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Sunspots Reach 1000-Year Peak

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the radio-signals-cringing dept.

Space 695

rlp writes "Researchers at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich are reporting that solar sunspot activity is at a 1000-year peak. Records of sunspots have been kept since 1610. The period between 1645 and 1715 (known as the Maunder Minimum) was a period of very few sunspots. Researchers extended the record by measuring isotopes of beryllium (created by cosmic rays) in Greenland ice cores. Based on both observations and ice core records, we are now at a sunspot peak exceeding solar activity for any time in the past thousand years."

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What do you know (5, Funny)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670799)

So are temperatures. *ducks from thrown chair*

Re:What do you know (0, Insightful)

ChadAmberg (460099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670839)

Bah... just remember: the same people who sport bumper stickers saying "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" and are proud about getting their news from Comedy Central, they're the same ones writing letters to the editor in all the papers saying the debate is over, blah blah blah.
While I myself believe the planet is changing its climate, well, people like that just bug the hell outta me!

Re:What do you know (3, Insightful)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671147)

Well, when Comedy Central is more reliable than your favorite "news" channel (**cough** FOX), what other choice do you have?

Thanks,

Mike

Re:What do you know (3, Funny)

JobyKSU (1071830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671297)

Oooh... mod down -5 for calling Fox a "news" channel, even in jest! I've hear less slanted coverage from the White House!

Re:What do you know (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671307)


Debunk this [ucar.edu] (sorry- PDF) and then we can discuss whether or not the debate about whether humans have a discernible impact on climate should be over.

Re:What do you know (5, Funny)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670847)

*ducks from thrown chair*

No need, this is Sun, not Microsoft.

Re:What do you know (1)

Sean0michael (923458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670913)

Oooh, never have I wanted mod point more. +5 Funny to you.

Re:What do you know (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670947)

Well what do you think caused the sun spots to peak?

Re:What do you know - spotty... (3, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671087)

The Sun God is in puberty and eat too many chocolate bunnies and eggs at Easter?

Re:What do you know (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671153)

Okay. Thrown chairs aside, since this part of the discussion is oooobviously going to turn into a Global Warming flamefest, I'll just ask you to consider the following. There is a little political party out there called the Libertarians. In some ways - particularly with regards to economic policy - they're a lot like the Republicans, or at least the Republicans-before-Bush, only extra-more-so: free trade! free trade! small government! sometimes even no-government! privatize everything! fewer laws! fewer lawsuits! free speech! down with affirmative action! et cetera et cetera. In other ways, they're a lot like the Democrats - mostly with respect to some parts of social policy. Gay rights! Free love! Pro-choice! I won't enumerate all of this here, but I hope you get the idea. In some ways, they're sort of like the polar opposite of the Socialists. They usually lean a bit Ayn Rand.

I mention them because of all the possible groups out there, they're about the last that would think to jump on the global warming bandwagon. And yet, Reason Magazine [reason.com] (Free Minds and Free Markets!), the definitive Libertarian magazine, has at this point pretty much accepted: global warming exists, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributes to it, and a variety of things will Need To Be Done about it, one way or another, sooner or later. And I think this sort of thinking, coming from this group, should serve as sort of a bell-weather in politics. And I think that their approach to the topic is one that the Republican Party should strongly consider mimicking: stop squabbling about what is and isn't happening, and why. Worry instead about What Should Be Done.

Now, granted, their ideas of what Should Be Done and the state of things are not very much in line with what the Democratic Party would probably favor. They had a recent article entitled The Convenient Truth [reason.com] on the topic (and they lambast current global-warming politicans for "mistaking panic for virtue").

... This argues not for passivity, and not for delay, but for gradualism: setting up policies that will tighten the screws on greenhouse-gas emissions over the next few decades. The convenient truth about global warming, then, is that radicalism is as pointless as it is impractical. Slow-but-steady is not only the easiest approach; it is also the most effective.

Just as conveniently, the most efficient way to get started is also the simplest, albeit not the easiest politically: tax carbon emissions ... Fortuitously, a carbon tax could also reduce the U.S. budget deficit and the geopolitical leverage of sinister "petrocracies" such as Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. Policy prescriptions don't come any more convenient than that.

I would advise any right-leaning free-trade-ish pro-capitalist or Republican types to take a good long look at Reason's articles on the topic of global warming and, with all due consideration, study, and time, try to develop a healthy attitude about the reality of global warming. (As a matter of fact, I would advise any left-leaning types who are actually care about these issues for their own sake, and not merely for some sort of anti-capitalist or anti-Western-decadence agenda, to take a look at them as well, perhaps an even longer one.)

Re:What do you know (4, Insightful)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671191)

My rebuttal: When we stop questioning science, stop questioning what we know about the world, science ceases to exist.

(By the way, I'm a proud Libertarian.)

Re:What do you know (1, Troll)

mutende (13564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671305)

On the other hand, the documentary The Global Warming Swindle [google.com] (copy here [google.com] ) argues that while the level of CO2 is rising, it is not the cause of global warming.

