Boffins Rebut Claims of Sunspots Causing Global Warming

by Tanya Thomas on  December 15, 2009 at 8:02 AM Environmental Health
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 Boffins Rebut Claims of Sunspots Causing Global Warming
Leading scientists have dismissed studies which say that global warming is a natural phenomenon connected with sunspots, rather than the result of the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).

According to a report in The Independent, the researchers, all experts in climate or solar science, said that the scientific evidence continually cited by skeptics to promote the idea of sunspots being the cause of global warming is deeply flawed.

Studies published in 1991 and 1998 claimed to establish a link between global temperatures and solar activity - sunspots - and continue to be cited by climate skeptics.

However, problems with the data used to establish the correlation have been identified by other experts and the flaws are now widely accepted by the scientific community, even though the studies continue to be used to support the idea that global warming is "natural".

The issue has gained new importance in the light of opinion polls showing that nearly one in two people now believe global warming is a natural phenomenon unconnected with CO2 emissions.

Powerful support for this idea came in 1991 when Eigil Friis-Christensen, director of the Danish National Space Centre, published a study showing a remarkable correlation between global warming and the length of sunspot cycles.

A further study published in 1998 by Friis-Christensen and his colleague Henrik Svensmark suggested a possible explanation for the warming trend with a link between solar activity, cosmic rays and the formation of clouds.

However, many scientists now believe both of these studies are seriously flawed, and that when errors introduced into the analysis are removed, the correlations disappear, with no link between sunspots and global warming.

According to Peter Laut, a former adviser to the Danish Energy Agency who first identified the flaws, there were practically no observations to support the idea that variations in sunspots played more than a minor role in global warming.

Laut's analysis of the flaws is accepted by most scientists familiar with the research, including Paul Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on understanding the hole in the ozone layer.

"There is definitely a problem (with these studies). Laut has really pinned it down but the (sunspot) argument keeps reappearing and its quite irritating." Professor Crutzen said.

"I've looked into this quite closely and I'm on Laut's side in terms of his analysis of the data," said Professor Stefan Rahsmstorf, of Potsdam University.

Source: ANI

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As a geologist I am very comfortable with the multiple working hypothesis - I would like someone to start publicizing the other ideas out there. Here is mine. The Danes have been on the case for a long while, studying the sun; who would have thought? The first paper to get is Friis-Christensen and Lassen (Science; 1991) If you can find the entire issue in the reference library, you will see the editors comment referred to this paper as hitting the ball into the anthropogenic court. George Monbiot debunked Friis -Christensen and Lassen (1991) in a Guardian article a few years ago wherein Monbiot stated the results BACKWARDS. I cannot find that article on the Guardian website.
An important correlation between warming and cooling is the sunspot peak frequency, not the actual number of spots. However, correlation is not causation. Cosmic radiation, however, is currently at its highest ever measured. This is happening because the earth’s magnetic shield is down; therefore, climate is changing (and it always will). The climate celebrities, however, are linking climate and the economy. We can likely kick much of the carbon economy sometime late the twenty-first century, but we must not rush to judgement for the wrong reason. Yes, there has been warming to end the Ice Age. Climate is a chaotic system; the facts, however, do not support CO2 as a serious ‘pollutant’. In fact, it is plant fertilizer and seriously important to all life on the planet. It is the red herring used to unwind our economy. That issue makes the science relevant.

The change in cloud cover is only a small percentage, and the ultimate cause of the solar magnetic cycle may be cyclicity in the Sun-Jupiter centre of gravity. We await more on that.
Although the post 60s warming period appears to be over, it has allowed the principal green house gas, water vapour, to kick in with more humidity, clouds, rain and snow depending on where you live to provide the negative feedback that scientists use to explain the existence of complex life on Earth for 550 million years. Ancient sedimentary rocks and paleontological evidence indicate the planet has had abundant liquid water over the entire span. The planet heats and cools naturally and our gasses are the thermostat. Nothing unusual is going on except for the Orwellian politics.

Sulphate from volcanoes can have a catastrophic effect, but water vapour is far more important. Water vapour (0.4% overall by volume in air, but 1 – 4 % near the surface) is the most effective green house blanket followed by methane (0.0001745%). The third ranking gas is CO2 (0.0383%), and it does not correlate well with global warming or cooling either; in fact, CO2 in the atmosphere trails warming which is clear natural evidence for its well-studied inverse solubility in water: CO2 dissolves rapidly in cold water and bubbles rapidly out of warm water. The equilibrium in seawater is very high; making seawater a great ’sink’; CO2 is 34 times more soluble in water than air is soluble in water.
CO2 has been rising and Earth and her oceans have been warming. However, the correlation trails. Correlation, moreover, is not causation. The causation is under scientific review, however, and while the radiation from the sun varies only in the fourth decimal place, the magnetism is awesome.
“Using a box of air in a Copenhagen lab, physicists traced the growth of clusters of molecules of the kind that build cloud condensation nuclei. These are specks of sulphuric acid on which cloud droplets form. High-energy particles driven through the laboratory ceiling by exploded stars far away in the Galaxy – the cosmic rays – liberate electrons in the air, which help the molecular clusters to form much faster than climate scientists have modeled in the atmosphere. That may explain the link between cosmic rays, cloudiness and climate change.”

Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center has experiments scheduled for the Hadron collider to test his basement experiment. He believes in muons, but elevated solar flux (> 10 protons per cc) appears to cause fog in the Great Lakes and clouds too.
As I understand it, the hypothesis of the Danish National Space Center goes as follows: quiet sun allows the geomagnetic shield to drop. Incoming galactic cosmic ray flux creates more low-level clouds, more snow, and more albedo effect as more is heat reflected resulting in a colder climate. Active sun has an enhanced magnetic field which induces Earth’s geomagnetic shield response. Earth has fewer low-level clouds, less rain, snow and ice, and less albedo (less heat reflected) producing a warmer climate.
That is how the bulk of climate change likely works, coupled with (modulated by) sunspot peak frequency there are cycles of global warming and cooling like waves in the ocean. When the waves are closely spaced, all the planets warm; when the waves are spaced farther apart, as they have been for this century, all the planets cool.

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