When the international global warming alarm-ocracy gathers for its annual convention on the balmy island of Bali next week, is there any chance that the delegates will look up at the big yellow ball in the sky and ask, “Could it be the Sun, stupid?”
New research suggests that would be a great question for them to consider.
A recent study from the Journal of Geophysical Research (November 2007) reports that the sun may have contributed 50 percent or more of the global warming thought to have occurred since 1900.
Researchers from Duke University and the U.S. Army Research Office report that climate appears to be insensitive to solar variation if you accept the global temperature trend for the past 1,000 years as represented by the so-called “hockey stick” graph — which claims to show essentially unchanging temperatures between from 1000 to 1900 and then a sharp uptick from 1900 to the present. But the hockey stick-graph has been relegated to the ash heap of global warming history.
Even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) no longer mentions the graph in its reports. The researchers instead used a temperature reconstruction developed by Stockholm University researcher Ander Moberg and others that shows more variation in pre-industrial temperatures. Using Moberg’s reconstruction, the researchers found that “the climate is very sensitive to solar changes and a significant fraction of the global warming that occurred during the last century should be solar induced.”
The researchers conclude that the current large-scale computer models — which, by the way, don’t work as they don’t even accurately reproduce historical temperature trends — could be significantly improved by adding sun-climate coupling mechanisms. Unfortunately, the reconsideration of the climate models isn’t on the agenda at Bali.
Another interesting bit of data comes by way of the Solar Science blog, which on Nov. 15 spotlighted a letter in the Green County Daily World (Indiana) that starts out, “Each morning I turn on my computer and check to see how the sun is doing. Lately I am greeted with the message ‘The sun is blank — no sunspots.’”
The letter goes on to state that, “We are at the verge of the next sunspot cycle, solar cycle 24. How intense will this cycle be? Why is this question important? Because the sun is a major force controlling natural climate change on Earth…”
“For the past few months, the actual sunspot numbers have been below [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s] lower predicted threshold, approaching zero,” according to the letter, leading some to conclude that we may be headed into another “solar minimum” period. The solar minimum, known as the Maunder Minimum, corresponds to the temperature depths of the Little Ice Age, a period of global cooling lasting from the 14th century to the 19th century.
As you can see from this graph of solar activity since the mid-18th century, low sunspot activity matches up nicely with well-known Little Ice Age climatic events like George Washington’s Christmas-night 1776 crossing of the ice-strewn Delaware River and Napoleon Bonaparte’s retreat from Moscow in the horrifically-cold winter of 1812-1813.
The letter writer goes on to mention that not too long ago the Mississippi River froze solid above St. Louis, permitting westward wagon trains to cross in the winter and that you can still see old two-story houses in Wisconsin with second floor doors that allowed inhabitants to exit their homes in the middle of winter when snow depths reached 8-feet and more.
If sunspot activity continues to be so markedly low, then we should prepare for the possibility of a significant global cooling trend that could reduce agricultural yields and bring on the sort of food shortages that occurred during the Little Ice Age.
There’s also a new study out this week claiming that the expansion of above-ground tree vegetation in Europe has absorbed 126 million tons of carbon, equivalent to 11 percent of the region’s carbon emissions. While this seems like a positive development — at least for those bent on removing carbon from the atmosphere in order to reduce global temperature — it may actually backfire in terms of preventing global warming.
As reported in this column last April, forests in northern regions actually contribute to global warming through the albedo effect. Researchers estimated that this effect may contribute as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit to regional temperatures. So while expanding European forests may take more carbon out of the atmosphere — a dubious proposition for reducing global warming — the forests will also be absorbing more sunlight producing a net effect of warmer temperatures.
Finally, let’s not forget about last year’s experimental validation of the sun’s impact on cloud cover. That research indicated that climatic impact of sun-influenced cloud cover during the 20th century could be as much as seven times greater than the alleged effect of 200 years worth of manmade carbon dioxide. So while the global warming crowd parties in Bali amid its plotting and planning to subjugate western economies to global government based on a dubious hypothesis about trace levels of invisible manmade gases acting as some sort of atmospheric thermostat, the sun will be there shining down on their folly.
Would it be too much to ask for someone to look upwards and see the light?