What happened 1000 years ago? (3, Funny)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670815)

So what happened around 1000 A.D.? How did people then manage a similar peak?

Re:What happened 1000 years ago? (2, Funny)

Gbo2k7 (1079095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670863)

They all went out and bought electric cars.

1000 years ago (4, Interesting)

arcite (661011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671157)

We had the middle ages. Europe was warmer, you could grow wine in regions you can't now. The middle East was a trading empire, Vikings were on the march, some Christians were planning the crusades. All things considered, you would probably be a poor peasant, half starving, and about to drop dead from plague or some other ailment at the ripe age of 30.

Re:1000 years ago (4, Funny)

the-amazing-blob (917722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671201)

But your favorite phrases would still be "I'm not dead yet!" and "I don't want to go on the cart!"

Re:1000 years ago (1)

daveb (4522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671279)

We had the middle ages. Europe was warmer, you could grow wine in regions you can't now. The middle East was a trading empire, Vikings were on the march, some Christians were planning the crusades. All things considered, you would probably be a poor peasant, half starving, and about to drop dead from plague or some other ailment at the ripe age of 30.
so not much different than today then?

Global warming, middle east is a major oil, the vikings are marching (does Linus count?), the 10th crusade is underway, there's quite a bit of starvation around the world with water famines on the way, plagues threaten us all (bird flu), oh - the global life expectancy has doubled so that's an improvement.

But all in all not a lot has changed has it?!

That doesn't debunk global warming (4, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670817)

before the trolls come in - know that this doesn't debunk global warming. What most of the 'global warming' controversy is centers on "are humans contributing?"

the answer is absolutely undeniably: Yes

it's never been stated that we're the only cause.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (2, Insightful)

Gbo2k7 (1079095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670883)

The answer is absolutely undeniably: Maybe

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670893)

Oh do fuck off. It has been repeatably stated that we are the cause of global warming. In fact, it continues to be stated, again and again, that if we were all just to reduce our individual green house gas emissions (typically by being big fuckin' hippies) then there would not be any global warming.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (5, Funny)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670993)

You need to learn two things
1) Reading Comprehension
2) Manners

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (2, Insightful)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671041)

In fact, it continues to be stated, again and again, that if we were all just to reduce our individual green house gas emissions (typically by being big fuckin' hippies) then there would not be any global warming.

I haven't seen anyone state that, let alone any scientist. Can you post some links?

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (0)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671129)

OMG do you not get the news in your area or something?

You shouldn't need a link for this. But in case your wondering, Al "The Movie Stay" Gore made a documentary of it. It is being showed to most all of the children in public schools to push this as fact for when they become old enough to vote.

I think it is called an inconvenient truth or something of the sorts.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671139)

>> It has been repeatably stated that we are the cause of global warming.

You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron. You are a moron.

How many more times do you need to hear _that_ before you'll believe it? (and, it's "repeatedly")

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671171)

People say a lot of things. There are people who say dioxin is good for you. Does Al Gore say that, for example? I seem to remember someone asking him if hurricane katrina was caused by global warming, and he said no, that it might have increased its power since the ocean was a degree warmer and heat influences hurricane strength, but that it did not cause it.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671231)

From the flippin' IPCC summary [www.ipcc.ch] (warning: PDF):

"Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability
or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the Framework Convention on Climate
Change, where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human
activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate
variability observed over comparable time periods."

That doesn't acknowledge natural variability how?

How about:

"The Working Group I Fourth Assessment concluded that most of the observed increase in the
globally averaged temperature since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase
in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."

Note the word most. I think we can agree that the IPCC report is the current authoritative word on the subject of climate change, for better or worse (I'm not saying that it's right, just that it's primary reference). The IPCC does not claim that we are the sole cause of global warming.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671259)

Well, all we can do is act on our current knowledge. If someday someone proves that we do not and will never cause global warming, we can go right back to making gas guzzlers. If we also do not have to worry about polution and oil shortage that is.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (2, Insightful)

Ohtsam (1086371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670897)

While I agree that humans are contributing to the climate change I don't believe it is nearly to the magnitude that some of the scientists and politicians claim. And it should not be pumped up to such high levels of sensationalism especially since no matter how much our nation cuts back on emissions we can't force others to follow suit.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671073)

if i remember the numbers correctly we've caued a 33% increase in atmospheric carbon load in the last 100 years

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670917)

before the trolls come in - know that this doesn't debunk global warming. What most of the 'global warming' controversy is centers on "are humans contributing?"

the answer is absolutely undeniably: Yes

Oh please... you expect us to believe that humans cause sunspots???

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1, Interesting)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671233)

Oh please... you expect us to believe that humans cause sunspots???

Even if one accepts the premise that sunspots do raise global temperature, the above sort of logic amounts to:

A causes C,
A is true,
C is true.
Therefore, B does not cause C.

where A = "sunspots", C = "global warming", and B = "carbon emissions".

