Solar jet streams causing heated debate on earth's future - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Solar jet streams causing heated debate on earth's future climate

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

On the surface it would seem that global warming is right on pace. 2012 was the 4th warmest year ever recorded in Toledo, it was the warmest ever for the United States and the 10th warmest on record for the entire globe. Arctic sea ice saw a record amount of melting this summer including a record low sea ice extent in early September of 2012. Even though the sea ice and snow cover in the northern hemisphere rapidly jumped back in October through December and the globe's temperature moderated toward the end of the year, the warm statistics continue to mount year after year. According to NOAA the global temperature has risen about 1.5 degrees F in the past 130 years. While there may be a small error with this warming statistic, the past data is a lot more certain than what is going to happen in the next 50 years.

NASA released a new report last week on sun's importance on the earth's climate. New research shows that the sun is having a bigger impact on the earth's climate than previously thought. During each 11-year solar cycle the sun oscillates between low and high solar activity. During solar peak there are many active sunspots on the sun. These sunspots are often the source of solar flares and an increased amount of solar radiation. Though the increased amount of solar radiation is small, a new study shows is may have a significant influence on the earth's climate. Researchers have also noted that it can lead to regional climate differences. For instance, La Nina patterns seem to be more common in the years surrounding a solar peak. This often leads to warmer than normal weather during the winter in the Midwest while giving the Pacific Northwest colder and wetter weather.

This correlation has only intensified a debate between scientists and global warming skeptics behind the scenes. The recent weak solar cycle may not be a onetime thing. Solar jet streams on the sun are the driving mechanism for each solar cycle. If these currents of hot plasma are moving relatively fast it jump starts the solar cycle a little early and can lead to a powerful solar peak full of geomagnetic storms on earth. A side effect is more solar radiation hitting the earth, which leads to globally warmer temperatures, even if the exact amount is still unknown. Fast forward to today and the solar jet streams are moving at a crawl. If the current trends continue they will move so slow in the next decade that the next solar cycle may not even start, stalling the whole cycle into a deep solar minimum. This has happened in the past a couple times. The Dalton and Maunder Minimum lasted for several decades and are blamed for an extended globally cool period. The Maunder Minimum occurred in the mid to late 1600s and many believe this lack of solar activity brought on the Little Ice Age. Others believe the Little Ice Age was ongoing before the Maunder Minimum started. At any rate a new debate has started.

Frank Hill is one of several researchers that are predicting a weak and delayed solar cycle 25 which should begin sometime around 2020. He has also made it clear that he is not predicting the next Ice Age. Climate scientists generally agree the rise in greenhouse gases has led to the earth warming and future greenhouse gas emissions will continue this trend. If the coming solar cycles are weak it could certainly impact the globe's overall climate in a cooler way, but scientists just aren't sure how much. In the mean time the debate is becoming red hot and only time and future finding will complete the entire puzzle.

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