It’s Not the Sun

Apr 7, 2008 8:02am

Those who doubt that human activity is warming the climate sometimes suggest that earthly temperatures are tied to the natural cycles of the Sun.  Two British physicists decided to test this idea.  They say they came up dry. The paper, by Terry Sloan of Lancaster University and Arnold Wolfendale of Durham University, is in Environmental Research Letters; find the abstract and links to the full paper HERE. The idea — the one they set out to check — was that solar wind, the charged particles coming our way from the Sun, has an effect on cloud cover, and, therefore, on temperature.  Solar activity rises and falls in eleven-year cycles, as well as having longer, less rhythmic patterns. So they looked at measurements of solar activity over two eleven-year cycles, and compared them to weather records.  In one cycle, solar wind correlated to cloud cover about a quarter of the time.  In the other, they say they saw no relationship at all. "This is of vast significance because if the skeptics are right, it would mean we’re wasting our time trying to cut greenhouse gases," the researchers said in a statement. "But we couldn’t find the link they were proposing which means we are right to be cutting carbon emissions." There’s further explanation by Richard Black of the BBC; take a look HERE.  He quotes the leading proponent of the cosmic-ray theory as being undeterred. (False-color image of the Sun’s disc from the SOHO spacecraft.  NASA/ESA)

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