There has been continued interest in the research from the Met Office with Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, that shows that low UV output from the sun can contribute to an increased risk of cold winters over parts of the northern hemisphere, such as recently seen in the UK. Michael Hanlon of the Daily Mail posted an fascinating blog article on Mini ice-age or global warming: why can’t they make their minds up?. Elsewhere Jonathan Leake from the Sunday Times has clarified his article on this science in which he said:
Thanks to those who have commented on this article. However, there appears to be a common misunderstanding. This article is not about anthropogenic climate change. The phenomena mentioned in this article are natural and separate from climate change. They operate in parallel to climate change, in parallel to each other but, of course, each on very different time scales.
La Nina, for example, is really about weather. It’s part of a relatively short term natural cycle operating over periods of a few years.
It’s just one of many factors which together mean that weather is constantly showing a high level of variability. In other words, getting a cold winter or two does not tell us anything about climate change. It just tells us that weather changes a lot – which we already know.
Similarly, the research in Nature Geoscience about the changes in solar radiation, is also nothing to do with climate change. It’s an entirely separate effect happening in parallel. Scientists think its part of a 3-400 year cycle of changes in UV radiation. There’s a good article here and the original is here.
It’s interesting to wonder if it will mitigate or amplify the effects of greenhouse gas emissions but I suspect no-one really knows yet.
The key point is that short term changes in the weather and long term changes in the climate are both driven by a complex mix of variables. Working out the most likely future trends is hard and takes long-term dedicated science. Reducing it all to an argument to undermine climate change misses the real point which is that we should be trying to use the best science to assess just how much of a problem all these effects really present to an increasingly crowded and interconnected world.
The science suggesting that the Earth faces significant warming remains very strong. If you disagree then you need good science to back your case. These other phenomena (La Nina, UV radiation etc) are simply not relevant.
- Met Office in the Media: Solar variability helps explain past cold winters (metofficenews.wordpress.com)
- Solar lows caused extreme European winters (newscientist.com)