Thursday, August 21, 2014

New excuse for the "pause" in global warming #38: The "missing heat" is hiding in the deep Atlantic, not Pacific

Climate scientist author: “Every week there’s a new explanation of the hiatus”

Yes- so true, now up to 38 excuses for the 18 year "pause" in global warming by my count.

According to a new paper published today in Science, Trenberth's "missing heat" is really hiding in the deep Atlantic, not the deep Pacific as Trenberth claims. See Dr. Judith Curry's take on this today at her blog, and choice quotes:

"In the absence of a convincing explanation for warming since the mid 19th century, as well as the multi-decade hiatus periods, I find the [IPCC] extremely likely confidence level to be logically insupportable."

"JC message to Gavin Schmidt (as per our discussion on Dan Kahan’s blog): No I am not making things up re the 50-50 attribution argument. I regard it as a fundamental flaw in logic to infer high confidence in attribution since 1950, without understanding the warming in the early part of the 20th century and the mid century hiatus."
Regarding the anthropogenic aerosol forcing argument mentioned by Dr. Curry, that also appears to be blown out of the water by a paper published today in JGR-Atmospheres:

New paper finds changes in cloud cover caused global brightening & dimming, not man-made aerosols

Thus, very recently published papers point to a combination of natural ocean oscillations, natural changes in cloud cover, and changes in solar activity fully explaining the natural warming since the Little Ice Age, not man-made CO2 nor man-made aerosols.

Cause of global warming hiatus found deep in the Atlantic Ocean

Following rapid warming in the late 20th century, this century has so far seen surprisingly little increase in the average temperature at the Earth’s surface. At first this was a blip, then a trend, then a puzzle for the climate science community.

More than a dozen theories have now been proposed for the so-called global warming hiatus, ranging from air pollution to volcanoes to sunspots. New research from the University of Washington shows that the heat absent from the surface is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a naturally occurring cycle. The study is published Aug. 22 in Science.

Subsurface warming in the ocean explains why global average air temperatures have flatlined since 1999, despite greenhouse gases trapping more solar heat at the Earth’s surface.

“Every week there’s a new explanation of the hiatus,” said corresponding author Ka-Kit Tung, a UW professor of applied mathematics and adjunct faculty member in atmospheric sciences. “Many of the earlier papers had necessarily focused on symptoms at the surface of the Earth, where we see many different and related phenomena. We looked at observations in the ocean to try to find the underlying cause.”

The results show that a slow-moving current in the Atlantic, which carries heat between the two poles, sped up earlier this century to draw heat down almost a mile (1,500 meters). Most of the previous studies focused on shorter-term variability or particles that could block incoming sunlight, but they could not explain the massive amount of heat missing for more than a decade.

“The finding is a surprise, since the current theories had pointed to the Pacific Ocean as the culprit for hiding heat,” Tung said. “But the data are quite convincing and they show otherwise.”
Tung and co-author Xianyao Chen of the Ocean University of China, who was a UW visiting professor last year, used recent observations of deep-sea temperatures from Argo floats that sample the water down to 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) depth. The data show an increase in heat sinking around 1999, when the rapid warming of the 20th century stopped.

“There are recurrent cycles that are salinity-driven that can store heat deep in the Atlantic and Southern oceans,” Tung said. “After 30 years of rapid warming in the warm phase, now it’s time for the cool phase.”

Rapid warming in the last three decades of the 20th century, they found, was roughly half due to global warming and half to the natural Atlantic Ocean cycle that kept more heat near the surface. When observations show the ocean cycle flipped, around the year 2000, the current began to draw heat deeper into the ocean, working to counteract human-driven warming.

(Top) Global average surface temperatures, where black dots are yearly averages. Two flat periods (hiatus) are separated by rapid warming from 1976-1999. (Middle) Observations of heat content, compared to the average, in the north Atlantic Ocean. (Bottom) Salinity of the seawater in the same part of the Atlantic. Higher salinity is seen to coincide with more ocean heat storage. 

The cycle starts when saltier, denser water at the surface northern part of the Atlantic, near Iceland, causes the water to sink. This changes the speed of the huge current in the Atlantic Ocean that circulates heat throughout the planet.

