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Brightening Sun is Warming Earth
Posted on Tuesday, August 01, 2006 @ 22:39:00 GMT by vlad

Science Anonymous writes: http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/1997/11.06/BrighteningSuni.html

Brightening Sun is Warming Earth
May account for major part of global warming
By William J. Cromie

Gazette Staff

There is a better explanation for global warming than air pollution, two Harvard researchers say: the Sun is increasing in brightness and radiance.

"Changes in the Sun can account for major climate changes on Earth for the past 300 years, including part of the recent surge of global warming," claims Sallie Baliunas, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).


"We're not saying that variations in solar activity account for all of the global rise in temperature that we are experiencing," cautions her CfA colleague, astrophysicist Willie Soon. "But we believe these variations are the major driving force. Heat-trapping gases emitted by smokestacks and vehicles -- the so-called greenhouse effect -- appear to be secondary."

If that conclusion proves true, it promises a huge economic and political impact on the "third rock from the Sun." The Clinton Administration is trying to negotiate an international treaty to gradually reduce greenhouse pollutants without bringing economic havoc to industries that satisfy our enormous appetite for the energy that comes from burning oil, coal, and gas.

Other world leaders and environmentalists are pushing for immediate action, but Baliunas thinks there is time to carefully consider what action to take. "The best models of global warming call for a very slow temperature rise of less than two degrees in the next 100 years," she has told various congressional committees and briefings. "There is time for more research and a measured response because the penalty you pay in increased temperatures from greenhouse warming is small."

Anything that's cost-effective to cut emissions can be done right away, Baliunas says. Dramatic cuts with high economic penalties might be postponed in the expectation that more effective and affordable technologies will become available in the next 25 years or so.

To ease the economic burdens, President Clinton has proposed various incentives. These include offering $5 billion in tax breaks for businesses to conserve energy and to develop new technologies, such as efficient electric cars and fuel cells that burn clean hydrogen. Vice President Al Gore described these incentives last Friday in a talk at the Kennedy School of Government.

A Bright Connection

Baliunas and Soon base their ideas about the cause of global warming on irrefutable evidence that sunlight is getting stronger. Since the late 1970s, three Sun-watching satellites recorded surprising changes in heat, ultraviolet radiation, and solar wind. The radiation alters the paths of winter storms; solar winds affect cloudiness and rainfall.

The increased activity, everyone agrees, is tied to a cycle that sees the Sun dimming, then brightening, every 11 years or so. From the late 1970s to mid-1980s, activity on Earth's star declined. Since then it has risen, declined, then risen again. The satellites measured an increase in brightness of as much as 0.14 percent on the latest rise.

Two unknowns, however, prevent Sun-watchers from making any useable forecasts about the next five years. No one knows why the Sun cycles like it does, or when it will reach its next maximum. The best guess is the year 2000.

Also, a 0.14 percent jump in brightness is not enough to account for the approximately 1 degree F rise in temperature on Earth in the past 100 years. What's more, various observations show that our planet is almost 2 degrees F warmer than it was around the year 1700.

Baliunas quickly points out that the satellite measurements apply to only one cycle, and evidence exists that the estimated jump in brightness over several previous cycles was almost four times as much -- 0.5 percent.

Also, looking elsewhere in the Milky Way reveals larger shifts in brightness of other Sunlike stars. Twenty years ago, when still a Harvard graduate student, Baliunas took over a project that has been recording brightness changes in such stars of between 0.1 and 0.7 percent.

"A change of 0.5 percent in brightness sustained over several past cycles could account for the 2 degree change in climate we have experienced since the beginning of the 18th century," Baliunas maintains. "We don't know if this actually happened, but it indicates that the Sun is a major driver of climate change. We cannot ignore its variations when accounting for the present global warming."

Sun Spots and Storms

What is more, these Baliunas-Soon assumptions consider only brightness changes. Also increasing during the maximum part of solar cycles are invisible but potent ultraviolet rays which heat up Earth's atmosphere and change the paths of winter storms.

This radiation hits oxygen molecules in the upper stratosphere and converts them to ozone. Some 25 miles above our heads, the ozone layer is best known for screening out ultraviolet radiation implicated in skin cancer, cataracts, and crop damage. However, researchers at Harvard's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences have found that increased amounts of ozone interfere with movement of heat from the equator to the poles. That, in turn, shifts the pattern of jet streams that steer the storms around the planet.

