22 March 2008

Sunspots and Little Ice Ages

The solar science community is at a loss to explain the much delayed start of Solar Cycle 24.In the next 20 years, humans should take enormous steps forward in the scientific understanding of their planet's climate. We are not there yet. Until we have the chance to collect more data from satellites, robotic ocean buoy monitors, solar observations, and better ground stations we will not truly know what has been driving Earth's climate. We have to get this right.
Solar irradiance has been monitored from satellites for three sunspot cycles. The sunspot numbers and solar irradiance were shown to be highly correlated. Since sunspot numbers have been increasing since 1935 the irradiance must also be increasing.

The sun was once considered to be constant in its output, hence the term “Solar Constant”. Recent observations suggest that the sun is a variable star. Observations of solar irradiance have been made with great precision from orbiting satellites since about 1978.___WattsUp
The sun remains spotless while Easter blizzards fall across large parts of the northern hemisphere. When trying to explain and predict a chaotic climate, it is difficult to separate cause and effect. But while warmer temperatures could easily cause higher atmospheric CO2 levels, it should be obvious that cooler climates on Earth cannot possibly cause fewer sunspots on Sol.

Update: For an interesting look at an unusually open media glimpse of recent startling climate change, check out this Australian article.

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