For as long as I have been a meteorologist, the mere suggestion that solar activity could influence climate patterns has been greeted with near derision.
Quite why this has been the case is difficult to fathom. But it's been clear for a long time that there must be a link of some kind, ever since decades ago Professor Lamb discovered an empirical relationship between low solar activity and higher pressure across higher latitudes such as Greenland.
Perhaps the art of weather forecasting has become so dominated by supercomputers, and climate research so dominated by the impact of man on global climate, that thoughts of how natural processes, such as solar variation, could influence our climate have been largely overlooked, until very recently.
In fact new research published this week & conducted by the Met Office and Imperial College London, showing how solar variability can help explain cold winters, will come as no surprise to readers of this blog.
Most studies in the past have largely focused on the sun's brightness, but this research has discovered that it's the variation in the sun's Ultra Violet (UV) output that's crucial.
According to the new paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, when UV output is low, colder air than normal forms over the tropics in the stratosphere. This is balanced by a more easterly flow of air over the mid-latitudes. The cold air in the stratosphere then makes its way to the surface - leading to bitterly cold easterly winds across the UK and parts of Europe.
Updated below with MUST READ comments by Piers Corbyn