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Sunspots May Be Different During This Solar Minimum

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the too-much-clearasil dept.

Space 95

PhreakOfTime writes "According to Bill Livingston and Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, sunspot magnetic fields are waning. The two respected solar astronomers have been measuring solar magnetism since 1992. Their technique is based on Zeeman splitting of infrared spectral lines in radiation emitted by iron atoms in the vicinity of sunspots. Extrapolating their data (PDF) into the future suggests that sunspots could completely disappear within decades." To motivate their interest the researchers mention the Maunder Minimum, which occurred beginning in 1645 and coincided with the coldest part of the so-called "Little Ice Age." Sunspot counts during this period were as low as 1/1,000 of the numbers seen in modern times.

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Global climate change (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29161999)

It seems we may be heading towards another ice age. Time to start buying up some of that precious offshore land! Global climate change, whether caused by humans or natural processes is not something to be feared but something to be profited from.

Speaking of global change. The Slashdot front page still hasn't changed the appearance of that +- bar yet. Does anyone think it looks good? Has anyone found it to be functional?

When sunspots stop occurring, we're in for some global cooling. Perhaps this could reverse the damage we humans have done to the environment. What with our cars and factories and stuff.

Re:Global climate change (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29162107)

This should counteract global warming.

Re:Global climate change (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162367)

global warming was done by us in order to survive the next ice age(there will be none as the extra greenhouse gases will trap more of the heat, so even what should be an ice age would be normal weather) infact thats why our fossil fuels are running out now, they were planned in such a way that the reserves would end at a time near the beggining of the ice age...

WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29162021)

sorry, this joke kinda wrote itself.

Re:WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162077)

sorry, this joke kinda wrote itself.

I wish it was a joke.

Re:WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162649)

sorry, this joke kinda wrote itself.

I wish it was a joke.

Yeah, the joke is on us really. Really.

Re:WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (5, Insightful)

spike1 (675478) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162105)

So, we're back to the pre-global warming "We're due another ice-age" 1970s doom-mongering eh?

Never mind, since then, we've inadvertantly added a few blankets. We'll be fine.

At least until the ice-age ends. Then we'll be really in trouble.

Re:WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163031)

That damned Karl Rove.

Re:WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (1)

spike1 (675478) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163397)

Who?

Re:WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (1)

teac77 (1152415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29166163)

I'm not saying that at all. The climate changes in cycles, with warmer periods and cooler periods. Please, spare me the drama.

Re:WHERE IS YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW??? (3, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162227)

At least it stomps right on all the "it's just solar activity!" claims when it comes to temperature differences.

Obligatory comic link (4, Funny)

pc486 (86611) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162141)

Extrapolating? Sounds like a job for Randall Munroe! http://xkcd.com/605/ [xkcd.com]

Dr. Livingston... (1, Funny)

spammeister (586331) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162195)

I presume...he knows what he's talking about!

global warming heretic (4, Interesting)

teac77 (1152415) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162215)

Some look at ice core samples. Others count sunspots. This suggests that we will have "lower than average global temperatures". Call me a heretic, but I think that we get better data from counting sun spots.

Re:global warming heretic (3, Interesting)

BrightSpark (1578977) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162413)

I agree. Check out this background website which helps to show how the cycles are developing. http://www.predictweather.co.nz/assets/articles/article_resources.php?id=89 [predictweather.co.nz] I am sure counting sunspots was not as sophisticated in the 1700s but it was still straightforward so the science should be solid. The risk is in drawing cause and effect conclusions. Our atmosphere gets a real bashing from the distortion to the Van Allen belt caused by solar emissions. Sound principals to show how this affects climate are more difficult to demonstrate.

Re:global warming heretic (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162639)

If they had claimed it was the position on Saturn an Jupiter in the sky I might have said they have a point. But they go on about orbital inclination and eccentricity which I doubt could influence sun spots. I think this is correlation by spreadsheet. Not real.

Re:global warming heretic (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162855)

No, you misread that. It's lower than expected now. But still too hot.

Wait until it's not lower than expected anymore. Then it will be too hot to even call it too hot.

Have fun roasting in denial!

Re:global warming heretic (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163507)

I plan on boiling in demississippi.

Re:global warming heretic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29164581)

Now that's funny!

Re:global warming heretic (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164671)

No, not really.

Re:global warming heretic (2, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165835)

Have fun roasting in denial!

Personally, I'm not going to worry until and unless I can do so while sipping a nice, light wine from a Scottish vineyard and nibbling on a sharp Greenland Chedder. These were both possible during The Early Medieval Warm Period, [wikipedia.org] but quickly became impossible during The Little Ice Age that followed. The climate is always changing; sometimes it's getting warmer, sometimes cooler. Deal with it and stop pretending that mankind has any meaningful effect on it.

