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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: Math???
By rs1 on 6/4/2009 3:11:38 PM , Rating: 4
s the study shows, past solar activity has led to approximately 0.1 degrees C variation. What the study fails to look at is the fact that solar activity increased dramatically over twentieth century. This increase could easily account for the larger variation.

Way to let your personal bias on the issue ruin your ability to pay attention to the data they presented. What they said was that the difference in global temperatures between the solar maxima and the solar minima is 0.1 degrees. The "maxima" and "minima" refer to the solar cycle, which repeats itself roughly every 9-14 years. We're currently at a minima, and the next maxima is due in 2012, which means that if you compare the average global temperature in 2012 to the average global temperature in 2009, then you should expect to see 0.1 degree of warming attributable to the solar cycle. Any other warming observed during that timespan would be from other sources.

Essentially, if the solar cycle were the only influence on average global temperatures, then what we should see if we graph the average temperature is a sine wave. Even accounting for the increase in sunspot activity, where if you ignore the very inaccurate "best fit line" you can readily see that while the maxima has slightly increased, the minima has stayed about the same, all you would expect to see is a sine wave with slightly increasing amplitude towards the end when graphing average temperatures. What you will see if you actually do graph the data, however, is what appears to be roughly a sine-wave pattern that decided to start slanting upwards around 1920 or so. That sudden upward slant is inconsistent with the pattern generated by the solar cycle, and most likely is caused by other factors.

So no, the study and the data in no way imply that the solar cycle is somehow the primary culprit for the global warming trend. Even if you go ahead and ignore the fact that the best fit line is meaningless when plotted against a naturally periodical dataset like the number of sunspots, and pretend like the average number of sunspots has increased, it's still not sufficient to account for the kind of warming seen. The temperature delta between a minima and a maxima is 0.1 degrees, and the sunspot delta between the same is roughly 100. So the average would have to increase by 100 sunspots for every 0.1 degree of observed warming, for solar activity to be the primary culprit. However, global temperatures have risen about 0.9 degrees between 1920 and the present day, while the "average" number of sunspots has increased by only about 35. It should be clear to anyone who hasn't prejudged the issue that the meager increase in the average number of sunspots is wholly insufficient to account for the increase in temperatures seen. Clearly there must be other factors at work.

If you're going to post things that masquerade as legitimate news articles, then please show some semblance of journalistic integrity, and keep your personal biases in check.

The title you chose for your post is misleading as well. The study doesn't discount man as a possible culprit, nor does it assert that the solar cycle is the only culprit. All it says is that the solar cycle, among other things, contributes to the warming trend. And anyone who's not a complete zealot for one side or the other should have already known that. Global warming is a complicated process, and is not caused by any one single thing.

RE: Math???
By msomeoneelsez on 6/5/2009 12:36:20 AM , Rating: 2
What you will see if you actually do graph the data, however, is what appears to be roughly a sine-wave pattern that decided to start slanting upwards around 1920 or so.

I think you are referring to the United States inflation rate... stop mixing up your graphs!

RE: Math???
By knutjb on 6/5/2009 7:24:31 PM , Rating: 1
Without satellites placed between the sun and earth its very hard to know exactly how much energy and where. I have heard astrophysicists theorize the melting on the north vs ice growth in the south is due to how the energy hits the planet. They were poo poo'd by the GW crowd as foolish and not able to understand the problem. Also averages can be misleading. The similar increase in temperature of nearby planets is a correlation that needs to be reconciled. And while there may a solar cycle how many many weathermen can predict the weather reliably? Same goes for predicting the Sun.

Those who believe there is a consensus that global warming is solely human caused have their heads buried deep in the sand.

As for the curious release of this information, I have read government accident reports that were written in such a way as to absolve a pilot of responsibility for a crash citing failure of equipment in the summary, the same equipment that was turned off by the pilot in flight causing the accident. This reads much like that with cherry picked numbers. The head of NASA's climate section is known for his GW drum beating. Scientist can be caught up in the data and become unable to see the forest through the trees, i.e. stuck on old conclusions as fact when newer data places doubt on or proves it's outright wrong. Global warming theory, is just that, a theory, it's not fact.

Be careful of those who mark the bulls eye over the data.

RE: Math???
By ironargonaut on 6/8/2009 3:21:15 AM , Rating: 1
all you would expect to see is a sine wave with slightly increasing amplitude towards the end when graphing average temperatures.

Using this logic the sun could never cause the global temperature to drop below 0.1C from a certain point. Since, the minima is almost always the same that means any change from one minima to the next must be from man, according to you. If that is the case how do you explain the Maunder Minimum. Using your theory the temperature should not have changed by more then 0.1C. Unless, somehow man was causing the cooling. The more likely scenario which you completely ignore is that the effect is cumalative. That is many low maxima cause eventual cooling trend and many high maxima cause a rising trend in surface energy. Temp is a piss poor measurement to begin with. Energy is the real measurement.

So the average would have to increase by 100 sunspots for every 0.1 degree of observed warming, for solar activity to be the primary culprit.

Why? Where is it written this must happen? You claim to comprehend that global warming is complex. Yet you take too sets of numbers that are purported cause and effect and since their relationship is not linear you claim one couldn't be the primary influence on the other.

It is you who is trying to BS people. I agree with the author that NASA AGW supporters acknowledging the relationship between sunspots and GW is significant. A sunspot is a visible manifestation of a solar phenomea. It is binary, while the phenomina is variable. Using sunspots is like a deaf man using a lightbulb to measure a radio stations effect. You know when it was on and for how long. But, you don't know what song was being broadcast and what the strength of the signal was. All you can measure is the overall increase in human energy when the bulb is on more frequently.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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