Lunar Resonance and Taurid Storms

There is a fascinating article that answers many ‘issues’ with the timing of historical disasters and Bond Events here:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

The 1,800-year oceanic tidal cycle: A possible cause of rapid climate change

Charles D. Keeling* and
Timothy P. Whorf

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0244

Contributed by Charles D. Keeling


Variations in solar irradiance are widely believed to explain climatic change on 20,000- to 100,000-year time-scales in accordance with the Milankovitch theory of the ice ages, but there is no conclusive evidence that variable irradiance can be the cause of abrupt fluctuations in climate on time-scales as short as 1,000 years. We propose that such abrupt millennial changes, seen in ice and sedimentary core records, were produced in part by well characterized, almost periodic variations in the strength of the global oceanic tide-raising forces caused by resonances in the periodic motions of the earth and moon. A well defined 1,800-year tidal cycle is associated with gradually shifting lunar declination from one episode of maximum tidal forcing on the centennial time-scale to the next. An amplitude modulation of this cycle occurs with an average period of about 5,000 years, associated with gradually shifting separation-intervals between perihelion and syzygy at maxima of the 1,800-year cycle. We propose that strong tidal forcing causes cooling at the sea surface by increasing vertical mixing in the oceans. On the millennial time-scale, this tidal hypothesis is supported by findings, from sedimentary records of ice-rafting debris, that ocean waters cooled close to the times predicted for strong tidal forcing.

Aside from a tendency to use “forcing” all over the place where, IMHO, the word ought to be “force”, “forces” or “forced” (or better yet, just state what actual physical force is doing what and skip the “forcing” non-noun all together), the article is pretty well written.

Sidebar: As an example of my ‘pet peeve’ on ‘forcing’, I think that last line would read much better as “that ocean waters cooled close to the times predicted for strong tidal forces”.

Among other useful bits, it answers the question of why the Bond Event average is 1470 years yet many events seem to land on ‘near 2000 year nodes’. As I’ve often pointed out, averages hide more than they reveal. In this case, one can have a period of 1800 years and a couple of anomalous events (often at about a 1/2 period) can shift the average significantly.

The IRD events identified by Bond et al. (1, 2) show high spectral power density in a broad band centered at about 1,800 years (0.55 ± 0.15 cycles/kyr). The authors do not explain why this period is so much larger than the 1,476-year average pacing of cool events, but the time-distribution of pacing (ref. 1, Fig. 6c; G. Bond, private communication) suggests that a majority of the events were about 2,000 years apart, with occasional additional events occurring about half-way between, evidently too infrequent to cancel out a dominant spectral peak near 1,800 years. Bond et al. (2) in addition found a spectral peak near 5,000 years whose possible cause was also not explained. We now propose an oceanic tidal mechanism that may explain the basis for both of these spectral peaks, consistent with the actual times of IRD events.

This is a nice thing to know. It means that looking at 1000 and 2000 year periods may be more fruitful than 1500 -/+ 500… It also opens the door for a 3000 year beat period of some sort. This will matter when we get to Taurids. It also matters now when looking at the 2000 BC, 0 BC, 2000 AD similarities. Basically, if you find a 1000, 2000, or 3000 year period in climate or history events, they are not in conflict with a 1500 year Bond Event cycle average.

The authors basic notion is ‘the tides did it’:

We propose that variations in the strength of oceanic tides cause periodic cooling of surface ocean water by modulating the intensity of vertical mixing that brings to the surface colder water from below. The tides provide more than half of the total power for vertical mixing, 3.5 terawatts (4), compared with about 2.0 terawatts from wind drag (3), making this hypothesis plausible. Moreover, the tidal mixing process is strongly nonlinear, so that vertical mixing caused by tidal forcing must vary in intensity interannually even though the annual rate of power generation is constant (3). As a consequence, periodicities in strong forcing, that we will now characterize by identifying the peak forcing events of sequences of strong tides, may so strongly modulate vertical mixing and sea-surface temperature as to explain cyclical cooling even on the millennial time-scale.

The basic thesis of the article is that there is an 1800 year periodicity to tides caused by an interaction of the alignment of the moon and earth (syzygy: one of my favorite scrabble words along with zymurgy, though hard to play… ;-) interacting with the periods of perigee and nodal crossings of the ecliptic. Perigee depends on the lunar orbit of the earth seen from the moon, the anomalistic month. Syzygy is dependent on the synodic month (the new and full moon as it aligns with the sun). Crossings of the ecliptic relate to the nodic month.

Nodic is 27.2 days. Anomalistic is 27.6 days. Synodic is 29.5 days. These all have a ‘beat frequency’ on tides. (Basically, the moon is only directly in line with the sun/earth axis AND most close to the center of the earth sun line node AND closest to the earth itself at perigee when all those different cycles line up).

This is asserted to account for much of the known periodic changes in climate.

There are several charts in the article that bring you, step by step, to this chart. I’m just going to put this (rather complicated) punch line chart here. Hit the article for a gentle lead up.

Tide Cycles, Bond Events, Akkadian Fall, and Dust Layers

Tide Cycles, Bond Events, Akkadian Fall, and Dust Layers

You can click on this for a larger version.

OK, we have the fall of the Akkadian Empire right on top of one of the peak tide events along with a dust peak layer in Elk Lake in North America (this stuff is global, not just in the Middle East..) Bond Events are numbered in the right half (actually described as ‘ice rafted debris’ events but described as ‘Bond events’ in the caption with solid being conformant and dashed being ones that do not conform with the tides). The ones with a dashed line are NOT on a tidal node, so may have some other cause or may be a harmonic in some way (they tend to fall near the half period). The Younger Dryas is marked with YD. Asterisks mark events that are associated with a longer near 5000 year cycle. I presume that the things labeled Hx are Heinrich Events. The lower case letters are unclear.

OK, what is clear is that there IS a long term tidal cycle. It seems to have a striking correlation to significant swings in our climate. It is asserted that this is likely due to various interactions with ice shelves (during glacial periods, by other authors speculating about Heinrich Events) or with ‘ocean mixing’ increases during non-glacial periods (in this paper). I’ve asserted that tidal variation could have an impact via changing the volume of water trying to get through the Drake Passage and this changing how much cold water gets diverted up the West Coast of South America and how fast the jet of water of the circumpolar current spins the South Atlantic. In any case, the methods available for a change of tides and hemispheric water volumes to interact with the oceans and climate is fairly large and can easily account for the changes of climate we see (IMHO).

If you want to read how the cycle is calculated, read the article, I don’t see the need to repeat it here. I’m willing to accept that it DOES exist, and look at what that implies.

Is there anything else of particular interest noted in that article?

[A cause for such greater regularity in tidal forcing might be resonances of other bodies of the solar system, especially the outer planets. We are struck by the close correspondence of the average period of the 180-year tidal cycle of 179.5 years (1/10 of that of the 1,800-year cycle) and the period of the sun’s rotation about the center of mass of the solar system of 179.2 years, the latter a manifestation of planetary resonances (13).]

Resonance is a constant feature of orbits. Things tend to end up in a resonant relationship to other things. Why is pretty straight forward (though often presented in arcane ways). If things are ‘out of sync’ they get unbalancing forces on them. Those forces either cause the object to have an orbital decay and leave the system (one way or another…) or they drift the object into a more stable ‘resonant’ orbit. There are resonances all over the solar system. They are critical to maintenance of stable orbits AND they are the cause (for the imbalanced case) of things like comet breakups and asteroid impacts. The junk getting kicked out of unstable non-resonant orbits. It’s a critical concept to understanding why the solar system is as it is.

So once you have a period based on something orbital, it’s a really really good idea to look around for what is in resonance with those things…

The Taurids

But what about all those impact events that are coincident with some of the Bond Events and the Fall Of Empires? How in the world can tides be the cause with all those rock falls? And how can rock falls be causal if the events fall so neatly on top of tides?

My assertion is pretty simple. I’m going to assert that the Taurids are in a resonant orbit with all the other stuff ‘nearby’. I see no reason for them to be ‘out of sync’ with tides, when both the tides and the Taurid orbit will be a result of the same resonance forces. Basically, I assert that tides and rock falls ought to arrive together. (Someone else can do the math ;-)

On the other hand, while the orbits of some particles are quite dispersed, it is still likely that the Taurid stream has a narrow and dense core consisting of particles concentrated near the orbit of the stream’s parent object, which is presumably related to Comet 2P/Encke. As the orbits of the material constituting this narrow, dense core have been subject to perturbations over thousands of years, it may be inferred that intense bombardment episodes have resulted at epochs when the material reaches Earth intersection. Dynamical calculations show that, as a Taurid-like orbit precesses, the northern daytime intersection occurs just a little (a few centuries) before the southern nighttime one, and the southern daytime one just before the northern nighttime one. That is, the four intersections occur in two pairs, and the influx of material to Earth is enhanced during epochs lasting a few centuries and spaced by a few millennia. The term “coherent catastrophism” has been used by astronomers at Armagh and elsewhere to describe the idea that there are strong patterns in the influx of extraterrestrial material to Earth.

“Coherent Catastrophism”, eh? Two pairs, separated by a couple of hundred years, returning every ‘few millenia’. Sures sounds like that ‘two impacts’ in 2200ish BC that Timo was talking about with a couple of hundred years between them.

Now, my blind leap of intuition here is pretty simple. Tides are driven by solar system bodies. Bodies that move in resonance. Comets are solar system bodies, and Encke (the surviving parent of the Taurids) is settled into a stable (and so, resonant) orbit now along with its debris ‘trails’. We intersect those trails periodically. They are likely to be ‘lumpy’ in the material distribution (as Encke itself attests). Is it really THAT far of a leap to hypothesize that the lumps might just be in a resonant relationship with the Earth / Sun / Moon that cause the tidal cycle? In fact, I’d go so far as to assert that if resonance were NOT present, it would not have hung around for the 30,000 ish years that are supposed.…..38….1A

We review the theoretical and observational evidence that, on timescales relevant to mankind, the prime collision hazard is posed by temporally correlated impacts (coherent catastrophism, t ~ 10 2 10 4 yr) rather than random ones (stochastic catastrophism, t ~ 10 5 10 8 yr). The mechanism whereby coherent incursions into and through the terrestrial atmosphere occur is described as being the result of giant cometary bodies arriving in orbits with perihelia in the inner solar system. Hierarchical fragmentation of such large (100 km-plus) bodies due to thermal stresses near perihelion, collisions in the asteroid belt, or passages through the Jovian Roche radius results in numerous ~kilometre-sized objects being left in short-period orbits, and appearing in telescopic searches as Apollo-type asteroids. Many more smaller objects, in the 10 100 metre size range and only recently observed, by the Spacewatch team, are expected to be in replenished clusters in particular orbits as a result of continuing disintegrations of large, differentiated, cometary objects. Gravitational perturbations by Jupiter bring these clusters around to have a node at 1 in a cyclic fashion, leading to impacts at certain times of year every few years during active periods lasting a few centuries, such periods being separated by intervals of a few millennia. Furthermore, fragmentations within the hierarchy result in significant bombardment commensurabilities ( t ~ 10 10 2 yr) during active periods occurring at random intervals ( t ~ 10 2 10 3 yr). It appears that the Earth has been subject to such impacts since the break-up of such a comet ~2×10 4 years ago; currently we are not passing through a high-risk epoch, although some phenomena originating in the products of this break-up have been observed in the 20th century. This most recent hierarchical disintegration, associated with four well-known meteor showers and termed the Taurid Complex, is now recognized as resulting in a dozen apparently asteroidal objects almost 10% of the discovered Apollo population as well as Comet P/Encke. A substantial asteroidal remnant of the Taurid progenitor may still be present in resonance with Jupiter. The implications of the existence of any asteroidal or meteoroidal cluster due to the progenitor are briefly discussed. We emphasize finally the relative importance of active and inactive comets in the cratering record, pointing out the potentially significant contribution by disintegrating large comets to the population of inactive Earth-crossers.