Re:global warming heretic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29167031)

Personally, I'm not going to worry until and unless I can do so while sipping a nice, light wine from a Scottish vineyard and nibbling on a sharp Greenland Chedder. These were both possible during The Early Medieval Warm Period, [wikipedia.org]

{{citation needed | reason=Your given source doesn't support your claims}}

Re:global warming heretic (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29167861)

I didn't cite Wikipedia to support my claims as such; it was more as a reminder that The Early Medieval Warm Period is a well-documented fact and not the myth that some AGW fanbois try to pretend. I don't have a cite for the Scottish vineyards, although I'd love to find one. As far as the cheese, there's ample evidence if you look around to show that the Norse colony supported itself by dairy farming.

Re:global warming heretic (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#29177283)

Ahh, the ol' "GW could be good for us!" meme. Yeah, fuck the people who live on the coasts, or who subsist on farms that'll no longer be located on arable land. I'm sure moving billions of people will be easy and result in absolutely no hardship, right?

Re:global warming heretic (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29177493)

I mentioned this to a friend of mine. [jerrypournelle.com] His reply was, "I guess, then, that we didn't survive the Early Medieval Warm Period or the Roman Warm. Here's a hint for you: yes, the ocean's currrently climbing up the coast, but it's been doing that, as far as we can tell, for 12,000 years, possibly longer. AFAICT, we've survived so far, using less technology than we have now. I, at least, find it reasonable to expect us to continue to survive. YMMV and clearly does.

Re:global warming heretic (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#29179291)

Yes, and during the Medieval Warm Period and Roman Warm, assuming they are even comparable (and I haven't checked to find out), there was 7 billion people on the planet that we have to worry about.

Tell your friend he's a moron.

Re:global warming heretic (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29179573)

Tell your friend he's a moron

You tell him; his address is on the site I linked to. I'm sure he'll read it, and you may even get a response back giving you (among other things) a very precise definition of the term "sarcasm."

Re:global warming heretic (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163019)

Yeah, sure, nothing tells us better about the effects of human activity on Earth than looking at something that human activity cannot affect high in the sky.

Re:global warming heretic (0)

gb506 (738638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164629)

"Yeah, sure, nothing tells us better about the effects of human activity on Earth than looking at something that human activity cannot affect high in the sky."

Translation: Looking at the sun for clues about earth climate cycles and change can produce no helpful argument for imposition of global command economy, so stop looking up there.

Re:global warming heretic (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165357)

No. Nice strawman though.

Breathing space. (1)

Martin Spamer (244245) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163315)

However global temperatures are still rising [metoffice.gov.uk] while sunspot activity is decreasing that only gives us breathing space. When sun spot activity increases again and global temperatures increase driven upwards by both solar and man made factors.

Re:Breathing space. (2, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164151)

Still rising is a misnomer. The data in that graph ended in 2006 and doesn't reflect anything present or the past two years. More accurately would be the global temperatures were still rising until 2006. But again, that was before the solar cycles switched and these observations.

Re:Breathing space? No, the other BS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29164221)

The Politically driven, AGW-religionist UK Met Office, the same office will not publish that data for critical review? The smae Met office that uses sensors positioned next to air conditioning outlets (hot air)? The one that fails to account for the area around the sensor going from open field to an airport tarmac?

Most other sources indicate a cooling trend over the past decade and will point to the data, but those idiots claim warming will not release the data.

Re:global warming heretic (3, Interesting)

metaforest (685350) | more than 5 years ago | (#29169311)

Oh FFS, we are talking about a net change in arriving solar radiation of less than 0.1% over 11 year cycles, and though its likely there are some larger fluctuations that modulate the 11 year cycle, we haven't been measuring long enough. The notion that this data predicts a 'mini-ice age' is about as useful as using sunspot counts to predict the weather. Which is not useful at all. Sun spot counts don't predict weather at all. Even the proxies don't really link us to what is going on, though they do seem to loosely track solar oscillations. How long is the lag on those proxy relationships? Are they indicative of some other process that is being influenced by solar activity? No one knows. We don't have long enough direct solar activity measurements.

As the dominant dim bulbs around here are fond of echoing: Correlation is not causation.

As for global climate change due to our Industrial Age farting dinosaurs back into the atmosphere, we do need to get a grip on that. I doubt very seriously that some prediction of a long solar minimum is going to change the outcome much, if at all.

Something doesn't add up. (2, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162223)

So, in the 1600s we had a very low number of sun spots and a little ice age.

In the last decade we've had a low number of sun spots and a temperature spike.

But the people who says that global warming isn't caused by human factors, primarily claim that it's due to this low number of sun spots.

