Graph of solar activity versus climate
Does it Exist?
If so, is it Man- or Sun-made?
From Friis-Christensen, E., and K. Lassen, "Length of the solar cycle: An indicator of solar activity closely associated with climate," Science, 254, 698-700, 1991.
Global warming -- the gradual increase in planet-wide temperatures -- seems to be accepted by many scientists and people now as fact. Generally, this warming is attributed to the increase of green-house gases in the Earth's upper atmosphere.
However, some solar scientists are considering whether the warming exists at all. And, if it does, might it be caused, wholely or in part, by a periodic but small increase in the Sun's energy output. An increase of just 0.2% in the solar output could have the same affect as doubling the carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere.
What is the evidence for global warming? Certainly, there are considerably more green-house gases (e.g. carbon dioxide) in our atmosphere than in previous times. And there appears to be some evidence that global temperatures are rising. But, how accurate and correct are our global warming statistics? And, do we really know what role, if any, the Sun might play in any global warming patterns?
What is the Problem?
These issues are currently being debated, and may significantly affect you for the rest of your life. Would you like to do some research to find out more about global warming?
We suggest here some research topics and places to begin looking for information. But these are all controversial issues, and there are no definitive answers (yet). As an informed, and voting, citizen of the next millenium, you will need to keep listening, looking, and being alert to new research and evidence.
The following are key questions in your research on global warming:
- What is global warming?
- What is the evidence that global warming exists? How reliable and accurate is this evidence?
- What are the projected effects of global warming?
- What is the evidence that global warming might be caused by greenhouse gases?
- What is the evidence that global climate change might be affected by solar variation?
- What can or should be done about global warming, if it exists and is caused by pollutants and emissions? (Even if global warming does not exist, are there other reasons for lessening the emission of pollutants into our atmosphere?)
- What can or should be done if there is global climate change being caused by solar variability?
Where Do I Start?
For information on global warming in general and student activities and research topics in particular, visit:
- The NY Times -- Global Warming Issue, 1 December 1997 .
- The NY Times -- Resources on Global Warming . A collection of web sites and books related to global warming.
- Douglas V. Hoyt (Sun-Earth Researcher) . A collection of web sites related to global warming.
- The Global Warming Project. A good collection of student activities to research and examine global warming issues.
- Issue Brief on Global Warming An overview of global warming, prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
- Web-based student activities. Designed to help students investigate global warming using web-based resources.
Now, to research whether or not global warming actually exists, and the affect the Sun may or may not be having on it, check out these:
- Greenhouse Warming: Fact, Hypothesis, or Myth?. Douglas Hoyt, a Senior Scientist with Hughes/STX, analyzes the various data on long-term global temperatures, as well as the proposed causes and effects of global warming, and concludes that "there is no evidence of a long-term warming of climate over the last 170 years". See also Hoyt's and Ken Schatten's 1997 book The Role of the Sun in Climate Change.
- A brief description of the Friis-Christensen/Lassen graph above.
- A BBC news report "Scientists Blame Sun for Global Warming"
- University of Arizona Press Release detailing a study which found that only 40% of global warming could possibily be attributed to solar variation.
- Dialogue about the Variable Sun. A (non-scientific) discussion taken from a Usenet newsgroup about data suggesting that solar variability affects global climates. Are the arguments based on fact? Are the participants fully aware of current research?
Back to the SOLAR Center Comments?
Copyright © 1997 Stanford University. All rights reserved.
Created by Deborah Scherrer in October 1997
Last modified by DKS on 15 Dec 1997.