“When it’s heavy water on top of light water, it just plunges very fast and takes heat with it,” Tung said. Recent observations at the surface in the North Atlantic show record-high saltiness, Tung said, while at the same time, deeper water in the North Atlantic shows increasing amounts of heat.

The authors dug up historical data to show that the cooling in the three decades between 1945 to 1975 – which caused people to worry about the start of an Ice Age – was during a cooling phase. (It was thought to be caused by air pollution [debunked].) Earlier records in Central England show the 40- to 70-year cycle goes back centuries, and other records show it has existed for millennia.

Changes in Atlantic Ocean circulation historically meant roughly 30 warmer years followed by 30 cooler years. Now that it is happening on top of global warming, however, the trend looks more like a staircase.

The temperature oscillations have a natural switch. During the warm period, faster currents cause more tropical water to travel to the North Atlantic, warming both the surface and the deep water. At the surface this warming melts ice. This eventually makes the surface water there less dense and after a few decades puts the brakes on the circulation, setting off a 30-year cooling phase.

This explanation implies that the current slowdown in global warming could last for another decade, or longer, and then rapid warming will return [read Dr. Curry's opinion on this controversial statement]. But Tung emphasizes it’s hard to predict what will happen next.

A pool of freshwater from melting ice, now sitting in the Arctic Ocean, could overflow into the North Atlantic to upset the cycle.

“We are not talking about a normal situation because there are so many other things happening due to climate change,” Tung said.

Related: Bob Tisdale also debunks

New paper finds changes in cloud cover caused global brightening & dimming, not man-made aerosols

An important paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres finds that the well-known "global dimming" and "global brightening" of solar radiation at Earth's surface was primarily due to changes in cloud cover, not from anthropogenic aerosols from burning of fossil fuels as many climate alarmists including James Hansen have claimed. The observed trends of solar surface radiation dimming and brightening correspond well to the observed global temperature changes over the past 50 years. 

As noted by Dr. Roy Spencer,
"The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling."
Changes in cloud cover may occur due to solar amplification mechanisms such as via solar control of cosmic ray cloud nucleation and solar modulation of ocean and atmospheric oscillations, or may occur as a negative feedback to surface warming and increased evaporation. 

The rate of warming increased by a factor of 3.8 from 1992 to 2002 corresponding to the period of "global brightening," and was followed by global cooling and a "pause" or possible "dimming" of solar surface radiation.

The cause of solar dimming and brightening at the Earth's surface during the last half century: evidence from measurements of sunshine duration.

Gerald Stanhill et al

Analysis of the Angstrom-Prescott relationship between normalized values of global radiation and sunshine duration measured during the last 50 years made at five sites with a wide range of climate and aerosol emissions showed few significant differences in atmospheric transmissivity under clear or cloud covered skies between years when global dimming occurred and years when global brightening was measured. Nor in most cases were there any significant change in the parameters or in their relationships to annual rates of fossil fuel combustion in the surrounding 1° cells. It is concluded that at the sites studied changes in cloud cover rather than anthropogenic aerosols emissions played the major role in determining solar dimming and brightening during the last half century and that there are reasons to suppose that these findings may have wider relevance.


Clouds/aerosols control the climate, not man-made CO2

New paper finds sunshine "highly correlated" to temperature anomalies over past 50 years

New paper shows dimming of sunshine during the 1970's ice age scare, and brightening since the 1980's

New paper finds IPCC climate models unable to reproduce solar radiation at Earth's surface

New paper finds a decrease of sunshine in Iran since 2000. A cause of the 'pause'?

New paper finds solar energy at Earth's surface greatly increased between 1973 and 1998

New paper finds large increase in sunshine since the 1980's; dwarfs alleged effect of CO2

New paper finds cloudiness in Spain has significantly decreased since 1960

New paper finds 23% of warming in Europe since 1980 due to clean air laws reducing sulfur dioxide

Evidence solar radiation dominates climate change, not greenhouse gases

How climate models dismiss the role of the Sun in climate change [Part 4]

New paper finds melt rate of Antarctic Peninsula has decreased since 1993 & decrease in LW radiation from GHGs

According to Joe 'exploding head' Romm, the Antarctic Peninsula meltdown to China is now "non-linear, fastest in 1000 years!" However, a paper published today in The Cryosphere paints an entirely different picture.