So ... normal sun spot count, normal temperatures. Low number of sun spots, high temperatures. Very low number of sun spots, very low temperatures.

I wonder what happens if we get a high and very high number of sun spots - one will probably push the average global temperature to 300 Kelvin while the other will send it to 350. Wonder which will do what.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162309)

They didnt have Clearasil TM back in 1600s :D

Re:Something doesn't add up. (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162357)

It doesn't add up, and that is where the controversy lies. If there is proof that humans are causing global warming, it should be easy to show. However, if the Earth's temperature changes as a result of uncontrollable events happening at the sun, then we need to take that into consideration.

The controversy is very important, and having a calm, level-headed debate where both sides of the issue can discuss the topic without getting shouted down as "unscientific" (sunspot theorists) or "religious crackpots" (human-caused warming theorists) is just as important. Evidence is what will decide this one way or the other, but in order to have clear evidence, we must be able to express our theories in a respectful and open scientific environment. This is why we must teach the controversy.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (4, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162463)

I don't see what's "unscientific" about claiming that low numbers of sunspots cause global cooling. Fewer sunspots mean less energy from the sun. Although the spot is relatively cool, the area around it is very much hotter.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1, Flamebait)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162679)

correlation != causation. As it is, we have a STRONG CORRELATION of man's interaction causing global warming, and likewise, there is a strong correlation of lack of sunspot to global cooling, BUT, can it be PROVEN? Nope.

The real sad item is that the anti GW are almost certainly the ones that will push GW if sunspots disappear and temps start dropping. IOW, these ppl will buy into GW and insist that we burn coal for energy as well as oil and natural gas. And they will be there to sell it.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (2, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163205)

correlation != causation. As it is, we have a STRONG CORRELATION of man's interaction causing global warming, and likewise, there is a strong correlation of lack of sunspot to global cooling, BUT, can it be PROVEN? Nope.

Did you actually read what I wrote, or did you just decide to throw man-made global warming in there as a kneejerk reaction?

Let's try the Wikipedia Simple English-style explanation.

When there are more sunspots, the surface of the Sun is hotter. This makes it radiate more heat than when there are less sunspots. When there are less sunspots, the surface of the sun is cooler. When the sun radiates more heat, the Earth heats up. When the sun radiates less heat, the Earth cools down.

Human activities have no bearing on this process at all.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163599)

As long as we are doing wiki style:

When there are more sunspots, the surface of the Sun is hotter. This makes it radiate more heat than when there are less sunspots. With the increase in GreenHouse gases by man, it absorbs MUCH more of the solar energy, rather than reflect it. In essence, Man's contribution to CO2, Ch4, etc, have caused a much larger increase in temperature then would normally happen.
When there are less sunspots, the surface of the sun is cooler. When the sun radiates more heat, the Earth heats up. When the sun radiates less heat, the Earth cools down. If this happens, then man will be able to easily generate lots of CO2 and Ch4 to increase the efficiency of trapping energy, rather than allow it to be naturally radiated out to space.

I believe that is what is being looked for by a scientists, not by a politician or oil man.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165147)

When there are more sunspots, the surface of the Sun is hotter. This makes it radiate more heat than when there are less sunspots. When there are less sunspots, the surface of the sun is cooler. When the sun radiates more heat, the Earth heats up. When the sun radiates less heat, the Earth cools down.

Fool! You have it all backwards!! Anyone can clearly see that it is man's interaction that has caused an increase in sunspots post 1600's, and that it is primarily due to the success of the environmental movement in curbing man's destructive influence that we are witnessing a recent decline in sunspots! Inconvenient Truth FTW!!

Re:Something doesn't add up (post is good timing) (4, Interesting)

Informative (1347701) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162719)

Global temperatures peaked in 1998 and are now declining according to this ews story about the NASA satellites that have been measuring such things since the 1970s: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/74019.html [mcclatchydc.com]

According to data from the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville, Ala., the global high temperature in 1998 was 0.76 degrees Celsius (1.37 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average for the previous 20 years. So far this year, the high has been 0.42 degrees Celsius (0.76 degrees Fahrenheit), above the 20-year average, clearly cooler than before.

Maybe it does (Re:Something doesn't add up) (2, Informative)

bitemykarma (1515895) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162765)

Al Gore seems to have been barking up the wrong tree. This chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Temp-sunspot-co2.svg) shows a much better correlation between sunspots and temperature, than between CO2 and termperature.

Re:Maybe it does (Re:Something doesn't add up) (4, Interesting)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163095)

This chart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Temp-sunspot-co2.svg) shows a much better correlation between sunspots and temperature, than between CO2 and termperature.

