The sun could be having a 15% or 20% effect on climate change

Jul 18, 2008

Global warming is mainly caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities; however, current climatic variations may be affected “around 15% or 20%” by solar activity, according to the researcher Manuel Vázquez from the Canary Islands’ Astrophysics Institute (IAC) at the Sun and Climate Change conference, organised as part of the El Escorial summer courses by Madrid's Complutense University.

In the past, the sun was the main external agent affecting climate change on Earth, together with the effects of volcanic explosions and internal factors such as ocean currents.

“If man had never started burning fossil fuels, the sun might have been the only agent regulating the climate until the next glaciation. However, back in the 19th century we started an experiment which we are now beginning to suffer the consequences of”, explained the astrophysicist Manuel Vázquez to SINC.

During his masterly conference at the El Escorial summer courses, the researcher pointed out that the possibility of a relationship existing between the sun and climate on Earth is quite “plausible”, since it is the main source of energy of everything that occurs in the Earth's atmosphere, “but empirical tests need to be found that show that such a correlation exists, and over what timescale”. It is not the same trying to find a connection over billions of years, where changes in the sun's interior have an effect (the scientist commented), as looking for variations over just a few thousand years, “where we think only fluctuations in the magnetic energy of stars can play any type of role”.

Vázquez explained that this type of energy is produced on surface structures of the sun linked to the magnetic field. The most well known are sunspots which have variation cycles of every 11 years and others over a longer timescale. The researcher added, “there is evidence to show that after the last glaciation, over the last 10,000 years and before industrial activity commenced, fluctuations in the sun's magnetic energy regulated most of the Earth's climate variations”.

As examples of this correlation, Vázquez said that there is “certain evidence” of a relatively warm period in the Middle Ages, “around about the 11th century” which coincided with a period of high solar activity; on the other hand, in the second half of the 17th century, there was a decrease in solar activity which coincided with a relatively cold period on Earth, “although it appears the effects of the sun might affect certain areas of the planet more than others”.

In any case, based on statistics “it is necessary to find a mechanism that explains that correlation, which is where the main battlefield of this research lies”, Vázquez acknowledged, because, although over the last 30 years it has been possible to measure the variation in the amount of energy that comes from the sun, with an 11 year cycle differences between maximums and minimums are so small that they would appear to have no direct effect on climate. To explain past variations, scientists believe there must be some type of mechanism that amplifies the solar signal, such as changes in the sun's ultraviolet radiation, in the flow of cosmic rays that reach the Earth or in the average electricity of the Earth's atmosphere.

The IAC astrophysicist explained that the sun's influence in climatic variations over the last few thousand years is clear: “When there is more solar activity, there is more radiation from the sun, and any of the above-mentioned processes will intensify, causing warming”. All these signals are very evident in the upper layers of the atmosphere, as shown by data collected in recent years, “but the major problem is transferring such a clear correlation of solar activity observed in the upper layers of the atmosphere to the lower layers, where we measure climate”.

The role of the sun in the Earth’s climatic variations “is not inconsiderable”, but Vázquez pointed out that over the last 40 years solar activity has not increased, and has in fact remained constant or even diminished, which is why it is difficult to attribute a significant global warming effect to it, “the cause of which needs to be looked for in human activities”.

Source: Plataforma SINC

Explore further: Did Kathmandu shift? Questions and Answers

Related Stories

'Venus zone' narrows search for habitable planets

Apr 14, 2015

Long before the hunt began to find Earth lookalikes around other stars, one planet in the Solar System had already been named Earth's twin. With its similar size and mass, Venus measures very close to Earth, with one major yet signif ...

Latin America divided between oil and green energy

Apr 01, 2015

Latin America spends billions of dollars subsidizing fossil fuels each year, but also has some of the world's largest renewable power programs, highlighting the energy-hungry region's divisions as it charts ...

Saving energy with smart facades

Apr 01, 2015

Glass-fronted office buildings are some of the biggest energy consumers, and regulating their temperature is a big job. Now a façade element developed by Fraunhofer researchers and designers for glass fronts ...

Deforestation is messing with our weather and our food

Apr 01, 2015

Today, the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland published new research in Nature Communications providing insight into how large-scale deforestation could ...

Recommended for you

Did Kathmandu shift? Questions and Answers

47 minutes ago

The tremor which struck Nepal on Saturday, killing more than 3,500 people, may have caused a land area around the capital Kathmandu to budge by several metres, experts say.

More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

Apr 26, 2015

A powerful aftershock shook Nepal on Sunday, making buildings sway and sending panicked Kathmandu residents running into the streets a day after a massive earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead.

Nepal quake: Nearly 1,400 dead, Everest shaken (Update)

Apr 25, 2015

Tens of thousands of people were spending the night in the open under a chilly and thunderous sky after a powerful earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, killing nearly 1,400, collapsing modern houses and ...

User comments : 11

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

thinking
3.1 / 5 (15) Jul 18, 2008
Interesting that there has been no temperature rise in the last 10 years..... also just read an article stating that a large portion of the European temp rise the last century has been because more solar radiation has reached the ground because the air has become cleaner....

