Solar-planetary influences were until recently taboo for researchers, but are beginning to look like an increasingly promising explanation.
A new paper has found hitherto undiscovered rhythms in the climate. What is today regarded as random natural variability actually conforms to a “standing wave” (aka, Mexican Wave) pattern, boffins have found, meaning the climate is much more predictable than previously thought.
Dr Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and co-author Marcia Wyatt found a regular patten, or wave, in what was previously attributed to natural climate variability.
This has two key components: the Atlantic’s regular shift from warm to cold (the AMO or Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation), and sea ice extent in the Arctic seas. Wyatt and Curry used a statistical technique over a range of indices, called Multi-Channel Singular Spectrum Analysis (MSSA) . By removing the long-term trend from man-made greenhouse gases they found multi-decade long patterns evolving in an ordered manner.
The wave starts with a cold Atlantic ocean and maximum ice extent in the European Arctic seas, then propagates east through Siberia where it’s converted to a warmer atmospheric pattern over Eurasia and then moves out the Pacific.
The oscillation may explain the contemporary “pause” in global warming, with no statistically significant increase in the past 17 years. Curry et al say a cooling Atlantic and rebounding Arctic ice is entirely consistent with the stadium wave.
Contemporary climate models fail to recognise the oscillation, the scientists note, which is why they’re so off target. This is a problem the IPCC recognised in drafts of the Summary For Policy Makers, a preface to its Fifth Assessment (Working Group 1) Report, before deleting the acknowledgements in the published version. (Politicians and bureaucrats have the final say in what’s published)
Which means there’s good news for Sir Bob Geldof, who recently predicted the extinction of the human race by 2030 because of global warming; if the stadium wave is taken into account, the pause could last into the 2030s. A recent Nature-published meta-study that predicted an unrecognisably warmer global climate by 2047 can also be disregarded – since it’s based on today’s flawed climate models.