Hope for NASA Climatology – Joan Feynman

Thanks to a comment by Gail Combs at WUWT I’ve got a bit of hope that NASA is not totally a lost cause on the issue of Climate Science.

While GISS may be toast, it looks like JPL still “has clue”.

Gail posted two links, that I’m going to include here. In fact, I’m just going to “lift” her comment wholesale:

theduke says:
May 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I’m with Pamela. Whenever I start hearing about 200-year cycles and such, my skeptic side starts to kick in…..
You might try reading what Richard Feynman’s sister Dr. Joan Feynman has to say about her research on that.

PAPER: http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/39770/1/06-1256.pdf

Yes it is “wiggle matching” but that is how we start our scientific journey. An apple bops us on the head and we take notice and try to figure out “WHY?”

So wiggle matching is a first step. Several scientists such as Alexander Ruzmaikin, Joan Feynman, Yuk Yung, (above) John Eddy, Alexandre Joukoff, physicist Richard Willson, and Henrik Svensmark to name just a few are working on the problem of how the sun varies and what effect it has on climate. The links attached to the name are brief articles of what is being done.

Is the “Jury In” of course not. Climate science is an infant science and that is why CAGW is so bad at this time. It stifles the creative thinking necessary for quick advancement.

The NASA press release says:

NASA Finds Sun-Climate Connection in Old Nile Records

Long-term climate records are a key to understanding how Earth’s climate changed in the past and how it may change in the future. Direct measurements of light energy emitted by the sun, taken by satellites and other modern scientific techniques, suggest variations in the sun’s activity influence Earth’s long-term climate. However, there were no measured climate records of this type until the relatively recent scientific past.

Scientists have traditionally relied upon indirect data gathering methods to study climate in the Earth’s past, such as drilling ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica. Such samples of accumulated snow and ice drilled from deep within ice sheets or glaciers contain trapped air bubbles whose composition can provide a picture of past climate conditions. Now, however, a group of NASA and university scientists has found a convincing link between long-term solar and climate variability in a unique and unexpected source: directly measured ancient water level records of the Nile, Earth’s longest river.

Nile River Image right: Nile River. Image credit: NASA/JPL
+ Browse version of image

Alexander Ruzmaikin and Joan Feynman of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., together with Dr. Yuk Yung of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., have analyzed Egyptian records of annual Nile water levels collected between 622 and 1470 A.D. at Rawdah Island in Cairo. These records were then compared to another well-documented human record from the same time period: observations of the number of auroras reported per decade in the Northern Hemisphere. Auroras are bright glows in the night sky that happen when mass is rapidly ejected from the sun’s corona, or following solar flares. They are an excellent means of tracking variations in the sun’s activity.

Feynman said that while ancient Nile and auroral records are generally “spotty,” that was not the case for the particular 850-year period they studied.

“Since the time of the pharaohs, the water levels of the Nile were accurately measured, since they were critically important for agriculture and the preservation of temples in Egypt,” she said. “These records are highly accurate and were obtained directly, making them a rare and unique resource for climatologists to peer back in time.”

A similarly accurate record exists for auroral activity during the same time period in northern Europe and the Far East. People there routinely and carefully observed and recorded auroral activity, because auroras were believed to portend future disasters, such as droughts and the deaths of kings.

“A great deal of modern scientific effort has gone into collecting these ancient auroral records, inter-comparing them and evaluating their accuracy,” Ruzmaikin said. “They have been successfully used by aurora experts around the world to study longer time scale variations.”

The researchers found some clear links between the sun’s activity and climate variations. The Nile water levels and aurora records had two somewhat regularly occurring variations in common – one with a period of about 88 years and the second with a period of about 200 years.

The researchers said the findings have climate implications that extend far beyond the Nile River basin.

“Our results characterize not just a small region of the upper Nile, but a much more extended part of Africa,” said Ruzmaikin. “The Nile River provides drainage for approximately 10 percent of the African continent. Its two main sources – Lake Tana in Ethiopia and Lake Victoria in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya – are in equatorial Africa. Since Africa’s climate is interrelated to climate variability in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, these findings help us better understand climate change on a global basis.”

