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The Omnipresent Eleven-Year Solar Cycle in Tropospheric Temperature Data
Coughlin, K. and Tung, K.K.  2004.  Eleven-year solar cycle signal throughout the lower atmosphere.  Journal of Geophysical Research 109: 10.1029/2004JD004873.

What was done
Using a nonlinear non-stationary time series technique called empirical mode decomposition, the authors analyzed monthly mean geopotential heights and temperatures (Kalnay et al., 1996) from 1000 hPa to 10 hPa over the period January 1958 to December 2003.

What was learned
Coughlin and Tung's work reveals the existence of five oscillations and a trend in both data sets.  The fourth of these oscillations has an average period of eleven years and indicates enhanced warming during times of maximum solar radiation.  As they describe it, "the solar flux is positively correlated with the fourth modes in temperature and geopotential height almost everywhere ? the overwhelming picture is that of a positive correlation between the solar flux and this mode throughout the troposphere."

What it means
North to south, east to west, top to bottom, the authors conclude that "the atmosphere warms during the solar maximum almost everywhere over the globe."  The unfailing omnipresent impact of this small forcing (a 0.1% change in the total energy output of the sun from cycle minimum to maximum) suggests that any longer-period oscillations of the solar inferno could well be causing the even greater centennial- and millennial-scale oscillations of temperature that are observed in paleotemperature data from various places around the world [see Solar Effects (Centennial-Scale Cycles and Millennial-Scale Cycles) in our Subject Index].

Kalnay, E. et al.  1996.  The NCEP/NCAR reanalysis 40-year project.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 77: 437-471.

Reviewed 15 December 2004