Can you spot the flaw in this logic?

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671301)

No. It's flawless.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18670927)

What most of the 'global warming' controversy is centers on "are humans contributing?"

No, the controversy centers on political posturing and other random social BS.

The issue centers on "are humans contributing at a level that makes any difference at all", and I'm still unconvinced. A single volcano can have higher carbon dioxide (among other pollutants) output than all of human society on a yearly basis. Do you know how many active volcanoes there are in the world? Thousands. Humans are simply overestimating their own importance. Yet again. Shock. Amazement. Meh.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671005)

Wrong. Still. [wikipedia.org]

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671113)


This is so bad it's not even wrong. Please find a talking point that isn't so utterly ridiculous. [ucsb.edu]

If you are going to get all snotty, please, please, check your facts. From the link above:

"Volcanoes contribute about 110 million tons of carbon dioxide per year while man's activities contribute about 10 billion tons per year."

I am really embarrassed for you.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (3, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671183)

Uhh, you are all correct. Volcanoes tend to either cool or warm the earth. For example Mount Pinatuba cooled the earth by 3 degrees over a multi year period.

See this: http://www.geology.sdsu.edu/how_volcanoes_work/cli mate_effects.html [sdsu.edu]
"The amount of sulfur-rich gases appears to be more important. Sulfur combines with water vapor in the stratosphere to form dense clouds of tiny sulfuric acid droplets. These droplets take several years to settle out and they are capable to decreasing the troposphere temperatures because they absorb solar radiation and scatter it back to space."

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670959)

Here's [realclimate.org] some [realclimate.org] more [wikipedia.org] pre-troll [nasa.gov] reading.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (2, Interesting)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671019)

... and here is the punchline of the article:

Over the past 20 years, however, the number of sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of the Earth has continued to increase.
This is put down to a human-produced greenhouse effect caused by the combustion of fossil fuels.
This latest analysis shows that the Sun has had a considerable indirect influence on the global climate in the past, causing the Earth to warm or chill, and that mankind is amplifying the Sun's latest attempt to warm the Earth.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670995)

O.k., but how much are humans contributing?

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671255)

Well, one thing is clear, those cavemen must have stoked huge fires in their caves to bring about the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

Re:Is this possible? (2, Insightful)

OdinOdin_ (266277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671001)

No most of the 'global warming' controversy is centered on "are humans the major contributor?"

If word ever got out that we are not a major contributor then I think public perception will re-appropiate funds to issues they consider are more worthy.

It is possible to read into some evidance that even if all consumption and contributions were halted to zero from human activity then the phenomena that is 'global warming' would still continue.

Maybe this is more about politics and the peak fossil fuel problem, all governments need to bring in legilation and taxation to control the masses over their fossil fuel usage ahead of any fossil fuel global crisis, now seems like an ideal time to get started.

Personally I am more concern about non-organic toxins being distributed around the plant for which there is no organic cleaning system than of trying to label a problem with a natually occuring organic gas.

Re:Is this possible? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671289)

If word ever got out that we are not a major contributor then I think public perception will re-appropiate funds to issues they consider are more worthy.
Is this a bad thing?

Maybe this is more about politics and the peak fossil fuel problem, all governments need to bring in legilation and taxation to control the masses over their fossil fuel usage ahead of any fossil fuel global crisis, now seems like an ideal time to get started.
I don't see using the government to strong arm the people and companies as a viable answer. Waiting for the oils to become harder to reach and thereby raising the prices on their own seems to solve the same problem without scamming the public. But more importantly, It means that alternative energy need to come down in price in order to compete with oil. If some artificial barrier is imposed, then it is only allowing alternative energy producers to inflate prices and neglect refining processes to be more efficient themselves.

Now I'm not against alternative energy. I see a time when it will save us from far worse problems. I am however against giving them a market that they don't deserve by force of government. We can fund research, discount production costs to some extend, offer tax incentive to them but charging the tax payers more to ensure they have a market is ludicrous. Futher more, Stuff like biofuels, they create less power and it takes more in existing cars to make any savings. forcing that in us is a shame too. If something was truly superior, and cost effective, it would replace oil without any outside interference.

It isn't close and it seems as if we want to make this ok by penalizing the people and more importantly, the poorer people. How free are they when they cannot afford to drive to work because the government decided to hike taxes to force some less efficient fuels into their live. It should be our goal to assist them in making their lives better not screwing the pooch because they got in the way.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming.. duh (1)

Tuna_Shooter (591794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671003)

All I'm going to say to this is...... As far as global warming is concerned there are not enough facts or evidence to support this theory. WE need more DATA!!!... CO2 man made or not does not account for the magnitude of influences detected.... I for one think water vapor .... caused by "outside" (Sun) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3869753. stminfluences/ [bbc.co.uk] might influence our climate as observed. Granted I'm just an EE and an ME but i think we need more data and less emotion in dealing with this. (at least thats what i tell my wifey) And on another note because of all this climate emotion stuff my youngest daughter now wants to be a Climatologist ??? (god i hate when i burn my karma)... :-)

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming.. duh (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671213)

OH, get ready for a barrage of of old articles and trolls following you around on this. I made the same statement a while ago and have one troll that I seem to annoy.

