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Friday, October 31, 2008

Solar variation

Some other hypotheses departing from the consensus view have been suggested to explain most of the temperature increase. One such hypothesis proposes that warming may be the result of variations in solar activity.

A paper by Peter Stott and other researchers suggests that climate models overestimate the relative effect of greenhouse gases compared to solar forcing; they also suggest that the cooling effects of volcanic dust and sulfate aerosols have been underestimated. They nevertheless conclude that even with an enhanced climate sensitivity to solar forcing, most of the warming since the mid-20th century is likely attributable to the increases in greenhouse gases.

Two researchers at Duke University, Bruce West and Nicola Scafetta, have estimated that the Sun may have contributed about 45–50 percent of the increase in the average global surface temperature over the period 1900–2000, and about 25–35 percent between 1980 and 2000.

A different hypothesis is that variations in solar output, possibly amplified by cloud seeding via galactic cosmic rays, may have contributed to recent warming.It suggests magnetic activity of the sun is a crucial factor which deflects cosmic rays that may influence the generation of cloud condensation nuclei and thereby affect the climate.

One predicted effect of an increase in solar activity would be a warming of most of the stratosphere, whereas an increase in greenhouse gases should produce cooling there.The observed trend since at least 1960 has been a cooling of the lower stratosphere. Reduction of stratospheric ozone also has a cooling influence, but substantial ozone depletion did not occur until the late 1970s. Solar variation combined with changes in volcanic activity probably did have a warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950, but a cooling effect since. In 2006, Peter Foukal and colleagues found no net increase of solar brightness over the last 1,000 years. Solar cycles led to a small increase of 0.07 percent in brightness over the last 30 years. This effect is too small to contribute significantly to global warming. One paper by Mike Lockwood and Claus Fröhlich found no relation between global warming and solar radiation since 1985, whether through variations in solar output or variations in cosmic rays. Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen, the main proponents of cloud seeding by galactic cosmic rays, disputed this criticism of their hypothesis.A 2007 paper found that in the last 20 years there has been no significant link between changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth and cloudiness and temperature.

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