Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mongols, Herring, Sunspots And Warmies

Far and away, the most fascinating course I took in college was Mongols in Medieval Europe, taught by a fine Hungarian gentleman, Denis Sinor, who moonlighted as Nixon's point man on Mongolia. (I don't expect he got too many calls ....)

Sinor had a very slim historical record from which to build his history, so his hour-plus lectures typically consisted of a series of seemingly unrelated historical snipits he'd gathered from England to China, which he would pull together in the last five minutes a la Agatha Christie into a nifty conclusion about what the Mongols were up to at that particular point in time.

I was reminded of Professor Sinor when I read some new sunspot/climate change research today because Sinor started one lecture with details on the depleted herring catch off Denmark in the 16oos -- and depleted fish harvests were what fueled this new round of research by R. Timothy Patterson. (I got the whole story via Nexis; you can get the intro at the Financial Times. and the whole thing if you pay up.)

Patterson got my attention from the get-go:
Politicians and environmentalists these days convey the impression that climate-change research is an exceptionally dull field with little left to discover. We are assured by everyone ... that "the science is settled." ...

The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of "stopping global climate change."
Patterson is not one who thinks the debate is over, because the science is not over.
Climate-change research is now literally exploding with new findings. Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the field has had more research than in all previous years combined and the discoveries are completely shattering the myths.
He may just be the biggest myth-shatterer of all:
My research team began to collect and analyze core samples from the bottom of deep Western Canadian fjords. The regions in which we chose to conduct our research, Effingham Inlet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and in 2001, sounds in the Belize-Seymour Inlet complex on the mainland coast of British Columbia, were perfect for this sort of work.

The topography of these fjords is such that they contain deep basins that are subject to little water transfer from the open ocean and so water near the bottom is relatively stagnant and very low in oxygen content. As a consequence, the floors of these basins are mostly lifeless and sediment layers build up year after year, undisturbed over millennia. ...

Ours is one of the highest-quality climate records available anywhere today and in it we see obvious confirmation that natural climate change can be dramatic. For example, in the middle of a 62-year slice of the record at about 4,400 years ago, there was a shift in climate in only a couple of seasons from warm, dry and sunny conditions to one that was mostly cold and rainy for several decades.
Basically, what Patterson's crew found in the cores were dark bands from rainy winters, when alluvium washed down into the fjords, and marine animal residue from the warm periods. The warmer the period, the lusher and thicker the animal bands, the colder, the wider the dark bands, so band widths and material intensity create quite an accurate record.

What he found was as clear as the greenhouse gas-exhaling nose on Al Gore's face: The weather cycles reflected in the cores match with remarkable precision the cycles of the Sun. And why not? The Sun, after all, is the source of virtually all energy on the earth.
Specifically, we find a very strong and consistent 11-year cycle throughout the whole record in the sediments and diatom remains. This correlates closely to the well-known 11-year "Schwabe" sunspot cycle, during which the output of the sun varies by about 0.1%.

Sunspots, violent storms on the surface of the sun, have the effect of increasing solar output, so, by counting the spots visible on the surface of our star, we have an indirect measure of its varying brightness. Such records have been kept for many centuries and match very well with the changes in marine productivity we are observing.

In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-90-year "Gleissberg Cycle," the 200-500-year "Suess Cycle" and the 1,100-1,500-year "Bond Cycle."
Wow -- that sure seems like powerful evidence for solar-influenced warming, not anthropomorphic, nasty SUV, global warming. But it's just one study, right? Wrong.
Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.
Research like this could cause real problems for the Warmies because we can hardly force social change in order to regulate the Sun, can we?

It's a good thing the global warming debate is over; otherwise we'd have to accept Patterson's compelling sunspot data andh te Greenies would have to go hunting for their next terrifying bogeyman.

hat-tip: Jim

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