Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Link Between Solar Cycle And Climate Is Blowin' In The Wind

Date:
April 12, 1999
Source:
NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center
Summary:
Researchers have found that the variations in the energy given off from the sun effect the Earth's wind patterns and thus the climate of the planet, according to results of a new study published in the April 9 issue of Science.

Researchers have found that the variations in the energy given off from the sun effect the Earth's wind patterns and thus the climate of the planet, according to results of a new study published in the April 9 issue of Science.

For decades, scientists have tried to understand the link between winds and temperature and the sun and its cycles. There were tell-tale signs of a connection. For instance, the Little Ice Age recorded in Europe between 1550 and 1700 happened during a time of very low solar activity. But how the sun and climate were linked continued to elude researchers.

According to Drew Shindell, a climate researcher from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, NY, and lead author of the new study, a key piece of the puzzle was missing. Previous studies neglected to take into account the effects of increased solar activity on the ozone layer or the complex chemistry of the upper atmosphere where most of the high-energy radiation, including ultra-violet radiation (the kind responsible for creating the ozone layer) gets absorbed.

"When we added the upper atmosphere's chemistry into our climate model, we found that during a solar maximum major climate changes occur in North America." The changes, according to Shindell, are caused by stronger westerly winds. Changes also occur in wind speeds and directions all over the Earth's surface.

"Solar variability changes the distribution of energy," said Shindell. "Over an 11-year solar cycle, the total amount of energy has not changed very much. But where the energy goes changes as wind speeds and directions change." During the sun's 11-year cycle, from a solar maximum to a solar minimum, the energy released by the sun changes by only about a tenth of a percent.

When the solar cycle is at a maximum, it puts out a larger percentage of high-energy radiation, which increases the amount of ozone in the upper atmosphere. The increased ozone warms the upper atmosphere and the warm air affects winds all the way from the stratosphere (that region of the atmosphere that extends from about 6 to 30 miles high) to the Earth's surface. "The change in wind strength and direction creates different climate patterns around the globe," said Shindell.

According to Shindell, the new study also confirms that changing levels of energy from the sun are not a major cause of global warming.

Many scientists have argued that the radiation change in a solar cycle - an increase of two to three tenths of a percent over the 20th century - are not strong enough to account for the observed surface temperature increases. The GISS model agrees that the solar increases do not have the ability to cause large global temperature increases, leading Shindell to conclude that greenhouse gasses are indeed playing the dominant role.

The general circulation model used in the study included solar radiation data from NASA's Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite, launched in 1991. With data from UARS, which was used to calculate ozone changes, scientists have good measurements of how much radiation the sun puts out, increasing the accuracy of the new model.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center. "Link Between Solar Cycle And Climate Is Blowin' In The Wind." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990412075538.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center. (1999, April 12). Link Between Solar Cycle And Climate Is Blowin' In The Wind. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990412075538.htm
NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center. "Link Between Solar Cycle And Climate Is Blowin' In The Wind." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990412075538.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA (July 25, 2014) NASA EDGE webcasts live from Vandenberg AFB for the launch of the Oribiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO) launch. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins