Shortwave forcing of the Earth's climate: Modern and historical variations in the Sun's irradiance and the Earth's reflectance

P. R. Goode, E. Pallé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Changes in the Earth's radiation budget are driven by changes in the balance between the thermal emission from the top of the atmosphere and the net sunlight absorbed. The shortwave radiation entering the climate system depends on the Sun's irradiance and the Earth's reflectance. Often, studies replace the net sunlight by proxy measures of solar irradiance, which is an oversimplification used in efforts to probe the Sun's role in past climate change. With new helioseismic data and new measures of the Earth's reflectance, we can usefully separate and constrain the relative roles of the net sunlight's two components, while probing the degree of their linkage. First, this is possible because helioseismic data provide the most precise measure ever of the solar cycle, which ultimately yields more profound physical limits on past irradiance variations. Since irradiance variations are apparently minimal, changes in the Earth's climate that seem to be associated with changes in the level of solar activity-the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice age for example-would then seem to be due to terrestrial responses to more subtle changes in the Sun's spectrum of radiative output. This leads naturally to a linkage with terrestrial reflectance, the second component of the net sunlight, as the carrier of the terrestrial amplification of the Sun's varying output. Much progress has also been made in determining this difficult to measure, and not-so-well-known quantity. We review our understanding of these two closely linked, fundamental drivers of climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1556-1568
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Volume69
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • Albedo
  • Climate
  • Earthshine
  • Solar irradiance

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