The Earth’s climate is very much influenced in its complex interactions by how the Sun acts with the atmosphere. Scientists stated they do not fully understand the impact of solar activity on climate change because it is always fluctuating. Though, a new study published in the journal Geology shows that the Sun has an incredible significance on climate change when the Earth is in a cooler state.
In previous decades, climate experts have deliberated about the importance of solar activity in causing the changes in the Earth’s fragile climate. They have attempted to surmise whether the variations in the Sun’s radiation intensity plays a major role in the process of climate change. The most recent research on climate change has shown much more clearly that the amount of solar radiation from the Sun prompts the fluctuation of the climate over long periods of time. The research team that conducted the study has learned that in the past 4,000 years, solar activity and the summer surface temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean are linked. Since the world’s oceans are a major player in regards to the climate, climate change happening on Earth may be caused by solar activity.
Previous to 4,000 years ago, the correlation between the Sun and ocean temperatures could not be detected. The most recent Ice Age ended around 12,000 years ago. Since that point in time, the Earth has experienced a warmer relative temperature. Scientists stated that even though this is true, the climate during that time changed multiple times, displaying inconsistent temperatures over long periods of time.
Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, a professor from Aarhus University, said climate experts are currently uncertain about the impact of solar activity in regards to climate change on Earth. He believes more research of ancient climate records needs to be done to predict whether climate change is in fact caused by increased solar activity.
Although Seidenkrantz said there is still speculation that solar radiation causes inevitable climate change, he explained the connection of the two seems to be in correlation with what is happening to the Earth. The influence of solar radiation over eons has been unquestionably unstable, according to scientists. However, the research team stated in the study that the Earth’s climate reacts to solar activity more in periods of cooler times on the planet. Seidenkrantz said the best phenomenon to explain this reaction is the North Atlantic region. Therefore, the team went even further back in time to study summer surface temperatures back to 9,300 years ago.
Measurements of ocean temperatures exist only for the previous 140 years, when ships crossing the Atlantic from Europe and the United States periodically measured the waters. To record water temperatures from such a long time ago, scientists examined algae found in sediment deposits on the floor of the ocean. By studying the compositions of the ancient algae, scientists are able to rebuild changes in ocean surface temperatures.
Seidenkrantz said he has an undying fascination for the complexity of the Earth’s climate. By gathering and examining information about separate conditions of the environment, scientists will eventually discover the way in which climate change fluctuates, and why. Climate change is currently at the forefront of discussion between scientists and politicians all over the world. Scientists have found that climate change is mainly caused by society’s impact, insofar as carbon pollution and many other man-made mechanisms. Understanding the onset of climate change is very important to see how much other matters, such as solar activity, may influence the Earth.
By Alex Lemieux
Photo by Mariano Cuajao – Flickr License