We have Jupiter being a major contributor to the solar barycenter period of 179.2 years, we have a theoretically calculated 179.5 year tidal cycle on earth (that is specifically disclaimed as not being measured exactly and not being adjusted for all the other planet influences on cycle times, so could easily be off in the 4th place by a fraction) and we have a 10 times that beat frequency of tides impacting climate. Sure looks to me like we can easily get a similar resonance impact on the arrival of ‘impacts’…

The origin of the Taurids was reexamined by Whipple and S. Hamid during 1950. They calculated the effects of secular perturbations by Jupiter on the orbital inclination and longitude of perihelion of nine photographic meteor orbits and found the orbital planes of four of the meteors to coincide with that of comet Encke 4700 years ago. Three other orbits coincided with one another, but not with comet Encke 1500 years ago. The authors theorized “that the Taurid streams were formed chiefly by a violent ejection of material from Encke’s Comet some 4700 years ago, but also by another ejection some 1500 years ago, from a body moving in an orbit of similar shape and longitude of perihelion but somewhat greater aphelion distance….” It was suggested that this unknown body had separated from Encke some time in the past.

Hmmm… 1500 years ago… just about 500 AD start of the Dark Ages. 4700 years ago. Just a couple of hundred off from that 2300 BC start of the events leading to the 2200 BC collapse of the Akkadian Empire… Within the error bars, I’d wager.

So we’ve got a ‘dark passenger’ of some sort that seems to periodically whack into Enke or gravitationally perturb it and it’s train sufficient to kick up some junk and cause us grief. One can only hope it has already been consumed by the process…

Then again, if that consumption is what created the debris field we intersect periodically…

Shows a way to find a chemical signature from the Haber process in comet strikes:

Unveiling Mysterious Possible Comet Strikes On Earth

ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2009) — It’s the stuff of a Hollywood disaster epic: A comet plunges from outer space into the Earth’s atmosphere, splitting the sky with a devastating shock wave that flattens forests and shakes the countryside.
In June 1908, a puzzling explosion rocked central Siberia in Russia; it came to be known as the “Tunguska event.” A later expedition found that 20 miles of trees had been knocked down and set alight by the blast. Today, scientists have coalesced around the idea that Tunguska’s devastation was caused by a 100-foot asteroid that had entered Earth’s atmosphere, causing an airburst.

Some 13,000 years earlier, an occurrence thought by some researchers to be an extraterrestrial impact set off cooler weather and large-scale extinctions in North America. The “Younger Dryas event,” as it is known, coincided with the end of the prehistoric Clovis culture.

Melott and fellow researchers examined data from ice cores extracted in Greenland to compare atmospheric chemistry during the Tunguska and Younger Dryas events. In both instances, Melott’s group found evidence that the Haber process — whereby a nitrogen fixation reaction produces ammonia — may have occurred on a large scale.

I note in passing that the Tunguska Event happened on a Taurid date… (the ones where the approach is not visible due to the sun being in the visual field…)

Ties the Taurids with the major extinction event in North America in 11,000 BC:

Was a Giant Comet Responsible for a North American Catastrophe in 11,000 BC?

ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2010) — Some 13,000 years ago the Earth was struck by thousands of Tunguska-sized cometary fragments over the course of an hour, leading to a dramatic cooling of the planet, according to astronomer Professor Bill Napier of the Cardiff University Astrobiology Centre.

He presents his new model in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The cooling, by as much as 8°C, interrupted the warming which was occurring at the end of the last ice age and caused glaciers to readvance. Evidence has been found that this catastrophic change was associated with some extraordinary extraterrestrial event. The boundary is marked by the occurrence of a “black mat” layer a few centimetres thick found at many sites throughout the United States containing high levels of soot indicative of continental-scale wildfires, as well as microscopic hexagonal diamonds (nanodiamonds) which are produced by shocks and are only found in meteorites or impact craters. These findings led to the suggestion that the catastrophic changes of that time were caused by the impact of an asteroid or comet 4 km across on the Laurentide ice sheet, which at that time covered what would become Canada and the northern part of the United States.
Professor Napier has now come up with an astronomical model which accounts for the major features of the catastrophe without involving such an improbable event. According to his model, the Earth ran into a dense trail of material from a large disintegrating comet. He points out that there is compelling evidence that such a comet entered the inner planetary system between 20 000 and 30 000 years ago and has been fragmenting ever since, giving rise to a number of closely related meteor streams and comoving asteroids known as the Taurid Complex.

