The Climategate crowd successfully worked to obscure the connection between solar activity and climate. The leaked CRU e-mails reveal how.
In 2003, two Harvard-Smithsonian Professors, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, published a peer-reviewed paper in the scientific journal Climate Research which identified solar activity as a major influence on Earth's climate. This paper also concluded that the twentieth century was not the warmest, nor was it the century with the most extreme weather over the past thousand years. These two scientists reviewed more than two hundred sources of data. The paper specifically examined climate variations observed to coincide with solar variations. One of the more notable correlations cited in this paper is the well-documented coincidence of the Little Ice Age and a solar quiet period, known as the Maunder Minimum, from A.D. 1300 to A.D. 1900. Soon and Baliunas asserted that the lack of solar activity resulted in cooler temperatures across the globe. The evidence they compiled also indicated that as the sun became more active global temperatures began to rise and the Little Ice Age ended.
In the past, the issue of the solar connection has always fallen down on one question; what is it about sunspots that cause a change in the climate? Soon and Baliunas identified the physical connection as solar wind, which varies on an eleven-year cycle similar to sunspots'. The solar wind is made up of high-energy particulate radiation and when strong enough, it has a visible effect upon the atmosphere in the form of auroral displays in the polar regions (e.g., the Northern Lights). Some instances of solar wind were so powerful that the aurora was seen even in lower latitude, as happened during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia during the War Between the States (Civil War). Both armies were so distracted by the intensity of the display that the battle actually paused as the soldiers, North and South, watched in awe.
With such convincing evidence, the Soon and Baliunas paper became the target of a great deal of criticism from the gang led by the now-discredited Dr. Jones of the Climate ResearchUnit (CRU) at East Anglia University in Britain. The recently uncovered e-mails from him and his collaborators show an orchestrated effort to discredit the work of these two scholars.
What is also notable is that Soon's and Baliunas's references were the very same data that the Jones Gang had reviewed and suppressed. The data in question is known as proxy data. Proxy data is data compiled from tree rings, sediments, and ice cores, as well as other indirectly measured estimates of temperature. Correlating an accurate timeline for these data sets across the globe is supremely difficult, but these proxy data sources were beginning to indicate a cycle or signal which might expedite the process. This signal was thought by some in the Jones Gang to be a solar cycle.
The discussion of solar influences is brought up in an e-mail from Dr. Daly, dated 9 August 1996. Dr. Daly uncovered an eleven-year signal in the temperature data set from the island of Tasmania. He found this signal by using a mathematical signal analysis formula known as a Fourier Transform. It is clear from the tone of his e-mail that he knows this is not welcome news, but he goes on to state the following concerning the temperature data set compiled by the Jones Gang:
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