January 30, 2013


Letters to the Editor and other People Speak

FROM-Corvallis Gazette-Times

Letter: Could global warming be attributed mostly to sun spots?

We are told that the Earth is slowly warming, and that carbon dioxide emissions are largely responsible. Maybe so, but there is a possible alternative that at least ought to be looked at; that is whether sun spots can make a contribution.

Sun spots are cool areas scattered over the sun’s surface that result from strong magnetic interactions that reduce the sun’s emission locally. They vary in size and individuals usually persist only for a few days. But at least one on record lasted about three months and had a size of about 25 times that of Earth.

The obvious implication, of course, is that their appearance and growth would cool the Earth.

However, a hundred years of counting showed that their number oscillates in a wave-like manner with a frequency of about 10 to 12 years, and has been increasingly substantiated over that time.

The temperature of the Earth — or parts of it — has been measured (estimated?) for many decades but only accurately over perhaps the last decade with the advent of aerial data from the troposphere around the whole globe.

Consider then that if, fortuitously, measuring started when the sun spot count was near a maximum and continued for perhaps five or six years. During that period the concentration would be steadily decreasing and the Earth would be warming. The effect would be small, but we are only looking for a degree or so.

The test of these speculations, of course, would be to see if during the last half decade the temperature would begin to fall again as the sun spot count was increasing again to complete the cycle.

L. Michael Foster


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