University of Colorado and NASA Research Center to Study Sun's Effects on Earth's Climate

CU-NASA Research Center to Study Sun’s Effects on Earth’s Climate

Image of sun courtesy of NASA.

The University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., today announced the formation of a new collaborative research center dedicated to the study of the sun’s effect on Earth’s climate.

The center, called the Sun-Climate Research Center, or SCRC, will be co-directed by LASP Research Scientist Peter Pilewskie as well as Robert Cahalan, who heads Goddard’s Climate and Radiation Branch, and Douglas Rabin, head of Goddard’s Solar Physics Laboratory.

“The exciting thing about this collaboration is that we believe it will promote studies to help answer key questions about the climate system, including how Earth’s atmosphere responds to the sun’s variability and how that affects climate,” said Pilewskie, a faculty member in CU-Boulder’s atmospheric and oceanic sciences department. “This question is particularly important now as we seek to quantify the human-induced impact on Earth’s climate.”

Made possible by a Federal Space Act Agreement, SCRC will foster collaboration between Earth-atmosphere and solar sciences at the two institutions. Opportunities will include a scientist exchange program between the organizations and the ability for postdoctoral scientists and graduate students in science, engineering and mission operations to move between LASP and Goddard. The partnership also will include international research symposia on sun-climate interactions.

“In recent years Goddard and LASP have worked together on several Earth and sun missions,” said Cahalan. “Now we look forward to continuing to drive growth in this key interdisciplinary field of sun-Earth research, bringing new focus to the study of multiyear changes in the sun and its influence on Earth’s climate.”

According to the center’s co-directors, the SCRC represents a rare and innovative step that underscores LASP’s ability to take its high-caliber research and program opportunities to a new level with Goddard.

“LASP has developed some remarkable areas of expertise that are key to studying the sun and its effect on climate and on human activities,” said LASP Director Daniel Baker. “By working with our colleagues at Goddard, we can leverage our skills and help take an important step toward greater cooperation between NASA centers and leading university research teams.”

For more information on LASP visit For more information on NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center visit


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What’s the betting that their real aim is to debunk Svensmark’s theory and that they’ll use lots of models to do it? Better than even, I’d say

Tony Hansen

Poor misguided young fools.
We already that it is CO2.
Sol makes no diff.
But maybe….

Interesting. There seems to be a coordinated ‘renewal’ exercise under way. A similar press release is about to come from London:
Looks like CRU and the UEA might be getting the boot finally.

Sam the Skeptic

I can’t help feeling if they had decided to do this 10 years ago they would have saved us all a lot of time, hassle, money, and heartache.
I fear John A may be right, however. But let’s wait and see.


Sun has not effect on Earth’s climate. Only man has. The debate is over. Period.

Scott BL

This is great! So NASA thinks maybe the sun influences the Earth’s climate? NASA has always had the best and brightest. Leave it up to them to come up with an idea like this. An idea that’s so crazy it just might be true.
Seriously, who could have guessed it? The Sun. Climate. Brilliant!

Baa Humbug

This uneducated layman can give these science types a head start with 3 pointers.
1-) The sun is a variable star.
2-) There is MORE to the sun than just TSI
3-) The sun is to the earth as the stove element is to the pot.
There endeth the lesson.

Golf Charley

They will conclude that, rising CO2 in earths atmosphere affects the heat output of the sun, and hence causes gobal warming, probably.

Will they figure out that ENSO is fueled by and ultimately driven by downward shortwave radiation and that the ENSO discharge and the ENSO recharge and redistribution phases represent most of the rise in global temperatures over the 20th century?

Malaga View

…help answer key questions about the climate system … as we seek to quantify the human-induced impact on Earth’s climate.

Sounds like business as usual… perhaps with a twist of lemon… ever been threaten with Boy are you in trouble – just wait until your father gets home! when you were a kid…. so I guess they are moving on to Boy are you in trouble – just wait until the Sun wakes up!

I’ll bet my last dollar that the outcome has already been decided and that this study is just a way to make that outcome appear scientific.

Alexander K

I clicked on the link provided by Tallbloke; I read as far as the name Beddington and an alarm went on to red alert! in my brain; my concentration failed and wouldn’t respond to a reboot. I will have to go back and read the link right through after I have had a quiet luncheon and a lie-down.


Hmm, studying to see if the sun impacts the climate! Ya think?!

Baa Humbug says:
November 30, 2010 at 4:26 am

As there are no relativistic neutrinos, black holes, or trans-dimensional strings in your assertion, it won´t be accepted by “settled science” and you risk to be anathematized.

Grumpy old Man

Both Exeter and Reading have form on CAGW advocacy, and the Met Office record is well-known. Look for the migration of the usual suspects from East Anglia and CRU into the new setup.