This has the interesting connection that the Tunguska Event might have been a tiny taster of a Taurid catastrophic storm:

The British astronomers, Victor Clube and Bill Napier, have acknowledged that Velikovsky may have been correct in suggesting that some myths might have been derived from objects which had been prominent in the ancient sky, and caused catastrophes on Earth, but these cosmic bodies must have been comets, not planets. By extrapolating backwards in time the orbits of Encke’s Comet, the Taurid meteor stream and associated Apollo asteroids, Clube and Napier concluded that all were products of a huge comet which came into an Earth-crossing orbit around 20,000 years ago and began to break up, with particular disintegration events occurring about 7500 and 2700 BC. Fragments would have struck the Earth at intervals throughout the Bronze Age, with devastating consequences. Clube put these ideas before the general public for the first time at an SIS meeting in London in 1982, and developed them at another in Nottingham the following year.
Similarly in the next paper, David Pankenier suggests that, contrary to what has generally been supposed, legends and rituals from Bronze Age China may reflect actual events. In particular, around the time of the transition from the Xia to the Shang dynasty in the middle of the second millennium BC, there is a story of ten suns appearing in the sky and then, a few years later, of five planets criss-crossing, and stars falling like rain, after which there was an earthquake and then a drought. It would not be difficult to see this as an indication of the appearance of multiple comets in the sky, and impact-induced catastrophes. The same or a different cometary catastrophe could also form the basis for the legend of the battles between the wicked Chi You and the Yellow Emperor, which featured in ritual games.

Then there is the potential that even Stonehenge might have been built as a way to predict the periodic returns of these impacts. To know when to seek shelter (and perhaps when to store up some extra grain…)

Before The Stones: Stonehenge I As A Cometary Catastrophe Predictor?
Abstract of talk by Duncan Steel

Spaceguard Australia, P.O. Box 3303, Rundle Mall, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia. Email: dis[at]
Presented at the SIS Conference: Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age Civilisations (11th-13th July 1997)

Astronomical hypotheses for the purpose(s) of megalithic monuments have mostly been implicitly based upon an assumption that the designers witnessed the same phenomena as those we observe in the sky today. This assumption is not well-based for phenomena having time-constants of order centuries or millennia, such as the populations of comets and meteoroids in the inner solar system and the ephemeral meteor showers and storms which they produce on the Earth. IRAS observations have indicated that Comet Encke has a trail (not tail) of debris some tens of millions of kilometres long, presumably produced since its latest period of activity began about 200 years ago. One may further presume that the Taurid meteor showers we observe in this epoch are the result of the dispersal of trails produced in previous activity cycles which must stretch back to about 20,000 yr ago. When the comet, accompanied by such a trail, has a node close to 1 AU, one expects intense meteor storms to occur, perhaps accompanied by multiple Tunguska-type events if the disintegrating comet spawns massive lumps of debris. Determination of the epochs of such events from backwards integrations is impossible due to (i) Chaotic orbital evolution; and (ii) Non-gravitational forces, but pairs of intersections (one at the ascending node, the other descending) are to be expected a few centuries apart and separated by 2500-3000 years. It is suggested here that one such pair occurred in 3600-3500 and 3200-3100 BC, provoking the construction of the Great Cursus and Stonehenge I. From Stonehenge I, apparently the first construction at the famous site, as the comet neared the Earth it would have appeared to rise in the evening with a huge bright stripe crossing much of the sky, originating in the north-east. Passage through the trail would then result in celestial fireworks (and maybe worse); afterwards the comet and trail would have passed in the direction of the Sun, partially blocking sunlight for a few days. In order for terrestrial intersection to have occurred in that epoch (late fourth millennium BC) the mean orbital period of the comet over the past 5,000 years would need to have been slightly less than at present, and might then be expected to have produced a 19 year periodicity in meteor storm events (six cometary periods). It is suggested that Stonehenge I was built by the Windmill Hill people to allow the prediction of such events, from which they hid in the shelters we now call long- and round-barrows, and that the later developments at Stonehenge (phases II and II) by the Beaker people were a result of a misinterpretation of the original purpose of the site in terms of lunar and solar observations, a misinterpretation which was re-discovered by Newham, Hawkins and Hoyle in the 1960’s.

DUNCAN STEEL is director of Spaceguard Australia and Vice-President of The Spaceguard Foundation. Steel took B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at the University of London, studying at various colleges, and then moved to the University of Colorado where he worked on NASA’s Pioneer Venus Orbiter program. He then moved to New Zealand, where he took his Ph.D. degree at the University of Canterbury for work on radar observations of meteors. He continued this work from 1985-96 at the University of Adelaide, Australia, spending 1987 as an ESA Fellow at the University of Lund, Sweden. From 1990 until its termination in 1996 he directed the only southern hemisphere program for the discovery and tracking of near-Earth asteroids, based at the Anglo-Australian Observatory. In connection with this he has served on various international committees, including NASA’s Spaceguard committee in 1991-92 and the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Near-Earth Objects since 1991, and Working Group on the Prevention of Interplanetary Pollution since 1988. He is the author of over a hundred scientific papers, and the book Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets” (Wiley, Chichester and New York, 1995). In addition, he has appeared in numerous TV and radio documentary programs concerned with the impact hazard.
Presented at the SIS Conference: Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age Civilisations.

Not exactly your “fringe” type of credentials… More like “exceptionally well educated”. Besides, he likes Stonehenge ;-)

But, just to be fair to the “other side”, here is a ‘not so academic’ page:

“Could both Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt have been constructed to observe and commemorate a period of phenomenal meteor storms and asteroid detonations produced by a burst of activity in the Taurid Complex 4,500 to 5,000 years ago? Author Duncan Steel examines the evidence indicating rogue asteroids and doomsday comets may have been behind these and other ancient phenomena.”
The study of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) is becoming one of the most exciting areas of modern astronomy, and as the science progresses, historical writings and the myths and legends of prehistoric times are being looked at again in a new light. The current focus on re-interpreting ancient myths about battles between ‘sky gods’, ‘dragons breathing fire’, and ‘thunderbolts from heaven’, as containing the accurate observations of ancient skywatchers, is much in the same vein as the pioneering work of Owen Morien Morgan, who decoded the druidic folklore of the South Wales valleys, revealing the druidic oral traditions that symbolically depicted the constant interplay between the Sun, Moon, Earth and planets throughout course of the natural year.

