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Solar Cycle

13 February 2012

At  http://en.wikipedi.org/w/index.php?title=Solar_cycle&oIdid=476364656 the Wikipedia entry on the solar cycle is interesting – it looks at the history of the subject and notes that as long ago as 1908 sunspots were shown to  be strongly magnetised, and a bit later, the magnetic polarity of sunspot pairs was recogised – and the 22/11 years sunspot cycle. Now, as science doesn't proceed as agreeably as it is suggested at Wikipedia we can imagine there was some scepticism of this new finding. In fact, the Wikipedia entry has all the hallmarks of rewriting the history of the Sun and electro-magnetism. It doesn't mention those scientists whose ideas were denigrated – even recently. Yet. it is informative in that we learn the Sun is powered by a hydro-magnetic dynamo process driven by the inductive action of internal solar flows. Member William Thompson forwarded the link which is comprehensive and 10 pages of printed text – a bed time read perhaps, or something to keep for reference. In the section, 'Effects on Earth' (page 6) we learn that the solar cycle impacts on living organisms and some research has indicated it may even affect human health.

During peaks of the solar cycle the ionosphere becomes increasingly ionised by solar photons and cosmic rays which either facilitate or  hinder communications systems. Variation in solar activity also appear to impact on global climate – but quite how is still a matter of dispute. It adds, the current scientific consensus is that solar variations do not play a major role in determining present day global warming, a comment that is something of a wishful musing. It is assumed solar variation impacts to a smaller degree than the forcing due to greenhouse gases – even though such a forcing remains frustratingly difficult to pinpoint.

The bibliography is interesting – lots of papers by scientists not associated with The Team – or the dominant climate science claque that see AGW as a 'cause' – if climategate 2 emails are to be judged. However, IPCC reports by collectives of scientists (including John Houghton) are quoted, particularly in relation to the idea the Sun is not a powerful driver of climate, when compared with greenhouse gases. The authors quoted in these IPCC reports do however include some down to earth scientists such as Richard Betts, V Ramaswamy, and so on (and the report goes back to 2007 and was written up in the years leading up to publication so they can be excused for not being up to date on what the Sun is doing at present).

There are also some useful links that could be checked out – such as www.acrim.com, www.solarcycle24.com, http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov and www.solar.physics.montana.edu/YPOP/ and www.solar-center.stanford.edu and of course, http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov but as far as the UK is concerned Tall Bloke's blog is an ideal place to start, http://tallbloke.wordpress.com

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