Exactly how this contributes to warming Earth during maximum solar activity, and to cooling it during minimums, remains a mystery. "Our uncertainty is enormous," Soon admits, "but we can't omit ultraviolet forcing as a factor in global warming."

The most striking markers of the Sun's waxings and wanings are the coming and going of black spots on its face. Sunspots mark areas where strong magnetic fields exit and enter the surface of the Sun. They are about a thousand degrees cooler than the bright areas that surround them, but are still incandescently hot.

These spots not only follow an 11-year cycle; they also cycle through longer periods of high and low magnetic activity. When the Sun boasts a maximum of spots, cycle after cycle, Earth tends to be warmer than when its face is clear.

During the years from 1640 to 1720, for example, observers counted abnormally few sunspots and Earth's climate entered a period of unusually cold weather. Since the mid-1960s, solar magnetism has been increasing along with global temperatures.

At such maximums, the wind of magnetic fields and charged particles that normally wafts across the 93 million miles from Sun to Earth blows harder. These gusts can trigger colorful displays of auroral lights during long polar nights. The strongest winds may also disrupt long-range radio communications, cause power outages, and disturb the operation of satellites.

Solar winds also produce radioactive carbon atoms in the atmosphere that eventually rain down and become assimilated into tree rings. High solar winds lead to rings with fewer radioactive atoms and vice versa. Changing levels of radiocarbon provide a natural record of magnetic changes on the Sun that can be matched with weather records of coldings and warmings.

"There have been 19 cold periods in the past 10,000 years and a decrease in solar magnetic activity can be linked to 17 of them," Baliunas notes.

Exactly how this happens remains unknown. It probably involves both changes in energy and variations in electrical charges on drops of water in the atmosphere. The drops provide seeds for the formation of clouds which add to natural and greenhouse warmings.

Neither Baliunas nor Soon ties these changes to El Niño, the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that brings mostly unwanted weather changes from India to Indiana. "There is no solar cycle with the same 4-to-7-year period and no known direct connection with changes on the Sun," Baliunas says.

"Over longer periods, both the ultraviolet radiation and the particles in solar winds alter the balance of energy in the atmosphere, affecting the movement of winds," Soon points out. "Together with changes in brightness, these mechanisms must affect longer-term changes in climate. All the records we have of climate tie it to variations in the Sun. It is reasonable to assume that that effect persists at the present time."

No one doubts this; but the magnitude of its influence on global warming remains in question. However, a significant number of researchers insist that solar changes are not great enough to produce the warming we are experiencing. They maintain that human activity is the main cause of rising temperatures that threaten widespread flooding, increased storminess, and potentially disruptive shifts in croplands. It is this group that wants to take immediate action to reduce heat-trapping air pollutants.

Baliunas and Soon maintain that interest in and understanding of solar effects will increase faster than rising temperatures, allowing time to study the Sun-climate relationships.

"But," Baliunas admits, "I am addressing scientific issues. Economic, political, and environmental considerations are quite another story."



Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College


 
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"Brightening Sun is Warming Earth" | Login/Create an Account | 10 comments | Search Discussion
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Re: Brightening Sun is Warming Earth (Score: 1)
by ElectroDynaCat on Wednesday, August 02, 2006 @ 05:40:20 GMT
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Anonymous?

How much did Mr. Anonymous get paid  by the Oil Companies to drag an obscure study thats nine years old out into the public eye?

Paging Mr. Anonymous!! Crawl out from whatever rock you're hiding under!



Re: Brightening Sun is Warming Earth (Score: 1)
by ElectroDynaCat on Wednesday, August 02, 2006 @ 05:47:32 GMT
(User Info | Send a Message)

"A change of 0.5 percent in brightness sustained over several past cycles could account for the 2 degree change in climate we have experienced since the beginning of the 18th century," Baliunas maintains. "We don't know if this actually happened, but it indicates that the Sun is a major driver of climate change. We cannot ignore its variations when accounting for the present global warming."

"We don't know if this actually happened...

But that oil company money really is nice Mr. Anonymous....



