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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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Man + Nature = Fail
By gamerk2 on 6/4/2009 1:26:26 PM , Rating: -1
No one is arguing the fact that solar cycles can affect global temperatures. We are arguing that humans are at least in part responsable for dumping tons of CO2 into the air, which is directly a cause of Global Warming.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. There is a higher concentration of CO2 then at any other point in recorded history. There is a link between CO2 levels and Temperature. Temperature, on average around the world, is rising.

Sure, the Sun may be exasterbating the problem, but to use that as an excuse to ignore man is idiotic.

Over time, simply due to the suns growing luminousy, the earth will warm. Its predicted the planet will be too warm for liquid water within the next 500 Million years or so, simply due to the Sun growing more luminous. As such, preventive steps to gradual global warming need to be taken, ASAP, regardless of what the current trend is.

RE: Man + Nature = Fail
By deanx0r on 6/4/2009 1:57:40 PM , Rating: 4
As far as CO2 being a greenhouse gas, it pales in comparison to the dominant one: water vapor (up to 95%). You also have to take for account of the natural CO2 emissions which far outweight man made CO2 emissions before you can factor in its potential greenhouse effect.

There is a correlation between CO2 levels and temperature, but not the way you think. Taking a closer look at the data, you will notice that temperatures rise first then are followed by CO2 levels. CO2 levels actually lag by a few hundred years due to the simple fact that oceans act like a sink for CO2. As temperature rises, oceans release more CO2 in the atmosphere, and it's a process that takes hundred of years because of the vastness of our water mass.

RE: Man + Nature = Fail
By Hvordan on 6/4/2009 8:28:55 PM , Rating: 1
Historically CO2 levels lag. The AGW point is that the current warming does not follow this pattern.

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, it is however a function of temperature and therefore not considered climate forcing (and yes, the models do take this into account).

RE: Man + Nature = Fail
By clovell on 6/4/2009 4:35:02 PM , Rating: 3
No, there have been periods with far higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere than now. This is widely accepted.

RE: Man + Nature = Fail
By Grabo on 6/12/2009 4:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, and the knowledge is shy of worthless.

Do we know how your civilization would be impacted by higher co2 leves? No. Do we know co2 is a greenhouse gas? Yes.

Do we know that because levels of atmospheric co2 were higher before we were around, they aren't dangerous to us now?
No? So why do you people pretend?

It's the same old regurgitated arguments, it's like we can't learn as a species. And isn't that one of the prime wisdoms we've formulated? 'History is bound to repeat itself'? Although ironically, as mentioned, right now is somewhat unique, so don't argue with levels of atmospheric co2 of seven million years ago. We don't know what died then, we don't know how it'd effect us today, we didn't contribute to it then.

I mean come on.

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