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Abstract

How—indeed whether—the Sun's variable energy outputs influence Earth's climate has engaged scientific curiosity for more than a century. Early evidence accrued from correlations of assorted solar and climate indices, and from recognition that cycles near 11, 88 and 205 years are common in both the Sun and climate.1, 2 But until recently, an influence of solar variability on climate, whether through cycles or trends, was usually dismissed because climate simulations with (primarily) simple energy balance models indicated that responses to the decadal solar cycle would be so small as to be undetectable in observations.3 However, in the past decade modeling studies have found both resonant responses and positive feedbacks in the ocean-atmosphere system that may amplify the response to solar irradiance variations.4, 5 Today, solar cycles and trends are recognized as important components of natural climate variability on decadal to centennial time scales. Understanding solar-terrestrial linkages is requisite for the comprehensive understanding of Earth's evolving environment. The attribution of present-day climate change, interpretation of changes prior to the industrial epoch, and forecast of future decadal climate change necessitate quantitative understanding of how, when, where, and why natural variability, including by the Sun, may exceed, obscure or mitigate anthropogenic changes. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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