Surprising effects of solar activity on Earth’s temperature

Our Sun has bursts of activity that occur in an 11 year cycle–some periods of lots of activity and some periods of low activity.  The Sun provides the radiation that heats the Earth and makes it habitable for us.

So when the Sun is more active, the Earth should get warmer, right?   Wrong.

New research, recently published in Nature, shows that there was more solar energy reaching Earth during 2004-2007, when the Sun was relatively calm.

Over the past century, solar activity has been increasing.  Does this mean that the Sun’s activity is keeping Earth cooler?

Joanna Haigh, lead author of the study, points out the need to look at this data in the larger context and to make sure that the three-year period studied was not an anomaly.

Professor Haigh notes:

“We cannot jump to any conclusions based on what we have found during this comparatively short period and we need to carry out further studies to explore the Sun’s activity, and the patterns that we have uncovered, on longer timescales. However, if further studies find the same pattern over a longer period of time, this could suggest that we may have overestimated the Sun’s role in warming the planet, rather than underestimating it.”

The search for knowledge goes on–that’s why it’s called RE-search!

Read the ScienceDaily summary of the research at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006141558.htm.

Learn more about solar effects on Earth’s temperature and how climate scientists do research in our “What will Earth’s climate be in the future?” investigation.

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