On the NIPCC, the sun, moths and flames

Thus hath the candle sing’d the moath:
O these deliberate fooles when they doe choose,
They haue the wisdome by their wit to loose.

Merchant of Doubt Venice

Climate sceptics are drawn to the sun as moths are to a flame. And so is it with the NIPCC, who have a hundred-page chapter on the solar forcing of climate. How badly singed do they get?

The chapter is a compilation of evidence for solar forcing on climate, making no attempt to evaluate or synthesise the evidence. I get the impression that the authors do not expect the text to be read, that the amount of evidence rather than the quality of evidence will persuade readers. For example, essentially identical text is used to describe Neff et al (2001) in two different sections (the first erroneously placing Oman in Africa – such scholarship).

One of the themes of this blog has been palaeoecological evidence for solar forcing of climate. How many of the papers I’ve commented on get cited by the NIPCC? Bad-paper bingo!

Kokfelt and Muscheler (2012), who didn’t correct for multiple testing in a running correlation, get cited for finding that “Climate and solar activity also are tightly coupled in Sweden”.

Chen et al (2011), who find an 11-yr signal of doubtful statistical significance in dinocyst data and perform eyeball correlations on autocorrelated data with chronological uncertainties, is rewarded with a whole paragraph. The companion paper Chen et al (2013) is omitted.

Sirocko et al (2012), who find a dubious relationship between Rhine ice and solar forcing, gets a citation. Whereas the comment on this paper by van Oldenborgh et al (2013) is ignored.

Di Rita (2013), an absurdly bad attempt to find a solar signal in salt-marsh pollen gets a citation.

Stolze et al (2013) may be too recent to get a citation, as is Galloway et al (2013) and Patterson et al (2013).

Baliunas & Jastrow (1993) gets cited.

Scafetta (2010), a physics-free attempt to show that Earth’s climate is governed by a 60 year cycle caused by planetary tidal effects on the sun, and other work by this author, get multiple citations. The NIPCC conclude this is not unreasonable:

Considering that lunar tidal effects cause major cyclical perturbations on Earth such as tidal ebb and flow of up to 21m, the model of planetary tides influencing the solar system does not seem unreasonable.

Seriously? Nowhere on Earth has a tidal range of 21m. The highest tidal range, 17m, is in the Bay of Fundy (the high water level of 21m there was due to the confluence of a storm and spring tide, not tide alone) The Bay of Fundy is a bay with a bathymetry that focuses the tide. Last time I checked, there were no bays on the sun to focus any tide. Nor is there there a planet large enough or close enough to create tides anywhere near the magnitude of tides on Earth.

I’ve only reviewed a few solar-climate papers so far, but most of them are cited by the NIPCC. These papers are obviously flawed, that the NIPCC cite them suggests that the authors are either incapable of assessing the evidence (and the Heartless Institute should have saved their money and hired an undergraduate), or they are mendacious.

Does solar variability affect Earth’s climate? Undoubtedly, any study that fails to find a solar impact is a Type II error. But is the effect large? I don’t know, but any review that includes obvious junk science cannot be persuasive.

So was the NIPCC singed? No, the “deliberate fooles” got toasted.


About richard telford

Ecologist with interests in quantitative methods and palaeoenvironments
This entry was posted in climate, Fake climate sceptics, Silliness, solar variability and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to On the NIPCC, the sun, moths and flames

  1. Did they cite any of Mike Lockwood’s papers? I’ve only read a couple, but they do seem quite relevant to the whole solar forcing of climate change issue.

    • Yes, some of Lockwood’s papers get cited (Lockwood et al (1999) gets discussed twice – this text is really badly edited), but papers like Lockwood and Fröhlich (2008) are curiously omitted.

  2. Pingback: NIPCC’s Lake Greenland is brim-full of fail | Musings on Quantitative Palaeoecology

  3. Pingback: Het NIPCC versus de wetenschap: zoek de verschillen | Klimaatverandering

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