BTW, When everyone posts how stupid you are and links o some article debunking it, Match the dates to the story. You will find several interesting things, One is the articles with be links disclaiming water vapor will be older then that article or they will be regurgitated links from articles older. This leads me to believe that either they don't want to consider anything new, or they had anticipated this a long time ago and have the counter measures already lined up. It is strange that both of these situation imply that there is an alertnative reasoning behind the push for humans to be the cause.

Man is mightier than the Sun! (1, Troll)

toupsie (88295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671045)

In particular, it has been noted that between about 1645 and 1715, few sunspots were seen on the Sun's surface. This period is called the Maunder Minimum after the English astronomer who studied it. Ice cores record climate trends back beyond human measurements. It coincided with a spell of prolonged cold weather often referred to as the "Little Ice Age". Solar scientists strongly suspect there is a link between the two events - but the exact mechanism remains elusive.

Yep, this totally doesn't debunk global warming. The incandescent light bulb is much more powerful contributor to global warming than the nuclear fusion of the Sun. We are much more likely to enter another "Little Ice Age" if we swap all incandescent light bulbs for compact florescent light bulbs than if the Sun changes its sunspot activity. Man is mightier than the Sun!

Is it me or has the Global Warming crusaders joined up with the Intelligent Designers? I don't who believes in myths and fairy tales more...

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671051)

And the only question is...
How the heck ARE we causing global warming on Mars and the outer moons?

But the answer is undeniably: Yes.

Ohhh.. the question is... can you get a picture of Britney's woo woo?

And have those pictures caused warming around the globe?

The answer is undeniably: Yes.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671061)

You're 100% right. There's nothing to debunk... the fact that the planet is getting warmer is 100% fact. However... less handwringing needs to be done about it and more needs to be determined about our ACTUAL contribution. If humans are really only responsible for a small fraction of planetary warming, will it really make sense to go overboard at the least and decimate world ecomomies at most to pretend to solve a problem we have no control over?

And while I'm ranting I wanna rant about these eco freaks touting ethanol as this great savior of the environment. To that I call BULLSHIT! Why?

a) Ethanol takes MUCH more energy to produce than it releases when burned. So even though it burns cleaner than gasoline alone with the additional energy required to make it negates any benefits.

b) It's great for the politicians who are counting on the agricultural sector's votes since more corn is now being sold for ethanol production. Great! Unfortunately the unintended result is a global rise in corn prices which will affect countries primarily in middle and south America who depend on corn as a food staple. So it might be great for corn farmers but it's shitty for poorer countries that have to spend more on basic food costs.

ANYWAY... yeah... solar activity. Hot stuff. It's interesting that the temperature on Mars has been rising in a rate proportional to that of Earth. Maybe the Martians have their 'Space-Kyoto' scam too?

i've been modded down (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671097)

looks like i've been modded down by the right-wing thought police - I was up to +5 insightful, then they came on and attacked.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671131)

Yep, that's what TFA article says (near the end off course). The big problem for the humans_are_innocent_cosmic_rays_did_it crowd is that, regardless of what sunspots are doing, there has been no discernable trend in the amount of cosmic rays over the last two decades.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671181)

I don't care what anyone things about global warming - there is no reason NOT to curb pollution and be concerned about it. Even if the 0.0001% of established scientists who disagree with the significant evidence supporting it, all you have to do is drive into LA and look up and try and breath and look off into the distance to understand that there are countless reasons to be concerned with and curb our reckless actions, if we can avoid them in the first place.

Re:That doesn't debunk global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671281)

ROFL, people most certainly ignore it and sure as hell never state it.

Treatment for Sun damage (2, Funny)

techmuse (160085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670833)

Sounds like the sun needs a good dermatologist!

Thank goodness! (1, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670835)

If they're at their peak, that means they'll soon decline, and then global warming will be reversed! :)

(I think I'm kidding.)

Re:Thank goodness! (1)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671215)

Well, there's some justification for thinking that IMO. Loads of people fail to take regression to the mean [wikipedia.org] into account when they're looking at a situation. If crime rates are at an all time high and I institute some random policy, odds are actually fairly decent that crime will go down over the next few years. Not because of my policy change necessarily, but just because many things are cyclical.

Of course, you and I could be totally wrong. The sun could be gradually getting ready to explode in 20 years.
*cough*

Sssshh! (0, Redundant)

toupsie (88295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670849)

Whatever you do, don't tell Al Gore about this! He will totally freak out if he learns that the sun is a bigger culprit in the warming of the Earth the than his home electricity bill [tennesseepolicy.org] . I'm super serial!