The paper examines the surface energy budget on the two major Larsen & Wilkins ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula over the past 21 years from 1989-2010. According to the authors, "the automated weather station observations on the Larsen Ice Shelf did not show any significant temperature trend, and the reanalyses [of temperature data] showed warming trends only over the Wilkins Ice Shelf." However, the authors find a large upward biases in the reanalyzed data, stating, "Focusing on biases of seasonal means, our validation results include three interesting issues: (1) all three reanalyses had warm temperature biases in all seasons..."  Thus, it isn't clear how much, if any, of the warming of the Wilkins Ice Shelf is real vs. due to biases in the reanalyses, and meanwhile direct weather station observations of the Larsen Ice Shelf show no warming over the past 21 years.

Contrary to Romm's claim 4 months ago that the supposed Antarctic Peninsula meltdown is "non-linear, fastest in 1000 years," the authors instead find the fastest melt rates of the past 21 years were in 1992-1993 and have decreased since then:

The paper attributes the possible warming of the Wilkins Ice Shelf to natural changes in atmospheric pressure, wind, and cloud fraction, but not longwave radiation from the steady increase in greenhouse gases. Why? Because the authors paradoxically find that net longwave radiation from greenhouse gases has decreased over the past 21 years, rather than increased from the steady rise of greenhouse gases as predicted by AGW theory. 

This is shown in the following tables where LW = net longwave radiation from greenhouse gases at the surface of the Antarctic Peninsula, SW = net shortwave radiation from the Sun, Ann = Annual. There are statistically significant negative trends in net longwave radiation on both ice shelves, not positive as would be expected from the steady rise of well-mixed greenhouse gases. Another paper has also found a paradoxical decrease of longwave radiation from greenhouse gases over the past 14 years in the US Great Plains.

The authors also note that monthly mean temperatures only rose above the freezing point twice over the past 21 years, during the summers of 1989–1990 and 1994–1995. 
"Unfortunately the Larsen C AWS was out of commissionin summer 1992–1993, and thus could not be used for confirmingthe peaking of melt during that summer. During summers1989–1990 and 1994–1995, which are identifiable bythe high number of melt days on LCIS, the monthly meantemperature was above 0 C during one summer month accordingto the AWS. Monthly mean temperatures did not riseabove freezing point during any other period between 1989and 2010. According to the AWS data, summer 2002–2003,which experienced a large melt, was not distinctly warmerthan other summers."
Joe Romm

The Cryosphere, 8, 1519-1538, 2014

I. Välisuo1,2, T. Vihma1, and J. C. King3
1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki,Finland
2Departement of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK

Abstract. Ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula have significantly disintegrated during recent decades. To better understand the atmospheric contribution in the process, we have analysed the inter-annual variations in radiative and turbulent surface fluxes and weather conditions over Larsen C Ice Shelf (LCIS) and Wilkins Ice Shelf (WIS) in the Antarctic Peninsula in 1989–2010. Three atmospheric reanalyses were applied: ERA-Interim by ECMWF, Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) by NCEP, and JRA-25/JCDAS by the Japan Meteorological Agency. In addition, in situ observations from an automatic weather station (AWS) on LCIS were applied, mainly for validation of the reanalyses. The AWS observations on LCIS did not show any significant temperature trend, and the reanalyses showed warming trends only over WIS: ERA-Interim in winter (0.23 °C yr−1) and JRA-25/JCDAS in autumn (0.13 °C yr−1). In LCIS from December through August and in WIS from March through August, the variations of surface net flux were partly explained by the combined effects of atmospheric pressure, wind and cloud fraction. The explained variance was much higher in LCIS (up to 80%) than in WIS (26–27%). Summer melting on LCIS varied between 11 and 58 cm water equivalent (w.e.), which is comparable to previous results. The mean amount of melt days per summer on LCIS was 69. The high values of melting in summer 2001–2002 presented in previous studies on the basis of simple calculations were not supported by our study. Instead, our calculations based on ERA-Interim yielded strongest melting in summer 1992–1993 on both ice shelves. On WIS the summer melting ranged between 10 and 23 cm w.e., and the peak values coincided with the largest disintegrations of the ice shelf. The amount of melt on WIS may, however, be underestimated by ERA-Interim, as previously published satellite observations suggest that it suffers from a significant bias over WIS.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New paper finds groundwater extraction & 2004 earthquake are the primary causes of sea level rise in Thailand

A paper published today in Global and Planetary Change finds high rates of sea level rise along certain sections of the coast of Thailand are almost entirely due to "extreme land subsidence" [land sinking] rather than global warming. The authors find sea level rise increased significantly after the 2004 Sumatra Earthquake which greatly increased land subsidence in certain regions, and that rapid land subsidence is also due to groundwater extraction. 

