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Sun’s activity shown to influence natural climate change

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August 19, 2014

A new study from Lund University asserts that regional climate is influenced by the sun (I...

A new study from Lund University asserts that regional climate is influenced by the sun (Image: ESA/NASA/SOHO)

In a new study that may greatly add to our understanding of the drivers behind climate change, researchers from Lund University in Sweden claim to have accurately reconstructed solar activity levels during the last ice age. By analyzing trace elements in ice core samples in Greenland and cave mineral formations in China, the scientists assert that regional climate is more influenced by the sun than previously thought.

The effect of the sun on natural climate change has been one of constant debate, and its degree of influence varies dependent upon the climate modelling used. However, this recent study by Lund University may suggest that direct solar energy input affects parts of the atmosphere which then indirectly changes atmospheric circulation, resulting in increases or decreases in temperature over certain regions.

According to the researchers, a measurable variance in solar activity during the last glacial maximum (22,500 - 10,000 years ago) resulted in increased winter precipitation during periods of low solar activity. The team claims that these results may explain the positive correlations between their solar activity reconstruction and the study of indicator isotopes they used as a measure of historical precipitation temperatures in the examined ice cores.

"Reduced solar activity could lead to colder winters in Northern Europe. This is because the sun’s UV radiation affects the atmospheric circulation. Interestingly, the same processes lead to warmer winters in Greenland, with greater snowfall and more storms." said Dr said Raimund Muscheler, Lecturer in Quaternary Geology at Lund University. "The study also shows that the various solar processes need to be included in climate models in order to better predict future global and regional climate change."

Further to their theory, the researchers believe that changes in wind patterns resulted from alterations in received temperatures, suggesting that a top-down solar influence increased oceanic feedback and may have acted as an additional amplification mechanism. In other words, variations in solar radiation affected the atmosphere, altering the barometric pressure which, in turn, changed the prevailing wind patterns in the upper atmosphere.

In atmospheric physics parlance, these winds are known as eddy-driven jets and a high-pressure increase over the North Atlantic (as evidenced in today's climate) is often accompanied by a displacement to the south of these winds. This results in a negative effect on the North Atlantic Oscillation (the atmospheric pressure difference at sea level between the Icelandic low and the Azores high), which can produce colder winds and higher levels of snowfall.

As a result, the alteration of these winds changes the way in which heat is exchanged between the oceans and the atmosphere. In the Lund University reconstruction and modeling, evidence is shown that this particular effect was being exacerbated by the amount of solar energy striking the Earth's atmosphere in direct relationship to the activity of the sun.

"The study shows an unexpected link between solar activity and climate change. It shows both that changes in solar activity are nothing new and that solar activity influences the climate, especially on a regional level," said Dr Muscheler. "Understanding these processes helps us to better forecast the climate in certain regions."

The upshot of all this is that the team claims that these results provide a testable theory for an alteration of current orbital sun/climate hypotheses, as the position and strength of the eddy driven jet is, along with other influences, proven to be related to orbital forcing (the effect on climate of slow changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis and shape of the orbit).

As such, the scientists believe that this indicates that changes in solar activity influence the climate, particularly at a regional level, and that the variations in the sun’s output also influences the climate irrespective of whether the planet is largely mild as it is today, or in the grip of an ice age.

The results of this research have been published in the journal Nature Geoscience

Source: Lund University

About the Author
Colin Jeffrey Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.   All articles by Colin Jeffrey
25 Comments

Now we just sit back and wait for 20 more studies saying the exact opposite that will come out in the next few weeks. Honestly, we have no idea what is causing the earth to warm up, and there are studies saying it isn't anyway. All I can do personally is walk/bike more places (for my health if nothing else) and sort out my recyclables from my trash (to lesson how much is buried if nothing else) and let everyone debate endlessly on this.

exodous
19th August, 2014 @ 07:22 pm PDT

"Unexpected link"? Are you freaking kidding me? No one thought that as the Sun grows bigger and hotter as it burns through its hydrogen just like every other star in the known universe does that the process would in turn heat up surrounding planets? Are you telling me that bringing the oven closer to my hand makes my hand hotter? NO WAY!

But by all means, keep buying your Priuses. That lithium comes from magic fairies, right?

It's almost as if someone profits from environmental buzzwords and the general public's scientific complacency...

