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Past studies have shown that sunspot numbers correspond to warming or cooling trends. The twentieth century has featured heightened activity, indicating a warming trend.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Solar activity has shown a major spike in the twentieth century, corresponding to global warming. This cyclic variation was acknowledged by a recent NASA study, which reviewed a great deal of past climate data.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Report indicates solar cycle has been impacting Earth since the Industrial Revolution

Some researchers believe that the solar cycle influences global climate changes.  They attribute recent warming trends to cyclic variation.  Skeptics, though, argue that there's little hard evidence of a solar hand in recent climate changes.

Now, a new research report from a surprising source may help to lay this skepticism to rest.  A study from
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland looking at climate data over the past century has concluded that solar variation has made a significant impact on the Earth's climate.  The report concludes that evidence for climate changes based on solar radiation can be traced back as far as the Industrial Revolution.

Past research has shown that the sun goes through eleven year cycles.  At the cycle's peak, solar activity occurring near sunspots is particularly intense, basking the Earth in solar heat.  According to Robert Cahalan, a climatologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, "Right now, we are in between major ice ages, in a period that has been called the Holocene."

Thomas Woods, solar scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder concludes, "The fluctuations in the solar cycle impacts Earth's global temperature by about 0.1 degree Celsius, slightly hotter during solar maximum and cooler during solar minimum.  The sun is currently at its minimum, and the next solar maximum is expected in 2012."

According to the study, during periods of solar quiet, 1,361 watts per square meter of solar energy reaches Earth's outermost atmosphere.  Periods of more intense activity brought 1.4 watts per square meter (0.1 percent) more energy.

While the NASA study acknowledged the sun's influence on warming and cooling patterns, it then went badly off the tracks.  Ignoring its own evidence, it returned to an argument that man had replaced the sun as the cause current warming patterns.  Like many studies, this conclusion was based less on hard data and more on questionable correlations and inaccurate modeling techniques.

The inconvertible fact, here is that even NASA's own study acknowledges that solar variation has caused climate change in the past.  And even the study's members, mostly ardent supports of AGW theory, acknowledge that the sun may play a significant role in future climate changes.

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Solar Unknowns
By pityme on 6/4/2009 10:23:42 AM , Rating: 3
I have always thought the variations in solar source was a major factor. Look at the unknowns:

1. Energy bursts are perpendicular to sun surface but it is a sphere and Earth is a tiny dot in the distance.
2. The Sun has vast energy differences over its surface.
3. Our space based measurements are a very small patch of a small planet in the solar system. I.e. what are the energy density differences throughout the viewing volume of earth.
4. Our space based measurements have occurred over a brief period of solar history.
5. Earth based measurements are the pan evaporation method which believes that photon effects greatly influence the evaporation rate of water. There are many thousands of "farmers/others" who contribute data over maybe 200 years tops. Obviously, many other "factors" account for evaporation but it is a simple test that has widespread and long usage.
6. Several "field" based solar measurements (solar cell over an area) have been run over years (primarily Isreal) but from an Earth perspective this is an insignificant surface area.
7. What a spectral energy affects? I.e. in additon to photon energy, there are many components to the solar energy outburts. While the earth magnetic field does shield many of these particles, the earth mag field is not stable and is in a decline and possible north south switch phase.

When you seriously look at all of the factors which go just into the "solar heating" portion of any global warming/cooling discussion, I am amazed that any rational person can make a pro/con comment on the topic of human induced global warming. Way too many unknowns.
Also, the energy released by us humans is insignificant compared to the solar energy striking the earth. I will not even go into geothermal heating affects which again swamp human energy releases.

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