Sep 26, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Solar Activity Impacts Climate More During “Cool Periods”

Mar 02, 2015 11:16 PM EST

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New research published in the Journal Geology suggests there is a link between the activity of the sun and sea temperatures, and its effects are more significant when the Earth is cooler.  The sun is already known to play a part in variations of our weather, but this is the first time that scientists have observed that solar activity also affects sea surface temperatures as well.

Researchers who conducted the study found that over the last 4,000 years, solar activity and the surface of the North Atlantic are strongly linked.  Before this period, no correlation could be observed.  The Last Ice Age ended about 12,000 years ago.  Since that time the Earth has experienced a relatively warm climate but still showed unstable temperatures over long periods of time.  The last 4,000 years have shown a generally cooler climate with a slight drop in temperatures and weaker North Atlantic currents.

The Sun's influence over long periods has been unstable, but researchers are positive that the climate reacts more actively to solar activity during cold times.  The North Atlantic region is a prime example of this phenomenon and researchers studied the surface temperatures of the North Atlantic in summer over the last 9,300 years.

Direct measurement of sea temperatures only goes back 140 years, when ships first began measuring them periodically.  For periods dating back past this time, scientists examined marine algae found in sediments on the ocean floor.  By studying them, scientists are able to determine the fluctuations in temperatures of the surface.

While scientists are sure the sun does, in fact, affect the climate, professor Marit-Solveig Seidenkranzt from the Aarhus University explains that experts are still unsure what type of impact the Sun actually has in regards to the changing of our climate.

According to Seidenkrantz, by studying and gathering more knowledge about the separate elements of the enormously complex climate of the Earth and examining the way they work together and influence each other, we will come to a better understanding of its mechanisms.  Understanding this process is important to help us understand the role we play and the importance of human-caused climate change and how it ultimately relates to the cycle of nature.

One thing is clear, the Sun does play a role in the complexities of our climate although we do not yet know how solar activity fully impacts our weather and climate, understanding that it can alter our weather and climate patterns when the Earth is cooler is one of many steps to make to more fully comprehend our climate and the impact we, as humans, are having on the world in which we live.

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