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  Sun and climate

Sun and climate


Since the Sun provides the energy to heat the Earth, can the Sun have a direct effect upon the Earth's climate?


Image of an icebergDoes the Sun change the climate?


Since the Sun is responsible for creating the Earth's climate, any changes in the Sun might be expected to cause changes on Earth. The extent to which that happens and the way it happens is not understood yet. However, some data suggest that the Sun is more active now that it has been for 1000 years, and we know that a mini-ice age happened when the Sun was very quiet and there were no sunspots for a very long time. Have a look at the section on sunspots to find out more. The Sun does effect the Earth's climate, but not enough to explain the temperature increases over the past 30 years. This is due to a man made increase in green house gasses, such as carbon dioxide.


See iSuntrek for the latest information on Sunspots and Climate Change.


Are there any changes on Earth that suggest a change in climate is happening now?


Yes, indeed. One such change is seen in the Antarctic. Because of rising temperatures, huge chunks of the Antarctic ice shelf (more that 40 miles, 70 km, wide) are falling off into the sea. This is being studied by the British Antarctic Survey.



***********Press Release**************



News Release - 4th November 2014 - Expert predicts ice-free Arctic by 2020 as UN releases climate report

One of the leading authorities on the physics of northern seas is predicting an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2020.


“By 2020, one would expect the summer sea ice to disappear. By summer, we mean September. … (but) not many years after, the neighbouring months would also become ice-free.” An “ice-free” Arctic, as defined by scientists, would remain full of floating ice in the summer, but the ice would be broken up enough that a ship could push through it.


Painting of the Titanic sinkingDid sunspots sink the Titanic?


The Titanic sank on the evening of April 14th, 1912. The surface temperature of the seas was lower then and large icebergs were often seen floating in the Arctic and drifting southwards. The Titanic hit a very large iceberg and sank.


Plot showing the correlation between the surface temperature of the sea and the sunspot number If you look at this plot you can see that there is a correlation between the surface temperature of the sea (SST) and the sunspot number. So, it seems that even if sunspots didn't leap out and hit the Titanic, they may have helped to sink it.


Image of the bow of the Titanic from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean








How does the radiation fron the Sun change?


The radiation from the Sun changes with solar activity. It increases when there are a lot of Sunspots. The increase in the visible is quite small, but the increase in the ultraviolet and X-ray radiation is much larger.


Here are some X-ray images of the Sun taken with the YOHKOH spacecraft. They go from solar minimum (no sunspots) on the right to solar maximum (lots of sunspots) on the left. Notice how dramatically the strength of X-rays from the Sun changes. We don't fully understand what effect the ultraviolet and X-ray radiation has on the Earth's climate.


Series of X-ray images of the Sun taken by YOHKOH




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