterior).There exists a model involving orbits, resonances, heating, cyclicities. Others can do the sums as to whether it happens on Earth. Maybe that's what is behind the paywall.( Only partially related – Has anyone published a magnitude for frictional heat generated by wind blowing over land and water and for water moving over ocean floors?)

  10. It seems reasonable that what happens external to the Earth should play a bigger role in determining Earth’s conditions than what happens on Earth; after all the rest of the universe is much bigger. This can happen in 2 ways; firstly, events externalto the Earth as this paper shows:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/06/sun-jupiter-saturn-spin-orbit-coupling.html

    And changes in the Earth’s orbit which brings Earth closer or further away to the external factors:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100205091825.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29&utm_content=Google+International.

    1. Not really. Look at Fig 15 again. The model is bistable with an internal field frequency and external forcing frequency. Which it is synchronized to depends on the strength of the couplings and size of forcings. It could plausibly switch suddenly.

      1. Yeah, I guess my point was that for the various internal climate mechanisms there are external sources:

        “This synchronization
        mechanism acts in addition and together with other more direct
        mechanisms such as irradiance forcing and cloud modulation
        via cosmic ray flux [Kirkby, 2007; Svensmark et al., 2009],
        and contributes to magnifying the climatic effect of a weak astronomical
        periodic forcing.”

        The internal synchronisation capacity may combine those factors or not; the trick I guess would be to isolate some repeatable and predictable coupling. As I discussed with you some of these synchronised couplings may produce tipping points or, a lack of them, metastability:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metastability

        In any event such processes would seem to make estimating climate sensitivity difficult.

      2. Yes, and in the case of a resonant system like this, the sensitivity is very dependent on the frequency of the weak driver. eg the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Most of the time a weak external driver has low effect, but when the frequency matches the internal driver, the sensitivity becomes infinite. Lots of interesting behaviours in these systems.

        Eg sensitivity to solar forcing could be strongly effected by the length of the solar cycle more than its amplitude.

  11. It seems reasonable that what happens external to the Earth should play a bigger role in determining Earth's conditions than what happens on Earth; after all the rest of the universe is much bigger. This can happen in 2 ways; firstly, events externalto the Earth as this paper shows:http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/06/sun-jupiter-s…And changes in the Earth's orbit which brings Earth closer or further away to the external factors:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/10….

  12. Not really. Look at Fig 15 again. The model is bistable with an internal field frequency and external forcing frequency. Which it is synchronized to depends on the strength of the couplings and size of forcings. It could plausibly switch suddenly.

  13. From solving equations of these systems, there are some weird harmonics in the planetary system. Approximations are made, but a more precise solution with all the non-linearities is even more interesting no doubt.

  14. Yeah, I guess my point was that for the various internal climate mechanisms there are external sources:”This synchronizationmechanism acts in addition and together with other more directmechanisms such as irradiance forcing and cloud modulationvia cosmic ray flux [Kirkby, 2007; Svensmark et al., 2009],and contributes to magnifying the climatic effect of a weak astronomicalperiodic forcing.”The internal synchronisation capacity may combine those factors or not; the trick I guess would be to isolate some repeatable and predictable coupling. As I discussed with you some of these synchronised couplings may produce tipping points or, a lack of them, metastability:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MetastabilityIn any event such processes would seem to make estimating climate sensitivity difficult.

  15. Yes, and in the case of a resonant system like this, the sensitivity is very dependent on the frequency of the weak driver. eg the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Most of the time a weak external driver has low effect, but when the frequency matches the internal driver, the sensitivity becomes infinite. Lots of interesting behaviours in these systems.

  16. David, The harmonics might be weird, but I would have thought them rather easy to put numbers on. There are not many physical laws to consider.

    (Aside. I once read of some bells found in Yunnan, China. They were made a few hundred years BC as I recall. They had gold inserts with instructions on how to use them. When cleaned up and tested, surprise – the scale of notes was the same as we use today for pianos so presumably the harmonics were similar too. This means nothing to this debate but it’s interesting).

    The problem with planetary motion is quantifying the effects on mother Earth. I’ve not read a lot on the topic to get a feel for the order of magnitude of effects, nor do I think I know of all the effects.

    In analogy, I think of a human body that has a cyclicity in heartbeat rate and another in respiration rate. On the face of it, one might not think they are dependent, but clearly they are related (look at exertion effects). Under different forcings they can vary alone or loosely together. Under extreme forcings they can go to zero together. My twisted mind sees various orbital mechanisms operating on the Earth with something of that type of separation of effect. So it’s one thing to predict orbits (+/- NEOs) but another to quantify what they do to earth.

