What have we done to anger the Sun God? Helios is getting hotter every decade.
Since the late 1970s, the amount of solar radiation the sun emits, during times of quiet sunspot activity, has increased by nearly .05 percent per decade, according to a NASA funded study.
"This trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change," said Richard Willson, a researcher affiliated with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University's Earth Institute, New York. He is the lead author of the study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters.
"Historical records of solar activity indicate that solar radiation has been increasing since the late 19th century. If a trend, comparable to the one found in this study, persisted throughout the 20th century, it would have provided a significant component of the global warming the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports to have occurred over the past 100 years," he said.
NASA's Earth Science Enterprise funded this research as part of its mission to understand and protect our home planet by studying the primary causes of climate variability, including trends in solar radiation that may be a factor in global climate change.
The solar cycle occurs approximately every 11 years when the sun undergoes a period of increased magnetic and sunspot activity called the "solar maximum," followed by a quiet period called the "solar minimum."
Although the inferred increase of solar irradiance in 24 years, about 0.1 percent, is not enough to cause notable climate change, the trend would be important if maintained for a century or more. Satellite observations of total solar irradiance have obtained a long enough record (over 24 years) to begin looking for this effect.
Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) is the radiant energy received by the Earth from the sun, over all wavelengths, outside the atmosphere. TSI interaction with the Earth's atmosphere,oceans and landmasses is the biggest factor determining our climate. To put it into perspective, decreases in TSI of 0.2 percent occur during the weeklong passage of large sunspot groups across our side of the sun. These changes are relatively insignificant compared to the sun's total output of energy, yet equivalent to all the energy that mankind uses in a year. According to Willson, small variations, like the one found in this study, if sustained over many decades, could have significant climate effects.
Perhaps we have gradually been angering the god Helios (a.k.a. Sol Invictus, Mithra, Ra, Dazhbog, and assorted other names for Sun and Light gods. Perhaps Helios is getting hotter under the collar as his anger builds.
Of course our prehistoric ancestors might intentionally have set out to do something that would gradually increase anger of Helios and to make him hot under the proverbial collar because they were freezing their buns in the Ice Age. Helios, being a God, may not react in the same time frame in which ephemeral mortals respond.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2003 March 21 04:16 PM Dangers Natural General|