Ag Weather Forum

Cool Sun but Still Record Heat

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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This chart shows almost no relationship to tepid solar activity in the past 45 years to global temperatures rising steadily. (Bernd Herd graphic by Nick Scalise)

From time-to-time at producer meetings, I'm asked about solar activity in relation to warming. The underlying philosophy in such a question is that the sun must be putting out a lot of extra radiation in order to maintain the warming trend that we have seen and continue to experience around the world.

Climate reports point to 2016 as setting a new record for warmest weather in recorded history -- surpassing the old record, set just last year, which bested the previous record in 2014 -- which beat the record warmth in 2010. So, again, the thought expressed is "Well, this is all due to a lot of solar activity."

The answer is no.

In a post on the Real Climate website titled "Record heat despite a cold sun", climate scientist Stefan Rahmsdorf takes a look at how global temperatures have continued to rise since the early 1970s, while at the same time the extent of solar activity has been quite low. In fact, the sun is at its dimmest in half a century. Here is part of his description:

"The last solar minimum (2008-2010) was the lowest since at least 1950, while the last solar maximum (2013-2015) can hardly be described as such. This is shown, among others, by sunspot data as well as measurements of the solar luminosity from satellites. Other indicators of solar activity indicate cooling as well."

The graphic accompanying this article is the first featured illustration in Rahmsdorf's post. It shows how, while warming of the earth (global warming) has continued on a general upward trend in the past 40-plus years, sunspot activity has practically been flat. This practically zero impact of solar activity on the temperature trend goes in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments, which, as Rahmsdorf noted, "...limits the natural contribution to global warming since 1950 to less than plus or minus 0.1 degree Celsius." That's about two-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit.

This measurement is another way of noting that the consistent warming trend is not solar-related; it's due to something else. And that something else is greenhouse gas concentration.

The full posting of Rahmsdorf's realclimate.org posting is here:

https://goo.gl/…

Bryce Anderson can be reached at bryce.anderson@dtn.com

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN

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Meral Martin
11/18/2016 | 8:06 PM CST
Thanks for your insight - the dots are connecting