Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Evidence for sun-climate reported by UMaine scientists


A team led by University of Maine scientists has reported finding a potential link between changes in solar activity and the Earth’s climate. In a paper due to be published in an upcoming volume of the Annals of Glaciology, Paul Mayewski, director of UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, and 11 colleagues from China, Australia and UMaine describe evidence from ice cores pointing to an association between the waxing and waning of zonal wind strength around Antarctica and a chemical signal of changes in the sun’s output.

At the heart of the paper, Solar Forcing of the Polar Atmosphere, are calcium, nitrate and sodium data from ice cores collected in four Antarctic locations and comparisons of those data to South Pole ice core isotope data for beryllium-10, an indicator of solar activity. The authors also point to data from Greenland and the Canadian Yukon that suggest similar relationships between solar activity and the atmosphere in the northern hemisphere. They focus on years since 1400 when the Earth entered a roughly 500-year period known as the Little Ice Age.

The researchers’ goal is to understand what drives the Earth’s climate system without taking increases in greenhouse gases into account, says Mayewski. "There are good reasons to be concerned about greenhouse gases, but we should be looking at the climate system with our eyes open," he adds. Understanding how the system operates in the absence of human impacts is important for responding to climate changes that might occur in the future.

Mayewski founded the International Transantarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) and is the co-author of The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change, published in 2002 with Frank White. The United States’ ITASE office is located at UMaine. Antarctic locations used in the paper include: Law Dome, a 4,576-foot high ice mound located about 68 miles from the coast facing the Indian Ocean and the site of an Australian research station; Siple Dome, a 2,000-foot high ice covered mound located between two ice streams that flow out of the Transantarctic Mountains into the Ross ice shelf, and the site of a U.S. research station; and two ITASE field sites west of Siple Dome where ice cores were collected during field surveys in 2000 and 2001.

The authors are Mayewski, Kirk A. Maasch, Eric Meyerson, Sharon Sneed, Susan Kaspari, Daniel Dixon, and Erich Osterberg, all from UMaine; Yping Yan of the China Meterological Association; Shichang Kang of UMaine and the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Vin Morgan, Tas van Ommen and Mark Curran of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC in Tasmania.

Since at least the 1840s when sunspot cycles were discovered, scientists have proposed that solar variability could affect the climate, but direct evidence of that relationship and understanding of a mechanism have been lacking.

The ice core data show, the authors write, that when solar radiation increases, more calcium is deposited at Siple Dome and at one of the ITASE field sites. The additional calcium may reflect an increase in wind strength in mid-latitude regions around Antarctica, they add, especially over the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Calcium in West Antarctic ice cores is thought to derive mainly from dust in Australia, Africa and South America and from sea salt in the southern ocean.

That finding, they note, is consistent with other research suggesting that the sun may affect the strength of those mid-latitude winds through changes in stratospheric ozone over Antarctica.

The authors also refer to sodium data from Siple Dome ice cores that have been reported by Karl Kreutz, director of UMaine’s stable isotope laboratory. Changes in sodium appear to be associated with air pressure changes over the South Pacific.

Ice core data from Law Dome focus on changes in nitrate and may reflect changing wind patterns over Antarctica. The wind currents that bring nitrate to the continent, however, are less well known than those that carry sodium and calcium.

Researchers in the UMaine Climate Change Institute ( have focused on the relationship between solar variability and climate, particularly the use of isotopes in tree rings and ice cores to provide an indication of the sun’s strength. The ice core data reported in the paper demonstrates a direct atmospheric consequence associated with changing solar radiation.

Paul Mayewski | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>