So what causes these cyclical links between solar variability and the Nile? The authors suggest that variations in the sun’s ultraviolet energy cause adjustments in a climate pattern called the Northern Annular Mode,
which affects climate in the atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere during the winter. At sea level, this mode becomes the North Atlantic Oscillation, a large-scale seesaw in atmospheric mass that affects how air circulates over the Atlantic Ocean. During periods of high solar activity, the North Atlantic Oscillation’s influence extends to the Indian Ocean. These adjustments may affect the distribution of air temperatures, which subsequently influence air circulation and rainfall at the Nile River’s sources in eastern equatorial Africa. When solar activity is high, conditions are drier, and when it is low, conditions are wetter.

Study findings were recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Media contact: Alan Buis/JPL

while the paper abstract is:

Alexander Ruzmaikin, Joan Feynman1 and Yuk Yung2
1 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Tachnology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
emails: Alexander.Ruzmaikin@jpl.nasa.gov, Joan.Feynman@jpl.nasa.gov
2Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena,
CA 91103, USA
emal: yly@gps.caltech.edu

Abstract. Historical records of the Nile water level provide a unique opportunity to investigate the possibility that solar variability influences the Earth’s climate. Particularly important are the annual records of the water level, which are uninterrupted for the years 622-1470 A.D. These records are non-stationary, so that standard spectral analyses cannot adequately characterize them. Here the Empirical Mode Decomposition technique, which is designed to deal with nonstationary, nonlinear time series, becomes useful. It allows the identification of two characteristic time scales in the water level data that can be linked to solar variability: the 88 year period and a time scale of about 200 years. These time scales are also present in the concurrent aurora data. Auroras are driven by coronal mass ejections and the rate of auroras is an excellent proxy for solar variabiliy. Analysis of auroral data contemporaneous with the Nile data shows peaks at 88 years and about 200 years. This suggests a physical link between solar variability and the lowfrequency variations of the Nile water level. The link involves the influence of solar variability on the North Annual Mode of atmospheric variability and its North Atlantic and Indian Oceans patterns that affect rainfall over Eastren Equatorial Africa where the Nile originates.

Keywords. Sun: activity, Sun: solar-terrestrial relations, methods: statistical

All we need now is for them to match it up with planetary positions and also find the lunar correlation and the 1500-1800 year cycle

But at least it’s a start…

I’m also quietly pleased that “Real Scientists” are interesting is using what the old Egyptians new too. Makes me feel all warm, fuzzy, and justified ;-)

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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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8 Responses to Hope for NASA Climatology – Joan Feynman

  1. kakatoa says:

    And closer to home- “Fallen Leaf Lake: UNR scientists confirm Sierra Nevada Medieval megadroughts” http://www.mtdemocrat.com/news/fallen-leaf-lake-unr-scientists-confirm-sierra-nevada-medieval-megadroughts/

    ………Reno, Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada are no strangers to drought, the most famous being the Medieval megadrought lasting from 800 to 1250 A.D. when annual precipitation was less than 60 percent of normal. …….”

    “Using an arsenal of cutting edge sonar tools, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and a manned submersible, we’ve obtained potentially the most accurate record thus far on the instances of 200-year-long droughts in the Sierra,” Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory said. “The record from Fallen Leaf Lake confirms what was expected and is likely the most accurate record, in terms of precipitation, than obtained previously from a variety of methods throughout the Sierra.”

    Paper- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379111002654

    I am covering some plants as it is going to drop down to the 30’s tonight.

  2. omanuel says:

    Thanks, E.M., for reposting Gail Combs comments here.

    I believe several NASA scientists have awakened to reality: Our social and economic structures are in almost free-fall collapse now.

    Manipulating, avoiding, and ignoring experimental data to please project managers at the research agency headquarters is dangerous business; Formerly trusted research agencies may soon be disbanded or totally reorganized.

    NASA, EPA and DOE will be the among the first questioned about specific incidences, like hiding isotope data from the $ 1 billion probe of Jupiter until finally caught on a CSPAN news recording – belatedly releasing data that undercut the SSM (standard solar model) of Earth’s heat source as a giant ball of hydrogen.

