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Flirting with Solar Causes of Climate Change
Reference
Goode, P.R. and Palle, E. 2007. Shortwave forcing of the earth's climate: Modern and historical variations in the sun's irradiance and the earth's reflectance. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 69: 1556-1568.

Background
The authors state at the outset of their provocative new paper that "we know [our italics] that there are terrestrial imprints of the solar cycle," even when "the implied changes in solar irradiance seem too weak to induce an imprint." Hence, rather than suggesting that solar activity cannot possibly be responsible for the warming experienced over the course of the 20th century (and thereby fixating on something else, such as the world's climate alarmists and the IPCC do in stating that CO2 is the primary cause of the warming), they try to discern how such a small solar signal might induce such a large climatic response.

What was done
Goode and Palle review data that shed light on two important parameters of climate change, namely, solar irradiance and terrestrial reflectance, which together determine the net sunlight absorbed by the earth-ocean-atmosphere system, and which thereby set the stage for the system's ultimate thermal response to the forcing they provide.

What was learned
In attempting to "illustrate the possibilities of a sun-albedo link," the two researchers conclude that "reflectance changes like the ones observed during the past two decades, if maintained over longer time periods, are sufficient to explain climate episodes like the 'Little Ice Age' without the need for significant solar irradiance variations." However, they state that their analysis of the problem "cannot be used to argue for a solar cycle dependence." On the other hand, as they immediately continue, "it is also difficult to dismiss the possibility of a solar-albedo link."

What it means
Goode and Palle conclude that "regardless of its possible solar ties," earth's large-scale reflectance "is a much more variable climate parameter than previously thought and, thus, deserves to be studied in as much detail as changes in the sun's output or changes in the earth's atmospheric infrared emission produced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases," as they note that "long-term records of the earth's reflectance will provide crucial input for general circulation climate models, and will significantly increase our ability to assess and predict climate change."

Reviewed 30 January 2008