Lawrence Solomon: Sunspots may predict hurricanes as well as global warming and coooling

Sunspots may have a more profound effect on Earth’s climate than previously understood, according to new research published in the scientific journal, Geophysical Research Letters, and presented to the American Meteorological Society.

The research, by Robert Hodges and Jim Elsner of Florida State University, looked at the frequency of hurricanes and sunspots from 1851 to 2008 during the Sun’s 11-year cycles. During periods of low sunspot activity, the researchers discovered, the probability of three or more hurricanes hitting the United States increases dramatically.

“With fewer sunspots, there’s less energy at the top of the atmosphere,” Elsner explained, making for a cooler atmosphere above the hurricane. This differential fuels atmospheric instability, propelling tropical storms into hurricanes.

Sunspots have long been implicated in the global climate: During protracted periods of high sunspot activity, such as occurred in the Medieval Warm Period and the last century, global temperatures rose. During the low points in sunspot activity, such as in the Little Ice Age, temperatures declined.

A warming or cooling globe in itself, however, does not seem to be a factor in hurricane activity, according to earlier research conducted at Florida State University by Chris Landsea, a former researcher with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Landsea was one of the first scientists associated with the UN panel to blow the whistle on the IPCC’s fraudulent claims.

Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, June 01, 2010

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