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Scientists Link Quiet Sun & Cold Winters by Doug L. Hoffman
Friday, April 30th 2010, 3:27 PM UTC
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Asking the somewhat obvious question, “are cold winters in Europe associated with low solar activity?” a group of scientists have announced that the answer is yes. While this may seem unsurprising, the finding is another indication that Earth's climate is not simply driven by greenhouse gas emissions. Even so, some scientists are only grudgingly accepting the finding, cautioning that this only applies in the central UK and refusing to admit that the Sun could affect global mean temperatures as well. Still, the researchers found that average solar activity has declined rapidly since 1985 and cosmogenic isotopes suggest a possible return to Maunder minimum conditions within the next 50 years. This could be a sign that climate science is starting to recover from its CO2 fixation.

Writing in Environmental Research Letters, Mike Lockwood et al. have verified that solar activity does seem to have a direct correlation with Earth's climate—at least in the central UK. The reason that the scope of the study is limited to that area, or at most Europe, is that it is one of the few regions that there is a reliable, continuous temperature record going back to the Little Ice Age. The authors explain their work:

Lower winter temperatures were common in Europe during the second half of the 17th century, famously allowing frost fairs to be held on the Thames in London before riverine developments increased the flow rate. These cold winters coincided with the Maunder minimum in solar activity when the Sun remained virtually free of sunspots for almost 50 years. However, establishing that this was not just a chance occurrence requires that the relationship continue to hold over a long interval, such that cold European winters become less frequent when solar activity is high and then more common again when solar activity falls. Various indicators show that during the recent minimum of the 11 year sunspot cycle, the Sun has been quieter than at any time in the previous 90 years. This yields an opportunity for a better test of the relationship between solar activity and cold European winters. To do this, we require two long and homogeneous time series: one which quantifies solar outputs relevant to seasonal/regional climate and the other relevant to European winter temperatures. We here use the Central England temperature (CET) data set which is the world's longest instrumental record of temperature and extends back to 1659, at the start of the Maunder minimum.

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