Uh, no, it doesn't. The trend line for sunspots on that chart, peaked in 1960, and have been on a declining trend ever since. Meanwhile temperatures (on that chart) have been on the upswing.

Solar variations over the past 20 years should have had a cooling effect [reuters.com] , but instead we've seen warming. Solar variations are not the main driver of the climate change we are currently experiencing.

Re:Maybe it does (Re:Something doesn't add up) (1)

bitemykarma (1515895) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163965)

Perhaps we are not looking at the details. Note the peaks in roughly 1870 and 1940, and the trough in between. But only on the temperature and sunspot lines; the CO2 line possibly shows slight peaks there, but perhaps in response, rather than as a cause.

Look also at the far right of the graph. Note that temperature has leveled off and is apparently falling (according to more recent data) as sunspot intensity falls. But not CO2 which continues to rise.

Someone said correlation is not causation. Apparently, as far as CO2, there is not even correlation.

Re:Maybe it does (Re:Something doesn't add up) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29307239)

Sunspot numbers prior to 1998 have been the highest since 1950!' (adjusted for normal 11 year variations)

We have been cooling since then and the sunspot numbers have been correspondingly declining.

This winter will be much colder than last -- mark it on your calendar!

Re:Maybe it does (Re:Something doesn't add up) (1)

zsau (266209) | more than 5 years ago | (#29172831)

But if we use a logarithmic scale instead of a linear one...

(i.e. just because someone drew a graph that makes it look a bit like there's a relationship, just means someone manipulated the data to make it look like there's a relationship. It's one of the things you learn to do in the pesky statistics classes they make you take when you're a gradstudent so that you can get your papers published in journals. Of course, your real audience has all taken the same pesky classes and simply "unmanipulates" the data when they read the graph, so the only people who actually fall for it a commoners like you. But its commoners we get our money from, so we're quite happy.)

Re:Something doesn't add up (post is good timing) (0)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163371)

1998 was the year of the strongest El Nino of the century. No one is saying (or no expert is saying--no telling what random activists will claim) that every year with be successively hotter than the last, any more than each successive day in December is colder than the last. Global warming is a global trend, and needs to be considered as a trend. Here's a good debunking of this particularly bad GW-skeptic argument. [grist.org]

(I realized that with the Winter analogy I just cued the 'it's a natural cycle and therefore humans have no effect' people. But scientists didn't just somehow overlook that possibility. [grist.org] Maybe they're not a bunch of absent-minded bumblers after all?)

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29162743)

If there is proof that humans are causing global warming, it should be easy to show.

Great, it's good to know that if something is provable, it must be easily provable. I've got a couple of things that I'd like an easy proof for:

  P = NP [wikipedia.org]

  Fermat's Last Theorem [wikipedia.org]

Thanks!

Re:Something doesn't add up. (4, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162769)

If there is proof that humans are causing global warming, it should be easy to show

Why should it be easy? That's part of the problem. The Earth is not a pan on a cooker that just gets hotter when you turn up the gas and cools down when you turn it down. The Earth is a complex web of cycles and equilibria that we don't completely understand.

Heck, stick some ice, water and salt in the pan, clamp on a slightly leaky lid and even that becomes non-trivial - and that's peanuts alongside the Earth.

Global warming (or not) is always going to be a guessing game: if you want irrefutable proof, wait 100 years and see whether Bangladesh is still there. Until then, its a risk/benefit analysis, not a scientific study.

What is known is that basic physics says that increasing CO2 levels in an atmosphere will increase the proportion of solar heat retained by the planet: that much can be proven in the lab. Anybody who rejects AGW needs to come up with some theory that explains why that magically won't happen in the real world. Instead, they're exploiting the fact that its very, very difficult to predict how that extra heat will translate into temperature and climate changes. Sadly, I suspect that there are those on both sides of the argument who don't even know that heat is not the same thing as temperature...

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164343)

What is known is that basic physics says that increasing CO2 levels in an atmosphere will increase the proportion of solar heat retained by the planet: that much can be proven in the lab. Anybody who rejects AGW needs to come up with some theory that explains why that magically won't happen in the real world. Instead, they're exploiting the fact that its very, very difficult to predict how that extra heat will translate into temperature and climate changes. Sadly, I suspect that there are those on both sides of the argument who don't even know that heat is not the same thing as temperature...

Not really. You do not need to show something doesn't magically happen in real life in order to show that importance is over estimated. Often things that work in the lab do not work in real world experience and often their performance is either degraded or enhanced in the real world. Also, the amount of solar heat retained isn't always a negative.

