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Scientists have found new evidence that the solar sunspot cycle has influenced the Earth’s climate in the recent past.
Sirocko and his colleagues found that between 1780 and 1963, the Rhine froze in multiple places fourteen different times. The sheer size of the river means it takes extremely cold temperatures to freeze over making freezing episodes a good proxy for very cold winters in the region, Sirocko said.
Mapping the freezing episodes against the solar activity’s 11-year cycle — a cycle of the Sun’s varying magnetic strength and thus total radiation output — Sirocko and his colleagues determined that ten of the fourteen freezes occurred during years when the Sun had minimal sunspots. Using statistical methods, the scientists calculated that there is a 99 percent chance that extremely cold Central European winters and low solar activity are inherently linked.
In fact, studies have suggested that the extremely cold European winters of 2010 and 2011 were the result of the North Atlantic Oscillation, which Sirocko and his team now link to the low solar activity during that time. The 2010 and 2011 European winters were so cold that they resulted in record lows for the month of November in certain countries. Some who dispute the occurrence of anthropogenic climate change argue that this two-year period shows that Earth’s climate is not getting any warmer. But climate is a complex system, Sirocko said. And a short-term, localized dip in temperatures only temporarily masks the effects of a warming world. [emphasis mine]
Gee, it is nice of them to tell us that the “climate is a complex system,” as if the skeptics don’t argue this continually. As I’ve said more times than I can count, the climate is very complicated, which is why we really don’t yet understand it fully. In fact, the only ones who seem to think this issue is simple are the global warming activists, as it is they who claim that “the science is settled,” a claim that is pure foolishness at this time and is a perfect example of not recognizing that the climate is a complex system.
This new data point does not really settle anything. It does provide us further evidence that should the Sun enter another grand minimum, a period where there are no sunspots for decades, we should see a corresponding cooling of the Earth’s climate. And based on the Sun’s recent behavior, that possibility is considered by many solar scientists to be quite likely.