Articles | Volume 6, issue 6
12 Nov 2010
 | 12 Nov 2010

A critical look at solar-climate relationships from long temperature series

B. Legras, O. Mestre, E. Bard, and P. Yiou

Abstract. A key issue of climate change is to identify the forcings and their relative contributions. The solar-climate relationship is currently the matter of a fierce debate. We address here the need for high quality observations and an adequate statistical approach. A recent work by Le Mouël et al. (2010) and its companion paper by Kossobokov et al. (2010) show spectacular correlations between solar activity and temperature series from three European weather stations over the last two centuries. We question both the data and the method used in these works. We stress (1) that correlation with solar forcing alone is meaningless unless other forcings are properly accounted for and that sunspot counting is a poor indicator of solar irradiance, (2) that long temperature series require homogenization to remove historical artefacts that affect long term variability, (3) that incorrect application of statistical tests leads to interpret as significant a signal which arises from pure random fluctuations. As a consequence, we reject the results and the conclusions of Le Mouël et al. (2010) and Kossobokov et al. (2010). We believe that our contribution bears some general interest in removing confusion from the scientific debate.