Ben Laurie blathering

Sunspots and Global Warming

The BBC have an article about global warming and sunspots. Guess what? Sunspot count and global temperature are correlated, and have been for the last thousand years, including the Maunder minimum and the Little Ice Age. How does this compare to CO2 correlation? Given the slippery nature of statistics, is that even a meaningful question?

What I really want is Gapminder for global warming, with added statistical analysis…


  1. It all counts. The problem is that we tend to simplify one of the most complicated things in the world – weather. We do not have the science or computer horsepower to adequately model this stuff. That is what we profess on We try to look at all of the data and if you are impartial – you conclude that we can’t make a conclusion yet.

    Comment by Sean O — 16 Apr 2007 @ 4:42

  2. This stuff was also on C4’s program about global wearming which showed the ice core data.

    I guess we can trust the temperature data over the last 1,000 years, but sunspots? Wikipedia:

    “Sunspot numbers rise and fall with an irregular cycle with a length of approximately 11 years. In addition to this, there are variations over longer periods. The recent trend is upward from 1900 to the 1960s, then somewhat downward [2]. The Sun was last similarly active over 8,000 years ago.

    The number of sunspots has been found to correlate with the intensity of solar radiation over the period – since 1979 – when satellite measurements of radiation are available. Since sunspots are dark it might be expected that more sunspots lead to less solar radiation. However, the surrounding areas are brighter and the overall effect is that more sunspots means a brighter sun. The variation is very small (of the order of 0.1%).

    During the Maunder Minimum in the 17th Century there were hardly any sunspots at all. This coincides with a period of cooling known as the Little Ice Age.”

    So, there’s a correlation over the last 400 years, but the effect on radiation ranges over .1%.

    Comment by Ben's Dad — 16 Apr 2007 @ 7:24

  3. HAve you missed these lines in the news. I guess people just read what helps their point of view.

    “This trend is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue.

    The data suggests that changing solar activity is influencing in some way the global climate causing the world to get warmer.

    Over the past 20 years, however, the number of sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of the Earth has continued to increase.

    This is put down to a human-produced greenhouse effect caused by the combustion of fossil fuels. “

    Comment by Bajwa — 16 Apr 2007 @ 15:11

  4. A good in-depth analysis of this very topic:

    Comment by djm — 19 Apr 2007 @ 2:20

  5. “Guess what? Sunspot count and global temperature are correlated”

    yes – amazing graph. You should have a look. We were given this data, but if you check the websites shown you can download the latest. Data and spreadsheet with sources (if still there):

    Comment by Graphs — 23 Apr 2007 @ 13:22

  6. less than .1% of the atmosphere is Co2. Co2 does NOT effect the atmosphere.

    Comment by I know. You're wrong. — 19 Mar 2008 @ 19:23

  7. Yeah, global warming is a scam to get people to pay people to prove nothing. People will do anything for money.

    I was watching this show about global warming the other day on the science channel, It was talking about ice core samples were tooken untill the time period of when temperatures were documented in the late 1800s. Way to go change a variable that should remain constant for accurate recordings. IMO, They should have done ice core samples all the way through to present day, instead of stopping at 1890 and using actual temperature recordings from then.

    Comment by its a scam! — 23 Apr 2008 @ 2:56

  8. The scary thing is that currently sun spot activity is down…..causing not global warming….but another ice age may be on the way.

    Comment by Rick — 30 Apr 2008 @ 16:46

  9. Mmmmm… June 9th and still no sunspots…

    How arrogant people are to think that we are important.

    Mother nature sorry, please don’t freeze/starve us!

    Comment by simon — 9 Jun 2008 @ 13:53

  10. > So, there’s a correlation over the last 400 years, but the effect on radiation ranges over .1%.

    Doesn’t this strike anyone as being rather bizarre? It’s like this:

    Image you have a pot of water. Underneath it you have a Bunsen burner going and also a single lit match. For 300 years you keep the Bunsen burner going constant. But the temperature of the water swings wildly up and down. Bizarre thing is that it goes way up ever time you bring in the lit match and it goes down every time you take it away. Then in the last 100 years you still find that as you bring in the match, the water heats up like you observed for the first 300 years. But you have also increased the Bunsen burner. Suddenly you say that the match explains none of the increase and that the Bunsen burner explains it all. Apparently something more is going on than changes in radiation ranges can explain.

    Comment by John Hunt — 17 Aug 2008 @ 15:02

  11. One is suspicious of proposals that the CO2 levels are the principle cause of global warming in part by the evangelistic attitude of many of the proponents of the idea. In a BBC documentary on a reasearch experiment which, it was thought, would prove that the receding areas of ice would release such quantities of methane into the atmosphere as to accelerate global warming disastrously.

    When the experiment failed to produce any such proof, one might have expected relief and joy from the researchers, after all the world was not about to be destroyed. Instead they were really downhearted and dissappointed.

    Strange really.

    Comment by Richard Stead — 23 Aug 2008 @ 17:51

  12. Over the past 20 years, however, the number of sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of the Earth has continued to increase.

    This is put down to a human-produced greenhouse effect caused by the combustion of fossil fuels. “

    Comment by Bajwa — 16 Apr 2007 @ 15:11

    Comment by Rob.

    The sunspots have though been constantly high, the highest in over 1150 years. The largest heat sink on the planet are the oceans, they cover about 75% of the globe.
    Just think about it, 20 years of steady high energy output from the sun (the highest in over 1100 years) warming the oceans, is it any wonder that the global temps have carried on rising as some of this heat retained in the oceans has been released, you don`t need a rising heat source to achieve rising air temps.
    The thing is the sun has been dormant for about the last 2 years (no sun spots), the oceans are now cooling as you would expect and so are the air temps, good correlation here, its the sun. CO2 is though still rising, NO correlation there, the ice cores show temperature is the driver NOT CO2.

    Comment by Rob — 5 Nov 2008 @ 17:49

  13. I read as much as I can on the subject of global warming. There does not seem to be enough evidence to support this position. The earth has had many periods of ice ages and warming periods and humans contributed very little to these situations. If history has any proof then
    the volcano explosion that produced 1000 times the pollution that mankind has put out from the beginning seems to put LIE in front of global warming as caused by mankind. I am a Chemical Engineer and have worked thirty years in the environmental area. The Ice ages were caused by something happening to the Sun. I would say that it is decided by GOD not some human that was given a Nobel Pease Prize by some other humans. I believe that global warming is a hoax to make people socialist and take away their rights as free men and women.

    Comment by Mel Walker — 5 Jan 2009 @ 18:54

  14. I live in the Middle east( Dubai ) and the trend has been cooler summers .
    This year we have had 2 or 3 extended rain periods and 100mm snow on the mountains in the North for the 2nd time in history and the 2nd time in 3 years!!!
    It is cooler now than normal and it is not a coincidence.
    Fossil fuels have contributed over the last 250 years but so have volcanoes.

    I firmly believe that if the sunspots do not return soon and the earth keeps cooling the thermometer will swing violently towards a colder Millenium.

    Comment by Rob — 15 Apr 2009 @ 8:37

  15. I am not taking this enhanced greenhouse effect. If the greenhouse gases contribute to less than 1% (of which 99% is water vapour) of the atmosphere, the CO2 levels can’t possibly be a dangerous level. The ice cores that have been taken prove that CO2 does not make the temperature rise. Margaret Thatcher has a lot to answer for! The changes in the sun-spots however, do! Let’s hope we can be prepared for a big freeze.

    Comment by Kelly — 5 Oct 2009 @ 16:41

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