The process of long range forecasting is thousands of years in the making and is still used in older cultures. The Greeks inherited their knowledge from the people of the Indus Valley and Asia, Hebraic Sumerians, Chaldeans and from northern Africa. Agricultural economies needed reliable calendars and recognition of systems that both influenced and tracked seasonal fluctuations. Monitoring developed in several cultures at once over several millennia and survives today in the Near and Far East

The sacred knowledge that was passed down was that orbiting planets affect Earth and finding past matches of cycle peaks and troughs were pointers for long range predicting. It has nothing whatever to do with carbon dioxide. In exploring relationships larger planets have to each other we can observe that the so-called gas giants affect the sun when they are at certain angles. Also we can record over time how the moon causes tides in land, sea and air and how this brings cycles of, in land - earthquakes, on water - kingtides and floods, and through the atmosphere - heat waves and droughts.

Every 20 years both Jupiter and Saturn are alongside each other on one side of the sun (last in June 2000, next in November 2020) and on opposite sides of the sun (last on September 2010 and next in September 2030). From the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn comes the decadal sunspot cycle. This regularly repeating pulse of radiation affects earth's electromagnetic field and in turn influences the atmosphere. The 11-12yr sunspot cycle correlates with Jupiter's 11.8-yr cycle orbiting Earth

Saturn and Uranus taken together add a moderation, and 1907-1990, for 8 cycles of Jupiter there were 9 sunspot cycles. From 1771-1972 there were 17 Jupiter cycles and 18 sunspot cycles. Uranus further regulates such that the synod of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus is 42-45 years. The three conjuncted in 1881, 1923, 1968, 2011 and will do so again in 2053 and 2099. Two sunspot cycles of 23 years is half the Jup-Sat-Ur synod. Double sun cycles are more regular than one sun cycle. Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, taken as a single 3-planet system, seem to modulate the timing of sun cycles.

Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, correlating with the double sunspot return, last came together in 2011, the year of the Christchurch earthquakes and the Japanese tsunami. Previously it was 1968, 1923 and 1881. The error is about 2 years either side. Did calamities repeat? In NZ on 23 May 1968, a month after the Wahine disaster, a 6.7mag earthquake occurred in Inangahua. In 1921 on 28 June, a 7-mag shake occurred in Hawkes Bay. In 1881 a 6-mag earthquake occurred at Castle Hill. The next Jup-Sat-Ur combination is in 2053.

Two decades, or two Jupiter cycles is close to the metonic cycle of the moon, in which seasons recycle. 60-year jumps describe long-term fluctuating trends in global temperature, being 30 years of warming followed by 30 years of cooling. 60-years equals 5 cycles of Jupiter, 2 cycles of Saturn, and 5 sunspot cycles. 60-yrs from 2015 give us 1956, 1896, 1837 and 1778. 60 solar years are 13 quarters of the lunar declination cycle, and 2015 (lunar minimum) is 13 declination quadrants after 1955. Quadrants of lunar declination (approx 4.6 yrs) are the cycles of SOI, ENSO and El Nino by any other names. It means that in the temperature regime of the sun, during any 60 years there are 13 El Niño’s embedded.

The Greeks called 13 "the moon's number". The El Nino/La Nina Southern Oscillation (ENSO) correlates with droughts in eastern Australia and rainfall in the west, and droughts in eastern NZ, a lunar-solar pattern of drought expectation. The 133 -year complete lunar cycle equates to approx 12 sunspot cycles, 4.6x 29-yr cycles of Saturn, and 29 El Niño’s. This links El Niño’s to Saturn, the planet in ancient texts to which a cooling influence on global temperatures is ascribed. Cooling leads to less evaporation, less rain and more chance of drought. As global temperature changes correlate with oceanic fluctuations it is reasonable that El Nino correlates with Saturn. In one Saturn cycle there are six El Niño’s.

Remembering that sunspot cycles are on average 11.1 and 23 years apart, and that for every 2 sunspot cycles there are five El Niño’s, then in any decade at least two El Niño’s averagely occur. The last El Niño’s were 2006/7 and 2009/10. El Nino causes heavy rain in S America and delays the arrival of the north-western monsoon, causing a late wet start to the wet season in Australia. Rainfall is below average and tropical cyclones are fewer, causing El Nino to be known as the "brake on tropical cyclones". Then eventually widespread drought occurs over eastern and northern Australia. El Nino is 1/6 of a Saturn cycle, 2/5 of a sunspot cycle and 1/4 of a lunar cycle.

So yes, within acceptable error, weather pattern changes can be predicted. Planets moderate sun, sun influences planet moon, and the moon causes cycles on Earth. Temperatures around the equator tend to decrease at solar maximum and increase at solar minimum. This is repeated in north and south temperate zones, but in contrast in arid subtropical regions, temperatures increase with solar cycle peaks and lessen at solar minima. In the Arctic and Antarctic two to three times as many icebergs occur at solar maximum. In NZ, Australia, North Atlantic, S America, Africa, and India there is 10-20% more precipitation in solar maximum years, such as 2014.

The next El Niño’s should be 2015/2016, then 2020-22. The latter coincides with an expected Australasian drought beginning in 2017, getting underway around 2018-19 and likely to last until 2020/22. The next Jupiter-Saturn return is 2020. These planets were in exactly the same position for the Great Australian Drought that began in the late 1890s. That drought also affected NZ in 1897-98.

Ken Ring of is the author of Weather Almanac for NZ for 2015 (Random House)

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