Re: Brightening Sun is Warming Earth (Score: 1)
by malc on Thursday, August 03, 2006 @ 01:03:12 GMT
(User Info | Send a Message) http://web.ukonline.co.uk/mripley
Actually if you look at the 11 year cycle the start of this century was in a cooling phase ! and yet temperatures started to rise quite rapidly (relatively speaking). In addition if changes in the sun are responsible then we are well and truly screwed and the earth will fry to crisp before the middle of the centrury.....assuming you extrapolate the chart of time vs temperature with the earth responding like toast in front of a fire.  On the other hand if a greenhouse effect is responsible then tempratures rise until they reach a higher stable point e.g. dinosoaur age climate worldwide.

Digging up an old report to justify doing effectively nothing and thus maintaining huge oil company profits is clearly desperation.  The fossil fuel profiteers are seeing their days of profit numbered.  Even the folks in the US who have been lied to for years by their administration are beginning to see the light or should that be feel the heat !



Re: Brightening Sun is Warming Earth (Score: 1)
by Liberty on Thursday, August 03, 2006 @ 05:51:29 GMT
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This article shows a contrast to the usual panic that your neighbor's SUV is what caused the earth's climate to radically change all of a sudden.  That is simply a case of not using your eyes and watching what is going on above you.  The only thing that could have caused this sudden climate change on such a massive scale is the aerial spraying that has been coating the sky from special aerial spraying jets.  If you have been awake at all by looking up, you would have noticed the white trails that expand across the sky (over the past several years) resulting in a thin skimmy white cloud cover and the usual blue sky turns into a white color (atmosphere is full of this chemical with high altitude spraying).  This cloud cover may have been intended to reflect heat and light from those wishing to 'fix' a potential global warming situation, but the result was that it allowed the heat to enter, and left it no way to escape (actually causing massive global warming).  This is what has raised the temperatures in the earth in such a sudden fashion.  It may be part of weather manipulation or some other project that the government won't talk about.  A car would not have caused such a sudden change.  That would just be secondary like the article said. 

I do agree with both of you, that we should find other ways for motive power and energy that don't burn oil or it's products.  That is why I developed a permanent magnet motor.  It's only part of the solution, but it is a start.  Perhaps we will be able to use it to help power our air conditioner?



Re: Brightening Sun is Warming Earth (Score: 1)
by ElectroDynaCat on Thursday, August 03, 2006 @ 13:52:02 GMT
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We could drop the temperature almost instantly right now if we did what we did after September 11th, ground all the aircraft over the Continental U.S. for 4 or 5 days. If it gets any hotter in this present heat wave, that might be an emergency measure to be considered.

All I have to say to the Climate change/GHG skeptics is" Hot enough for you?"



Re: Brightening Sun is Warming Earth (Score: 1)
by starsil9 on Friday, August 04, 2006 @ 02:56:37 GMT
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Before I post my smart ass comment I have to say that in no way does the effect of the Sun on Global Warming ever justify not doing anything to get off oil as a fuel source. No matter what the Sun is doing, we all have to stick together and get off oil, and move to cleaner more efficient energy sources.


Next,

GEEZ Ya Think? This has been going on for over 30 years now, ever seen the radiation and solar particle output from the sun? and how it compares to just 10 years ago. I laugh my head off everytime I read how us dirty awful humans are causing global warming driving our gas guzzling SUVs. What a damn joke, that infulence on the atmosphere is minimal compared the the effects of the sun. ANy good geo scientist knows it. DUH?

So the great Harvard College is just now getting around to realizing this? Maybe they can screw this up as badly as their profit loss statements developed for business back in the 70s has screwed up business beyond recognition! I have no respect for Harvard or their egotistical graduates, and the work they do!!!!!! 

Let me guess, next Harvard will come out with a brand new electric universe theory, and we might get the promise of free elecricity directly from the atmosphere of our earth.......(Tesla Tower) but that would be hopeing for way too much from those status quoe meat heads!!!!

One of my other favorites is the reclaimer for Auto use that converts gasoline to hydrogen created at MIT......what about an electrolyzer? They just had to stick with that damn gasoline didn't they?

Good article thanks for the post, and BTW, this is my first post on the site!!  Hi All!!!



Re: Brightening Sun is Warming Earth (Score: 1)
by mlmitton on Saturday, August 05, 2006 @ 01:43:58 GMT
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This is ridiculous. Did anyone stop to notice that this article is 9 years old? If you follow this issue, you know that 9 is a long time. So here's a good place to get updated:

RealClimate.org
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/category/climate-science/sun-earth-connections/



 

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