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The Sun warms our planet - the surface, the atmosphere and bodies of water. It allows this mother and young boy to enjoy warmth and light during an outing at the beach. Photo taken in May in the Outer Banks, NC.
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Sun's Effect on Earth

The Sun is very important to the Earth. The Sun warms our planet, heating the surface, the oceans and the atmosphere. The Sun also gives us light. We definitely couldn't live on Earth without the Sun!

But did you know that it's the energy from the Sun that drives our weather? Our climate is also affected by how much energy the Sun gives off.

The amount of energy the Sun gives off changes with solar activity like solar flares or sunspots. Solar activity varies in a cycles.

Some scientists wondered if changes in our weather and climate might be linked with these changes on the Sun. Scientists have done a lot of research and have used the scientific process to see if there were links there.

After much research and experiments, it seems there is not a link between solar cycles and Earth's weather. For example, the number of sunspots on the Sun doesn't change how the wind blows on Earth.

Studies have shown that changes in light given off by the Sun do affect Earth's climate. But these changes in light given off by the Sun are very small, so they don't account for the large changes we are now seeing in the Earth's climate. For example, most of the warming of the Earth called global warming isn't caused by changes in the Sun's energy output. Computer models of the Earth’s climate show that this warming is caused by greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere because of human activity.

Last modified January 28, 2008 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF