Global Warming: Natural Causes #5
I wanted to write about this report on Global Warming when I read about it last Friday, however my time to write was severely curtailed over the weekend. Family comes first!
Canada.com Financial Post has a piece on the impact that alignment of the major planets in our solar system may have on the Earth's climate. According to Rhodes Fairbridge of Columbia University, when the planets Jupiter and Saturn are closely aligned in their orbits, they shift the solar system's center of gravity, and this has an influence on solar behavior. From Canada.com:
Changes in sunspots and other solar activity, scientists have realized for more than two centuries, correlate closely with the climate of Earth, explaining the ice ages and periods of great warming. But what, Dr. Fairbridge wondered, causes these changes in our sun?
The answer, he discovered with the help of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lies largely in the solar system's centre of gravity. At times, the sun is at the solar system's centre of gravity. Most often, this is not the case-- the orbit of the planets will align planets to one side or another of the sun. Jupiter, the planet with by far the largest mass, most influences the solar system's centre of gravity. When Uranus, Neptune and especially Saturn -- the next largest planet -- join Jupiter on one side of the solar system, the solar system's centre of gravity shifts well beyond the sun.
The sun's own orbit, he found, has eight characteristic patterns, all determined by Jupiter's position relative to Saturn, with the other planets playing much lesser roles. Some of these eight have orderly orbits, smooth and near-circular. During such orbits, solar activity is high and Earth heats up. Some of the eight orbits are chaotic, taking a loop-the-loop path. These orbits correspond to quiet times for the sun, and cool periods on Earth. Every 179 years or so, the sun embarks on a new cycle of orbits. One of the cooler periods in recent centuries was the Little Ice Age of the 17th century, when the Thames River in London froze over each winter. The next cool period, if the pattern holds, began in 1996, with the effects to be felt starting in 2010. Some predict three decades of severe cold.
This is interesting as I was unaware that such variations in the solar cycle existed. Shifting the gravitational center of the system in respect to the sun would be a lot like the influence that the Moon has on the Earth's tides, only instead of the Earth's tides it influences solar activity.
How much the gravitational effect that the various planets have on solar activity remains to be seen. It does indicate yet one more factor that the Al Gores of the world neglected to account for in their claims that global warming is caused by CO2 emissions. How many more variables unaccounted for remain is unknown and we may never learn all of the factors that influence the Earth's ever-changing climate.
The universe is a complex system. Perhaps that is why there are number of papers by solar scientists indicating cosmic influences on the Earth's climate are on the rise.