A review of the book “Sun, Weather and Climate” authored by John R. Herman and Richard A. Goldberg of NASA in 1978.
By Albert Jacobs, co-founder of Friends of Science.
The first amazing thing about this book is that this is a 1978 NASA publication. How times have changed! In its Foreword, Stanford’s John Wilcox wrote:
“It seems likely that Sun – weather/climate investigations will occupy an increasingly prominent role in the coming decade, and the publication of this book should give a significant impetus to these efforts” (Herman & Goldberg, 1978, p. iv).
Its 50 pages of reference lists and indexes follow some 300 pages of systematic review of the solar science work and the science papers up to the mid-seventies. This was at a time when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was setting the anthropogenic global warming machinery in motion, solidifying its “duh” version of total solar irradiance (TSI), and dismissing any significant influence on earth climate from forces outside the atmosphere.
Also, the internet age with its web access had yet to arrive.
Little surprise then that Dr. Wilcox’ prediction remained largely unfulfilled at a critical period.
The other reason for amazement is how much was actually known in the mid-seventies. The sixties and seventies were a very fruitful period in solar research.
The Cosmic Ray nucleation principle, with which Svensmark made his name in his basement lab experiments around the beginning of this century, had been known for some twenty years. The solar relationship with the changes in atmospheric ionization rates by GCRs (galactic cosmic rays) had been known since Dr. Ney’s article in Nature in 1959 (Ney, 1959).
The importance of the Hale solar polarity cycle (double the sunspot cycle) to the climate connection had been recognized in 1925, suggesting that there was more than the sheer quantity of radiation to be taken into account when looking at sunspots.
The relationship between varying solar UV radiation and the ozone layer was well-known since Goldberg published on it in 1954 (Goldberg, 1954). Hey, why the Montreal Protocol?
The nature of the dual dynamo and the function of the tachocline were not known at the time and some papers speak of “changing sectors”, which may well relate to the expressions of the toroidal and poloidal fields.
But I don’t think the word “dynamo” appears in the book.
A degree of definition of the various factors in solar radiation and its alphabet soup of physics symbols was reached and the book supplies their backgrounds as well.
This is obviously not a fireside book, but is not so much a history book either. It will find its use as a gold mine of basic knowledge for non-astro scientists and others and a reference work par excellence.
The book is available at Amazon but all 360 pages of it can be downloaded as a 19MB PDF at the Long-term Investment Education Fund.
- Goldberg, L. (1954). The absorption spectrum of the atmosphere, in The Earth as a Planet (G. P. Kuiper, ed.). University of Chicago Press, Chap. 9, p. 434.
- Herman, J.R., & Goldberg, R.A. (1978). Sun, Weather and Climate (NASA SP-426). Washington D.C.: NASA.
- Ney, E. P. (1959). Cosmic radiation and the weather. Nature, 183, p. 451.
Albert Jacobs is also the author of the Friends of Science blog post “On appointing a social justice lawyer to a science portfolio” regarding the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change.