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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Pluto warms while the sun cools

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate
Pluto's climate change over the last 14 years is likely a seasonal event. Pluto experiences drastic season changes due to an elliptical orbit (that takes 250 Earth years). Any Plutonian warming cannot be caused by solar variations as the sun has showed little to no long term trend over the past 50 years and sunlight at Pluto is 900 times weaker than it is at the Earth.

Climate Myth...

Pluto is warming

"Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto." (Fred Thompson)


Last updated on 26 June 2010 by John Cook.

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Two questions: 1. Where are the scientific citations for "What the science says..." section? 2. The following statement has major logical flaws: "Any Plutonian warming cannot be caused by solar variations as the sun has showed little to no long term trend over the past 50 years and sunlight at Pluto is 900 times weaker than it is at the Earth." First off, why is it necessary for the sun to undergo long term variations over several decades for solar variations to affect Pluto? That is, why are short term variations completely irrelevant? For an extreme example, let's say the temperature of the sun doubled overnight and stayed that way for a year, only to fall back down to normal the next year. Does anyone seriously believe that such an extreme (but temporary) solar temperature jump wouldn't affect Pluto's temperature? Secondly why does the fact that the sunlight is 900 times weaker on Pluto necessitate that Pluto is not warming due to solar variations? Presumably the fact that Pluto is 500 times smaller in mass than the Earth with essentially no atmosphere plays a role, no?
  2. Intermediate tab text is missing.

  3. I have seen no mention that Pluto was closer to the sun in 1988 than in 2002. In fact, according to the Wikipedia entry on Pluto, perihelion came on September 5, 1989. If it is true that, despite this, Pluto warmed up, this calls for further measurements — or a search of the literature for newer temperature measurements.

    Perhaps the following excerpt from  is overly simplistic: " At its warmest, when it is closest to the sun, Pluto can reach temperatures of minus 369 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 223 degrees Celsius)." Perhaps there is a delayed reaction as the planet continues to heat up due to being much closer to the sun than usual. Perhaps the increased temperature as Pluto approaches perihelion has atmospheric effects including a greenhouse effect. More discussion is needed!

  4. The commenters above only show they have not read the materials below and others related to TSI variations.

    Pnyikos says "More discussion is needed!"

    No, it's not. If the sun's output was to increase enough to cause a temperature increase on Pluto so large that it would be observable from Earth, we might as well kiss our bunnies good-bye. The effect would be seen on Earth first and would be of such concern that discussions about Pluto would be delayed until the emergency abates. There is no way that the sun could warm Pluto and we see nothing on Earth first. That is the height of idiocy. Variations on Pluto are going to tell us things about Pluto, not about Earth. We watch the sun closely from here and its output variations are so minute that we could not effectively measure them before satellites. Get real. The Pluto argument is the most grotesque piece of nonsense ever spewed up by deniers. Only one with no quantitative thinking skills whatsoever could be swayed by such drivel.

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