Some like it hot

I'm sure most of you have heard of the theories espousing solar intensity, rather than carbon dioxide, as the major factor in climate change. I just read an article on this subject in Canada's National Post newspaper.

The mud at the bottom of B.C. fjords reveals that solar output drives climate change

Essentially the idea is that solar output (which is correlated to # of sunspots) directly affects the Earth's temperature. Turn up the heat you get hot. Turn it down you get cool. When there are lots of sunspots the sun emits more energy. This energy arrives at 111 Main Street, Planet Earth and has a direct effect on our climate. In times of high solar output the Earth is warm and in times of low solar output the Earth cools.

This article goes further with the idea that cosmic rays from deep space affect cloud cover on Earth. When these rays enter our atmosphere they increase cloud cover, eliciting a cooling effect. The rays are inhibited by the solar wind during periods of high solar activity. This means less clouds and more solar input, which amplifies the temperature change that would come from solar input alone. During period of low solar activity, more cosmic rays pass into the atmosphere increasing cloud cover. More clouds, less sun, more cold, Little Ice Age.

The authors use core samples from coastal ocean inlets to examine the climate of the last 5000 years in 11 meters of ocean mud. The winter and summer seasons are clearly visible in these samples. In the winter when there is more rain the samples contain dark layers from the mud that washes off the land. In the summer when ocean life activity is high there are more organic remains. In the warmer years they can see much more organic matter than in the cooler years. This data gives a fairly clear picture of the climate over this time period. The gist of which is that climate can change drastically and quickly. Today's global warming is tomorrow's global cooling. The authors also were able to correlate their data with sunspot records of the last several hundred years.

Interesting stuff. Give it a read. Always good to hear other viewpoints on a matter as center-stage as climate change.

This chart shows the estimated sunspot count (via carbon-14) for the last 8,000 years. As you can see, we are currently at a very high level of sun activity.

This article explains the study that came up with this sunspot history. One juicy quote from the article, "Sunspot activity has been more intense and lasted longer during the past 60 to 70 years than at anytime in more than eight millennia." Hmmm...

The author also says, "a firm connection between sunspot numbers and climate remains elusive." The article, however, is three years old...