    This Memorial Day week-end, as we pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms, it is fitting to read the speech by Czech President, Václav Klaus, regarding Climategate and the threat to our freedoms: http://tinyurl.com/87qeycz


    “It is evident that the current temperature data confirm neither the GWD alarmist and apocalyptic views, nor their quasi-scientific hypotheses about the exclusivity of relationship between CO2 and temperature.”

    “What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? There is no doubt that it is all about freedom. We should keep that in mind.”

    – Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic,
    21 May 2012

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo
    Emeritus Professor of
    Nuclear/Space Science

  3. Pascvaks says:

    Science is like making sausage.
    Currently, in Climate Science,
    We’re still at the point
    Where we’re whacking
    Live meat on the head and
    Hooking things up.
    We still have a long way to go
    Before we can sit down
    At a nice breakfast
    With good coffee
    And eat anything.

    Where there’s life
    There’s hope,
    Even for Science;-)

  4. R. de Haan says:

    Some sausages were made a long time ago.
    Good someone remembered and digged deep enough to recover it from microfim, see first comment at this link: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/25/the-cia-documents-the-global-cooling-research-of-the-1970s/#more-64229

  5. R. de Haan says:

    Our last and only resort to counter warmist tales, manipulation and fraud is the internet.
    The question is for how long: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/229653-house-to-examine-plan-to-let-un-regulate-internet

  6. las artes says:

    Khare, N. and Nigam, R. 2006. Can the possibility of some linkage of monsoonal precipitation with solar variability be ignored? Indications from foraminiferal proxy records. Current Science 90: 1685-1688.

  7. omanuel says:

    The basic integrity of astronomy [1] and astrophysics [2] were first sacrificed in 1946 on the alter of deceptive government science to “save the world” from the threat of nuclear war.


    By the time this cancerous growth on government science was exposed by Climategate emails and documents in November of 2009, the list has grown to include astronomy, astrophysics, climatology, cosmology, geology, meteoritics, nuclear, particle, planetary, solar and space science.


    [1] Fred Hoyle, “The chemical composition of the stars,” Monthly Notices Royal Astronomical Society 106, 255-59 (1946)

    [2] Fred Hoyle, “The synthesis of the elements from hydrogen,” Monthly Notices Royal Astronomical Society 106, 343-83 (1946)

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    The megadroughts of California are the inverse of European (Global?) warm periods. Notice that the date range of 800 – 1250 AD is substantially the same as the MWP 950 – 1200 AD (it varies a bit around those values depending on who is doing the reading – see chart here:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/medieval-warm-period.htm and wiggle pick for yourself.)

    The trees on the lake bottoms from that time are one of the things that caused me to go “What the…” about the Alarmist claim of “unprecedented” change…

    Now, think about it for a minute. The MWP had stronger drought in California. In the late ’70s / early ’80s California was again having droughts, but not nearly as strong. Now we’re cooling and, golly, droughts are over…. So…. Doesn’t that say that THIS warm cycle was less warm than the MWP? There is also a drought record from Egypt and one from a lake in Minn?

    On my “Gee Someday” ideas list is to take those global drought records and correlate them with climate cycles. Some are positive and some are negative as they are regional artifacts of jet stream shifts, IMHO, so you can’t just average them all together.

    Similarly there are drought cycles in S. America (collapse of Maya / Inca / etc. empires) and China has big droughts when it is cold. (China famine records match to drought and cold cycles).