Here is a question I have had about this that no one seems to want to answer. If increases Co2 levels means increase solar heat retention, then why is the amount of heat reaching the earth a constant to begin with. It would seem that Co2 in the upper atmosphere would absorb more heat and prevent it from hitting the earth in the first place before it bounces back and gets traped by the Co2 on the way out. It's should be somewhat regulating but no one has offered a factor for this. Also, there is a maximum absorption rate for Co2 and other greenhouse gasses but I can never find what that is in the models. OF course this doesn't mean that what is happening in the lab isn't in the real world nor does it mean it's wrong. But it seriously raised some questions over the statements of the two and whether they are as accurate as claimed or even the problem claimed.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164541)

Here's a hint: think about what a greenhouse is -- an actual greenhouse like you'd build in your garden -- and why CO2 is called a "greenhouse gas."

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165063)

Here is a hint, there is no roof on the atmosphere. Heat energy radiates out without anything containing it. There is no coated glass roof or anything keeping it there. The scale of a greenhouse is also different then the scale of the entire world. In fact, the same Co2 and heat retention observations in a green house utterly fail when computed in a model of the world.

As I said, in a lab doesn't necessarily mean in the real world.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165195)

So in other words, you didn't want an answer to your question, even though there's one available based on easily understandable physics; you just wanted an excuse to post more wilfully ignorant ranting. Got it. Once again, you live down to your username in spectacular fashion.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165505)

You didn't give an answer, you just repeated some snide remarks that were probably told to you at one point in time without you ever understanding it. Here is an example of an answer [slashdot.org] . It's also more competent and inteligent then anything you have said to date.

You also didn't address the question that was asked making your first comment unimportant. You may be proud that you observed me living down to my user name but shouldn't you be concerned that you have yet to live up to it?

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165609)

Oh, I understand it just fine. I'm guessing that you're intelligent enough to do so as well. The only point I'm not clear on is why you deliberately choose otherwise.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165665)

Why in the hell would you expect me to know the answer to the question I was asking? If I knew I would not have asked it. Fuck man, think sometime won't you?

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165965)

So in other words, you didn't want an answer to your question, even though there's one available based on easily understandable physics;

Unfortunately, it doesn't help when people give duff answers, either: The "greenhouse effect" may play a role in a real greenhouse (i.e. preventing cooling from radiation) but they also trap warm air (preventing cooling by convection) and block the wind (preventing cooling by evaporation) which have nothing to do with CO2 in the atmosphere. Don't take names too seriously: in other news, the World Wide Web wasn't made by a spider and "bluetooth" headsets are not made from the remains of Viking warlords.

Fortunately, we can be confident that the theory of global warming is not just something extrapolated from some stoner's wilting marijuana crop. Co2 doing its infrared absorption thang can be observed by pointing a spectroscope anywhere in the universe that has CO2.

Mr Sumdumass and Mr Dvorkin: please consider your heads cracked firmly together.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165993)

Here is a hint, there is no roof on the atmosphere. Heat energy radiates out without anything containing it. There is no coated glass roof or anything keeping it there. T

Here's the answer you're looking for couched in terms that even you should be able to understand. Greenhouse gases such as CO2 and, to a much greater extent water vapor trap heat in a way that's analogous to the roof on a greenhouse. That, in fact, is why they're called "greenhouse gases." Their presence in the atmosphere makes it act somewhat like a greenhouse without needing a solid roof.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (2, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164889)

It would seem that Co2 in the upper atmosphere would absorb more heat and prevent it from hitting the earth in the first place before it bounces back and gets traped by the Co2 on the way out.

The energy doesn't "bounce off*" - it is absorbed by the Earth and re-radiated. All objects radiate energy, but the frequency spectrum of that radiation depends on the temperature.

Because the sun is very hot, it radiates a lot of energy in the form of visible light.

Because the Earth isn't as hot as the sun, most of the energy it re-radiates is as lower frequency infra-red.

CO2 is transparent to visible light, but absorbs infra-red. So it acts as a one-way valve: the visible light from the sun gets in, the re-radiated infra-red from the Earth can't get out.

(* It only bounces off the white shiny bits - which unfortunately tend to melt as the earth 'warms up'...)

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165953)

Anybody who rejects AGW needs to come up with some theory that explains why that magically won't happen in the real world.

And, of course, anybody who embraces AGW needs to come up with a theory that explains why CO2 magically becomes a stronger and more significant greenhouse gas than H2O.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29166059)

And, of course, anybody who embraces AGW needs to come up with a theory that explains why CO2 magically becomes a stronger and more significant greenhouse gas than H2O.

Why? Are you planning to dig up underground water that has been out of the loop for aeons and pump it into the atmosphere?

