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Variation in the brightness of the Sun is not the major factor behind
the unusual warming the Earth has experienced over the past few
centuries, a new study suggests.
Researchers traced changes in our parent star's energy output back
to the 17th century and found that solar cycles, peaking nearly every
11 years, did not play a significant role in contributing to global warming.
Earth's warming trend, which climate reconstructions show began in
the 17th century, has accelerated in the last 100 years.
Most studies reveal that this temperature rise could be attributed to the
increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere.
The researchers used a combination of data on solar brightness obtained
by spacecrafts since 1978 and isotope data —collected from Earth's
atmosphere and in ice sheets of Antarctic and Greenland—to recreate the
Sun's influence on terrestrial temperatures over the past several centuries.
Although events such as sunspots have increased in the last 400 years,
their effect only contributed a small amount to global warming, the results
“Our results imply that, over the past century, climate change due to
human influences must far outweigh the effects of changes in the Sun's brightness,” said study co-author Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.