|Our planet is connected with our sun with
more than light. In this picture, it appears the sun and earth are connected
by the stream of charged particles that come from the sun. The Sun produces
a hot gas that travels through space at a million miles per hour, carrying
particles and magnetism outward past the planets called the solar wind. In
essence, the Earth is immersed in the Sun's atmosphere. Changes on the Sun
affect the solar wind flow; for example, solar flares, which are explosions
associated with sunspots, cause strong gusts of solar wind.
The space around our atmosphere is alive and dynamic
because the Earth's magnetic field reacts to changes in the solar wind. The
interaction between the solar wind and the plasma of the magnetosphere acts
like an electric generator, creating electric fields deep inside the
magnetosphere. These fields in turn give rise to a general circulation of
the plasma within the magnetosphere and accelerate some electrons and ions
to higher energies.
During periods of gusty solar wind when the sun is very
active with solar flares and coronal mass ejections, powerful magnetic
storms in space near the Earth cause vivid auroras, radio and television
static, power blackouts, navigation problems for ships and airplanes with
magnetic compasses, and damage to satellites and spacecraft. Although the
total solar irradiance is increased only slightly, the solar winds caused by
the active sun interact with the earth's magnetosphere which also triggers
changes in the electrical and chemical properties of the atmosphere, the
ozone layer, and high-altitude temperatures and wind patterns.
- Simulated coronal mass ejection.
Coronal mass ejections (or CMEs) are huge bubbles of gas threaded
with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the
course of several hours. Click photo to watch video segment on
solar/cosmic radiation/earth temperature theory
As more research is done, scientists are realizing the sun
plays a critical role in controlling earth's climate. Solar winds are also
known to push back or dampen cosmic radiation originating from super novas
in deep space. There is a significant correlation between the amount of
cosmic radiation entering the earth’s surface and the amount of low
elevation cloud formation. The more cosmic radiation the more low elevation
clouds that are formed. The more clouds, the greater the amount of solar
energy that is reflected back into space, and the earth cools. When the sun
is very active and there is a lot of solar wind, there is less cosmic
radiation reaching earth, fewer low elevation clouds are formed, and the
earth warms. This relationship itself can account for most of the warming in
the twentieth century. As we start the 21st century, the reverse is
happening. The sun has been extraordinarily quiet and scientists have found
solar winds have declined to the lowest levels ever measured. This
should cause the earth to start
cooling, which it did starting in 2007.
But that's not all the sun does. It also affects planetary
wind patterns. What perhaps is the clearest evidence that nature, not man,
caused the twentieth century warming was the discovery in the past few years
that the oceans are playing a far greater role than previously recognized.
Although poorly understood, either the sun directly, or through the winds it
helps create, phenomena like
El Niños and La Niñas are formed in the tropical ocean.
(See NASA animation) These equatorial El Niño and
La Niña phenomenon have been well known since the early 1900s, but their
significance was not realized until the late 1900s.
When the Pacific
Decadal (PDO) & Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillations (AMO) are
correlated with earth’s temperature, the correlation (r2)
jumps to 0.83, which is considered good to fair, nearly twice as good
as CO2, which is only 0.44. The greater the r2 value the
better the correlation between two things.
Source: Joseph D’Aleo,
As scientists began to realize the
impact of El Niños and La Niñas on climate across the world, they also
began to notice there was a larger oscillation within which they occurred,
extending well beyond the tropics. By 1997 they had named them the
Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Like
El Niño and La Niña, the PDO and AMO have warm and cold cycles. While El
Niños and La Niñas only last 1-3 years, the PDO usually lasts from 15 to 30
years and the AMO, 20 to 40 years. In the case of the PDO, the warm phase
has more El Niños while the cold phase has more La Niñas. Together they have
a profound affect on earth’s climate, and when compared to earth’s
temperature, the correlation is considered good, but not great. Nonetheless,
it is far better than CO2, which only has a poor correlation with
temperature. (Watch an
Accuweather 5 min. clip on the PDO)
Although scientists believe the sun
plays a role in creating the PDO & AMO, they do not understand how it works.
Nor do they know if the relatively high correlation between the two and
earth’s temperature is a direct cause and effect relationship, or whether
the sun or something else directly affects both the PDO/AMO and temperature.
It may be both.