Skeptics of manmade global warming have found further support in research linking solar output with the planet Neptune's brightness and temperatures on Earth. The findings appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters. The authors of the article, H.B. Hammel and G.W. Lockwood from the Space Science Institute in Colorado and the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, note that measurements of visible light from Neptune have been taken at the Observatory since 1950. Those measurements indicate that Neptune has been getting brighter since around 1980. And infrared measurements of the planet since 1980 show that Neptune has been warming steadily as well.
The researchers plotted on a graph the changes in visible light from Neptune over the past half-century, changes in temperatures on Earth during that period, and changes in total solar irradiance. The results: The correlation between solar irradiance and Neptune's brightness was nearly perfect; so was the correlation between changes on Earth and solar output, according to a report on the research appearing on World Climate Report, a climate change blog.
"When the sun is more energetic and putting out more energy, the Earth tends to warm up, and when the sun cools down, so does the Earth," World Climate Report notes. "The Hammel and Lockwood article reveals that the same is true out at Neptune - when the sun's energy increases, Neptune seems to warm up and get brighter . . .
"How is it possible that the Earth's temperature is so highly correlated with brightness variations from Neptune? The news from Neptune comes to us just weeks after an article was published showing that Mars has warmed recently as well. "If nothing else, we have certainly learned recently that planets undergo changes in their mean temperature, and while we can easily blame human activity here on the Earth, blaming humans for the recent warming on Mars and Neptune would be an astronomical stretch, to say the least."
Journal abstract follows:
Suggestive correlations between the brightness of Neptune, solar variability, and Earth's temperature
H. B. Hammel & G. W. Lockwood
Long-term photometric measurements of Neptune show variations of brightness over half a century. Seasonal change in Neptune's atmosphere may partially explain a general rise in the long-term light curve, but cannot explain its detailed variations. This leads us to consider the possibility of solar-driven changes, i.e., changes incurred by innate solar variability perhaps coupled with changing seasonal insolation. Although correlations between Neptune's brightness and Earth's temperature anomaly-and between Neptune and two models of solar variability-are visually compelling, at this time they are not statistically significant due to the limited degrees of freedom of the various time series. Nevertheless, the striking similarity of the temporal patterns of variation should not be ignored simply because of low formal statistical significance. If changing brightnesses and temperatures of two different planets are correlated, then some planetary climate changes may be due to variations in the solar system environment.
(From: GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, L08203, doi:10.1029/2006GL028764, 2007)
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