Top-down solar modulation of climate: evidence for centennial-scale change
Lockwood, M., Bell, C., Woollings, T., Harrison, R. G., Gray, L. J. and Haigh, J. D. (2010) Top-down solar modulation of climate: evidence for centennial-scale change. Environmental Research Letters, 5 (3). 034008. ISSN 1748-9326
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/3/034008
During the descent into the recent ‘exceptionally’ low solar minimum, observations have revealed a larger change in solar UV emissions than seen at the same phase of previous solar cycles. This is particularly true at wavelengths responsible for stratospheric ozone production and heating. This implies that ‘top-down’ solar modulation could be a larger factor in long-term tropospheric change than previously believed, many climate models allowing only for the ‘bottom-up’ effect of the less-variable visible and infrared solar emissions. We present evidence for long-term drift in solar UV irradiance, which is not found in its commonly used proxies. In addition, we find that both stratospheric and tropospheric winds and temperatures show stronger regional variations with those solar indices that do show long-term trends. A top-down climate effect that shows long-term drift (and may also be out of phase with the bottom-up solar forcing) would change the spatial response patterns and would mean that climate-chemistry models that have sufficient resolution in the stratosphere would become very important for making accurate regional/seasonal climate predictions. Our results also provide a potential explanation of persistent palaeoclimate results showing solar influence on regional or local climate indicators.