News of the WeekMETEOROLOGY

Link Between Sunspots, Stratosphere Buoyed

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Science  09 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5412, pp. 234-235
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5412.234

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For more than four sunspot cycles, the "weather" in the stratosphere has varied in time with solar activity, yet solar output changes so little over the sunspot cycle that it's hard to see how the cycle could affect any earthly activities, even in the wispy stratosphere. Now on page 305, a group of climate modelers presents the most promising mechanism yet for amplifying the effects of the solar cycle--and they suggest that sunspots' effects may even work their way down to the surface. The mysterious amplifier, they say, is the stratosphere's much lamented ozone.