Thursday, April 25, 2013

Climate change or what's up with the sun?

'The world is not warming it's cooling'! States one scientist. 'No! It's warming', states another. The questions surrounding who is right or wrong is a current topic for hot debate. Decades earlier, the Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovitch had explained to a skeptical world audience how our world traditionally warms or cools on a roughly 100K year cycle due to the slowly changing position of the earth relative to the sun (see Milankovitch cycles). In 1970, his theory suggested that we should be just getting ready to enter into another so-called Ice Age and that he had data to support it. This announcement made news all across the globe at the time.

Then, other scientists, like Russian climatologist Mikhail Bud, also came out with their own data that suggested just the opposite was happening. That the world was warming due to man made factors like rising CO2 and other potent greenhouse gases. So, the debate has raged on for quite some time, that is until quite recently.

Today, more and more scientists are taking note that the sun seems to acting rather strangely. While we should be hitting the sunspot maximum in the normal 11 year cycle where the sun should be brighter and hotter...that hasn't been the case and it's worrying to some scientists. Last year, it was expected that it would have been 'hotting up' after a prolonged quiet spell. But instead the sun hit a 50-year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity. Now, these same observers are waiting for things to 'return to normal', because if they don't it's possible that we could be entering a pro-longed quiet spell similar to the Maunder Minimum that lasted 70 years in the mid-17th Century. This period of time coincided with the infamous 'mini ice age' that lead to widespread suffering all across the globe.

So which is it to be? What factors are driving the climate to change and which ones are the biggest elephants in the room? While most scientists agree that rising CO2 levels (currently at 398 ppm) will play a role, they still do not often agree what that role will be. There are even those that feel that keeping greenhouse gases relatively high may just save the world from the next ice age by 'toning it down'. Others feel we are all headed for a massive melt down sometime in the next 100 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment