A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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More strange adventures in TSI data: the miracle of 900 fabricated, fraudulent days

Funny things happen on the Internet sometimes. Rather spectacular claims were made that 900 days of data “were fabricated”. This claim was described as not just speculation, but “a demonstrable fact”, and worse, the crime was apparently even “admitted to” by the man himself! Except that none of it was real, and three tiny misunderstood dots were not fabricated, not data, and not important. Welcome to a Bermuda-Triangle-moment in blog-land, where facts vanish, ships full of misquotes appear from nowhere, and ghosts-of-malcontent and misunderstanding roam freely. This post here is to slay the last loose ghosts, lest anybody think they might still have life in them, or indeed, think they ever did.

Usually a live debate is a brilliant way for spectators to learn. But in that particular science thread, the main lesson is not science but manners. Common courtesy may seem a quaint anachronism, but without it, logic and reason die on the sword of uninformed passion. A simple polite email and an open mind could have saved the world from a cloud of nonsense.

Thanks to the many valiant souls who fought for common sense.

It’s rare in a complex […]

The Solar Model finds a big fall in TSI data that few seem to know about

Leif Svalgaard claims “TSI has not fallen since 2003”. It’s technically true in a sense, but demonstrably false when discussing 11 year smoothed trends (which is written on the graph he was criticizing). Willis Eschenbach sadly was carried along. This post is in response to an overheated thread at WUWT. Both men owe David Evans an apology.

The fuss is over the big fall in TSI. Leif Svalgaard said it was “almost fraudulent” that we claimed there was a fall in TSI since 2003 since there wasn’t a fall in this dataset. He says: “There is no such drop.” I say, look at the graph below, it’s even in your own data. Svalgaard provided the link to his TSI set, and we’ve included that line in the graph below. It’s the light-purple line. (Has he paid attention for the last ten years?)

In his rush to call it “totally wrong” and to declare “the model is already falsified” he didn’t notice we were talking about a trend in 11 year smoothed TSI, and the fall is evident in whole cycles (but takes some wisdom to find in daily or monthly data). I guess that’s a mistake that could happen to […]

Are transfer functions meaningless (the “white noise” point)? Beware your assumptions!

Some people are claiming that the transfer function is meaningless because you could use white noise instead of temperature data and get the same notch. It’s true, you could. But the argument is itself a surprisingly banal fallacy. It looks seductive, but it’s like saying that it is meaningless to add 3 oranges to 3 oranges because you could add 3 oranges to 3 apples and you’d still get six!

It is trivially obvious that the transfer function will find a relationship between entirely unrelated time series, as any mathematical tool will when it’s misapplied. The question that matters — as with any mathematical tool — is has it been misapplied? What matters is whether the base assumption is valid, and whether the results will be a useful answer to the question you’ve asked. If the assumption is that apples and oranges are both pieces of fruit, and the question you ask is “how many pieces of fruit do we have”, then it is useful to add apples and oranges. But if you are trying to compare changes in fruit consumption, adding the two is mindless. So let’s look at the assumptions and the question being asked.

Assumptions first

Two […]

BIG NEWS VIII: New solar theory predicts imminent global cooling

To recap — using an optimal Fourier Transform, David Evans discovered a form of notch filter operating between changes in sunlight and temperatures on Earth. This means there must be a delay — probably around 11 years. This not only fitted with the length of the solar dynamo cycle, but also with previous independent work suggesting a lag of ten years or a correlation with the solar activity of the previous cycle. The synopsis then is that solar irradiance (TSI) is a leading indicator of some other effect coming from the Sun after a delay of 11 years or so.

The discovery of this delay is a major clue about the direction of our future climate. The flickers in sunlight run a whole sunspot cycle ahead of some other force from the sun. Knowing that solar irradiance dropped suddenly from 2003 onwards tells us the rough timing of the fall in temperature that’s coming (just add a solar cycle length). What it doesn’t tell us is the amplitude — the size of the fall. That’s where the model may (or may not) tell us what we want to know. That test is coming, and very soon. This is an unusual […]

BIG NEWS Part VII — Hindcasting with the Solar Model

The Solar Series: I Background | II: The notch filter | III: The delay | IV: A new solar force? | V: Modeling the escaping heat. | VI: The solar climate model | VII — Hindcasting (You are here) | VIII — Predictions

All models are wrong, some are useful. That’s how all modelers speak (except perhaps some climate scientists).