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29166173)

I don't have to. The water vapor that's currently in the atmosphere is responsible for (I'm guessing here, but I don't think I'm that far off.) over 95% of the greenhouse heating. The only places that CO2 is more significant is in cool, dry places, such as deserts at night.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#29167649)

The water vapor that's currently in the atmosphere is responsible for (I'm guessing here, but I don't think I'm that far off.) over 95% of the greenhouse heating.

So what? The problem is not the greenhouse effect itself: we didn't cause that - its been going on forever and without it the Earth would probably be an ice cube. Our problem is that we're increasing the level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and that increases the greenhouse heating.

It doesn't matter one jot how much of the normal level of greenhouse heating comes from which gas: increase any one of them and you increase the effect.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29167923)

It doesn't matter one jot how much of the normal level of greenhouse heating comes from which gas: increase any one of them and you increase the effect.

Sigh! Not only is water vapor a better greenhouse gas, there's so much more of it in the atmosphere than any other. (I'd say than all others combined, but I'm not sure of that.) CO2 is such a minor component that it's effect is almost buried in the noise. And, I might add for what it's worth, I've been seeing reports (no cite that I'm confident enough of to give) that although there's a correlation between rising temperature and rising CO2 levels, the CO2 level follows the temperature, not leads it. If so, the whole business about AGW goes out the window.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 5 years ago | (#29169849)

CO2 is such a minor component that it's effect is almost buried in the noise

The key word is almost. In my room it's 298 Kelvin right now, of which 295 are due to the sun. If I turn on a space heater, I can add 10 more Kelvin, but that would make it very uncomfortable. The fact that the space heater's effect "is almost buried in the noise" doesn't help me.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#29171063)

Sigh! Not only is water vapor a better greenhouse gas, there's so much more of it in the atmosphere than any other.

If you have some greenhouse gases and add more greenhouse gases then the level of greenhouse gasses goes up. The composition of the greenhouse gasses you started with is irrelevant. That much is really very simple.

although there's a correlation between rising temperature and rising CO2 levels, the CO2 level follows the temperature, not leads it. If so, the whole business about AGW goes out the window.

Even if that is true, and not spin or experimental error, you're back to treating the Earth as a lump of iron on a gas cooker again. It is perfectly possible for rising temperatures to cause more CO2 to be released from natural systems and for rising CO2 to cause rising temperatures - there's nothing mutually exclusive about those. Its also perfectly possible to have a cycle in which, if you only look at a snapshot of it, cause appears to follow effect (a cat and a dog are running in circles - who's chasing who?).

We've introduced a new source of greenhouse gasses into the equation - digging up and burning 100-million-year-old fossil fuels at such a rate that we'll have released a geological era's worth in a hundred years or so. That doesn't feature in the ice cores, and we've absolutely no idea (apart from wishful thinking) whether whatever mechanism regulated it in the past can cope with all the natural sources and this new, artificial source. What we do know is that CO2 absorbs IR radiation, and more CO2 will absorb more IR.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29174975)

We've introduced a new source of greenhouse gasses into the equation - digging up and burning 100-million-year-old fossil fuels at such a rate that we'll have released a geological era's worth in a hundred years or so.

No argument there. However, I remember reading in Scientific American about a decade or so ago about an experiment with terrariums where the CO2 level was artificially heightened. The result was that the plants grew much bigger and heartier than normal. (surprise, surprise!) Alas, the researcher kept pumping in more CO2 to keep the level up until the end of the experiment. I'd like to see a similar experiment, but without adding anything to the terrarium after it starts, to see where the CO2 level ends up. Should be interesting.

BTW, there's one thing we agree on here: running an open-ended experiment by pumping CO2 into the atmosphere to see what happens probably isn't a good idea, AGW or no AGW.

The Slashdot tag-line of the moment is oddly apt: Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. -- Gandhi

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#29177373)

Uh, because water vapour sits in the atmosphere for weeks before precipitating out. Relative to CO2 it's extremely transient. Moreover, the absolute saturation level for air is relatively low, so there's a natural cap on the amount of water vapour that can be pumped into the atmosphere before it just rains back out again, while the same is most definitely not true of CO2.

Honestly, do you *really* need some dweeb on Slashdot to do *all* your thinking for you?

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#29177625)

Honestly, do you *really* need some dweeb on Slashdot to do *all* your thinking for you?

