• Climate;
  • solar activity;
  • solar irradiance;
  • cosmic rays.


An analysis of ground-based observations of solar irradiance was recently published in this journal, reporting an apparent increase of solar irradiance on the ground of the order of 1 % between solar minima and maxima [1]. Since the corresponding variations in total solar irradiance on top of the atmosphere are accurately determined from satellite observations to be of the order of 0.1 % only [2], the one order of magnitude stronger effect in the terrestrial insolation data was interpreted as evidence for cosmic-ray induced aerosol formation in the atmosphere. In my opinion, however, this result does not reflect reality. Using the energy budget of Earth's surface, I show that changes of ground-based insolation with the solar cycle of the order of 1 % between solar minima and maxima would result in large surface air temperature variations which are inconsistent with the instrumental record. It would appear that the strong variations of terrestrial irradiance found by [1] are due to the uncorrected effects of volcanic or local aerosols and seasonal variations. Taking these effects into account, I find a variation of terrestrial insolation with solar activity which is of the same order as the one measured from space, bringing the surface energy budget into agreement with the solar signal detected in temperature data.