Solar Variability and Climate – Prof. Joanna D. Haigh
Written by Professor Joanna D. Haigh (Physics)
Below we present one of the most informative and dispassionate summaries, from a top UK physics professor, on the role of solar variability on climate.
Commenting on Professor Haigh’s presentation, Colin Mill wrote:
“A wonderfully clear discussion of this aspect of the science. Thank you. I was interested to hear Joanna say at 15:39 that the radiometer instrumentation isn’t quite there yet – a very important point to make in the face of those talking about the science being settled. Unfortunately there are many other areas where the instrumentation is, or has been, lacking. I did my Ph.D in cloud microphysics in the 1970s and spent some 20 years in cloud physics research. Clouds remain rather poorly understood while having the potential to massively modify the radiative balance of the Earth interacting, as they do, with both incoming and outgoing radiation over most of the solar spectrum (cf. CO2). Small changes to, for example, the Cloud Condensation Nucleus spectrum (CCN) could change the albedo and the lifetime of clouds that in turn could affect the radiative balance. Unfortunately, there are many problems on the question of CCN – a lack of any significant and reliable historical measurements combined with an incomplete understanding of the sources (especially those of organic origin that may have been modified by, for example, land usage, changes in vegetation type etc.). Certainly in my day you could depress yourself about your chances of doing meaningful work in cloud physics simply by running two notionally identical CCN counters side by side sampling the same air only to observe that they didn’t agree by factors of 50% or more.”
Joanna Dorothy Haigh, physicist and academic. Before her retirement in 2019 she was Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London, and co-director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. She is a former head of the Department of Physics at Imperial College London. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a former president of the Royal Meteorological Society.(born 7 May 1954) is a British
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