A new approach to the long-term reconstruction of the solar irradiance leads to large historical solar forcing⋆
Physikalisch-Meteorologishes Observatorium Davos, World Radiation Center, 7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
2 Institute for Atmospheric and Climate science ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
3 Institute for Astronomy ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
Received: 19 November 2010
Accepted: 22 February 2011
Context. The variable Sun is the most likely candidate for the natural forcing of past climate changes on time scales of 50 to 1000 years. Evidence for this understanding is that the terrestrial climate correlates positively with the solar activity. During the past 10 000 years, the Sun has experienced the substantial variations in activity and there have been numerous attempts to reconstruct solar irradiance. While there is general agreement on how solar forcing varied during the last several hundred years – all reconstructions are proportional to the solar activity – there is scientific controversy on the magnitude of solar forcing.
Aims. We present a reconstruction of the total and spectral solar irradiance covering 130 nm–10 μm from 1610 to the present with an annual resolution and for the Holocene with a 22-year resolution.
Methods. We assume that the minimum state of the quiet Sun in time corresponds to the observed quietest area on the present Sun. Then we use available long-term proxies of the solar activity, which are 10Be isotope concentrations in ice cores and 22-year smoothed neutron monitor data, to interpolate between the present quiet Sun and the minimum state of the quiet Sun. This determines the long-term trend in the solar variability, which is then superposed with the 11-year activity cycle calculated from the sunspot number. The time-dependent solar spectral irradiance from about 7000 BC to the present is then derived using a state-of-the-art radiation code.
Results. We derive a total and spectral solar irradiance that was substantially lower during the Maunder minimum than the one observed today. The difference is remarkably larger than other estimations published in the recent literature. The magnitude of the solar UV variability, which indirectly affects the climate, is also found to exceed previous estimates.We discuss in detail the assumptions that lead us to this conclusion.
Key words: solar-terrestrial relations / Sun: UV radiation / Sun: atmosphere / radiative transfer / line: formation / Sun: surface magnetism
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© ESO, 2011