Chapter 11 of Climate Change: The Facts 2017 comes from Wei-Hock (Willie) Soon and Sallie Balliunas. Both have experienced some of the drama that comes from falling out with the orthodoxy. Sallie Baliunas was involved in one of the major controversies in the field when she co-authored a paper that concluded “The 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium”. In the ensuing fuss five of the editors of the journal resigned although there were no demonstrable errors in the paper and it was not retracted.
This chapter introduces the history of modern ideas about the relationship of the sun and climate with some new evidence connecting total solar irradiance (TSI) with a number of indicators of temperature at various places around the world. This work used as much as possible “natural” temperatures without the contamination of the urban heat island effect. They also explore the correlation of TSI with atmospheric water vapour.
Early work. Some of the early work on sunspot activity and climate is captivating, such as the observations of the Jesuit astronomer Giovani Battista Riccioli and a Mexican Antonio Alzate, both in the in the seventeenth century, the speculations of William Herschel (1738-1822) and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and the more recent the work Annie and Walter Maunder in theearly 20th century. Jefferson’s weather diary commented on historical cycles from Roman times to the “common opinion that the climates of the several states of our union have undergone a sensible change since the dates of their first settlements; that the degrees of both heat and cold have moderated…May we not hope that the methods invented in later times …will at length ascertain this curious fact in physical history.”
Contemporary studies. Moving on to recent studies on the relationships between TSI and key climate indicators and paleoproxies such as the North Atlantic Meridional Circulation Index, tropical Atlantic surface temperatures, glacial mass and movements and zones of the extent of tropical rain belts. The authors refer to Soon’s contribution to the 2014 Climate Change: The Facts for a more thorough treatment. They note that the IPCC treatment of this topic suffers from serious misinterpretations, missing physical mechanisms and political bias.
Regarding the measurement of TSI and the correlation with surface temperatures the authors review the literature and conclude that too often researchers have not picked the best measures for the TSI or surface temperature. The urban heat island effect is a major complicating factor and it is important to use time series data from non-urban areas and to decontaminate data from urban areas.
Correlating TSI with water vapour. They regard the total atmospheric water as a much neglected key variable. Given that water vapour is the dominant greenhouse gas (if you are concerned with them) this neglect would appear to be unsatisfactory. It may be explained by the difficulty of handling the complex relationship with clouds and so it is hard to make rapid progress and the pressure to obtain short-term research grants for quick results rules out some of the important work that needs to be done.