Re:Sssshh! (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671023)

Sun spots are *cool* [wikipedia.org] parts of the sun. If the sun is at a 1,000 year peak of sunspot activity, that means that it is at a 1,000 year *low* for temperature, as far as sunspots are concerned.

So if there is global warming, then this argues *against* the sun as an explanation.

Oh then it's the Moon warming the Earth! (1)

toupsie (88295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671133)

So if there is global warming, then this argues *against* the sun as an explanation.

So what you are saying is that the Moon is what is warming the Earth, not that big ball of nuclear fusion 1 AU from the Earth?

Re:Sssshh! (4, Informative)

ranton (36917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671137)

Sun spots are *cool* parts of the sun. If the sun is at a 1,000 year peak of sunspot activity, that means that it is at a 1,000 year *low* for temperature, as far as sunspots are concerned.
So if there is global warming, then this argues *against* the sun as an explanation.


That is a common misconception. Direct satellite measurements of irradiance have shown that solar irradiance increases as the number of sunspots increase.

According to current theory, sunspots occur in pairs as magnetic disturbances in the convective plasma come close to the surface of the Sun. Magnetic field lines emerge from one sunspot and re enter at the other spot. Also, there are more sunspots during periods of increased magnetic activity. At that time more highly charged particles are emitted from the solar surface, and the Sun emits more UV and visible radiation.

It is most likely that the sunspots do not cause more radiation, but they instead are caused by the same events that cause the Sun to emit more radiation.

Regardless of what happens, it is clear that increased sun spot activity increases the radiation and therefore the heat that is transferred to the Earth from the Sun.

--

Scary? (4, Interesting)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670851)

I've heard that missiles can be guided to a target through GPS. Could the noise generated from massive sunspot activity cause the missile to drift enough to hit a completely different target even though it THINKS it's on target?

In other words, could the noise corrupt the GPS signal and offset the readings (but still be understood by the missile), or would it mess-up the system up completely to become totally incomprehensible?

Re:Scary? (0, Offtopic)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670923)

Who the fuck modded me offtopic? What part of 'from the radio-signals-cringing dept' makes me "offtopic"?

Re:Scary? (1, Offtopic)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670935)

If a missile hits something besides its intended target, does it really matter whether it was properly understood wrong information or misunderstood junk data? It's not like missiles return to their point of origin with a "sorry, but I didn't understand that" error code. They still blow something to bits.

It's probably possible to disarm the warhead if the last few communications were misunderstood, but then you'd have enemies jamming it locally, collecting your still mostly-intact missile, and reverse engineering it.

Re:Scary? (1)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671053)

I dunno, the idea of a missile going "aw fuck, I'm not heading in the right direction, I'll return to base and avoid needless destruction" sounds rather neat.

Then again, the last time I heard about a missile with a conscience was in a ST: Voyager episode, and I'm already trying to wash myself of the memories of that damn show.

Re:Scary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18670971)

Spoofing GPS is very difficult. Noise jamming (much less effective then tone jamming) will degrade the signal strenght and cause small (10's of meters) timing errors with CEP (error elipse size)increasing proportionally. With enough noise, the reviever will fail to lock, or if it's already locked, loose synch.

1000 peak? (4, Insightful)

JobyKSU (1071830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670857)

Point of order, sirs...

How can we know we're at the peak if we're also at the highest level we've been? Won't we have to wait until we dip for a while?

Re:1000 peak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18670889)

think mcfly.....think

Re:1000 peak? (2, Informative)

ksheff (2406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670919)

Just read the article and try to forget what the /. editors have posted as the description. That usually works for me.

Climate (3, Insightful)

Sean0michael (923458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670859)

No doubt this story will stir up our global warming debate again. Rather than continue the same litany of posts, can we focus on informative or interesting posts about how sunspots could affect various parts of our climate (polar temperature, magnetism, radiation, ozone holes, etc.)? Do they have an effect? How large? Is it significant? Is this accurate? That would be something new and helpful.

I think the last thing most /.ers want to read is another string of the same people posting the same links to previous posts and pasting the same arguments, counterarguments, sources, and denouncements of those sources as in the multiple threads we've had.

Just a thought.

Re:Climate (5, Interesting)

TuballoyThunder (534063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671227)

I'm sorry, the cause of global warming has been decided and further research is not needed. Please turn off the lights when leaving the hall of scientific inquiry.

In all seriousness, when I was working on my M.S. in Astronomy (circa 1993), we had a seminar given by solar physicist on sunspots. She showed two slides that were quite interesting: The first slide showed a plot of "global average" CO2 concentration and "global average" temperature and the second slide showed sunspot activity and "global average" temperature. From her brief look into the topic (by her own admission), sunspot activity appeared to correlate better than CO2. She submitted a NSF proposal to study it further and was rejected on the grounds "the cause of global warming is well understood and further research is not warranted.'

gps affected, for one (1)

Kabuthunk (972557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670879)

Well, I'm not entirely sure to what extent things will be affected, but it'll affect GPS-related units (http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/04/05/tec h-gps.html). Everything from military applications to hobbies such as geocaching will have less accuracy.