Relative sea level change is primarily related to subsidence or post-glacial rebound [land height changes] rather than melting ice or steric sea level changes [thermal expansion from warming]. Global mean sea levels are rising at only about 1-1.6 mm/year, equivalent to 4-7 inches per century and without any evidence of acceleration. Without acceleration, there is no evidence of any human effect on global sea levels. 

The land at along the coast of Bangkok is sinking up to 20 times faster than the rate of global sea level rise

Sea level rise is primarily a local phenomenon primarily due to land height changes rather than global warming. 

Fast sea level rise in upper Gulf of Thailand due to land subsidence is explored
Sea level rise increased significantly after the 2004 Sumatra Earthquake
Seasonal sea level variations are driven by monsoonal winds
Annual and semi-annual sea level variations in Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand are very different


The study addresses two important issues associated with sea level along the coasts of Thailand: first, the fast sea level rise and its spatial variation, and second, the monsoonal-driven seasonal variations in sea level. Tide gauge data that are more extensive than in past studies were obtained from several different local and global sources, and relative sea level rise (RSLR) rates were obtained from two different methods, linear regressions and non-linear Empirical Mode Decomposition/Hilbert-Huang Transform (EMD/HHT) analysis. The results show extremely large spatial variations in RSLR, with rates varying from ~ 1 mm y− 1 to ~ 20 mm y− 1; the maximum RSLR is found in the upper Gulf of Thailand (GOT) near Bangkok, where local land subsidence due to groundwater extraction dominates the trend. Furthermore, there are indications that RSLR rates increased significantly in all locations after the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake and the Indian Ocean tsunami that followed, so that recent RSLR rates seem to have less spatial differences than in the past, but with high rates of ~ 20-30 mm y− 1 almost everywhere. The seasonal sea level cycle was found to be very different between stations in the GOT, which have minimum sea level in June-July, and stations in the Andaman Sea, which have minimum sea level in February. The seasonal sea-level variations in the GOT are driven mostly by large-scale wind-driven set-up/set-down processes associated with the seasonal monsoon and have amplitudes about ten times larger than either typical steric changes at those latitudes or astronomical annual tides.

World's largest solar energy plant wants to increase its greenhouse gas emissions to 94,749 tons per year

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating & Bird-Frying System in California, touted as the world's largest "green energy" solar plant, has recently filed an application with the State of California to increase the carbon pollution emissions it generates from dirty fossil fuels to 94,749 tons of greenhouse gases per year, a 59% increase above the greenhouse emissions currently permitted by California. The plant is requiring much more natural gas to fire its boilers than expected when the Sun doesn't shine & on cloudy days.

As shown by Table 2 below, the proposed new greenhouse [GHGs] emissions are 94,749 tons per year, approximately equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas output of 16,500 average passenger cars:

If the petition is approved, the "solar" plant would be allowed to use a quantity of natural gas that would have been enough to supply about 35,000 typical California households. That's 35% of the 100,000 households the entire project is expected to power - generated from fossil fuels!

The plant cost $2.2 billion and has a "gross capacity" of 392 MW [but may actually perform at a much lower average capacity], thus a minimum cost of $5.64 million per MW capacity.

By comparison, A 650MW gas turbine power plant can be built for around $630 million and run 24/7/365 without requiring fossil-fuel back-up, a cost of $970,000 per MW or about 6 times less. Since ~35% of the proposed plant output would be from fossil fuels, the solar maximum capacity would be ~255 MW, increasing the cost for the actual solar-derived energy to ~8.6 times higher than a conventional gas turbine power plant [which has much lower greenhouse & particulate emissions than firing boilers in the Ivanpah plant]. 

