Source: Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Using thermometer air temperature records for the period 1850 to 2010, we present empirical evidence for a direct relationship between total solar irradiance (TSI) and the Equator-to-Pole (Arctic) surface temperature gradient (EPTG). Modulation of the EPTG by TSI is also shown to exist, in variable ways, for each of the four seasons. Interpretation of the positive relationship between the TSI and EPTG indices suggests that solar-forced changes in the EPTG may represent a hemispheric-scale relaxation response of the system to a reduced Equator-to-Pole temperature gradient, which occurs in response to an increasing gradient of incoming solar insolation. Physical bases for the TSI-EPTG relationship are discussed with respect to their connections with large-scale climate dynamics, especially a critical relationship with the total meridional poleward energy transport. Overall, evidence suggests that a net increase in the TSI, or in the projected solar insolation gradient which reflects any net increase in solar radiation, has caused an increase in both oceanic and atmospheric heat transport to the Arctic in the warm period since the 1970s, resulting in a reduced temperature gradient between the Equator and the Arctic. We suggest that this new interpretative framework, which involves the extrinsic modulation of the total meridional energy flux beyond the implicit assumptions of the Bjerknes Compensation rule, may lead to a better understanding of how global and regional climate has varied through the Holocene and even the Quaternary (the most recent 2.6 million years of Earth's history). Similarly, a reassessment is now required of the underlying mechanisms that may have governed the equable climate dynamics of the Eocene (35 to 55 million years ago) and late Cretaceous (65 to 100 million years ago), both of which were warm geological epochs. This newly discovered relationship between TSI and the EPTG represents the “missing link” that was implicit in the empirical relationship that Soon (2009) recently demonstrated to exist between multi-decadal TSI and Arctic and North Atlantic climatic change.
► The Equator-to-Pole Temperature Gradient is linked to Total Solar Irradiance. ► View presented of how poleward energy transport operates beyond the Bjerknes rule. ► Most convincing evidence for a sun-climate connection during the Holocene.