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Another Freezing Cold Winter Forecast, Sun’s Ultraviolet Activity to Blame

Posted on the 10 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Another freezing cold winter forecast, sun’s ultraviolet activity to blame

More snow on the way? Photo credit: Jose Miguel Calatayud

Last month, James Madden, quoted in the Daily Mail, was already warning us to expect “heavy snowfalls as early as October or November.” Now, research published in Nature Geoscience Journal has shown that the uncomfortably cold winters we’ve felt over the last few years have been, in part, due to the Sun’s varying ultraviolet (UV) emissions, and the weather this year is likely to follow suit.

Blame the Sun. The research, spearheaded by the UK Met Office, shows that changes in UV output from the Sun can have great impacts on the earth’s climate. This link has been observed before, but has only now been confirmed: “Our research confirms the observed link between solar variability and regional winter climate”, Sarah Ineson, lead author of the paper, told Reuters. The Sun has a regular 11-year cycle, and is currently going through a “quiet phase.” “UV is absorbed in the stratosphere, the upper atmosphere, by ozone. So in the quiet bit of the solar cycle, when there is less UV to absorb, the stratosphere is relatively cooler,” the BBC reported. This has repercussions for the whole atmospheric system, with the overall change being reduced West-East airflow.

Move to Canada. Changes in wind-flow caused by solar activity mean that global temperature is not altered, but just redistributed. Colder air in the UK and northern Europe, while warmer temperatures prevail in more Southern regions, such as around the Mediterranean Sea and further North in Canada and Greenland. “It’s a jigsaw puzzle, and when you average it up over the globe, there is no effect on global temperatures”, Adam Scaife told the BBC. The researchers hope that this new data, derived from NASA’s Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment satellite, may allow for better long-term weather predicting: “You’ll never be able to predict the precise temperature of the third week in January or whatever, but you might be able to say ‘this winter is more likely to be warm’ or ‘more likely to be cold’ with more accuracy.” Assuming this research is proved right, it looks likely that this winter is more likely to be cold here in the UK.

Sun not the only factor. The researchers have been keen to stress that the sun is not the only factor determining how hot or cold it gets. Imperial College reported that Professor Joanna Haigh warned, “compared with the effect of man-made emissions over the last century, solar variations still have a very minor effect on long-term global climate trends.”

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