Stacey pointed out to us that a planet revolving about the Sun in its Keplerian elliptical orbit delivered no energetic jolt to the Sun's photosphere, such as might explain the episodic growth of sunspots. But when two planets are involved, as the faster one passes the slower one, there is briefly a combined gravitational effect that is felt by each of the planets, and more importantly, by the Sun itself. This is not a tide (which is minuscule), but a torque. The outer, gaseous layers of that star have a low viscosity that is susceptible to any change in the angular momentum, just like the Earth atmosphere (in contrast to its hydrosphere and lithosphere).
Climate and Keplerian Planetary Dynamics
The Solar Jerk, The King-Hele Cycle,
and the Challenge to Climate Science
by Rhodes W. Fairbridge
(Published in 21st Century Science and Technology magazine)
A senior Earth scientist divulges some little known
discoveries, and how they may affect Earth's climate.
During the Cold War, one of those mysterious scientists known in Britain as boffins was D.G. King-Hele, located at the Royal Air force research labs at Farnborough. His early work was, unfortunately, buried under security labels, but in the last few decades the lid was lifted (somewhat), and in 1975, he published a delightful essay in the Kepler volume of Vistas in Astronomy (Vol. 18), entitled From Kepler's Heavenly Harmony to Modern Earthly Armonics
Earlier, in 1966, he had stuck is neck out (in Nature, Vol. 209) with a brief item entitled Prediction of the Dates and Intensities of the Next Two Sunspot Minima. How on Earth was this approached? By looking at the planets not at the terrestrial effects, and not, astonishingly, at the Sun.
The motion of the planets and their study takes us back to the time of Kepler and Galileo. Then, in the second half of the 20th Century, came rocketry and the possibility of space exploration. This called for advanced formulation and computational skills. Here, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, enter the picture. The Russians, naturally, did the same thing, and some of them managed (through the Czechs) to keep in touch with the Americans.
Each planet requires its own time-table and space geography. The computational challenges were mind-boggling, but they were conquered. Armed with the thus created new ephemeris (the planetary time-table), two Columbia University retired professors of geology, John Sanders and this writer, were able to prepare a planetary framework for the explanation of terrestrial climate. It was presented in a volume entitled Climate: History, Periodicity, and Predictability, edited by Michael R. Rampino (New York: Van Nostrand, 1987).
Author Rhodes W. Fairbridge on his 80th birthday, May 21, 1994.
The planetary framework did not appear fully formed, like Botticelli's Venus on the Half [Pecten] Shell on the shore of Cyprus (a temple marks the spot). Many famous astronomers had given much dedicated thought and time to the subject. In 1801, the Astronomer Royal in Britain, Sir William Herschel, discussed the nature of sunspots, their variability, their effect on climate, and the position of the planets as possible causative forces. Although this work was published by the Royal Society, it was ahead of its time. Some century-and-a-half later, there was much more information, but not much more light.
This writer organized an international conference at the New York Academy of Sciences in 1961 (Annals of the NYAS, Vol. 95, ed. R.W. Fairbridge). At least half the audience was not impressed by the evidence. But one of them was an amateur astronomer, a former Singer sewing-machine salesman, Clyde Stacey, who lived in retirement in Puerto Rico. He worked longhand, without the aid of a computer, and not even a pocket calculator, using the mechanical analogy of gear systems to describe planetary cycles. Stacey had no academic qualifications, and found his writing rejected by both Nature and Science. He approached us after the seminar, and was invited uptown to Columbia University. For hours, he spelled out his concepts. It was then arranged for the New York Academy of Sciences to publish them (Annals of the NYAS, Vol. 105, No. 7, 1963), and a few years later, excerpts were included in The Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences and Astrogeology (ed. Fairbridge, 1967).
Photo at the left shows a currently eroding intertidal notch at Kapapa island., Oahu. The one on the right shows an underwater formation of similar shape, 24 meters below the surface along the Kaneohe, Hawaii, shoreline. This is an example of the many types of evidence that tell geologists of long-term climate change. In this case, the clues suggest the rapid rise in sea level, produced during the glacial melt which began at the end of the last Ice Age, some 18,000 yearse ago.
The revolution of the planets about the Sun can cause the center of mass (barycenter) of the Solar System to move from a position within the body of the Sun to a point outside it. The motion of Jupiter, the heaviest planet causes the greatest shift. In the upper frame, when Jupiter and the other heavy planets (Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) are all on one side of the Sun, the barycenter (marked B) is located outside. In the lower frame, when Jupiter is on the other side, the barycenter will fall within the Sun. It is hypothesized that the resulting changes in orbital angular velocity of the Sun will cause variations in solar output, affecting climate on the Earth.The barycenter for the system as a whole can be greater than one solar diameter outside the Sun, or can find itself in the center of the Sun. One has two relevant axis to consider: the barycenter, which is the axis of revolution of the planetary system as a whole, and the Sun's own spin axis.
CONVECTIONAL CURRENTS SET UP BY THE SOLAR JERK
The Hudson Bay staircase, a typical series of 184 successively uplifted strandlines, situated in Richmond Gulf on the eastern side of Hudson Bay, Canada. The sand gravel beaches are preserved by permafrost, and recur with great regularity about every 45 years, representing the cycle of storminess. There are longer cycles of 111 years and 317 years evident in the beaches, which are linked with planetary cycles.