Earth's climate reacts more actively to solar activity when weather is cooler
The Sun's impact over long periods has been unstable, but researchers are positive that the climate reacts more actively to solar activity during cold times.
Washington: The Sun's impact over long periods has been unstable, but researchers are positive that the climate reacts more actively to solar activity during cold times.
The activity of the Sun is an important factor in the complex interaction that controls our climate. New research showed that the impact of the Sun was not constant over time, but has greater significance when the Earth was cooler.
There has been much discussion as to whether variations in the strength of the Sun have played a role in triggering climate change in the past, but more and more research results clearly indicate that solar activity, i.e. the amount of radiation coming from the Sun, has an impact on how the climate varies over time.
Researchers from institutions including Aarhus University in Denmark show that, during the last 4,000 years, there appears to have been a close correlation between solar activity and the sea surface temperature in summer in the North Atlantic. This correlation was not seen in the preceding period.
Since the end of the Last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago, the Earth has generally experienced a warm climate. However, the climate has not been stable during this period, when temperatures have varied for long periods. We have generally had a slightly cooler climate during the last 4,000 years, and the ocean currents in the North Atlantic have been weaker.
In their study, the researchers looked at the sea surface temperatures in summer in the northern part of the North Atlantic during the last 9,300 years. Direct measurements of the temperature are only found for the last 140 years, when they were taken from ships.
However, by examining studies of marine algae, diatoms, found in sediments deposited on the North Atlantic sea bed, it is possible to use the species distribution of these organisms to reconstruct fluctuations in sea surface temperatures much further back in time.
The detailed study makes it possible to draw comparisons with records of fluctuations of solar energy bursts in the same period, and the results show a clear correlation between climate change in the North Atlantic and variations in solar activity during the last 4,000 years, both on a large time scale over periods of hundreds of years and right down to fluctuations over periods of 10-20 years.
According to Professor Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, Aarhus University, the new knowledge was a small but important piece of the overall picture as regards our understanding of how the entire climate system works.