Earth's Sun Impacts Our Climate More During 'Cool' Periods

First Posted: Feb 27, 2015 10:21 AM EST

It turns out that the sun has more impact on our climate during "cool" periods. Scientists have long debated how the activity of the sun might influence climate and now they've found that its impact is not constant over time.

Researchers have long discussed whether variations in the strength of the sun have played a role in triggering climate change in the past. More research results, though, indicate that solar activity has an impact on how the climate varies over time.

In this latest study, the researchers looked at sea surface temperatures in summer in the northern part of the North Atlantic during the last 9,300 years. Direct measurements of the temperature, though, are only found in the last 140 years. That's why they examined diatoms found in sediments to reconstruct sea surface temperature.

"We know the sun is very important for our climate, but the impact is not clear," said Marit-Solveig Sedenkrantz, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Climate change appears to be either strengthened or weakened by solar activity. The extent of the sun's influence over time is thus not constant, but we can now conclude that the climate system is more receptive to the impact of the sun during cold periods-at least in the North Atlantic region."

The researchers found that the sun has a greater impact during cooler periods. While this new knowledge is small, it's important in regards to the overall picture of understanding how the entire climate system works.

The findings are published in the journal Geology.

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