I'm sure the military likely has fallbacks or safeguards in effect, but when I'm geocaching, at least I can fall back on just looking around harder. But I'm sure this will affect far more systems than I can guess at.

Re:gps affected, for one (1)

JobyKSU (1071830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671015)

GPS will be fine... the article notes that "the last 60 years" have had more activity than ever before. In addition, the last 20 years have been fairly consistent.

Since the GPS system was finished in 1993, everything will remain to work as before unless things get remarkably more intense (can CO2 cause solar warming? ;-) )

Now you can breathe (the smog) easier. (0, Flamebait)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670887)

This is the evidence that we've been waiting for. Let's throw out the junk science telling us to wreck our economy to save the environment. It's as false as the rest of the liberal hand-wringing and weeping.

If God had ~not~ wanted us to have lung tumours, he would not have given us chemotherapy.

Re:Now you can breathe (the smog) easier. (1)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671115)

Wreck the economy? You mean being self sufficient and not dependent on middle eastern oil? Yeah, that would suck, now, wouldn't it? A booming domestic economy pumped by entrepreneurs investing in new energy methods. Yeah, all those new jobs would stink wouldn't it?

Better to rely on Saudi Arabia and Iran for our economy. After all, they certainly have the West's best interests at heart.

Thanks,

Mike

Re:Now you can breathe (the smog) easier. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671167)

This is the evidence that we've been waiting for.
Translation: I (finally) admit that global warming is real, but I'll jump on any superficially relevant scientific statement to claim it "proves" that humans aren't to blame.

Before the smarmy comments start (2, Informative)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670953)

Folks this says SUN SPOTS. Again, SUN SPOTS. Not solar radiation, not heat coming from the sun, but sun spots.

Sun spots are COOLER than the surrounding sun material.

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : Although they are blindingly bright at temperatures of roughly 4000-4500 K, the contrast with the surrounding material at about 5800 K leaves them clearly visible as dark spots.

So no, this does not account for Global warming, or more accurately, global climate change.

Re:Before the smarmy comments start (2, Informative)

Oswald (235719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671049)

Well, it's a bit late to stop the smarmy comments, especially since TFA indicates that past periods of low sun spot activity have coincided with lower terrestrial temperatures. I don't pretend to know anything about this, but you do, and you seem to be out of step with more than just the Slashdot trolls.

Re:Before the smarmy comments start (5, Informative)

baseinfinity (18023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671063)

And if you read your own link, you'd also see: "Since sunspots are dark it might be expected that more sunspots lead to less solar radiation. However, the surrounding areas are brighter and the overall effect is that more sunspots means a brighter sun. The variation is very small (of the order of 0.1%)."

Re:Before the smarmy comments start (1, Informative)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671081)

I said "So no, this does not account for Global warming, or more accurately, global climate change."

The article I linked to said "The variation [between sunspots and the solar radiation given off by the rest of the sun] is very small (of the order of 0.1%)."

So now answer this: Does this 1,000 year peak of sunspots explain global climate change?

Re:Before the smarmy comments start (2, Insightful)

baseinfinity (18023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671127)

I made no statement as to whether or not this 1,000 year peak of sunspots explains climate change. I merely pointed out that your original big bold point was disingenous: Sunspot activity correlates to higher solar output, as the wikipedia article you linked to states. I'll leave it to you if you want to make a different statement supporting your position, your first one is wrong.

Re:Before the smarmy comments start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671119)

That's got little to do with it. Sunspots correspond to increased solar activity, which in turn translates to more solar wind arriving at Earth. This is what is thought to affect Earth's weather. During the Maunder Minimum [wikipedia.org] , for example, remarkably low sunspot activity coincided with a long period of harsh cold weather.

Author Mistates & Fails to Explain Well (3, Informative)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670977)

The Sun has a DIRECT influence on global climate, yet the author says "indirect influence", and this is not disputed by ANY scientist.

The relationships between where Beryllium comes from, the solar wind strength, number of sunspots and cosmic rays is not explained in a coherent manner with simple statements that could be made.

The number of sunspots has been near constant (on average) over the past 20 years, yet they are at the highest level in over 1000 years for the last 60 years "yet the average temperature of the earth has continued to increase". This shows the author doesn't understand lag times between applying extra energy input to the atmospheric system versus the time required for the large mass of the Earth's ecosystem to respond by warming land, sea and air to the point where average temperature changes can be measured.

These sort of incomplete descriptions give the average reader a bad view of what is really going on. It gives journalism a bad name.