It is becoming evident (October 1997) that ancient peoples have, throughout the past several thousands of years, migrated away from areas devastated by periodic bombardments of cometary debris. These hurried migrations of refugee survivors were likely due not only to the destruction of centres of civilisation, but also as a result of the “Cosmic Winter” caused by the cometary dust-loading of the upper atmosphere which gave rise to abrupt climatic changes – rapid drops in temperature that undermined the agricultural base sustaining those societies.
Some ancient megalithic monuments have been referred to as burial chambers because evidence of burials have been discovered in many of these types of monuments. Some of these burials have not been of humans, but of animals, specifically bulls and less frequently of cows. Others have been shown to have the remains of human skeletons in their chambers, but these burials could well have occurred at a much later date than their construction, and it is now believed that one of their primary purposes may well have been as observatories for particular celestial events.

The burial of bulls may also have been of a relatively late date compared to the dates of the construction of these stone chambers, which would have acted as ‘telescope-type’ chambers inasmuch as they would allow for the fainter stars to be observed at night. And, more importantly, they would have allowed for accurate observation of the ‘heliacal rising’ of specific stars in the final half- hour or so before actual sunrise.

As the major meteor storms of the Bronze Age and before were those that appeared to emanate from the constellation of Taurus (the Bull), then it must be considered that the ‘bull burials’ which have been found in various ancient structures all over the world could well have been the result of an apparent widespread practice of ‘sacrifices’ to appease the anger of various ‘gods’.
In ancient oral traditions, this ‘anger’ was almost always shown by the sending of ‘thunderbolts’ and the like, which are recorded in the mythologies and oral traditions of almost every ancient culture in all corners of the globe. Could these sacrifces have been of bulls because of the Taurid Meteors Storms that had caused such widespread death and destruction throughout antiquity? And, how far back did this go?

Which also causes me to ponder the Minoan pictures of folks leaping over bulls (and perhaps an echo of it in Bull Fights of Iberia?)

There are a great many legends about bulls, and Gods, and retribution from the sky. Perhaps they have a more common root…

Our planet encounters the beta Taurid Complex between June 24 and July 6 each year, and it takes the Earth about 12 days to pass through these streams. The second annual encounter is generally between November 3rd and the 15th each year, when they can be seen with the naked eye as ‘shooting-stars’ in the night sky appearing to emanate from the areas of the constellations of Taurus and Aries.

With the stars of the constellation of Taurus in the background behind the Sun in May and June, the meteors appear to come directly out of the Sun. They would not actually be ‘seen’ until larger meteoroids (particles of cometary debris) came right through the upper atmosphere and impacted the Earth, or burst in the atmosphere a few miles above the ground, as did the widely reported ‘fireball’ of the Tunguska air-burst on June 30th 1908.

It goes on at some length about using caves and artificial caves to enhance seeing of the precursor stars to Taurus. Not so sure I’m buying that… It seems to me it would be easier to just watch the night sky and create a calendar. At any rate, it’s pretty clear that a few Tunguska events all happening at once could really mess up your day and there WERE more of them in the past.

And then, there is The Wiki

The Taurid stream has a cycle of activity that peaks roughly every 2500 to 3000 years, when its core passes nearer to Earth and produces more intense showers. In fact, because of the separate “branches” (night-time in one part of the year and daytime in another; and Northern/Southern in each case) there are two (possibly overlapping) peaks separated by a few centuries, every 3000 years. Some astronomers note that dates for megalith structures such as Stonehenge are associated with these peaks. The next peak is expected around 3000 AD.

The Taurids also have more frequent peaks which may result from a heavier concentration of material in the stream, which only hits Earth during some passes.

What I suspect is that the 3000 year peak is a bit optimistic. In particular, I’m expecting there to be some resonant peaks at about the 1/2 period of 1500 years and at the 1/3 and 2/3 periods of 1000 years and 2000 years. Exactly which ones are how populated TBD… That we got whacked in 2200 BC would imply a 800 AD ‘repeat’, and I don’t remember seeing one written up.

In essence, I think the emphasis ought to go on the “also have more frequent peaks” part…

In Conclusion

I think that there is very good evidence for BOTH a tidal / ocean driven cycle and a cometary impact cycle in climate history.

Further, since both are driven by orbital mechanics, and those are full of ‘resonance’ effects, I postulate that a complete sky survey and close attention to detail will likely lead to finding a ‘resonance’ between the two. With periods of intense comet debris impacts, arriving in a couple of hundred year long ‘double hump’ event, on top of tidal nodes, is likely to account for much of the known history of catastrophic climate changes. Then we get a 1000, 1500, or occasionally 2000 year reprieve. Repeat…

Now, the big question is where are we at the moment on this wheel of fate…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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30 Responses to Lunar Resonance and Taurid Storms

  1. Richard Ilfeld says:

    Something to keep in mind, missing in much of the climate discussion, is that mankind has always benefitted from advances in scientific knowledge. Understanding and predicting climate variance is pretty interesting. A difference between us and the Hittites is that we have much better technology to cope with a varying world –a clear example is he drastic reduction in fatalities due to severe storms. The variability is not the severity of storms, but our increasing ability to build resistant structures, and manage medical and public health issues. A 2000 year cycle due to orbital mechanics as a causative factor in history is pretty cool. A panic that we have to send rockets out to move planets around would be the analogue to the “reduce carbon” panic being foisted upon us. I’m still of the opinion that though it’s probably not relevant to my generation, what mankind really wants to figure out is the timing of the next glaciation — these are the events that have seriously threatened the species.

  2. Adrian Vance says:

    Would it be possible to increase the contrast of your typeface to make this blog easier to read? It is very faint in my new LCD screen.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian Vance:

    Only if I change the entire “theme” (which is something I’ve though of doing…).