JweenyPwee
19th August, 2014 @ 07:48 pm PDT

"... regional climate is more influenced by the sun than previously thought." ... by climate alarmists who have been profiting from the hype the last 10 years, that is.

Up until very recently, the idea that solar variability drove climate was taken as a given. It was only in recent decades that there was a claimed "deviation" between climate and the solar cycles.

But as we have been finding out, more and more over the last 2+ years, is that much of this "deviation" could be due to the very "adjustments" that have been made to the temperature data, ostensibly to correct for various kinds of measurement errors.

Anne Ominous
19th August, 2014 @ 11:45 pm PDT

"It's almost as if someone profits from environmental buzzwords and the general public's scientific complacency... " - JweenyPwee

Really? you're only starting to think that now? The earth has been warming since the ice age, it doesn't worry me.

What does worry me is the destruction and polution of the planet.

asdf
20th August, 2014 @ 01:32 am PDT

Meanwhile... the IPCC claims human induced GW is a 95% certainty !!!

Morons ...

watersworm
20th August, 2014 @ 01:36 am PDT

If only it were possible to restrict climate change so that it only affected those who don’t believe in it, or think there is nothing we can do about it. One can imagine such people on the Titanic, some refusing to believe that there is a big white thing dead ahead, while others are arguing that because the big white thing is not anthropogenic in origin, there is nothing we can do about it So, “full steam ahead, captain, there is nothing to worry about!”

If, instead of leaping to conclusions, people actually read the above article they would find that it is mainly about regional climates being affected by changes to wind and ocean circulations brought on by variations in the sun's output. It adds that it does have some overall influence on how the Milankowiec cycles operate, though they themselves are miniscule in their influence. That is way science works, extending our knowledge. Of course the sun affects earth's climate, it is the source of all our energy, so how could it do otherwise? What we do not know is just how valid this report is. For that we are going to need others to repeat the work. That too is also the way science works.

It is questionable as to who the "morons" referred to in the above comments really are when we have severe droughts, violent flooding and increased storm intensities, entirely in line with climate model predictions, yet the topic can still generate some, if not all, of the above comments.

We know that we are headed for at least 3 degrees C rise in global temperatures, which is going to have dramatic effects, not least of which will be in agriculture. One would have thought that the prospect of starving to death would be sufficiently worrying to persuade people to question the MSM's take on the matter, especially its need for advertising revenue as dictated by the fossil fuel industry. Isn't it in fact moronic not to explore the matter sensibly, instead of simply parroting what FOX News and the like have to say about it?

Anyone so inclined could do worse than visit skepticalscience.com, where they will find a load of information on the topic. It is also worth watching Admiral Titley's TED talk at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7udNMqRmqV8 to see just how concerned the American navy is about climate change. The navy cannot afford to simply dismiss the notion that climate change is all a hoax the way above commenters do because they have some very real problems coping with sea-level rise and what it is going to do to their ports and their vessels' abilities to use them. The insurance industry is similarly constrained because climate change is going to cost them a lot of money, as can be seen in this article: http://www.pwc.co.uk/sustainability-climate-change/issues/insurance-leaders-respond-to-climate-change.jhtml

There can be no denying that the greenhouse effect is real. We know that without it, the earth would be just under 35 C cooler than it is today and we would not exist. There can be no denying that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and there can be no denying that it is very long-lived in the atmosphere. There can be no denying that even if we stopped pumping the stuff into the atmosphere today, we are destined to at least a 3 C rise since the start of the Industrial Revolution with a business as usual approach. There can be no denying that we as a species have a problem, unless one cannot be bothered to study just how much harm that is going to create, of course.

If it weren't so sad, one could see many of the above comments as a case of turkeys voting for Christmas, or Thanksgiving, depending on which side of the pond one is.

Mel Tisdale
20th August, 2014 @ 05:51 am PDT

The SUN affects OUR climate?! No $#!t?!

Jason Stanislaw
20th August, 2014 @ 07:26 am PDT

The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. How did that global warming happen with out humans?

Fred Smith
20th August, 2014 @ 08:00 am PDT

Great, one more study that allows AGW deniers to further muddy the climate change waters. On close reading it is obvious that solar activity does not influence the Earth's temperature directly but may influence the latitude of the polar vortexes. This may cause regional climate change, but for every place that gets warmer another region gets colder. Basically the overall temperature of the planet is not greatly affected. But global warming deniers will twist this scientific finding and scream "the suns light controls mean temperature of the earth, and there is nothing we can do about it!!"

