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There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), "The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth's Climate," lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.
Understanding the sun-climate connection requires a breadth of expertise in fields such as plasma physics, solar activity, atmospheric chemistry and fluid dynamics, energetic particle physics, and even terrestrial history. No single researcher has the full range of knowledge required to solve the problem. To make progress, the NRC had to assemble dozens of experts from many fields at a single workshop. The report summarizes their combined efforts to frame the problem in a truly multi-disciplinary context.
Of particular importance is the sun's extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation, which peaks during the years around solar maximum. Within the relatively narrow band of EUV wavelengths, the sun’s output varies not by a minuscule 0.1%, but by whopping factors of 10 or more. This can strongly affect the chemistry and thermal structure of the upper atmosphere.
Indeed, Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) presented persuasive evidence that solar variability is leaving an imprint on climate, especially in the Pacific. According to the report, when researchers look at sea surface temperature data during sunspot peak years, the tropical Pacific shows a pronounced La Nina-like pattern, with a cooling of almost 1o C in the equatorial eastern Pacific. In addition, "there are signs of enhanced precipitation in the Pacific ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone ) and SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone) as well as above-normal sea-level pressure in the mid-latitude North and South Pacific," correlated with peaks in the sunspot cycle.
The solar cycle signals are so strong in the Pacific, that Meehl and colleagues have begun to wonder if something in the Pacific climate system is acting to amplify them. "One of the mysteries regarding Earth's climate system ... is how the relatively small fluctuations of the 11-year solar cycle can produce the magnitude of the observed climate signals in the tropical Pacific." Using supercomputer models of climate, they show that not only "top-down" but also "bottom-up" mechanisms involving atmosphere-ocean interactions are required to amplify solar forcing at the surface of the Pacific.
Indeed, the sun could be on the threshold of a mini-Maunder event right now. Ongoing Solar Cycle 24 is the weakest in more than 50 years. Moreover, there is (controversial) evidence of a long-term weakening trend in the magnetic field strength of sunspots. Matt Penn and William Livingston of the National Solar Observatory predict that by the time Solar Cycle 25 arrives, magnetic fields on the sun will be so weak that few if any sunspots will be formed. Independent lines of research involving helioseismology and surface polar fields tend to support their conclusion.
Originally posted by airforce47
Hats off to a very good and interesting post. I agree that the sun does indeed have a great effect on Earth's climate and that we may be in for a cyclical cooling trend. However, the massive amounts of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere of Earth will limit its effect. We should be really concerned with the on-going US drought and its duration. If it to is cyclical and will continue it doesn't bode well for world wide food production as we are the world's bread basket.
Originally posted by SonOfTheLawOfOne
I'm happy to see that science is taking the climate discussion to the correct venue, which starts with understanding the sun. Figure that out first, and then start looking at the terrestrial side before jumping straight to blaming humans.
does not provide findings, recommendations, or consensus on the current state of the science,
... briefly introduces the primary topics discussed by presenters at the event.
report also summarizes some of the science questions explored by the participants as potential future research endeavors.
An ad hoc committee will plan and conduct a public workshop that will examine the state of knowledge regarding the climate response to solar variability and will explore some of the outstanding scientific issues that might guide future research thrusts.
The committee will hold a data-gathering meeting in the process of developing the agenda for the workshop and defining the specific topics for invited presentations and discussions. The committee will subsequently select and invite speakers and other participants and moderate the discussions at the event. The committee will prepare a workshop report that will summarize what transpired at the event but will not contain any findings or recommendations.
Carbon Dioxide Source: Annual Million Metric Tons / % of Total
- Natural: 770,000 / 97.1%
- Human Made: 23,100 / 2.9%
- Total: 793,100 / 100%
- Absorption: 781,400 / 98.5%
Originally posted by unityemissions
reply to post by SonOfTheLawOfOne
Pretty sure I can destroy your "facts" as evidence against AGW with very simplistic reasoning.
The earth has an ability to absorb a certain amount of CO2 each year.
It does this by sucking it up in the ocean, and via photosynthesis in vegetation. This rate is limited by natural factors.
We add to this natural balance. The result is that it matters not what percent we add onto it, rather merely the fact that we're destabilizing that which was once pretty damned solid in it's ways.
The simple fact is that atmospheric CO2 is rising. It was ~280ppm 150 or so years ago, and now is over 390ppm. The way in which you're reasoning doesn't provide an explanation for this. It's incorrect thinking.
Originally posted by SonOfTheLawOfOne
If you did a bit of research instead of drinking the kool-aid, you would find that in 1942, CO2 levels were higher than today (over 400ppm) and the world didn't end.
Again, I mention 1942 where we were well over where we are today, and the temperature of the planet COOLED, so much so, that in the 1960's and 70's, there was talk of a coming ice age.