Re:Author Mistates & Fails to Explain Well (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671173)

The number of sunspots has been near constant (on average) over the past 20 years, yet they are at the highest level in over 1000 years for the last 60 years "yet the average temperature of the earth has continued to increase". This shows the author doesn't understand lag times between applying extra energy input to the atmospheric system versus the time required for the large mass of the Earth's ecosystem to respond by warming land, sea and air to the point where average temperature changes can be measured.

Well you can pose that as a possible explanation for the lag time between increase in sunspot activity and increase in global average temperatures, but then you have explain why, when the 60 year lag has been adjusted for, the result fails to correlate with all the other global average temperature fluctuations over the last 250 years. The data for sunspots [sidc.oma.be] , and the data for temperatures [uea.ac.uk] are all freely available -- plot them [wikipedia.org] and you can look for correlations or lack thereof yourself. There aren't any good ones that explain the recent (last 50 years) warming while still providing any correlation for similar historical fluctuations. But don't take my word for it, download the data and break out Gnuplot. Really, why guess, or trust someone elses interpretation when you can go straight to the raw data and see for yourself.

Miniscule % Changes (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671291)

According to my recollection, the difference in total solar radiance into the Earth's ecosystem between high solar sunspot time and low parts of the 11 year cycle (let alone other cycles), is about in the range of 0.1%.

Hence, if you are going to plot a difference of 1 part in 1000, you will need to use special charting methods likely with a logarithimic chart or table of some type to make the differences "visible".

Even with good charting, the variables in a short term make it difficult to deal with such small differences versus the yearly variables. Even though they are relatively small, we know from the Maunder minimum era, that they do make a LARGE difference in temperature over time.

Timing (1, Funny)

iMySti (863056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670981)

Why does this have to happen now that we finally have technology that a solar storm can mess up?

Keep in mind (2, Insightful)

otomo_1001 (22925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18670989)

This is only saying that of the 1000 years of data, this is the highest we have seen it.

Right now we can't say much more than that. Correlating this data with global warming is very spurious. We know much more about earth's climate than the sun and would be making a large leap given the limited amount of data.

We can't really make much of this until we get more data. That will be a long time in coming. Assuming we don't kill each other before then.

Re:Keep in mind Indep Search: (4, Informative)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671205)

Beryllium in ice cores: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1997/97JC01265.sh tml [agu.org]

"The most dramatic is a 10Be peak ?40,000 years ago, similar to that found in the Vostok ice core, thus permitting a very precise correlation between climate records from Arctic and Antarctic ice cores."

There is a lot of scientific data and the summary article (as poor as it was) did not even start to touch on the breadth of what is currently known from the analyses.

Global warming on Mars, also? (1)

cy_a253 (713262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671009)

Re:Global warming on Mars, also? (3, Insightful)

syphax (189065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671083)


And that informs us about our planet's sensitivity to GHG forcing how?

It's funny that climate change skeptics used to try to pick apart the global surface temperature record, which involves data collected from hundreds of locations for over 100 years, but are so quick to grab onto a 6 year regional trend on Mars as proof of something.

Can you show me the climatic feedback that minimizes the impact of the well-understood thermal forcing of CO2 (and methane, etc.) and the well-understood increase in atmospheric CO2 (and methane, etc.)?

Then we can talk.

Well. Not just this moment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671013)

The average sunspot activity in recent years might be the highest in the past 1000 years. However, as we're currently at a minimum in the cycle, the subject is a bit misleading. Care to check for yourself? See Spaceweather [spaceweather.com] . The sunspot count for today, on both sides of the sun, is exactly 0. So any baseless correlations between sunspot count and global temperatures can be ignored for the next few years.

Re:Well. Not just this moment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671217)

Which must explain the global cooling going on right now on the eastern US coast! It snowed... in April... in Washington, DC! Krazy!

Redundant and old (2, Insightful)

caffiend666 (598633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671025)

This is a redundant and old story. Last updated date from the article: 6 July, 2004 , almost three years old. Everyone should be aware of this science, but I would hope others have spent time trying to reproduce the data and find other ways to measure solar activity. Solar activity in general is undermeasured in the global warming/climate change debate, if only because of the difficulty of measuring the sun as a whole.

Re:Redundant and old (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671271)

Solar activity in general is undermeasured in the global warming/climate change debate, if only because of the difficulty of measuring the sun as a whole.
There has actually been a reasonable amount of study since initial questions as to the degree of solar activity influence in current warming trends was raised back in the 90s. Sunpots are a decent indicator, and we do have somewhat respectable sunspot records [wikipedia.org] going back to almost 1600. Going back further than thet gets tricky. That's where proxies like 10Be [wikipedia.org] are useful, although how accurate that is is debatale (the other common option, 14C [wikipedia.org] , is pretty good, but unreliable after 1950 and the advent of nuclear testing). The important point, as far as current warming trends is concerned, however, is how well the recent rise in solar activity (which peaked around 1960) can account for recent warming. In practice CO2 (which has a remarkably good explanation involving absorption spectra to provide mechanics for causation to go with the correlation) provides a better explanation [wikipedia.org] for the warming in the last 50 years. Indeed, the latest IPCC report, which put some effort into refining the solar contributions, puts solar activity as a significant, but still minor compared anthropogenic effects [wikipedia.org] , contributor to warming. Don't take my word though -- all those graphs cite sources that you can chase up and verify for yourselves.

