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More Evidence for a Solar-Climate Link
Reference
Lockwood, M., Stamper, R. and Wild, M.N. 1999. A doubling of the Sun's coronal magnetic field during the past 100 years. Nature 399: 437-439.

What was done
The authors examined measurements of near-earth interplanetary magnetic field to determine the total magnetic flux leaving the sun since 1868.

What was learned
Based upon measurements of the near-earth interplanetary magnetic field, the authors were able to show that the total magnetic flux leaving the sun has risen by a factor of 1.41 over the period 1964-1996. Surrogate measurements of the interplanetary magnetic field previous to this time indicate that this parameter has increased by a factor of 2.3 since 1901

What it means
Recent studies have linked changes in solar magnetic activity with terrestrial climate change, leading the authors to state that "the variation [in the total solar magnetic flux] found here stresses the importance of understanding the connections between the sun's output and its magnetic field and between terrestrial global cloud cover, cosmic ray fluxes and the heliospheric field." Indeed, the results of this study lead us to wonder just how much of the reported 0.6C global temperature rise of the last century might be a result of the more than two-fold increase in the total magnetic solar flux over that period. We may now, at long last, be moving closer than ever in our effort to understand the importance of the sun in driving 20th century climate change


Reviewed 15 July 1999