These back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest the Ivanpah 'solar' plant is not only a bird and retina frying machine, but a financial boondoggle with a substantial carbon & environmental footprint as well. 

Ivanpah Solar Plant Owners Want To Burn a Lot More Natural Gas

by Chris Clarke  KCET  3/27/14

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System | Photo: Penny Meyer/Flickr/Creative Commons License
It's been lauded as the world's largest solar power plant, but the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System could also be called the world's largest gas-fired power plant (largest as in physical size, not gas consumption). Each of the 4,000-acre facility's three units has gas-fired boilers used to warm up the fluid in the turbines in the early morning, to keep that fluid at an optimum temperature through the night, and to boost production during the day when the sun goes behind a cloud.
The project's managers, BrightSource Energy and NRG Energy, originally estimated that the plant's main auxiliary boilers would need to run for an hour a day, on average, to allow the plant to capture solar energy efficiently. But after a few months of operation, they're now saying they need to burn more gas, with the boilers running an average of five hours a day.
To that end, the companies have asked the California Energy Commission (CEC) to change the project's license to allow Ivanpah to burn more than 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas a year, and the plant's operators say that change won't have any environmental impact.
The request from Ivanpah's operators comes in the form of a petition to amend the plant's air quality conditions of certification, posted Thursday on the CEC's website.
Under its current license, the project is allowed to use up to 328 million standard cubic feet of natural gas (MMSCF) per year at each of its three units. That's with the proviso that the total amount of natural gas used can't climb above 5 percent of the energy the project gets from the sun. Ivanpah's owners (doing business as the shell corporations Solar Partners I, II, and VIII) want that upper limit increased to 525 MMSCF per year per unit, and the 5 percent limit abolished altogether.
If you're wondering about that acronym, MMSCF is a bit of natural gas industry jargon based loosely on Roman numerals, with M meaning 1,000. A standard cubic foot, generally speaking, is the amount of natural gas that would take up a cubic foot of volume at sea level at room temperature.
If the petition is approved, ISEGS would be allowed to use a quantity of natural gas that would have been enough to supply about 35,000 typical California households.
In asking for the changes to the plant's permit, Solar Partners say that they've been climbing a steep learning curve in ISEGS' first months of operation:
ISEGS is unique. For some aspects of operation, the only way to fully understand how the systems work has been through the experience of operating the powerplants. Petitioner first became aware of the need to increase annual fuel use after the completion of construction and commencement of commercial operations, which began in December 2013. The experience gained during commercial operations indicates that more boiler steam would be needed than previously expected in order to operate the system efficiently and in a manner that protects plant equipment, and to maximize solar electricity generation.
Solar Partners says that in order for ISEGS to operate at full efficiency, the plant's gas-fired auxiliary boilers will need to run an average of 4.5 hours a day, rather than the one hour a day originally expected.
To be sure, the amount of natural gas ISEGS would be able to burn under the requested amendments to the plant's license is still dwarfed by the amount a typical gas-fired power plant burns in its normal course of operations. The 1,575 MMSCF (or more than 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas) per year ISEGS would burn at its upper limit would supply a 300-megawatt gas-fired power plant for about 27 days of peak operation.
Still, the boosted gas consumption limits proposed by ISEGS' backers aren't without impact. The plant's total CO2 footprint from burning natural gas would rise to just above 92,200 tons per year, approximately equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas output of 16,500 average passenger cars.
And yet Solar Partners says that the boost from 328 to 525 MMSCF of gas per year -- with a climate impact increase equivalent to about 6,200 of those cars -- will have no significant environmental cost, saying that the boost in gas burning won't change the project's impact on either air quality or public health.
Our guess is that Solar Partners is defining both "air quality" and "public health" differently than we would.
We'll update you on CEC's response to the petition when it becomes available.

Monday, August 18, 2014

WSJ: Another example that scientific debates are rarely 'settled': The Salt Libel

Up until a week ago, we were told the science was settled: salt is bad, the less you consume, the better. Anyone sprinkling salt on their food must be deniers of the 100% consensus of scientists and thousands of peer-reviewed papers over the past 40 years proving beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever that table salt is sodium pollution to the human body.

