Greenhouse Gases Cause of Global Warming, Not Sun Activity New NASA Report Confirms

Solar Cycle

A prolonged solar minimum left the sun's surface nearly free of sunspots and accompanying bright areas called faculae between 2005 and 2010. Total solar irradiance declined slightly as a result, but the Earth continued to absorb more energy than it emit throughout the minimum. An animation of a full solar cycle is available here. (Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio)

Greenhouse gases are confirmed as the cause of global warming, not sun activity according to a recent NASA report. The recent, prolonged minimal in sun activity did not prevent the Earth from absorbing more solar energy than it let escape back into space, a recent NASA analysis of the Earth’s energy budget indicates. The study, Earth’s energy imbalance and implications, appeared in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal in December, 2011.

In a real brief summary, the study concluded:

Improving observations of ocean heat content show that Earth is absorbing more energy from the Sun than it is radiating to space as heat, even during the recent solar minimum. The inferred planetary energy imbalance, 0.58±0.15Wm−2 during the 6-yr period 2005–2010, confirms the dominant role of the human-made greenhouse effect in driving global climate change.

This imbalance is the primary driver for global warming, since more energy is coming in than leaving and, because it occurred during a period when the sun was emitting comparatively low levels of energy, the imbalance has implications for the cause of global warming. The results of the study confirm greenhouse gases produced by human activities are the most important driver of global climate change, according to the researchers.

A graph of the sun's total solar irradiance shows that in recent years irradiance dipped to the lowest levels recorded during the satellite era. The resulting reduction in the amount of solar energy available to affect Earth's climate was about .25 Watts per square meter, less than half of Earth's total energy imbalance. (Credit: NASA/James Hansen)

A graph of the sun's total solar irradiance shows that in recent years irradiance dipped to the lowest levels recorded during the satellite era. The resulting reduction in the amount of solar energy available to affect Earth's climate was about .25 Watts per square meter, less than half of Earth's total energy imbalance. (Credit: NASA/James Hansen)

They found that the Earth absorbed 0.58 watts of excess energy per square meter than escaped back into space during the study period from 2005 to 2010, a time when solar activity and output was extremely low. By comparison, the planet receives 0.25 watts less energy per square meter during a solar minimum, than during a period of maximum activity in the sun’s 11-year cycle. (Currently, the sun is in the midst of Solar Cycle 24, with activity expected to ramp up toward a solar maximum in 2013.)

The lead researcher for the study, the renowned James Hansen, who is the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a statement. “The fact we still see a positive imbalance despite the prolonged solar minimum isn’t a surprise given what we’ve learned about the climate system, but it’s worth noting, because this provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming.”

A chart shows the global reach of the network of Argo floats. (Credit: Argo Project Office)

A chart shows the global reach of the network of Argo floats. (Credit: Argo Project Office)

However, in an email to LiveScience, Hansen noted that “the sun is a small but not negligible factor,” in determining the size of the imbalance. Over the past decade, the imbalance declined slightly due, in part, to the solar minimum, according to Hansen. [Gallery: Our Amazing Sun]

Solar activity refers to the activity of the sun’s magnetic field. Fluctuations in solar activity, including magnetic field-powered sunspots and solar flares, have been linked to past changes in climate, including, controversially, the Little Ice Age, however, a recent study of the Little Ice Age led by the University of Colorado Boulder with co-authors at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and other organizations, reported in ScienceDaily suggests that an unusual, 50-year-long episode of four massive tropical volcanic eruptions triggered the Little Ice Age between 1275 and 1300 A.D.. Some climate change skeptics have attributed contemporary climate change to natural fluctuations in solar activity, rather than human-emitted greenhouse gases, the explanation endorsed by nearly all climate scientists, including those convened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As for the current study, the incoming solar radiation is measured by satellites; and in the recent solar minimum, it has set records for the reduction in solar radiation since satellite measurements began in the 1970s.

Another point to look at in the report which is worthy of reporting is the suns importance in this study. The report states:

Total solar irradiance, the amount of energy produced by the sun that reaches the top of each square meter of the Earth’s atmosphere, typically declines by about a tenth of a percent during cyclical lulls in solar activity caused by shifts in the sun’s magnetic field. Usually solar minimums occur about every eleven years and last a year or so, but the most recent minimum persisted more than two years longer than normal, making it the longest minimum recorded during the satellite era.

Resources:

LiveScience NASA Report: Greenhouse Gases, Not Sun, Driving Warming

Earth’s Energy Budget Remained Out of Balance Despite Unusually Low Solar Activity

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: Earth’s energy imbalance and implications

As Greenhouse gases are confirmed as the cause of global warming, not sun activity according to a recent NASA report, we will have to wait again for the denialists and their explanation, as they are quick to jump to Sun activity or some other tactic to discredit any science that would indicate man in any way, shape or form is responsible for climate change with our bad habits.

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