Solar influences on climate - Grantham Briefing Paper 5

Topics: Earth systems science
Type: Briefing paper
Publication date: March 2011



Author: Professor Joanna Haigh

Sun setting The Sun provides the energy that drives the Earth's climate system system. Variations in the composition and intensity of incident solar radiation hitting the Earth may produce changes in global and regional climate which are both different and additional to those from man-made climate change. In the current epoch, solar variation impacts on regional climate appear to be quite significant in, for example, Europe in winter, but on a global scale are likely to be much smaller than those due to increasing greenhouse gases.

This briefing paper examines the main sources of variation in solar radiation, how these changes affect the Earth's climate and the contribution of the Sun on global warming in the past and future.


  • Introduction
  • The inconstant sun
  • Solar influence on surface climate
  • Solar signals throughout the atmosphere
  • The Sun, cosmic rays and clouds
  • Research agenda
  • Conclusion

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