Global Warming Comes to Neptune

May 15th, 2007 10:47 AM

Watching the global warming alarmists it's amazing to see how much they completely discount the sun's role in determining the earth's temperature. It's something that can be readily observed simply by stepping outside during the day and at night. Yet, we almost never hear the sun mentioned by Al Gore and friends.

This is despite the fact that astronomy continues to prove that the sun has an influence on its planets temperatures and is likely to be responsible for observable warming of the earth. First came the news that Mars is getting warmer, now comes the news that Neptune is also experiencing global warming:

Neptune is the planet farthest from the Sun (Pluto is now considered only a dwarf planet), Neptune is the planet farthest from the Earth, and to our knowledge, there has been absolutely no industrialization out at Neptune in recent centuries. There has been no recent build-up of greenhouse gases there, no deforestation, no rapid urbanization, no increase in contrails from jet airplanes, and no increase in ozone in the low atmosphere; recent changes at Neptune could never be blamed on any human influence. Incredibly, an article has appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters showing a stunning relationship between the solar output, Neptune’s brightness, and heaven forbid, the temperature of the Earth. [...]

In the recent article, Hammel and Lockwood, from the Space Science Institute in Colorado and the Lowell Observatory, note that measurements of visible light from Neptune have been taken at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona since 1950. Obviously, light from Neptune can be related to seasons on the planet, small variations in Neptune’s orbit, the apparent tilt of the axis as viewed from the Earth, the varying distance from Neptune to Earth, and of course, changes in the atmosphere near the Lowell Observatory. Astronomers are clever, they are fully aware of these complications, and they adjust the measurements accordingly. [...]

Neptune has been getting brighter since around 1980; furthermore, infrared measurements of the planet since 1980 show that the planet has been warming steadily from 1980 to 2004. As they say on Neptune, global warming has become an inconvenient truth. But with no one to blame, Hammel and Lockwood explored how variations in the output of the Sun might control variations in the brightness of Neptune. [...]

Hammel and Lockwood conclude that “In summary, if Neptune’s atmosphere is indeed responding to some variation in solar activity in a manner similar to that of the Earth albeit with a temporal lag” then “Neptune may provide an independent (and extraterrestrial) locale for studies of solar effects on planetary atmospheres.”