Must be due to global warming... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671067)

It's those bad ass SUVs of the gods [allposters.com] that does it.

More flawed science (0, Flamebait)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671069)

In an attempt to determine what happened to sunspots during these other cold periods, Dr Sami Solanki and colleagues have looked at concentrations of a form, or isotope, of beryllium in ice cores from Greenland.

Just how are they dating these samples? Is there an assumption that each layer is a year? Are they assuming there has been no meltbacks removing several years records?

Dating a volcanic event and matching a tree ring to an Ice deposit is good, but much is unknown about the rest of the pack, missing layers and such.

The data suggests that changing solar activity is influencing in some way the global climate causing the world to get warmer.

This alone may be an indicator of why there is no ice record. Past events may have melted the layer and they are in the ocean, not in the ice pack record. Lack of an ice pack record may indicate erasure of the record, not evidence it never happened.

Re:More flawed science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671219)

Oh Holy Heck!

You, random slashdot poster, have just debunked it! Those flawed scientists with their flawed science totally forgot to account for melting! And then all their flawed scientist buddies missed that critical error in their peer reviewed flawed science journals. Thank GOD you read this article and caught this gigantic omission, or we might have been burdened by this flawed science for all eternity.

Or maybe you're a dumbass internet weenie who lacks imagination. Verifying the results of an ice core is pretty easy if you actually think about it. Take multiple samples from numerous locations, and cross-check the results.

Tip for the future: If you can come up with a simple "but it seems logical" hypothesis to debunk an entire peer reviewed scientific study in a few minutes, you're probably wrong.

Sunspot warming on top of Industrial contribution (1)

philpalm (952191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671079)

There I said it, no more no less. The CO2 that traps more heat is uneffected by more energy given off by sunspots. To put it simply don't buy any oceanfront property unless you are sure that sunspot activity and less CO2 will be in our atmosphere. The scientists who have measured "sunspot"activity have also measured the amount of CO2 trapped in polar ice caps. We are also at the highest CO2 level and small scale models prove that a high level of CO2 will prevent a smaller amount of heat to escape the earth's atmosphere. Will global warming slow? Only if the idiots of earth wisen up and stop producing CO2 at the levels they are doing now.

Instruments haven't improved since 1610? (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671099)

I was under the distinct impression that telescopes, cameras, and computers that help interpret the data had undergone some upgrades since the 1600s. Must be that generation gap thing -- I only thought our instruments were better now or something.

Besides, how can the "observations" since 1610 give us 1000 years of data since 2007 - 1610 = 397? Are we talking about naked-eye observations before that? Has the sun gotten that much brighter that it didn't used to blind people staring at it trying to count the dots?

So, ice cores and growth rings from fossilized trees (which would also show drought and other issues pretty indistinguishably, yes?) might agree for 1000 years. But saying that we _see_ more sunspots now than 1000 years ago is a bit like saying that we _see_ more single-celled organisms now than before the microscope.

As for global warming, yes, man probably has something to do with it. How much is the issue, and better yet how to slow it or if we should. Remember, the planet changing doesn't necessarily mean things will be worse, just different. Perhaps we should have studies on what benefits and drawbacks the climate changes will have. Are cyclical mass extinctions due to warming and cooling necessarily a bad thing?

Of course, dead zones in the oceans due to more direct screw-ups like over-fishing, pollution, etc can't be good. A lack of bees to pollinate crops is a looming disaster, too. What Oscars are being won over these?

To all you people (-1, Flamebait)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671159)

trying to blame Global Warming on absolutely anything you can think of, other than us:

Sunspots DO NOT cause global warming. At all. ...So they're NOT the excuse you need to justify continuance of your retarded, selfish, polluting lifestyle.

Dear US Citizens: Please GET WITH THE PROGRAM. You don't need a gas-guzzling quasi-military vehicle just to go shopping.

Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18671251)

Ok, I'll play - yes! "WE" are EVIL.

Our gaz-guzzling is so effective we are warming up Mars [nationalgeographic.com] too!

muhaha ha ha ha.

Aurora? (2, Interesting)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18671161)

I subscribe to the keteu.org Aurora mail notification. [keteu.org] Which is handy for knowing when Aurora will appear where I live.. When I grew up I saw them all the time, where I live now, I have seen 1 set in the last 5 years.

That said, could someone enlighten me on the correlation between sunspots and solar flares? Yes, I know it is flares that cause the Aurora, not sunspots, but do increases in sunspots correlate to an increase in flares? It has been a few years since I was up on my solar topography as it were, so I am hoping for more Aurora in the next little bit - even if I need to travel up to the Youkon this year to see them again.
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