Global Brightening, Global Dimming

The most recent Solar & Heliospheric Observatory image of the sun (ESA/NASA)

The most recent Solar & Heliospheric Observatory image of the sun (ESA/NASA)

We have known since the mid-1980s that “solar radiation at the Earth’s surface is not constant over time, but rather varies considerably over decades”, and that, at least for Europe, the amount of solar radiation decreased considerably between the 1950s and the 1980s. But “it wasn’t until 1998 that the first global study [of solar radiation] was conducted for larger areas, like the continents Africa, Asia, North America and Europe.” The results of that study “showed that on average the surface solar radiation decreased by two percent per decade between the 1950s and 1990.” Subsequent studies have demonstrated, however, that “solar radiation has gradually been increasing again since 1985.”

Now, the American Geophysical Union has released a special edition of the Journal of Geophysical Research focusing on the question of Global Dimming and Brightening. You can see the abstract for one of the primary articles, Global Dimming and Brightening: A Review (and others), but the articles themselves are available only for a $9 fee.

Fortunately, a good summary of the basic thrust of the studies is available from ETH Zurich in their release “Global Dimming and Brightening” – The Role of Solar Radiation in Climate Change , and in a brief Science Daily article entitled The Role of Solar Radiation in Climate Change.

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Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

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