Dec
11
2008

Sun with sunspots
Sun with sunspotsCourtesy NASA

One of the most common questions I hear about climate change is "Isn't it just the sun?" Days (sun out) are warmer than nights (no sun), and sunny days are usually warmer than cloudy days. Let's be honest, it would also be much easier on the conscience. After all, we have about as much chance of controlling the sun as I do of getting my cat to do the laundry. But our actions do impact the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Scientists who are interested in climate have been looking into this. A new paper by Anja Eichler and her colleagues from Switzerland and Russia looks at this problem by comparing records of how brightly the sun has been shining to the temperature in central Asia over the last 750 or so years. Now you're probably thinking, "Hey, who had a thermometer in Siberia 750 years ago?" It turns out that the part of Siberia near Mongolia and Kazakhstan has glaciers that are actually pretty good at recording the temperature.

So what'd they find? The sun is pretty important. It explains well over half of the wiggles in the temperature curve . . . until 1850. After that the sun is still kind of important, but changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere do a much better job explaining the recent warming.

Other scientists have found the same story using different methods, so I think we're homing in on a solid answer.

If you want to read the paper yourself, it is in press in Geophysical Research Letters. The story's not free on-line, so you might need to head to a library to check it out.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

plee057's picture
plee057 says:

I don't think it's just the sun effecting the weather to be warm. But mostly because of global warming, from the green house.

posted on Thu, 12/11/2008 - 6:30pm
plee057's picture
plee057 says:

I don't think it's just the sun effecting the weather to be warm. But mostly because of global warming, from the green house.

posted on Thu, 12/11/2008 - 6:30pm
guallpa321's picture
guallpa321 says:

That's very interesting

posted on Mon, 12/15/2008 - 11:33am
rayiaharris's picture
rayiaharris says:

i would have to agree with ''plee057'' its not just the suns fault

posted on Mon, 12/15/2008 - 11:44am

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