More and more it looks like man made climate change is a myth...
aufever
3.3 / 5 (15) Jul 18, 2008
It's about time that someone looked up and saw the sun. I have been preaching this aspect for a long time only to fall on deaf ears. We have evidence that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during that period in the settlement that Eric the Red founded on Greenland. They were growing crops and raising farm animals till it started cooling around 1300, yet most of the So Called Scientific Community ignores this and other evidence like the wine grapes that were planted in England about 50 BC and died out around 1300 because of a cooling climate.
xen_uno
2.7 / 5 (14) Jul 18, 2008
So you guys think the human contribution to increasing CO2 levels is benign and can go forever? Hmmm ...

Let's test your knowledge (or lack of) ...

A) Is CO2 a greenhouse gas?

If your answer is Yes ...

B) Can increasing levels raise atmospheric temperatures long term?

If your answer is Yes ...

C) Are humans causing CO2 levels to rise (through direct injection or by damaging natural carbon sinks)?

If you answered No to any of these then you really don't know jack and ought to be posting on Limbaugh's site ... not here.
GrayMouser
3.5 / 5 (11) Jul 18, 2008
In response to Xen Uno,
A) CO2 is a greenhouse gas, albeit a minor one. Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas.
B) Maybe. There's no solid evidence for this theory and historical evidence against it.
C) Maybe. CO2 levels prior to humans has been much higher that it is now, nearly 20 times higher.
deatopmg
3.3 / 5 (12) Jul 18, 2008
So you guys think the human contribution to increasing CO2 levels is benign and can go forever? Hmmm ...

Let's test your knowledge (or lack of) ...

A) Is CO2 a greenhouse gas?

If your answer is Yes ...

B) Can increasing levels raise atmospheric temperatures long term?

If your answer is Yes ...

C) Are humans causing CO2 levels to rise (through direct injection or by damaging natural carbon sinks)?

If you answered No to any of these then you really don't know jack and ought to be posting on Limbaugh's site ... not here.
So you guys think the human contribution to increasing CO2 levels is benign and can go forever? Hmmm ...

Let's test your knowledge (or lack of) ...

A) Is CO2 a greenhouse gas?

If your answer is Yes ...

B) Can increasing levels raise atmospheric temperatures long term?

If your answer is Yes ...

C) Are humans causing CO2 levels to rise (through direct injection or by damaging natural carbon sinks)?

If you answered No to any of these then you really don't know jack and ought to be posting on Limbaugh's site ... not here.


Now lets test your LACK of knowledge:
1) CO2 IS a greenhouse gas but H2O vapor is orders of magnitude stronger and the climate modelers choose to ignore this.
2) The CO2 absorption bands are already ~95% saturated at 280 ppm so there is an insignificant amount of energy absorption possible on increasing the CO2 concentration. But that is NOT the case w/ H2O vapor. Bottom line; it is simply not physically possible for increased CO2 concentrations to significantly effect the earths temperature. 95% of the CO2 warming was already in effect at 280 ppm.
3) The upper atmosphere is cooling - not warming as CO2 GW researchers predict.
4) The earth may be warming or cooling but this is no different than has been occurring every day for the last 4.5 billion years.
bobwinners
1.6 / 5 (5) Jul 18, 2008
Ok, I'll bite. I know were had telescopes in the 1700s, but not much earlier. I seriously doubt anyone was counting sun spots during either period mentioned. How do we know what the level of the sun's activity was way back then?
barakn
4.5 / 5 (8) Jul 18, 2008
Galileo was drawing sunspots from telescopic observations in 1612, and what makes you think a telescope is necessary to see sunspots? The Chinese recorded sunspots in 28 BCE.
menkaur
2.1 / 5 (7) Jul 19, 2008
"The role of the sun in the Earth%u2019s climatic variations %u201Cis not inconsiderable%u201D, but Vázquez pointed out that over the last 40 years solar activity has not increased, and has in fact remained constant or even diminished, which is why it is difficult to attribute a significant global warming effect to it, %u201Cthe cause of which needs to be looked for in human activities%u201D. "

the logic is like this: we have something happening , which we do not completely understand. so we decide that there can be only causes A and B for it. We examine case A and decide that we do not completely understand it (Well, i'm not surprised as we do not really understand what's exactly happening). So, we conclude that it's not A. And if it's not a that must be B.
The author is a froad, who does not know what science is. He should go and side with intelligent design followers and other scam.
i'm really irritated that there are so many incompetent people in climate change study
snwboardn
3 / 5 (2) Jul 21, 2008
The only thing that is happening right now is that these models that we have believed for the last few years are disentigrating in front of our eyes... With all of the newest theories that are preached as if they were fact... Snowball earth... Mainstream science needs global warming or else a lot of theories aren't going to look as good as they did. If humans can't produce enough CO2 to warm the earth how in the hell did microbes bring us out of a snowball earth.
Glis
5 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2008
'the researcher pointed out that the possibility of a relationship existing between the sun and climate on Earth is quite %u201Cplausible%u201D"
That's just a bit of an understatement. I don't understand how they can only attribute 15-20% to the suns cycles. The sun throws out massive clouds of hot particles regularly. Don't forget about the massive multi-million ton balls of water vapor above our heads.

We are completely full of ourselves if we think we can affect the global temperature more than the massive machine that is the earth/sun system.
snwboardn
5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2008
That is basically the meat of it Glis. We can't even predict weather 5 days out. I mean look when a hurricane forms. Computer models usually have about 10 different directions, and that is just predicting 3 to 5 days of variables. Weather, temperature is just way too dynamic for us to come up with some simple equation. To say humans and our technology is more capable of producing climate change than the sun-earth dynamic is just completely self-absorbed.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.