The Sun is doing something interesting, and has been for the last few years. As a solar physicist noted last year, there really haven’t been many sunspots lately. Look at 2001 (left) and 2009 (right) for the difference in sunspot activity.
But there’s more. In addition to virtually no sunspots, the Sun is having fewer solar flares, hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, and is at a 55-year low in radio emissions. This is in addition to sunspot activity, which is at a 100-year low!
If you look carefully at the observations, it’s pretty clear that the underlying level of the Sun peaked at about 1985 and what we are seeing is a continuation of a downward trend (in solar activity) that’s been going on for a couple of decades.
So what’s been going on — in theory — is that the Sun undergoes cycles that last hundreds of years, and it reached its maximum activity in this cycle just 24 years ago. Now, it’s starting to come down from that, and so overall solar activity and — here’s the key — overall solar output has been declining for the last 2 decades. What if we compared solar output with the recent rise in global average temperature? What can we learn?
That something besides solar activity is dominating Earth’s temperature changes. The last few years (not shown on the graph) have seen both the temperature continuing to rise and the solar output start to fall.
There isn’t even a correlation between solar activity/output and temperature anymore.
Or to let Mike Lockwood tell it in his own words:
We are re-entering the middle ground after a period which has seen the Sun in its top 10% of activity.
What we are seeing is consistent with a global temperature rise, not that the Sun is coming to our aid.
Or, in other words, the Earth is continuing to heat up even though the Sun is chilling out, relatively speaking. Neat stuff, and a little more ammo for those of you fed up with global warming deniers.