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Sunspots linked to Aussie droughts?

A boffin speculates

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An Australian scientist has proposed a link between the solar cycle of sunspots, and rainfall in the eastern region of his native land. He says that data going back 100-years show a correlation between solar activity, the polarity of the sun's magnetic field, and periods of drought.

If he is right, this winter (summer, up here in the North) should see significant rainfall going into 2008, breaking the hundred-year drought the continent is currently suffering.

Professor Robert Baker said: "The sun is now in a similar position in terms of its magnetic field as it was in the 1920s. If it keeps tracking...we would therefore expect average and above rainfall for eastern Australia."

The research is not yet published, but has been submitted to the journal Solar Terrestrial Physics for peer review.

Baker is an associate professor in the school of human and environmental studies at the university of New England, in Australia. He has derived his theory from other work correlating the cycles of solar activity and weather patterns on Earth.

Researchers have long tried to establish a link between solar activity and climate, or at least weather. The jury is still very much out on whether or not the link is causal.

Baker says he hopes his work will pave the way for better predictions of long term weather patterns, and in turn for better water management in the region. ®

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