No. But then, I don't expect highly complex problems to have simplistic solutions. In this case, not only don't I think we know the answer, I don't think that we're asking the right questions. Before we can ask what to do about AGW, we need to know if it's really happening (No, this isn't decided by consensus, it's decided by the facts, and I don't think we have enough of them.) especially because some of the "solutions" would cost more than we can probably afford for very questionable results. You do know, don't you, that at least some of the sensor readings showing a constant rise in temperature have been invalidated because their environment has gone from open fields to urban? How many? Damned if I know. Is anything being done about it? Probably not, because that's going to be a long, hard, thankless chunk of donkey-work, and it's unlikely that anybody's going to want to do it. (I can't blame them; I wouldn't want to be stuck with that either.) What we need, here, is an objective study of the facts, and what I'm seeing is a combination of appeals to the emotions and demonizing of any and all opposition. If nothing else, that would be enough to make me skeptical, because people with the facts on their side don't need to descend to such tactics.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

definate (876684) | more than 5 years ago | (#29169607)

It's also isn't that we don't necessarily don't understand it, it's that our calculations have to come from summary data, which is spurious at best. Just ask anyone who studies statistics.

Calculating a summary, from a summary of a summary, to generate your answer, often leaves a lot of data incorrectly weighted and information hidden.

We'll never be able to know for certain, because we'll never be able to get enough information, in a timely enough fashion. We just calculate probabilities, hope we don't have holes in our logic, and do what we believe is right.

C'est la vie.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29307283)

CO2 is simply responding to changes in global temperature, as it always has. As the earth warms, less CO2 is dissoved in seawater. As it cools, more is absorbed by the oceans. It's that simple.

CO2 as a greenhouse gas is negligible at concentrations below 2%. Current CO2 levels are much less than 1%.

It is the ultimate in hubris to believe that humans can change the temperature of the entire earth!

You will see -- despite continued increases in global CO2 levels over the next ten years, the earth will cool due to the lack of solar wind. This will completely debunk the AGW theory.

Remember, causation is not the same as correlation. All true scientists will agree with this.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#29173349)

If there is proof that humans are causing global warming,

I think "Global Warming" is a misnomer. I think a better term would be "Global Chaos" in that because humans are mucking with the atmosphere, surface reflection of earth's surface, and generating heat en masse through mechanical engines that normal assumptions about weather patterns will no longer apply.

So that the energy has to go somewhere and usually will result in hotter weather, colder winter, higher winds, and rougher seas.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#29211421)

> in order to have clear evidence, we must be able to express our theories

No.

No amount of "expressing theories" will ever add up to evidence. Scientifically speaking, the only way we're ever going to learn anything is to make *falsifiable* predictions and then test them to see if they hold, and then based on the outcome make new falsifiable predictions, lather, rinse, repeat. That's the scientific method.

But nobody seems to be interested in doing that kind of science any more. If you make falsifiable predictions, there's a risk they might be falsified, and then where will your scientific reputation be?

So instead of anything concrete and measurable, we now make vaguely impressive statements like "human behavior causes climate change". Such a proposition is unlikely to be proven or disproven within the lifespan of anyone currently living, so you can build an entire scientific career on it without ever DOING any actual science.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (2, Interesting)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162393)

I think the controversy basically boils down to the following: Correlation is not causation.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162795)

I think the controversy basically boils down to the following:

Well, as long as that's the only thing that boils.

No, what it really boils down to is: we still can't reliably predict the behavior of complex systems. Unfortunately, this encourages people (especially politically-motivated people who didn't get where they are today by saying "I don't know") to pretend that they are simple.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29162633)

There has been no temperature spike in the last decade whatsoever. "Global warming" ended in the early 2000's.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162643)

That's simply not true. Just this year there has been a very noticeable upwards trend in my locality over the past 9 months. While the fluctuations over the short term may have brief retrograde trending, the clear pattern is one of warming.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29163121)

You're citing a "trend" over the last 9 months ?!? I bet most places north of the equator notice a warming trend between January and September.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165181)

You're citing a "trend" over the last 9 months ?!? I bet most places north of the equator notice a warming trend between January and September.

Methinks you need to take his username into account...

Re:Something doesn't add up. (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162927)

That is not correct. Mean global temperatures have been rising throughout the 2000s. The only way to make it look like temperatures have dropped over the past decade is to assume that 1998 was a normal year for temperature and use it as a baseline. It was not. It was one of the hottest on record, so using it as a baseline will give wildly erroneous results.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (2, Informative)

bitemykarma (1515895) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162959)

Mean global temperatures have been rising throughout the 2000s

Not according to NASA's satellites: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/74019.html [mcclatchydc.com]

Re:Something doesn't add up. (0)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#29171465)

If you look at the actual data, instead of a column written by a political hack, you can see that the mean global temperatures have risen during the 2000s.

Re:Something doesn't add up (I think it does) (3, Interesting)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162663)

But something is unusual about the current sunspot cycle. The current solar minimum has been unusually long, and with more than 670 days without sunspots through June 2009, the number of spotless days has not been equaled since 1933

As to the "low number of sun spots and a temperature spike", more from TFA:

...posted on the Internet and led to some misunderstanding when a few authors from other fields cited that post and erroneously concluded that a lack of sunspots could explain global warming

This is something worth following closely:

Four years after the first draft paper, the predicted cycle-independent dearth in sunspot numbers has proven accurate. The vigor of sunspots, in terms of magnetic strength and area, has greatly diminished...Whether this is an omen of long-term sunspot decline, analogous to the Maunder Minimum, remains to be seen.