Hold the boat...

"several related papers in this week's New England Journal of Medicine undermine these [sodium] recommendations, and one even speculates that the official targets pose health hazards. In one of the most complete treatments of the subject to date, researchers followed more than 100,000 people world-wide for three and a half years. They found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 mgs had a 27% higher risk of death or a serious medical event like a heart attack."
It's yet another example of confirmation bias, "consensus" groupthink, and the dangers of assuming scientific debates are ever "settled."

Likewise, until very recently, the 100% scientific consensus was that saturated fat causes obesity & heart disease and to eat low-fat carbs instead. Now disproven, the settled overwhelming 100% scientific consensus thrown out the window, low-fat carbs are bad, saturated [and unsaturated] fat good in moderation. 

Likewise for the 100% scientific consensus for over 50 years that peptic ulcers were due to stress or eating spicy foods, later proven to be completely false and instead caused by infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, and treatable with antibiotics not histamine blockers. 

There are hundreds of other examples in the medical and physical sciences where the overwhelming > 97% scientific consensus was flat out wrong. The bogus "97% consensus" on climate change will be next on this long list of "consensus" failures.

UPDATE: see a list of additional scientific consensus failures from a new post at

The Salt Libel

Another example that scientific debates are rarely 'settled.'

Aug. 18, 2014 7:53 p.m. ET   THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

We were told the science was settled. Yet new research suggests that salt is not nearly as dangerous as the government medical establishment has been proclaiming for many decades—and a low-salt diet may itself be risky. Other than how to season tonight's dinner, perhaps there's a lesson here about politics and the scientific method.

The USDA, Food and Drug Administration and other regulators have long instructed eaters to consume no more sodium than 2,300 milligrams a day, or about a teaspoon, well below the U.S. average of 3,400 mgs. The limits are said to reduce the risks of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

But several related papers in this week's New England Journal of Medicine undermine these recommendations, and one even speculates that the official targets pose health hazards. In one of the most complete treatments of the subject to date, researchers followed more than 100,000 people world-wide for three and a half years. They found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 mgs had a 27% higher risk of death or a serious medical event like a heart attack.

Enlarge Image

Getty Images

The findings are associations, not definitive clinical proof (to the extent there is such a thing). But they add to a growing literature arguing that the evidence that sodium is harmful is weak or nonexistent, including a report last year out of the Institute of Medicine.

If the war on salt was wrongly declared, that may be because diet is inevitably an elusive and ambiguous field given the complexity of human biology. What we know about the body evolves over time. Many theories of food and health are no more than superstition, so any nutrition advice that is more specific than moderation and more vegetables ought to be taken with a grain of—well, you know.

Yet the latest USDA food pyramid, which was updated as recently as 2011, clings to simplistic low-salt pseudo-science. The FDA is pressuring food manufacturers and restaurants to remove salt from their recipes and menus, while the public health lobby is still urging the agency to go further and regulate NaCl as if it were a poison.

The larger point is that no scientific enterprise is static, and political claims that some line of inquiry is over and "settled" are usually good indications that real debate and uncertainty are aboil. In medicine in particular, the illusion that science can provide some objective answer that applies to everyone—how much salt to eat, how and how often to screen for cancer, even whom to treat with cholesterol-lowering drugs, and so on—is a special danger.

Government regulation often can lock in bad advice and practices and never changes as quickly as the evidence evolves. So be glad the salt debate continues.


The consensus was wrong
August 19, 2014

In an article in the Guardian, Richard Tol wrote that “There are plenty of examples in history where everyone agreed and everyone was wrong”. He didn’t give examples there – perhaps he thought this was so well known that it wasn’t worth commenting on, or perhaps space was too limited.

Here are a few examples of where the consensus has turned out to be wrong (thanks to @Fastcom, @intrepidwanders, @DerrickByford, @nmrqip and @Beautyon for suggesting many of these). More examples welcome!

Yes, I know, these stories are all greatly oversimplified.

Copernicus, Galileo and the Sun. For some time after Copernicus wrote his book saying that the Earth goes round the Sun, most scientists continued to believe the opposite.

Ernst Chladni and meteorites. The consensus was that meteorites came from the earth, perhaps from volcanoes, until, around 1800, some nutter suggested they might come from outer space.

