Fluctuations in ultraviolet light can set up frigid, snowy conditions
Harsh winters in the United States and northern Europe may partly be the result of changes in ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun.
A new climate simulation study shows how fluctuations in ultraviolet light linked to the sun’s 11-year activity cycle could change winter weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere. The work appears online October 9 in Nature Geoscience.
“We hope this will open the door to improving ultralong-range predictions,” says co-author Adam Scaife, a climate modeler at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre in Exeter, England.
Scientists have long noted anecdotal links between low solar activity and cold European winters: Part of the Little Ice Age, which gripped the region between about 1550 and 1850, coincided with a record low number of sunspots, which are one measure of solar activity. But until now, Scaife says, no one had found a physical explanation for how subtle changes in radiation hitti