Note in this chart on Wikipedia that temps have been trending downward for thousands of years, as if we are plunging into the next glacial period.
Chart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Temperature_Variations.png [wikipedia.org]
See here in general about the time since the most recent glacial period: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene [wikipedia.org]

Re:Something doesn't add up. (3, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162963)

So, in the 1600s we had a very low number of sun spots and a little ice age.

Except that no, we didn't have a "little ice age" [grida.no] . We had a mild cooling period in the Northern Hemisphere, which had intense effects in some areas; but, according to to IPCC, "current evidence does not support globally synchronous periods of anomalous cold or warmth over this timeframe, and the conventional terms of 'Little Ice Age' and 'Medieval Warm Period' appear to have limited utility in describing trends in hemispheric or global mean temperature changes in past centuries."

Re:Something doesn't add up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29163425)

So, in the 1600s we had a very low number of sun spots and a little ice age.

In the last decade we've had a low number of sun spots and a temperature spike.

But the people who says that global warming isn't caused by human factors, primarily claim that it's due to this low number of sun spots.

So ... normal sun spot count, normal temperatures. Low number of sun spots, high temperatures. Very low number of sun spots, very low temperatures.

I wonder what happens if we get a high and very high number of sun spots - one will probably push the average global temperature to 300 Kelvin while the other will send it to 350. Wonder which will do what.

Your premise is false. In the last decade (since 1998) global temperatures, whether measured on the ground or by satellite, have decreased or stayed the same. That does correspond to the decreased solar activity we have experienced in the last decade. The man-made global warming hoax only worked for Al Gore up until 1998 since the temperature spike you mentioned was occurring and supported his hyposthesis: that is if you ignore what is really driving our global temperature (the sun) and the fact that all of our climate models are very inaccurate.

Instead of helping Al Gore steal money from people by imposing a "carbon tax" why don't you read some peer reviewed journals on the topic or talk to the tens of thousands of scientists who say man made global warming is a hoax. BTW no peer reviewed article has every proved a sensitivity of global temperature to man-made CO2 or any other man-made product.

Please update your information (0, Troll)

SeaDuck79 (851025) | more than 5 years ago | (#29163607)

Actually, in the last decade, we have NOT had a temperature spike. Over the last 10 or so years of little solar activity, the global mean temperature has actually declined slightly. During the previous period of very high solar activity, temperatures rose. Seems too soon for a clear cause and effect, but certainly enough to investigate further.

I knew global warming zealots were poor students of science, math, and history, but I did think they were better at paying attention to CURRENT data than this...

You Are Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29164487)

In the last decade we've had a low number of sun spots and a temperature spike.

Wrong! The temperature has been going down for the last decade. In fact, in 2007 alone, the global temperature dropped about 0.6 degrees C. This wiped out about a century of "global warming." Any graphs that show the temperature rising for the past decade have had their data manipulated in a manner similar to the infamous hockey stick graph.

Re:Something doesn't add up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29173773)

The low number of sun spots has only occurred within the last couple of years!

If you look at a graph of sunspot activity, it largely predicts global warming and cooling. Higher activity equalled higher temperatures. Lower activity equalled lower temperatures. Except that there IS a lag.

If anyone here owns an electric range you know what I'm getting at. You can crank the dial on your electric range but you don't get instant hotness...gotta wait a bit. You don't crank it down and have it cool off instantly. You gotta wait a bit. Which is why chefs don't like electric ranges btw.

Sun heats up its output and after a lag, our environment does too. Sun is cooling down...expect a lag before we cool down, too.

Kill Pirates (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29162319)

Oh no! Global cooling is coming! Kill some pirates to raise the temperature back to normal! Invade Somalia and give the RIAA a license to kill!

Re:Kill Pirates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29162481)

We already did that and it didn't help...now what?!!!

Re:Kill Pirates (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 5 years ago | (#29162915)

>give the RIAA a license to kill!

I am confident that the RIAA lobbyists are working on this as I type.

According to Bill Livingston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29163799)

*Doctor* Livingston, I presume!

the calm before the storm... (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 5 years ago | (#29179961)

Or it's just the calm before the storm, and we are going to get hit with a lot of sunspot activity, or nice solar flares or maybe even something cooler.

ps thats not cooler as in cold, but cooler is in something pretty fucking awesome that we didn't expect, and oh, look, as a side product, we are dead. or not.

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