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Solar variation

A few papers suggest that the Sun's contribution may have been underestimated. Two researchers at Duke University, Bruce West and Nicola Scafetta, have estimated that the Sun may have contributed about 45-50% of the increase in the average global surface temperature over the period 1900-2000, and about 25-35% between 1980 and 2000. A paper by Peter Stott and other researchers suggests that climate models overestimate the relative effect of greenhouse gases compared to solar forcing; they also suggest that the cooling effects of volcanic dust and sulfate aerosols have been underestimated. They nevertheless conclude that even with an enhanced climate sensitivity to solar forcing, most of the warming since the mid-20th century is likely attributable to the increases in greenhouse gases. The Sun is a star. It is a rather ordinary star - not particularly big or small, not particularly young or old. It is the source of heat which sustains life on Earth, and controls our climate and weather. It is the closest star to Earth, and the most closely studied. From it we have learned a great deal about the physical processes which determine the structure and evolution of stars in general. Below we discuss

A different hypothesis is that variations in solar output, possibly amplified by cloud seeding via galactic cosmic rays, may have contributed to recent warming. It suggests magnetic activity of the sun is a crucial factor which deflects cosmic rays that may influence the generation of cloud condensation nuclei and thereby affect the climate.

One predicted effect of an increase in solar activity would be a warming of most of the stratosphere, whereas greenhouse gas theory predicts cooling there . The observed trend since at least 1960 has been a cooling of the lower stratosphere. Reduction of stratospheric ozone also has a cooling influence, but substantial ozone depletion did not occur until the late 1970s. Solar variation combined with changes in volcanic activity probably did have a warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950, but a cooling effect since.In 2006, Peter Foukal and other researchers from the United States, Germany, and Switzerland found no net increase of solar brightness over the last thousand years. Solar cycles led to a small increase of 0.07% in brightness over the last thirty years. This effect is far too small to contribute significantly to global warming. A paper by Mike Lockwood and Claus Fröhlich found no relation between global warming and solar radiation since 1985, whether through variations in solar output or variations in cosmic rays. Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen, the main proponents of cloud seeding by galactic cosmic rays, disputed this criticism of their hypothesis.

Recent Global temperatures on both land and sea have increased by 0.75 °C (1.35 °F) relative to the period 1860-1900, according to the instrumental temperature record. This measured temperature increase is not significantly affected by the urban heat island effect. Since 1979, land temperatures have increased about twice as fast as ocean temperatures (0.25 °C per decade against 0.13 °C per decade). Temperatures in the lower troposphere have increased between 0.12 and 0.22 °C (0.22 and 0.4 °F) per decade since 1979, according to satellite temperature measurements. Temperature is believed to have been relatively stable over the one or two thousand years before 1850, with possibly regional fluctuations such as the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age.

Sea temperatures increase more slowly than those on land both because of the larger effective heat capacity of the oceans and because the ocean can lose heat by evaporation more readily than the land. The Northern Hemisphere has more land than the Southern Hemisphere, so it warms faster. The Northern Hemisphere also has extensive areas of seasonal snow and sea-ice cover subject to the ice-albedo feedback. More greenhouse gases are emitted in the Northern than Southern Hemisphere.