Sunspots and Climate Change

Many climate scientists agree that sunspots and solar wind could be playing a role in climate change, but the vast majority view it as very minimal and attribute Earth’s warming primarily to emissions from industrial activity– and they have thousands of peer-reviewed studies available to back up that claim.

Ironically, the only way to really find out if phenomena like sunspots and solar wind are playing a larger role in climate change than most scientists now believe would be to significantly reduce our carbon emissions. Only in the absence of that potential driver will researchers be able to tell for sure how much impact natural influences have on the Earth’s climate.

Solar wind, according to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, consists of magnetized plasma flares and in some cases is linked to sunspots. It emanates from the sun and influences galactic rays that may in turn affect atmospheric phenomena on Earth, such as cloud cover. Scientists are the first to admit that they have a lot to learn about phenomena like sunspots and solar wind, some of which is visible to humans on Earth in the form of Aurora Borealis and other far flung interplanetary light shows.

Some skeptics of human-induced climate change blame global warming on natural variations in the sun’s output due to sunspots and/or solar wind. “A rational thinker would understand that, especially if he or she has some understanding of the limits of human influence. The global warming boosters have this unbounded hubris that it is humans who control nature, and that human activity can terminally despoil the planet as well as cause its salvation.”

Sunspots are storms on the sun’s surface that are marked by intense magnetic activity and play host to solar flares and hot gassy ejections from the sun’s corona. Scientists believe that the number of spots on the sun cycles over time, reaching a peak– the so-called Solar Maximum– every 11 years or so.

Peter Foukal of the Massachusetts-based firm Heliophysics, Inc., who has tracked sunspot intensities from different spots around the globe dating back four centuries, also concludes that such solar disturbances have little or no impact on global warming. He adds, most up-to-date climate models– including those used by the United Nations’ prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)– incorporate the effects of the sun’s variable degree of brightness in their overall calculations.

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