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Sun Affects Climate Change More Than Previously Thought

Mar 02, 2015 12:20 PM EST
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It is known that the Sun plays an important part in controlling the Earth's climate, but now researchers show that solar activity affects climate change more than previously thought, according to recent research.

That is, especially during the Earth's "cooler periods."

Scientists have long debated how the activity of the Sun might influence climate, and new findings indicate that its impact is not constant.

For the last 12,000 years, since the last Ice Age ended, the Earth has generally experienced a warm climate. However, during this period the climate has not been stable and temperatures have varied. So we have had a slightly cooler climate during the last 4,000 years, and ocean currents in the North Atlantic have been weaker. Researchers now believe the Sun is a significant factor in this cooler period.

In this latest study, published in the journal Geology, a team from Aarhus University in Denmark looked at sea surface temperatures during the summer in the northern part of the North Atlantic during the last 9,300 years. But since direct temperature measurements are only found for the last 140 years, they turned to marine algae - diatoms - found in seabed sediments to fill in the gaps. Diatoms can reconstruct fluctuations in sea surface temperatures much further back in time.

"We know that the Sun is very important for our climate, but the impact is not clear. Climate change appears to be either strengthened or weakened by solar activity. The extent of the Sun's influence over time is thus not constant, but we can now conclude that the climate system is more receptive to the impact of the Sun during cold periods - at least in the North Atlantic region," Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, one of the researchers, said in a press release.

Meaning, the Sun has a greater impact during cooler periods. This may help scientists better understand how the overall climate system works and how solar activity may impact climate change in the future.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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