John Roberts
20th August, 2014 @ 08:44 am PDT

These researchers from Sweden obviously aren't in the loop. They didn't get the memo. The science is settled; the sun has been ruled out. Ruled out.

Pete Finnegan
20th August, 2014 @ 09:02 am PDT

The problem with the theory of 'global warming' is in the honesty and realization of where we are, as a species, as far as science.

All things we do actually know considered, the one smidgen of an iota that we do actually know... well, leaves biting on the climate change hook without question not at all unlike buying a bottle of magic tonic elixir in the late 19th century.

Even old Mark Twain knew better, lol.

We like to think we have all the answers. It's just natural but because politics from both sides has been allowed to infect this subject like a cancer, it's become more important to win than be right.

In closing, this comment is not intended to incite or insult or create negative responses. It's just one person's views. Nothing more, nothing less.

Thanks for allowing me to share.

Arx Ferrum
20th August, 2014 @ 10:04 am PDT

@mel The last time I checked the sun is responsible for more than 99% of all heat absorbed by this planet, so I believe it is the largest factor in global weather change.

Also, the last time I checked CO2 was heavier than air which means very little of it ever gets very high into our atmosphere and if it does it will come back down in within a few months just by weight of the particle alone.

But also the last time I checked CO2 is soluble in water (which is much more prevalent in the air than CO2) which means if the natural weight of CO2 doesn't pull CO2 out of the sky then water will, in the form of carbonic acid.

Now I can get very technical if you want but I will try to break it down very simply. When a CO2 tank leaks in the lab where does the gas end up? it collects/hovers near the floor. and when your heater doesn't burn properly in your house and pours out CO2 where does the CO2 gas go? the basement floor. So where do you think all the CO2 greenhouse gas generated will end up? My guess is the ground.

So anyone can take CO2 readings in the city of LA, Ice core readings in Antarctica or in our water supply and they will all show increased levels of CO2 but overall not much CO2 will bleed into atmosphere above 50,000 ft and most of that is due to planes that will fall and dissipate within months.

And lastly I do deny that without CO2 in our atmosphere that our temperature would decrease by 35C.

My educated estimation is the current chaotic weather changes are primarily due to the earth's pole beginning it's shift and the Maunder Minimum we are slipping into.

Matt Fletcher
20th August, 2014 @ 10:19 am PDT

An unexpected link between solar activity and climate change. Ya think?

Nathan Knappenburger
20th August, 2014 @ 10:32 am PDT

Mel Tisdale

I must congratulate you, because it seems impossible to be so wrong in a natural way. You must be working extra hours to be so obtuse.

In fact, temperatures have stalled since 1997 (and are going down since 2001), there are no more extreme drougths, or floods, or storms. Antarctic sea ice has been growing since 1979 and is in record highs in this very moment. Sea level has been rising for the last 11 000 years, since the end of the last ice age, and since then there have been other epochs with temperatures higher than now.

Everything else is just pure alarmism and lies from the watermelons of Greenpigs and the like.

Heber Rizzo
20th August, 2014 @ 10:45 am PDT

At last someone in the climatology community is finally looking at what every physicist, geologist, and paleontologist has known for over a century...

Factors outside our atmosphere (not us puny earthlings how ever polluting and damaging to ecosystems we may be) are DOMINANT sources of climate change. Indeed, the sun is the dominant driver.

Bob Ehresman
20th August, 2014 @ 10:55 am PDT

Not sure what this has to do with anything in terms of the climate change we have been discussing recently.

The kinds of changes described in this article would be occurring over millennia (for example the changes in the earth's orbit referenced in the next to last paragraph is a phenomenon called 'procession of the equinoxes' that takes 25,000 years to complete.)

The changes that have been measured recently and which are believed by most scientists to be anthropogenic, have occurred over decades, not millenia.

Luke Roadwalker
20th August, 2014 @ 11:09 am PDT

The sun gets bigger all the time at the rate of finger nail growth. This is so slow that you can just ignore it.

Paul Bedichek
20th August, 2014 @ 11:22 am PDT

@mel tisdale

Most of what you state is just simply untrue.

