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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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RE: Still not an excuse
By Iaiken on 6/4/2009 10:41:13 AM , Rating: 2
First of all, the articles linked to in this were released over a year ago.

This is hardly what I would call new and it hardly proves causality.

There are innumerous factors that play into the behavior of our climate from solar activity, orbital behavior, even plant coverage. It is as equally asinine to state that mankind is solely responsible for climate change as it is to say that we have no influence at all.

RE: Still not an excuse
By hlper on 6/4/2009 10:48:12 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you. You hit the nail on the head. No focused research paper is ever going to find the cause of a multifactorial problem, especially if it is as complex as global climate change.

RE: Still not an excuse
By clovell on 6/4/2009 4:33:39 PM , Rating: 2
No, it's not - because there won't be a single cause. there will be contributing factors, which, through modelling we will be able to quantify and interpret, and, if possible, change - if they are deemed as being significant enough to make a difference.

'It's Complicated!' is no reason to give up on science. We put a man on the moon, after all.

RE: Still not an excuse
By Iaiken on 6/4/2009 5:19:43 PM , Rating: 3
I wasn't saying that we should cease striving to understand climate change.

Merely that we do not, and that it is more complicated than direct causality. The problem lies in widespread misunderstanding and misinformation on the issue.

Hell, when asked people what the principle greenhouse gas was, the vast majority said CO2. The correct answer? Water vapor.

RE: Still not an excuse
By Hvordan on 6/4/2009 8:33:43 PM , Rating: 2
...but water vapor is a function of temperature.

CO2 up => temperature up => water vapor up

This would be positive feedback.

RE: Still not an excuse
By HotFoot on 6/9/2009 12:27:15 PM , Rating: 2
CO2 is also a function of temperature, as warm liquids can hold less dissolved gases than cool liquids. If the ocean warms up, it will release CO2.

The whole water cycle is a a cooling mechanism for the planet, as the high-altitude vapour radiates infra-red light into space as it cools before condensing and falling back to Earth. Does this negative feedback equal or surpass the positive feedback of water vapour acting as a GHG? This is the problem the simulators face.

In my mind it's a miracle the whole Earth isn't in a permanent ice age or just permanently clouded over like Venus.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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