    What I don’t know is what changing a theme does to all old pages (i.e. do I need to go QA them all and find out if tables and things are messed up) AND can I just swap back with no Bad Thing if I don’t like a new theme…

    Basically, I don’t know what risks there are in swapping themes. FWIW, on my LCD screen a change of screen angle often gives much better contrast.

    At any rate, I look into it.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, I decided to roll the dice and switch themes…

    First off, I’ve lost my volcanic header picture. Have to figure out how to get it back…

    Now to wait and see what else has evaporated and what folks holler about ;-)

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    This page:

    has a reference to a 1000 ish year periodic return:

    In 1983, the orbiting IRAS infra-red satellite discovered cometary “trails” (not tails), representing debris along the path of various short-period comets. These trails consist of debris, most of which would be microscopic in size, but how many large objects are there in the trails? If there are many large objects in these trails, then Duncan Steel notes in his above-mentioned book :

    “A large fraction of the objects on Earth-crossing orbits, of all dimensions, are the daughter products from the break-up of a giant comet some time during the past 100,000 years, dynamical studies suggesting around 20,000 years as likely. All that is suggested here is a break-up similar to that undergone by P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1992, except by a comet at least 100 kilometres across and in an orbit crossing from Jupiter to the Earth.

    The core of the complex…evolves to have a node near 1 AU every millennium or so, at which time the Earth is bombarded by many [large] objects in episodes at certain times of year. It is these events that dominate the hazard to humankind. Such an episode would last for a century or two.”

    So it looks to me like there is every opportunity to have a couple of swarms that account for some of the ‘half Bond Event” periods along with doing some added damage in some of the other Bond Events. In particular the 2300BC-2200BC interval and the Dark Ages around 400-600 AD.

    In “Lessons from Jupiter” (Southern Sky magazine, January/February 1995), Clube and David Asher wrote :

    “Calculations based on an orbit related to that of P/Encke reveal intersections with the Earth’s orbit around AD 600 and before that AD 400, so that a swarm would have been near the Earth’s orbit for a duration of a few centuries around that epoch, the time of the European Dark Age. This then is a critical extended period when we might well expect several multi megaton [explosive] events, indeed a great many if we consider the globe as a whole. The perspective is evidently one in which we expect the Roman Empire to have gone into decline owing to multiple-Tunguska bombardment causing great tracts of land to be deserted and whole communities or nations to be suddenly dislocated. Of necessity, the period becomes one of barbaric movements.”

    Recognize that Tunguska was thought to be about 100 m

    Tunguska : On 30th June, 1908, a fragment believed to be less than 100m in diameter exploded over the Tunguska river in Siberia. It is the most well-known impact we know of in modern times. It is generally believed that the timing of the impact is consistent with it originating from the Beta Taurids.

    While folks are figuring the Taurids include stuff in the 1 km range and the parent object was 100 km in diameter (or so…); that would yield an awful lot of 100 m fragments…

    Obviously, given the presence of comet Encke, and the additional fact of various known Apollo-class asteroids which are observed to have orbits that resemble those of the Taurids, there is more in the Taurid meteor stream than just dust. According to Duncan Steel, some of the discovered Apollo-class asteroids that are in the Taurid meteor stream have diameters in excess of one kilometre. How many other Tunguska-type bodies are in it? Are they isolated, or do they exist in swarms?

    Oh, FWIW, the Taurids are “happening now” in the end of October, early November, so if you have clear sky, you might want to take a look…

    Or not:

    Let’s first look at the onset of “the” Dark Ages in the sixth century AD. The Roman Empire was finished, nothing was happening in the sciences, and worse was happening in nature. The Italian historian Flavius Cassiodorus wrote about conditions that he experienced during the year AD 536 :

    “The Sun…seems to have lost its wonted light, and appears of a bluish colour. We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies at noon, to feel the mighty vigour of the Sun’s heat wasted into feebleness, and the phenomena which accompany an eclipse prolonged through almost a whole year. We have had a summer without heat. The crops have been chilled by north winds, [and] the rain is denied.”

    Other writers of the time described similar conditions :

    Procopius : “…during this year a most dread portent took place. For the Sun gave forth its light without brightness…and it seemed exceedingly like the Sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear.”

    Lydus : “The Sun became dim…for nearly the whole year…so that the fruits were killed at an unseasonable time.”

    Michael the Syrian : “The Sun became dark and its darkness lasted for eighteen months. Each day it shone for about four hours, and still this light was only a feeble shadow…the fruits did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes.”

    And while that link does talk about several other Dark Ages:

    Mike Baillie is Professor of Palaeoecology at Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is an authority on tree rings and their use in dating ancient events (every year, a tree adds a “ring” to its trunk as it grows – good years are represented by thick rings while bad years are represented by thin rings). He conducted a complete (and continuous) review of annual global tree growth patterns over the last 5,000 years and found that there were five major environmental shocks that were witnessed worldwide. These shocks were reflected in the ring widths being very thin. Wanting to know more, he turned to human historical records, and found that the years in question (between 2354 and 2345 BC, 1628 and 1623 BC, 1159 and 1141 BC, 208 and 204 BC, and AD 536 and 545) all corresponded with “dark ages” in civilisation.

    OK, the 2300 BC we’ve seen. 1628 BC? That’s about 700 years. 1150 ish? About 500 years. Then a 1 ky gap, and another 700 year. Hmmm… not exactly that 2500 year period…

    It does end with some hope that “This time is different” ;-)

    The calculations for the Taurids suggest that we pass through the core of the meteor stream approximately every 2,500 years – today, we are passing through the outer edges. The last two occasions when we passed through the core were in 2200 – 2000 BC and in AD 400 – 600. The epoch around AD 3000 looks like being a fun time too – the Y2K doomsayers can always say they just got the millennium wrong.