Cholera and John Snow. The consensus was that cholera was caused by ‘miasma’ – bad air, until John Snow identified a link with a contaminated water pump in the 1850s.

Semmelweis, hand-washing and puerperal fever. His results were rejected because they conflicted with the consensus of scientific opinion.

Evolution. The consensus was that God created species in a few days. Darwin was so worried about the consequences of what he’d found that he sat on it for many years.

The Aether and the speed of light. It used to be thought that light travelled at a certain speed relative to a background known as ‘aether’. Experiments and then Einstein’s theory of relativity showed that this was wrong.

Wegener and continental drift. Wegener was attacked and ridiculed for this theory.

George Zweig and quarks. The consensus was that protons and neutrons were fundamental elementary particles until Zweig and Gell-Man came up with quarks.

Barry Marshall and stomach ulcers. The consensus was that gastritis and ulcers were related to poor diet and stress. in 1984, Marshall had to ingest the bacteria, helicobacter pylori, to show he was right that this was the cause, and eventually won the Nobel Prize.

Stanley Prusiner and prions The consensus was that disease agents needed nucleic acids. Prusiner’s theory of prions in the 1980s led to incredulity, personal attacks and then a Nobel Prize.

Barbara McClintlock and “jumping genes”. Another Nobel Prize winner whose work wasn’t accepted at first because it went against received wisdom.

New paper finds the Sun controls Greenland climate

An important paper published today in Nature Geoscience finds a persistent link between solar activity and Greenland climate during the last ice age, and finds the link is similar to modern solar forcing of regional climate. 

According to the authors, 
"We suggest that solar minima could have induced changes in the stratosphere that favour the development of high-pressure blocking systems located to the south of Greenland, as has been found in observations and model simulations for recent climate. We conclude that the mechanism behind solar forcing of regional climate change may have been similar under both modern and Last Glacial Maximum climate conditions."
The authors describe a solar amplification mechanism by which solar minima favor the development of high-pressure blocking systems which block the jet stream and cause increased jet stream dips of the polar vortex [just like we have seen over the past few record cold winters in the US and Europe]. Many other papers have described this solar amplification mechanism via solar effects on the stratosphere, which in turn affect the QBO, which in turn affects large scale planetary waves such as Rossby Waves and the jet stream. This is only one of many solar amplification mechanisms described in the scientific literature. 

The authors also provide a new reconstruction of solar activity using the cosmogenic isotope 10Be, which shows a remarkable correlation over relatively short time-scales to ice core temperatures and precipitation: 

d18O [mean of 2 ice cores shown as blue line] is a proxy of temperature and precipitation. 10Be [orange line] is a proxy of solar activity [note 10Be is inversely correlated to solar activity]
Note 10Be concentration at end of 20th century was ~0.6, much less than mean of ~1 from first chart above, indicating solar activity was much greater at end of 20th century than during the last glacial maximum. 

Excerpt explaining the solar amplification mechanism

Climate alarmists such as Jennifer Francis and Heidi Cullen claim man-made CO2 from your SUV is the control knob of Greenland climate, and that increased CO2 causes jet stream dips and record cold weather. However, this new paper and many others provide a much more plausible explanation: it's the Sun. 

Persistent link between solar activity and Greenland climate during the Last Glacial Maximum

Nature Geoscience
Published online
Changes in solar activity have previously been proposed to cause decadal- to millennial-scale fluctuations in both the modern and Holocene climates1. Direct observational records of solar activity, such as sunspot numbers, exist for only the past few hundred years, so solar variability for earlier periods is typically reconstructed from measurements of cosmogenic radionuclides such as10Be and 14C from ice cores and tree rings23. Here we present a high-resolution 10Be record from the ice core collected from central Greenland by the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP). The record spans from 22,500 to 10,000 years ago, and is based on new and compiled data456. Using 14C records78 to control for climate-related influences on 10Be deposition, we reconstruct centennial changes in solar activity. We find that during the Last Glacial Maximum, solar minima correlate with more negative δ18O values of ice and are accompanied by increased snow accumulation and sea-salt input over central Greenland. We suggest that solar minima could have induced changes in the stratosphere that favour the development of high-pressure blocking systems located to the south of Greenland, as has been found in observations and model simulations for recent climate910. We conclude that the mechanism behind solar forcing of regional climate change may have been similar under both modern and Last Glacial Maximum climate conditions.