The barriers to making a good climate model are many. The data is short, noisy, adjusted, and many factors are simultaneously at work, some not well described yet. Climate modeling is in its infancy, yet billions of dollars rests on the assumption that CO2 will cause catastrophic warming and the evidence that most recent warming was due to CO2 comes entirely out of models. It’s important to focus on the pea:

“No climate model that has used natural forcing only has reproduced the observed global mean warming trend” (IPCC 2007)

It is a crucial plank that modelers say “we can’t explain the current warming without CO2”. Current climate models assume that changes in solar radiation have a small immediate effect and solar magnetic […]

BIG NEWS part VI: Building a new solar climate model with the notch filter

The Solar Series: I Background | II: The notch filter | III: The delay | IV: A new solar force? | V: Modeling the escaping heat. | VI: The solar climate model (You are here) | VII — Hindcasting | VIII — Predictions

Open Science live — The story so far: Dr David Evans is building the O-D notch-delay solar model. It’s a much simpler big-picture approach than Global Climate Coupled Models. They use an ambitious bottom-up system where the models add up every small aspect in every small cell of the Earth’s climate atmosphere and oceans and try to predict everything, but the trap is the errors — small errors in 10,000 calculations add up to big-mush. David’s approach is top-down. He looks at the whole system from the outside, and doesn’t try to understand or predict each individual part. It’s a way of starting at the start — to shed light on the big forces and processes that happen as energy arrives on Earth, gets reflected, or blended, and eventually changes the surface temperature. His model won’t tell us what happens to rainfall in Sudan in 2050, but […]

Lubos and a few misconceptions

In typical style skeptics love to criticize, it is our strength. Sadly, diplomacy, manners, courtesy — burned at the door on a moment’s notice. Sigh. After five years in this debate you’d think I’d know not to expect respect or goodwill from every fellow skeptic. Call me naive, I don’t expect them to agree with me, just to be polite. If someone asks you for a review before they publish, would you congratulate them privately, ask questions, ignore the answers, ignore large parts of the paper, then later post those misunderstood points, without so much as a courtesy check first? Yes, I’m baffled too.

Hey Lubos, no hard feelings, but next time let us save you from posting unnecessary innuendo, irrelevant criticisms, and not-so-informed commentary. It only takes an email.

I groan. In a highly gregarious species, where power is clawed through high-order political games, schmoozing and collaboration, some skeptics still wonder why people who are bad with numbers but good with people, control the institutions, the publications and big budgets. The mystery of it all!

Anyhow, because it is out there (or was, I’ve reproduced it here)* and is being discussed, obviously we need to correct the errors. Lubos […]

BIG NEWS Part V: Escaping heat. The Three pipes theory and the RATS multiplier

The Solar Series: I Background | II: The notch filter | III: The delay | IV: A new solar force? | V: Modeling the escaping heat (You are here). | VI: The solar climate model | VII — Hindcasting | VIII — Predictions

David Evans has analyzed the black box system that is effectively “Sunlight In, Temperature Out”, and found a notch, a delay, and a low pass filter. The problem then is to work out their order and to fill in any other bits needed by the model. This post then, doesn’t have big blockbuster moments (sorry), but these points need to be said.

Energy leaves Earth through a range of electromagnetic frequencies, but the bulk of them can be grouped into three main “pipes”. Radiation either comes directly off the land, oceans, ice and what-not on the ground, or it leaves via the atmosphere. Up in the air, carbon dioxide and water molecules do most of the work sending emissions of infra red to outer space. In the atmosphere, the radiating “surface” is a virtual concept and is effectively at different heights for different greenhouse gases. This is all non-controversial […]

BIG NEWS part IV: A huge leap understanding the mysterious 11 year solar delay

The Solar Series: I Background | II: The notch filter | III: The delay | IV: A new solar force? (You are here) | V: Modeling the escaping heat. | VI: The solar climate model | VII — Hindcasting | VIII — Predictions

Implacably, the discovery of a notch suggests a delay of anything from 10 to 20 years but most likely 11 years. (Don’t miss the delay post — two very big important concepts out in two posts). The big mystery is what could cause such a long delay in the correlation of solar radiation with temperatures on Earth?

David and I spent months wondering “what on Earth” could drive it. There were many possibilities though none of them seemed to be able to respond with the right timing: A resonant slop in ocean circulation could absorb extra energy, but it was difficult to see how the timing would be so tight with solar peaks. Likewise changes in ice or land cover. Then there are lunar cycles of 9 – 18 years, potentially generating atmospheric standing waves, but they were not synchronous with the sun.

Given that marine life can produce […]

BIG NEWS Part III: The notch means a delay

The Solar Series: I Background | II: The notch filter | III: The delay (you are here) | IV: A new solar force? | V: Modeling the escaping heat. | VI: The solar climate model | VII — Hindcasting | VIII — Predictions

UPDATE: July 21 Thanks to Bernie Hutchins, David found a problem with the code, which means the notch no longer guarantees a delay. The delay still likely exists (see the other evidence in the references below) but this post, particularly figure 2 needs correction and updating. – Jo

Strap yourself in. The Notch in the Earth’s response to incoming solar energy means that every 11 years (roughly) the solar energy peaks, and at the same time the climate’s response to the extra energy changes. What on Earth is going on?

The thing about notch filters that is hard for anyone who isn’t an electrical engineer to understand is that it appears to start working before “the event” it is filtering out. This is obvious in the step response graph. That’s Figure 2 – which shows what happens where there is a […]