    Sure it is… Time for bed little ones…

  6. George says:

    What is interesting to me is that we have evidence of significant climate changes on decadal, not even century or millennium timescales. The Younger Dryas appears to have ended in Greenland over a space of about 10 years time. It got cold, really fast, stayed cold for about 1500 years, then got warm really fast over a space of one person’s lifetime.

    The problem is that we have so little recorded history. The archives of many civilizations burned, often several times. Our history of today won’t survive long because it is becoming mostly electronic. It can evaporate rather easily (or be easily changed later). I almost which I could put down a chronicle in gold leaf or something that would survive the ages.

  7. Another Ian says:

    E.M. Off this thread but up your alley –

    Check out

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    BTW: Near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55 will pass within 0.85 lunar distances from the Earth on November 8, 2011. The upcoming close approach by this relatively large 400 meter-sized..:

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, that’s nice to know… per the story we don’t have to worry about it hitting us for a full 100 year… it’s only 4 times the diameter of that Tunguska rock… ( so about 64 times the energy…)

    And we don’t have to worry about anything like it until 2028 (that they know of…) so a good 17 years before the next one that comes even closer…

    Why worry? :-}

  10. Pascvaks says:

    Might “Nemesis” be not a star but a place in time?

  11. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Perhaps the Taurid “storms” will be the replacement for CO2 as the prime mover of the catastrophic climate change industry. At least we might get a rebirth of the US space program. pg

  12. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Pascvaks (15:22:48) : Some living individuals are candidates to that title too…choose your favorite :-)

  13. Hamish McDougal says:

    Now that is interesting!

  14. pyromancer76 says:

    E.M., when you continue to carefully watch all the pitches (research areas), you do have a unique way of finding the one possibility that knocks it out of the park — grand slam. I am certain that you are covering four bases at the very least. Great reading. But do you realize how much other reading — your many posts, others’, multiple research articles — this venture entails? I am running out of file cabinet space. (I am a book- or paper-in-the-hand person. Ahhh, the great pleasure. In addition, I don’t trust that the digital memory will always be there.) It is very exciting as you move us into new territory — solving the “riddle” of rapid, extreme climate change! Now, on to communicating to a wider public and preparation for adaptation?

    With respect to impacts, as I look through my files. I find two Napier papers (2009, 2010). I appreciate the context in which you place the info.

    Then there is the Holocene Inpact Working Group, much of the research you cite might have come from their members (“Ad hoc group called the Holocene Impact Working Group (HIWG) was created as follow-up the Workshop on Comets/Asteroid Hazard that was held in the Canary Islands in December of 2004. The group includes the researchers from different field of geoscience who believed that Holocene comet impacts were more frequent in the recent past than the accepted view.”) They no longer post publicly. I have a summary article by D. Abbott, E. Bryant, V. Gusiakov, and B. Masse (2009 or 2010) “Largest natural catastrophes in Holocene and their possible connection with comet-asteroid impacts on the Earth” There are a number of other names, some familiar, e.g., Baillie, Firestone, whose work has received great opposition.

    The idea of frequent, perhaps cyclical, impacts has waxed and waned with new evidence and then (often ferocious) destruction of its relevance. Perhaps we will see a new renaissance in interest and research if we can add predictable extreme climate change.

    I like the idea that those Henges were for more than equinoxes and planting guides, even if this would be enough inspiration. And those bulls have been of special importance since at least Catal Huyuk (~10,000 ya).

    Might be of no value whatsoever, but Dennis Cox at has been looking for impact evidence along the same lines. There seems to be a common complaint among interested impact researchers that it is very, very difficult to get a significant number of scientists — even in one’s field — interested.

  15. P.G. Sharrow says:

    One thing about Henges etc. for farmers and planting dates. Farmers don’t need priests or bureaucrats to tell them when to plant or harvest.

    Old indian wisdom about planting corn. “When naked squaw can sit on ground comfortably it is time to plant corn and squash.” 8-) pg

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    FWIW, I’ve got at least 8 full sized bookcases stuffed with books and CDs and tapes… AND another 4 in a “storage unit”… along with a couple of stacks in need of cases… and about a dozen ‘packing boxes’ of books. I really ought to live in a library ;-)

    So I love paper sources, but at this point for distribution electronic is fastest, easiest and fairly cheap, then folks can ‘print or store as desired’…

    Thanks for pointers to the other sources. I’m not likely to spend a lot of time on impacts other than to catalog the largest and least controversial of them and look for interactions with the other cycles (tidal and solar) to give beats.

    I’ve found enough already to show that there are cyclical impact storms of a size to shift history. Encke at least and it looks like at least one other from the actual frequencies (nodes at about 1000 years with the sporadic 500 step).

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Under normal circumstances, yes. While I’m not wedded to the idea, my ‘working whacky thesis’ is that things like Stonehenge come about when things are not normal. The usual queues go off track and some folks decided to ‘do more’ for a better answer. So, take “1800 and froze to death”; a lot of farmers didn’t plant at the right time then… So I could see a meteor storm in 4000 BC that causes whacky weather leading to a ‘how do we predict this stuff’? with the ultimate motive being avoidance of crop failures and famine.

    We also have historical evidence of various ‘primitive’ cultures having a formal priestly process that calls the calendar and says when it’s time for the harvest festival or planting festival or…

    So while I’m quite certain most farmers can tell when spring comes (and more importantly, the seeds will germinate when soil temp rises above a threshold anyway – variable with each seed type but generally over 50 F or 70 F – so actual planting time isn’t all that critical. The plants worked out this variable timing thing a ways back ;-) I’m less certain that they would be able to optimize in a highly variable world.