Our sun is not the source of all energy

Climate models predict climate, not weather

Storm intensities have not increased as predicted, but in fact are following the patterns projected in the 1970's

Drloko
20th August, 2014 @ 11:27 am PDT

But Al Gore, David Suzuki, and the Gore/Goldman Sachs carbon trading foundation tell us the "SCIENCE IS SETTLED" . Period.

And don't even think about questioning or studying the 'settled science' as you will be vilified as a denier and your career will be ruined.

Real scientists know that science is never settled about anything.

R & D continues on all sorts of issues we think are 'settled' like gravity and time travel.

But global warming hucksters like Gore and Suzuki are there to make money, not save the planet.

In the 1970's, Suzuki and other fake 'scientists' said man-made CO2 was causing global cooling. They made millions off of that scam too.

robo
20th August, 2014 @ 02:24 pm PDT

Look up how much energy the sun puts out across its entire spectrum. Find the cross-sectional area of the Earth to calculate how much of that total solar output is intercepted by the Earth.

Both are extremely large numbers.

Now you can calculate how much difference there is in total insolation on Earth between the known solar minimum and maximum.

When you do that math, using *real numbers* instead of percentages in an attempt to make it seem like nothing big, you'll realize that it is the sun which is the primary driver of the overall climate on Earth and most of the other planets.

Jupiter is the odd one out, it puts out more heat than it gets from the sun.

Human contribution is pitifully miniscule. It would take nearly 20 years of the total energy use of the entire human race to equal the energy hurricane Katrina unleashed in a mere five days.

Calculate how many Katrinas per second worth of solar energy hits the Earth. It's amazing that there aren't hundreds of storms like that every year, year 'round.

There's not one thing we can do about how much solar energy hits the Earth. When it goes up, Earth warms up. When it goes down, and way down as it has been since peaking back in 1998, Earth cools down.

There hasn't been a lack of sunspots like this since the 1800's, when temperatures were very cold and large rivers like the Thames and the Hudson froze over every winter. But that was only a small percentage change in solar output, so that *couldn't* have been the cause, oh noooo.

Gregg Eshelman
20th August, 2014 @ 02:50 pm PDT

Climate change is an undeniable fact.

What is in question is the cause or causes.

Decades ago, it was shown by archaeology, that the earth goes through a climate cycle of about 100,000 years, caused by the gradual change of the earth's orbit from elliptical to near circular, and back to elliptical, combined with the precession of the earth's tilt. This causes the average temperature to rise and fall throughout this cycle.

The graph of this cycle of temperature looks roughly like the cross section of a series of flattened bowls joined at the lips.

Currently the earth is approaching the peak of the lip, so guess what? The earth will get hotter, and hotter, until it reaches the top of the lip, and then will get cooler as it descends down the slope of the graph.

The 'man-made carbon dioxide emissions' cause is a scam, perpetrated by those who will benefit from such things as 'carbon tax' and is based on deliberately doctored data, and loads of propaganda. The actual man made carbon dioxide emissions have been shown to be about 0.06% of the total produced, the remainder comes from natural processes.

Nik
20th August, 2014 @ 04:02 pm PDT

"What if it's all a hoax and we made the world a better place for nothing?"

Synchro
21st August, 2014 @ 07:20 am PDT

How do scientists benefit from a carbon tax?

Let me get this straight, your theory is that nearly every scientist from every scientific organisation from every country in the world, regardless of the ideological leanings of that country is engaged in a massive scientific conspiracy? That they're doing it because there's a direct financial link between all the world's scientists and carbon taxes that have been put in place on a piecemeal basis in a few countries and that nobody has blown the lid on this conspiracy ? And you think that's the most likely explanation?

Justin Doyle
24th August, 2014 @ 05:35 pm PDT

As for the argument that CO2 is heavier than air. If C02 makes up .039% of the atmosphere and the atmosphere stretches 11km out (that's only 75% of the atmosphere but it gets pretty sparse past that) it would mean that the bottom 4.29m of the atmosphere is made up of Carbon Dioxide. Which must be why we're all dead. The reason we aren't all dead is because wind mixes up the atmosphere. http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2010/10/is_co2_well_mixed.php

Justin Doyle
24th August, 2014 @ 05:35 pm PDT

@ Synchro

None of the actions proposed by the AGW crowd make the world a better place particularly in the absence of C02 caused warming.

Slowburn
24th August, 2014 @ 05:39 pm PDT
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