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Solar variation theory
Solar variantion theory is one attempt to explain the theory of global warming. Various hypotheses have been proposed to link terrestrial temperature variations to solar variations. The meteorological community has responded with skepticism, in part because theories of this nature have come and gone over the course of the 20th century . The solar variations theory also has counter evidence in the form of measured global dimming which shows that the intensity of sunlight at the Earth's surface actually fell since the 1950's. To reconcile theories of an increase in solar radiation with the measurements would require other changes either in the spectrum of the sun (which has not been observed) or in the absorption profile of the atmosphere, which would probably imply some kind of climate change.
Sami Solanki , the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany said:
- The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures... the brighter sun and higher levels of so-called "greenhouse gases" both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature, but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact. 
Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard Observatory correlated historical sunspot counts with temperature proxies. They report that when there are fewer sunspots, the earth cooled (see Maunder Minimum, Little Ice Age) — and that when there are more sunspots the earth warmed (see Medieval Warm Period, though since sunspot numbers were only counted from 1700 the link to the MWP warmth is speculative).
The theories have usually represented one of three types:
- Solar irradiance changes directly affecting the climate. This is generally considered unlikely, as the variations seem to be too small.
- Variations in the ultraviolet component having an effect. The UV component varies by more than the total.
- Effects mediated by changes in cosmic rays (which are affected by the solar wind, which is affected by the solar output) such as changes in cloud cover.
Although correlations often can be found, the mechanism behind these correlations is a matter of speculation. Many of these speculative accounts have fared badly over time, and in a paper "Solar activity and terrestrial climate: an analysis of some purported correlations" (J. Atmos. and Solar-Terr. Phy., 2003 p801–812) Peter Laut demonstrates problems with some of the most popular, notably those by Svensmark and by Lassen (below). Damon and Laut report in Eos  that the apparent strong correlations displayed on these graphs have been obtained by incorrect handling of the physical data. The graphs are still widely referred to in the literature,and their misleading character has not yet been generally recognized.
In 1991, Knud Lassen of the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen and his colleague Eigil Friis-Christensen found a strong correlation between the length of the solar cycle and temperature changes throughout the northern hemisphere. Initially, they used sunspot and temperature measurements from 1861 to 1989, but later found that climate records dating back four centuries supported their findings. This relationship appeared to account for nearly 80 per cent of the measured temperature changes over this period (see graph). Damon and Laut, however, show that when the graphs are corrected for filtering errors, the sensational agreement with the recent global warming, which drew worldwide attention, has totally disappeared. Nevertheless,the authors and other researchers keep presenting the old misleading graph . Note that the prior link to "graph" is one such example of this.
Sallie Baliunas, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has been among the supporters of the theory that changes in the sun "can account for major climate changes on Earth for the past 300 years, including part of the recent surge of global warming." 
On May 6, 2000, however, New Scientist magazine reported that Lassen and astrophysicist Peter Thejll had updated Lassen's 1991 research and found that while the solar cycle still accounts for about half the temperature rise since 1900, it fails to explain a rise of 0.4 °C since 1980. "The curves diverge after 1980," Thejll said, "and it's a startlingly large deviation. Something else is acting on the climate.... It has the fingerprints of the greenhouse effect."
Later that same year, Peter Stott and other researchers at the Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom published a paper in which they reported on the most comprehensive model simulations to date of the climate of the 20th century. Their study looked at both "natural forcing agents" (solar variations and volcanic emissions) as well as "anthropogenic forcing" (greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols). They found that "solar effects may have contributed significantly to the warming in the first half of the century although this result is dependent on the reconstruction of total solar irradiance that is used. In the latter half of the century, we find that anthropogenic increases in greenhouses gases are largely responsible for the observed warming, balanced by some cooling due to anthropogenic sulphate aerosols, with no evidence for significant solar effects." Stott's team found that combining all of these factors enabled them to closely simulate global temperature changes throughout the 20th century. They predicted that continued greenhouse gas emissions would cause additional future temperature increases "at a rate similar to that observed in recent decades". It should be noted that their solar forcing included "spectrally-resolved changes in solar irradiance" and not the indirect effects mediated through cosmic rays for which there is still no accepted mechanism — these ideas are still being fleshed out.Cosmic Rays, Clouds, and Climate, K. S. Carslaw, R. G. Harrison, and J. Kirkby Science Nov 29 2002: 1732-1737 and those articles citing it In addition, the study notes "uncertainties in historical forcing" — in other words, past natural forcing may still be having a delayed warming effect, most likely due to the oceans. A graphical representation of the relationship between natural and anthropogenic factors contributing to climate change appears in "Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis", a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 
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