Examining a solar climate link in diurnal temperature ranges
A recent study has suggested a link between the surface level diurnal temperature range (DTR) and variations in the cosmic ray (CR) flux. As the DTR is an effective proxy for cloud cover, this result supports the notion that widespread cloud changes may be induced by the CR flux. If confirmed, this would have significant implications for our understanding of natural climate forcings. Here, we perform a detailed investigation of the relationships between DTR and solar activity (total solar irradiance and the CR flux) from more than 60 years of NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data and observations from meteorological station data. We find no statistically significant evidence to suggest that the DTR is connected to either long-term solar periodicities (11 or 1.68 year) or short-term (daily-timescale) fluctuations in solar activity, and we attribute previous reports on the contrary to an incorrect estimation of the statistical significance of the data. If a CR-DTR relationship exists, based on the estimated noise in DTR composites during Forbush decrease (FD) events, the DTR response would need to be larger than 0.03\degC per 1% increase in the CR flux to be reliably detected. Compared with a much smaller rough estimate of -0.005\degC per 1% increase in the CR flux expected if previous claims that FD events cause reductions in the cloud cover are valid, we conclude it is not possible to detect a solar related responses in station-based or reanalysis-based DTR datasets related to a hypothesized CR-cloud link, as potential signals would be drowned in noise.