    In particular: Kale vs peas vs wheat. If we have a ‘year without a summer’ you want to plant kale (as it grows under snowy conditions…). If just cold and wet, you want peas. If warm and drying in summer, wheat. If climate is stable, it’s easy to ‘dial in’ on the planting schedule and crop choices. If things are chaotic, you either plant patches of each and hope, or ‘get a guide’. So when talking about “priestly” driven planting schedules, I’m thinking more about kale vs wheat than about April 10 vs May 20…

    For somewhere like England where gulf stream variations can cause wide climate swings and unstable weather, along with long stretches of overcast making celestial date keeping difficult, I can easily see a ‘henge’ as a way to keep track of the actual date and then let you compare that to expectations and make a decision of ‘kale or peas or wheat this year?’ (and more importantly, maybe next year too…)

    That there is evidence for a “19 counter” at Stonehenge argues for tracking the 19 year lunar cycle (and as we saw, lunar cycles on tides can impact weather cycles…). I think it would likely be useful for a farmer to know “likely to be colder this year, plant more kale”… AND, given the sales of The Farmers Almanac, it looks like a lot of farmers do to…

    Not to mention the use of the various government weather agencies…

    So yes, farmers can quite well figure out when to plant, and do a pretty good job on ‘what’ as well. AND I see no reason for them not to band together and make a henge for greater precision and accuracy in chaotic times.

  17. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I agree, At times of stress the “priest/bureaucrats” always claim to have the answers. “Never let a crises go to waste” to aggrandize themselves. Hopefully the “net that covers the world” will make all knowledge common and put an end to the all knowing priest class. pg

  18. Pascvaks says:

    During the LIA the French had a thing for wheat and tried to stick with it until Le Grande Revolution, Louis XVI’s Department of Ag didn’t do too well at all, I think they all lost their heads over the crash of the wheat market. Meanwhile, in merry Ol’ England, the Brit’s ate all their wheat seed and switched back to the hard grains and had their cake (and bread, and beer, ale, grog, and whiskey too), hense no Grande Revolution in the UK (or the Neatherlands, or Germany, etc.). I understand French grapes took a beating as well. One thing a good Frenchman cannot abide is starvation.

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah… time of chaos are not good times for being brittle. Germans and English were willing to swap to potatoes and rye / barley. So we have potato vodka, potato cakes & chips, beer, whiskey, et. al. (And the Irish did just about everything with the potato.)

    The French, insisting on wheat bread and wine grapes didn’t do so well…

    Then again, we got The Republic (both there and here) along with a load of interesting history out of it, so it wasn’t a total loss…

    FWIW, I’m shifting my gardening efforts from a focus on the common bean, tomatoes, corn, squash; and toward kale, cabbages, potatoes, peas, parsnips etc. I’m learning more about growing ‘cold and wet’ tolerant garden plants.

    The weather so far has justified this shift.

  20. Rob R says:

    Nice to see Keeling concluding that tidal forces are capable of impacting on hemispheric scale climate. Guys like James Hansen are unlikely to be happy about this. It potentially reduces the need for greenhouse gasses as agents of climate change. It also helps explain why climate change occurs first and change in the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases tags along some time later. In addition we could postulate that the tidal processes change oceanic circulation sufficiently to alter sea surface temperatures and surface air temperatures. Possibly outgassing of greenhouse gasses from the ocean is not controlled directly by temperature, but rather by change ocean in circulation. But the lag is slightly greater than for surface temperature? Well there it is. I sed sumit.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    @Rob R.:

    That paper on an 1800 year cycle of tides deserves a lot more thought. That CO2 link is an interesting possibility, for one. Once you have a longer term tides cycle, a lot of things start to drop into place.

    For example, it doesn’t take some ill defined ‘random oscillation’ of the ocean. It has a physical driver. The cycle is indirectly tied to the rest of the orbital mechanics, so suddenly the 179 year “solar barycenter” argument doesn’t have to get past low solar tides, it can point to earth water tides.

    It just has a lot of ways to go with it.

  22. Rob R says:

    Keeling is an experienced scientist as well and not previously recognised as a sceptic to any significant extent. He wll be difficult to blow off. If I was on “the team” I would recommend that the work should be ignored for as long as possible in the hope that it will either go away or fade away. But as a sceptic I would suggest that the work merits close attention.

  23. DocMartyn says:

    I was comparing BEST with GHCN v2 and found something odd.
    I created cumulative anomaly plot; adding annual anomaly from 1981 to 2010, of both BEST and GHCN v2 and then looked at the difference.

    Man made global warming appears to consist of adding noise and 1 degree per century to a temperature data-set

    What GHCN tells us is that there was cooling from 1900 to 1935, a flat part and then a rise with the 1980’s introduction of the RS2S2 interface.

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  27. E.M.Smith says:


    Sorry for the late response… but I just got to look at that graph. Very Interesting.

    Took me a while to realize what you meant by the RS2S2 interface. That was when we moved to electronic thermometers using the short cord and they moved closer to buildings (and got power sources inside them…) I learned it as RS-232 interface.

    Yes, that does seem to fit the data. I’d also noticed that the “warming” all began in sync with the onset of a particular “modification flag” in the GHCN (but could not identify what each flag indicated). I would speculate that the flag that has onset then is exactly the move to e-thermometers…

    @Rob R:

    Well, I’m doing my part to get more attention on his work! ;-)

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  30. DirkH says:

    From the German wikipedia page about the Taurids there’s a link to this German page:

    which talks about detailed calculation methods of the Indians and Tibetans. It looks like they had a keen interest in knowing about the return of Encke. They thought comets would bring bad luck. The page has images of the Tibetan manuscripts. 700 years old.

    It says the Tibetans knew about four comets, which were seen as “emanations of the pseudo planet sGra-gcan, responsible for earthquakes and eclipses”.

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