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Sun’s activity shown to influence natural climate change

Sun’s activity shown to influe...
A new study from Lund University asserts that regional climate is influenced by the sun (Image: ESA/NASA/SOHO)
A new study from Lund University asserts that regional climate is influenced by the sun (Image: ESA/NASA/SOHO)
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A new study from Lund University asserts that regional climate is influenced by the sun (Image: ESA/NASA/SOHO)
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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

25 comments
exodous
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.
JweenyPwee
"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...
Anne Ominous
"... 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.
asdf
"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.
watersworm
Meanwhile... the IPCC claims human induced GW is a 95% certainty !!! Morons ...
Mel Tisdale
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.
Jason Stanislaw
The SUN affects OUR climate?! No $#!t?!
Fred Smith
The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. How did that global warming happen with out humans?
John Roberts
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!!"
Pete Finnegan
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.