B. van Geel
- IPCC underestimates the Sun’s role in climate change
- Energy & Environment
- Volume | Issue number
- 24 | 3-4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
For the understanding of current and future climate change it is a basic pre requisite to properly understand the mechanisms, which controlled climate change after the Last Ice Age. According to the IPCC 5th assessment report (in prep.) the Sun has not been a major driver of climate change during the post-Little Ice Age slow warming, and particularly not during the last 40 years. This statement requires critical review as the IPCC neglects strong paleo-climatologic evidence for the high sensitivity of the climate system to changes in solar activity. This high climate sensitivity is not alone due to variations in total solar irradiance-related direct solar forcing, but also due to additional, so-called indirect solar forcings. These include solar-related chemical-based UV irradiance-related variations in stratospheric temperatures and galactic cosmic ray-related changes in cloud cover and surface temperatures, as well as ocean oscillations, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation that significant affect the climate. As it is still difficult to quantify the relative contribution of combined direct and indirect solar forcing and of increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations to the slow warming of the last 40 years, predictions about future global warming based exclusively on anthropogenic CO2 emission scenarios are premature. Nevertheless, the cyclical temperature increase of the 20th century coincided with the buildup and culmination of the Grand Solar Maximum that commenced in 1924 and ended in 2008. The anticipated phase of declining solar activity of the coming decades will be a welcome ‘natural laboratory’ to clarify and quantify the present and future role of solar variation in climate change.
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