Admission: A Need for Better Data for Modeling the Sun’s Influence on Climate

From the AGU EOS publication (h/t to Dr. Judith Curry)

Better Data for Modeling the Sun’s Influence on Climate

Several international initiatives are working to stitch together data describing solar forcing of Earth’s climate. Their objective is to improve understanding of climate response to solar variability.

Compared to other stars, our Sun is a remarkably steady source of light and heat, but its output does vary. Solar light, heat, and particle streams drive weather and atmospheric chemistry, but how (and how much) does the Sun’s variability affect the climate here on Earth? The role of solar variability in recent global warming is not just a bone of contention; it is also a question of overriding importance for the scientific understanding of our Sun and of climate change.

Scientists simulate historical and future climates by setting up a suite of initial conditions and seeing how these conditions change when various factors, called forcings, are applied. For example, how does Earth’s surface temperature change if it receives more or less heat from the Sun? How do the streams of ionized particles that make up the solar wind affect certain weather patterns on Earth? Data sets compiled from historical records provide the necessary information for model forcing, so ensuring that these data sets provide accurate, relevant information is key to producing realistic climate model scenarios.

Recently, a series of initiatives brought together scientists working on different aspects of this highly multidisciplinary issue. These efforts shared several common objectives, including better estimates of solar forcing and identifying and quantifying the uncertainties in these estimates.

Here we report on the outcome of three of these initiatives:

  • “Towards a more complete assessment of the impact of solar variability on the Earth’s climate” (TOSCA), a project that uses a network of European scientists from 20 countries that met from 2011 to 2015 to assess contributions of solar variability to Earth’s climate
  • Solar Irradiance Data Exploitation (SOLID), a European-funded project dedicated to merging all exploitable spectrally resolved solar irradiance records into one single composite data set
  • An international team of scientists that met at the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) to produce a comprehensive data set that includes solar radiative forcing and contributions from energetic particles

These initiatives have culminated in the production of two public data sets to assist with the scientific analysis of solar forcing: a composite data set of all irradiance observations and a comprehensive data set containing different solar forcings (radiative and by particles) since 1850.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite took these images of the Sun at three different wavelengths. The top row shows the Sun on 2 February 2014 during an active phase with several sunspots. The bottom row shows the Sun on 3 March 2018 during a period of low solar activity with no sunspots. The left-hand images were taken in the extreme UV wavelength region (17.1 nm), the center images were taken in the far UV region (170 nm), and the right-hand images were taken in the visible region (450 nm). Dark sunspots cause a small decrease in irradiance in the visible band, but they increase irradiance in the ultraviolet bands. Scientists wonder how solar activity across wavelengths influences climate. Credit: NASA

How Does Solar Variability Affect Climate?

Solar variability affects Earth’s climate in many intricate and nonlinear ways. Most effects are ultimately driven and modulated by the solar magnetic field and its conspicuous solar cycle, which repeats approximately every 11 years.

via Watts Up With That?

September 6, 2018 at 02:21PM

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