    But the precipitation data are sparse so it is mostly looking through a lot of historical accounts and connecting the dots. I did one or two postings on particular places, like the “Cooling and Wet in Utah” posting:

    Where it looks like there is a time lag on lake levels ( well, duh… takes time to fill a lake) and the hot period of the ’30s-’40s had level drop to a minimum in the ’50s then the cooling started and a bit later the lake level starts rising ( I was about 3 years old in the back of a ’56 ish Chevy station wagon when my Dad was driving past the lake and we got to navigate some questionable ‘water about to cover the road’ flooding as the lake suddenly rose – see that first spike out of the lowest spot on the graph near the bottom . Yes, I remember the event clearly even now. It was the first time ever in my life that I had seen snow. Talked my Dad into stopping so I could touch it. It was very cold ;-) so I talked my Dad into getting back in the car and turning on the heater to dry out my feet / trousers ;-) Also tasted a bit of salty water from the salt slush that was about 9 inches below road level (and rising…) Spent what seemed like hours looking out the rear window of the wagon (we had a mattress in the back for the kids to sleep on as Dad was doing a non-stop Hail Mary to Iowa. His Dad was dying and it was the last chance of us to meet… Remember that too…)

    They’ve installed some pumps now to control such flooding, so lake level isn’t as perfect an indicator any more, but still the precipitation is pretty clear as to what’s happening when.

    In the WEST, we get more rain when it is cold, less when it is hot.

    Yes, exactly backwards from what the “Hot evaporates more water” theorists expect. It’s because the cold ‘down loop’ of the Jet Stream brings us rain. A “flat Jet Stream” doesn’t.

    At any rate, it takes a fair amount of work to figure out, for each area, is a particular indicator (like lake level) lagging general precipitation? Is the Nile, for example, directly reflecting local drought, or what’s happening in Sudan? Further south? Then is it a cold-drought area like China or a warm-drought area like California? Once all of those are worked out, then you can use the overall pattern to talk about “Global Climate” shifts. ( So, for example, Greece and Iran/Iraq look to be opposites; frequently in history we see their fortunes in oscillation as the wet/dry hot/cold shift moves from one to the other. ) Because it would take abut a year of effort to sort all that out, I’ve not taken it on yet. Just occasionally making a posting about one small part of it as time permits (like Utah, or China and drought/famine cycles).

    IMHO it is a very fruitful area to explore and very interesting. ( Now if I can just stop sleeping I can get it done… ;-)


    You’re welcome!

    BTW, your point about the isotope ratios took me a while to “get it”. They are consistent with a “BANG!” not with a slow fusion upgrading (if I understand the point correctly). FWIW it was part of what got me looking at things like our local stellar neighborhood and was there evidence of an old Nova “nearby”. And then there’s that small point (from a prior posting) about the age of the isotopes “here” being the same as the age of the Sun… meaning zero travel time from a Nova “over there somewhere” to get here for formation of the sun and planets. Frankly, that was the most “approachable” argument. Easy to “get it”. “IF a Nova made our materials and THEN they had to travel to get here: How did they travel a light year or two and get here at the moment everything formed?”

    Also, given the evidence for transition metal catalyzed LENR, I’m wondering if an Iron Sun with a dense hydrogen atmosphere could be doing something similar. H soaks into the surface, e- gets crammed into the H+ proton making an N. Slowly accumulating neutrons. Some slowly forming He (as in the “Cold Fusion” model) and some just being ejected and / or decaying back to H with release of energy. Haven’t thought it through, though. Just seems like something that ought to be looked at.


    I’d say most “Climate Scientists” are at the stage where they are squeezing “stuff” out of the natural “casing material”…

    @R. de Haan:

    As long as there is ANY connectivity, information can be tunneled through it. If the UN tries to suppress open data flow, Darknets will flourish. This generation is different in that they grew up with open internet (and in China grew up making clandestine tunnels). So you can shut it off entirely, or expect information to flow.

    Heck, kids in grammar school were found passing messages via steganographic encryption inside “benign” pictures. And that was a decade ago. So unless you block ALL flow of pictures, PDFs, etc. you can’t block the information. (Heck, my data files on this computer are encrypted and stored in a file system that, at the normal system level, looks like an application data file. Yes, if you try to open it with that application it will barf, but unless you try to open EVERY file swapped, you won’t find such encrypted transfers. I could send my whole disk to someone as a giant “JPEG” or “GIF” and tell them the passphrase via another communications and move GB of data, encrypted.

    At best they can be a bump in the road and look stupid if they try to shut things down.

    @Las Artes:

    Ah, yes. Monsoons too. The monsoon record has a cycle with all the others. Don’t know the sign, though. (Maybe I need to look into that…)

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