R T Barker

QUOTE: “Now we look forward to continuing to drive growth in this key interdisciplinary field of sun-Earth research……….” TRANSLATION: “We just created a new entity to be institutionalized and fed from now and forever with taxpayer dollars.” Let’s hope their research will be objective and useful, not agenda driven.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley

Why do Americans say ‘Center’, and not ‘Centre’, when they are happy saying ‘Tire’ and not ‘Tier’? Just a thought from a Englishman.
[Reply] You say Tomarto I say Tomato


The first thought that comes to mind is “It’s about time!” Honestly, my dog and cat know the sun influences their climate. How hard can this be? Maybe these guys can work out the details.

While they are at it, why not look at the Sun’s effect on the ozone hole. There definitely is some problems with those CFC falsehoods as well.

Stephen Brown

I read the link at tallbloke’s post and found the following gem:-
“.. better, more detailed computer models that will have a positive impact on society.”
Then I gave up. It’s more of the same lunacy, I fear.

Ridiculous. If the sun had any influence, nighttime would be cooler than daytime. Preposterous.


Why does the Sun issue keep coming back into the discussions. It is almost irrelevant. As for water vapour forget it. The main driver of global mean temps is toxic CO2. The debate is over.
I sometimes imagine if we removed the Sun tomorrow would we feel warmer, cooler or just stay about the same? :o)

John Marshall

John A has it right, NASA takes every opportunity to ‘prove’AGW and bin Svensmark’s theory, which I think is excellent and probably correct since it is based on observation of the real world not some model.

Old Goat

Why do Americans say ‘Center’, and not ‘Centre’, when they are happy saying ‘Tire’ and not ‘Tier’? Just a thought from a Englishman
Just as they say “elevator” because they can’t be bothered to say “lift”, and it’s easier to say “transportation” than it is to say “‘bus”, “car”, or “train”……


At this point in time, why would the sun’s effects on the earth’s climate need to be studied? I think this project is just going to look for ways to dismiss and/or diminish the sun’s effects.


Anybody else smell pork?

Malaga View

Department of Propaganda – Climate Science – Unit 1
This is a short assignment that assesses your communication skills.
You have to select one image for a climate science press release regarding the sun.
The image should imply and convey the following messages:
a) the sun is brooding and malevolent.
b) the sun is dark and sinister.
c) the sun is waiting to explode into life.
Now make your image selection from the following:

John Whitman

SCRC will be co-directed by Peter Pilewskie, Robert Cahalan, and Douglas Rabin.
Will they bring a scientific approach or the other approach like we saw with AGW by CO2?


I’m thinking only crazed hippies that’ve gone ballistic are the only ones to stand a chance to actually miss the sun with their “perfectly aimed” trajectory.
I wonder though will the “slightly” challenged people over at NASA now at least be convinced that they maybe ought to wait with their predictions about doom and gloom until they get around to include that easy to miss ginormous burning sphere in the center of our solar system?

Several years ago, while researching some Toronto history, I ran across a headline in the 30 March, 1927 Toronto Telegram that stated such an obvious truth I couldn’t imagine why it was news:
“Sun is Source of Energy”
The article itself involved a scientific lecture concerning the role of the sun on Earth’s climate.
How far we’ve come in 83 years.


>> … including how Earth’s atmosphere responds to the sun’s
>>> variability and how that affects climate
Variability? Ohhh, Lief will not like that… 🙂

Horse and cart story; but which goes first?
O/T: According to the BBC, the UK has just had the lowest recorded average temperatures for 100 years, , and the lowest ever recorded temperature on of -21 degC in Aberdeenshire (-20.3 degC in the winter of 1913 was the previous record). Thank you WUWT for reporting a US forcast of this on Friday 19 Nov, 3 days before the Met Office began to hint at what was to come. The current forcast is for this cold “snap” to continue another 2 weeks. What do you think, Anthony?

Jeff L

I hate to say it, but the politics of climate has made me a cynic & my initial reaction is this is being done with the conclusion already made in the minds of those who proposed this research – that the sun doesn’t influence climate & it’s all about CO2. If that was their conclusion & it was based on real unbiased research, no one will believe it anyway. See, that’s what happens when you corrupt science – nothing is trustworthy anymore.
OTOH, I would love to be proven wrong & see objective & useful research come out of this. Or maybe I should be cynical the other way & this is being used as a “get out of jail free” card, so that climate researchers can distance themselves from their CO2 obsession & avoid public scrutiny as temps plunge over the next several decades as both PDO & AMO are in their cold cycles.
Who knows.