What is the Planetary Theory about? Why all the Fuss?

New sunspot record shows accumulated solar energy was at "Grand Maximum" at end of 20th century

Solar physicist Dr. Leif Svalgaard and colleagues have submitted their paper "Revising the sunspot number" to the journal Solar and Stellar Astrophysics for peer-review. Outcomes of the new paper are said to include:
  • The so-called “Modern Maximum” disappears
  • Sunspot activity is steady over the last 250 years
  • Three detected “inhomogeneities” since 1880 are corrected
  • Cycle 24 will become the weakest in 200 years
However, the paper actually says that "such a tight sequence of 5 strong cycles over 6 successive cycles (from 17 to 22, except 20), which we can call the “Modern Maximum”, is still unique over at least the last four centuries," and "The recalibrated series may thus indicate that a Grand Maximum needs to be redefined as a tight repetition/clustering of strong cycles over several decades, without requiring exceptionally high amplitudes for those cycles compared to other periods." 

Excerpts from pages 71-72:
"Still, although the levels of activity were not exceptional except maybe for cycle 19, the particularly long sequence of strong cycles in the late 20th remains a noteworthy episode. Indeed, the 400-year sunspot record and one of its by products, the number of spotless days, show that such a tight sequence of 5 strong cycles over 6 successive cycles (from 17 to 22, except 20), which we can call the “Modern Maximum”, is still unique over at least the last four centuries. Given the inertia of natural systems exposed to the solar influences, like the Earth atmosphere-ocean system, this cycle clustering could still induce a peak in the external responses to solar activity, like the Earth climate. However, we conclude that the imprint of this Modern Maximum (e.g. Earth climate forcing) would essentially result from time-integration effects (system inertia) [i.e. the sunspot time-integral], since exceptionally high amplitudes of the solar magnetic cycle cannot be invoked anymore. In this suggested revision, the estimated or modeled amplitude of the effects, including the response of the Earth environment, can be quite different, necessarily smaller, and should thus be re-assessed. 
The recalibrated series may thus indicate that a Grand Maximum needs to be redefined as a tight repetition/clustering of strong cycles over several decades, without requiring exceptionally high amplitudes for those cycles compared to other periods."
Using Dr. Svalgaard's data from the paper, it is clear that the sunspot time-integral of accumulated solar energy has been increasing since the 1700's to a "Grand Maximum of Accumulated Solar Activity," in remarkable correspondence to the HADCRU3 global temperature record:

From the post "It's the Sun":

It's the Sun

Solar physicist Dr. Leif Svalgaard has revised his reconstruction of sunspot observations over the past 400 years from 1611-2013. Plotting the "time integral" of sunspot numbers from Dr. Svalgaard's data shows a significant increase in accumulated solar energy beginning during the 1700's and continuing through and after the end of the Little Ice Age in ~1850. After a ~30 year hiatus, accumulated solar energy resumes a "hockey stick" rise for the remainder of the 20th century, followed by a decline beginning in 2004, all of which show remarkable correspondence to the HADCRU3 global temperature record:

The real "hockey stick"


The Sun explains 95% of climate change over the past 400 years; CO2 had no significant influence

Climate Modeling: Ocean Oscillations + Solar Activity R²=.96

Analysis shows accumulated solar energy explains 20th century global warming; no significant effect of CO2

The Time-Integral of Solar Activity explains Global Temperatures 1610-2012, not CO2

Natural Climate Change has been Hiding in Plain Sight

New paper confirms the Sun was particularly active during the latter 20th century

Global warming made simple: How natural variability explains 20th century global warming without man-made CO2

Sunspot Integral v. Temperature

The Sun can't possibly explain global warming

New paper finds recent Grand Maximum of solar activity was 'rare or even unique event' in 3,000 years

New paper finds up to 72% of temperature increase over past 150 years due to the Sun

How climate models dismiss the role of the Sun in climate

How climate models dismiss the role of the Sun in climate change [Part 3]
How climate models dismiss the role of the Sun in climate change [Part 4]