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NASA report: Solar changes offset human climate change, at least for now by Steve LaNore
Sunday, September 6th 2009, 2:26 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
A new study brings forth some interesting results amid the recent solar downturn and global climate change. During the past seven years (2002-2009) the planet’s temperature has been neutral to slightly cooler. A recent news story on the record warm oceans of July 2009 does suggest at least a temporary interruption in this trend, but the seven-year average shows no warming.

During this same time, the sun’s energy has dialed down ever so slightly. The decreasing solar irradiance has (apparently) offset much (claimed anthropogenic) warming of Earth's surface.
That's what researchers Judith Lean (NRL) and David Rind (NASA/GISS) say. They just published a new investigation on global temperatures in the Geophysical Research Letters, a highly respected and peer-reviewed scientific publication.

Lean and Rind considered four influences on climate change:

1) solar activity (lowest now since 1913)
2) volcanic eruptions
3) ENSO (El Nino)
4) The accumulation of greenhouse gases.
The graph below shows an estimation of how much each has contributed to the changing temperature of Earth's surface since 1980:

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Volcanic aerosols (a haze is created in the stratosphere which reflects light) are a source of cooling; ENSO (El Nino and La Nina) and greenhouse gases cause heating; the solar cycle varied its influence as energy swings up and down.

When added together, these factors can account for 76% of the variance in Earth's surface temperature over the past ~30 years say Lean and Rind.

This report, quoted on, share the scientists’ comments on their findings: "The warmest year on record, 1998, coincides with the 'super-El Nino' of 1997-98. The ENSO is capable of producing significant spikes in the temperature record. [Solar minimum has the opposite effect:] "

A 0.1% decrease in the sun's irradiance has counteracted some of the warming action of greenhouse gases from 2002 - 2008," she notes. "This is the reason for the well-known 'flat' temperature trend of recent years."

As for what lies ahead, it’s all up to models to project, but only time will verify or falsify their sophisticated guesses, but guesses nonetheless.

Reference: Lean, J. L., and D. H. Rind (2009), How will Earth's surface temperature change in future decades?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L15708
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