Golf Charley

Does James Hansen have any control over current and historical records of the suns heat output/sunspot activity etc? If so Jim can get any result he wants


The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
November 30, 2010 at 5:13 am
Why do Americans say ‘Center’, and not ‘Centre’, when they are happy saying ‘Tire’ and not ‘Tier’? Just a thought from a Englishman.
[Reply] You say Tomarto I say Tomato
LOL…. er, that would be TYRE………;-)
But we get yer point.


What a novel idea. The sun’s effect on climate? Crazy!

Doug in Seattle

Seems odd that after over 20 years of settled science which “proves” climate is little affected by solar variation, that our research institutes would embark on such a venture. I wonder what Willi Soon has to say about this.
On a completely different tack – I haven’t heard a whole lot out of CERN lately.


The goal of the research is stated in one sentence. “This question is particularly important now as we seek to quantify the human-induced impact on Earth’s climate.”
It looks like the intent is to prove human induced global climate change. Every time they have been proven wrong they simply change the story or name but the outcome is always man induced disaster.

John Marshall says:
November 30, 2010 at 5:36 am (Edit)
John A has it right, NASA takes every opportunity to ‘prove’AGW and bin Svensmark’s theory, which I think is excellent and probably correct since it is based on observation of the real world not some model.

Some support for Svensmark here:

Pamela Gray

This is a political move motivated by dollars. The giver of grants is changing colors, so these folks are gearing up to change their’s. I am not a fan of the idea that small changes in the Sun’s parameters drive changes in our climate. I think our own planet is quite capable of driving these changes.

This is government funded research. Congress votes the funds. Congress has changed and is more inclined to cut AGW research. They may be more inclined to fund research that improves our understanding of the natural variability of climate change. They have a better chance of keeping their jobs. It is what they should have been doing all along.


…….If you are a warmer; and they are by default. The team has been hand picked by someone and you know they didn’t pick any skeptics. Because, the Science is settled you see. So, they will find that the Sun’s influence is ranging from none to insignificant and their cute models will prove it. And if it ain’t the Sun, then it’s CO2.
The Sun’s influence is A Priori. Has anyone proven that it is not the Sun? Leif, I suppose, would say yes, with a tiny fractional difference in TSI between a calm Sun and a Spotty, Angry Sun, does not account for the energy input need to create the historical pertubations in the Climate directly. In AGW view; as long as there is a possibility that the Sun drives Climate (Hi Piers), then Anthony Watts and his motley Crew will always have a raft to float on in a sea of Concensus of the enlightened thousands.


This new Center is merely a battleship to find Watt’s raft and sink it, him, and his crew once and for all. Rear-Admirer Patchy Morals and Commodore Gore will eagerly be waiting for news of Watt’s sinking.


Preconceive Funding….. Business as usual.

jack morrow

Ghost of Big Jim
To paraphrase our great leader here we say that, “Because we won.” Lol.

Stephen Wilde

At least it’s a move in the right direction. With the level of scrutiny that is bound to be applied I don’t see them getting away with anything that perpetuates the past abuses of the scientific method.
I’ve become pretty sure that the observed solar variations affect the size extent and intensity of the polar vortices and the vertical temperature profiles at the poles (and probably globally) so as to alter pressure distribution below the tropopause.
Ozone chemistry in response to changes in the balance of material emitted from the sun appears to be the culprit as suggested by the recent unexpected finding that from 2004 to 2007 ozone quantities increased above 45km when the quiet sun should have caused a reduction matching the changes below 45km.
I think that interesting adjustments to current assumptions are afoot if the 2004 to 2007 data is verified by continuing tends in the same direction and a continuing cessation of stratospheric cooling since the mid 90s with possibly now a warming trend in the stratosphere despite the quieter sun.
This could be an early indication of a realignment in the climate establishment whereby some in senior positions are starting to separate their future work from the earlier consensus whilst still paying lip service to it.

Malaga View

Will says:
November 30, 2010 at 4:58 am
And the truth shall set you free! (from carbon slavery)

Thank you… a really wonderful read…
A top down and bottom up approach that makes a lot of sense to me…

Tom Davidson

There are cycles as short as 24 hours and as long as 100,000 years that are tied to the interaction energy of the earth-sun system. There are also non-cyclic influences such as coronal mass ejections that carry huge amounts of heat by *convection* from the sun to the earth’s magnetic field, which is basically a million mile diameter catcher’s mitt for plasma. Deconvoluting all of these influences will be a Herculean task, given the absence of relevant data before the solar-monitoring satellites were put in place. Given time, though, I am confident that the influence of the sun will be shown to totally overwhelm ‘anthropogenic’ effects.

Layman Lurker

@Bob Tisdale
I think the foundations are already starting to fall into place (via: Guan and Nigam; & Pavlakis et al) for the connection between DLR /ENSO and the distribution of this stored ocean heat over space and time. Just a matter of time. Thank you for your illuminating work in these areas.