Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Global Warming Puzzle

A friend of mine, who happens to be a global warming skeptic, sent me about an article from Investor's Business Daily. The article reports claims by a Geophysicist Phil Chapman. He argues that we might be entering a long term lull in sunspot activity. This is significant since low levels of sunspot activity actually relate to lower solar output. He claims that the start of the next sunspot cycle has been delayed and that there should be more than one sunspot visible at this time. Curiously though when I went to the sunspot link at SpaceWeather.com mentioned in the article, no one else seems overly concerned. In fact today's sunspot report notes an upswing in activity...

"Our star is criss-crossed by dark magnetic filaments and peppered with active regions that are not quite sunspots but seething nevertheless. "What a great show," he says. Readers with solar telescopes, take a look!"

http://www.spaceweather.com

So while he is right- there is only one sunspot currently visible, clearly there is more activity on the way.

Interested readers might check out the times series of sunspot activity at:

http://sidc.oma.be/html/wolfaml.html

More interesting to me is his claim of extreme global cooling in 2007. According to the article Dr. Chapman claims:

"This has been a winter of record cold and record snowfalls. The four major
agencies tracking Earth's temperature, including NASA's Goddard Institute,
report the earth cooled 0.7C in 2007, the fastest decline in the age of
instrumentation, putting us back to where the Earth was in 1930."

What's interesting is that when you look at what

">Goddard actually says about 2007, the picture is very different:

"As we predicted last year, 2007 was warmer than 2006, continuing the strong warming trend of the past 30 years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases,"

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2008/earth_temp.html

Hardly seems like a cooling trend to me.

Maybe some one more astute about global warming data can explain what's going on. Where is the data supporting the 0.7 degree claim?

It wouldn't bother me except one of my biology students got the 0.7 temperature dip idea from his dad who claimed to have seen it on the weather channel. Only if you go to the weather channel web site there is no mention of it. Maybe I missed a passing mention of the sort "so and so says..." Meanwhile Chapman's claims echo through the blogosphere and takes on the status of urban legend.

Too bad. No one wants there to be really be a climate problem, but maybe some folks are wishing so hard they are starting to hallucinate false data. If Chapman's data has a real basis in fact I'd like to hear about it.

Show me the data!

Update: I issued the same challenge on my science blog and got some responses:

Here is a link to that original post-basically the same as what's here-data links and responses back and forth. The data are real but as I ask there-are they meaningful?

http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/dangerous-ideas/2008/apr/24/show-me-the-data/

Check it out and feel free to jump in at my LJworld blog.

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