  17. David, The harmonics might be weird, but I would have thought them rather easy to put numbers on. There are not many physical laws to consider.(Aside. I once read of some bells found in Yunnan, China. They were made a few hundred years BC as I recall. They had gold inserts with instructions on how to use them. When cleaned up and tested, surprise – the scale of notes was the same as we use today for pianos so presumably the harmonics were similar too. This means nothing to this debate but it's interesting).The problem with planetary motion is quantifying the effects on mother Earth. I've not read a lot on the topic to get a feel for the order of magnitude of effects, nor do I think I know of all the effects. In analogy, I think of a human body that has a cyclicity in heartbeat rate and another in respiration rate. On the face of it, one might not think they are dependent, but clearly they are related (look at exertion effects). Under different forcings they can vary alone or loosely together. Under extreme forcings they can go to zero together. My twisted mind sees various orbital mechanisms operating on the Earth with something of that type of separation of effect. So it's one thing to predict orbits (+/- NEOs) but another to quantify what they do to earth.

  18. It is beyond me why we should regard this search for multiple harmonics as more plausible, or more useful, than Dr. Jeff Glassman's elegant piece of (solar) signal processing (which he knows a real lot about given his long background in microelectronic and telemetry):http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2010/03/…We should bear in mind that we have considerable historical (e.g. Nile flows, RWP, MWP, LIA) and paleoclimatic proxy evidence of the amplified influence of TSI (or correlates thereof) on the terrestrial climate.Please, Occam's Razor wherever possible.

  19. Steve, because its a more distal cause than TSI, which is the proximal cause of the climate oscillations.

  20. When a book is written to explain all of this in more detail, I wold like to suggest a tittle: “The Birth of Scientific Astrology”

    1. The alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occur roughly every 20 years 243 degrees from the previous alignment. Every 3rd alignment is within 9 degrees of the original starting point.

      Hence, the center of gravity of the solar system has a 60 year cycle which results in a wobble.

      There is a correlation between the wobble and temperature records.

      Causality is still hypothetical.

      1. Thanks for explaining the origin of the 60 years. As well as the suns intensity, one could not rule out a gravitational effect. Its speculative, but possible that big features like the the Rossby waves, the frequency of El Ninos etc are affected by direct gravitational variation.

  21. When a book is written to explain all of this in more detail, I wold like to suggest a tittle: “The Birth of Scientific Astrology”

  22. The alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occur roughly every 20 years 243 degrees from the previous alignment. Every 3rd alignment is within 9 degrees of the original starting point.Hence, the center of gravity of the solar system has a 60 year cycle which results in a wobble.There is a correlation between the wobble and temperature records.Causality is still hypothetical.

  23. Thanks for explaining the origin of the 60 years. As well as the suns intensity, one could not rule out a gravitational effect. Its speculative, but possible that big features like the the Rossby waves, the frequency of El Ninos etc are affected by direct gravitational variation.

  24. Thanks for explaining the origin of the 60 years. As well as the suns intensity, one could not rule out a gravitational effect. Its speculative, but possible that big features like the the Rossby waves, the frequency of El Ninos etc are affected by direct gravitational variation.

  25. That's a good point. If the system is so sensitive to intialconditions, why not sensitive to small periodic forcings?

  26. What if most of the controversy around global warming / climate change is caused by ill-defined “climate” ? By current definition, climate is weather averaged over 30 years (or more), but if there is plenty of evidence about quasi-periodic 60-years long cycles in climate, climate should be defined as average over 60 years or any integer multiples of this period. Only this way we can integrate out periodic component and what is left is climate, right? Half-period or 30 years is a really bad choice – it has strongest possible dependence on the phase and can show both strong global cooling or global warming, depending on starting point.

  27. What if most of the controversy around global warming / climate change is caused by ill-defined “climate” ? By current definition, climate is weather averaged over 30 years (or more), but if there is plenty of evidence about quasi-periodic 60-years long cycles in climate, climate should be defined as average over 60 years or any integer multiples of this period. Only this way we can integrate out periodic component and what is left is climate, right? Half-period or 30 years is a really bad choice – it has strongest possible dependence on the phase and can show both strong global cooling or global warming, depending on starting point.

  28. Here is an interesting paper with some details.Can origin of the 2400-year cycle of solar activity be causedby solar inertial motion? Author: I. Charva tovahttp://www.ann-geophys.net/18/399/2000/angeo-18…There are several papers available concerning the movement of the Sun about its barycenter, a phenomenon that was anticipated by Isaac Newton.

  29. Scafetta: Statistically his results are strong as published. Correlation is causality if model, data stands up to further testing and replication. Others have gone this path in the past. Worth looking at further.

  30. Scafetta: Statistically his results are strong as published. Correlation is causality if model, data stands up to further testing and replication. Others have gone this path in the past. Worth looking at further.

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