The Sun has an 11 year cycle during which radiation peaks then falls. Scientists have long known about this solar feature but have never been able to link it to the weather patterns on the Earth until just recently. Lead scientist on the project Sarah Ineson of the UK Met Office found that a reduction in ultraviolet light can lead to especially harsh winters, particularly in Europe and North America. Ineson and her team from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford, “used satellite data that more accurately measures UV radiation from the sun and found a much greater variability than previously thought. They found that in years of low activity, unusually cold air forms high in the atmosphere over the tropics. This causes a redistribution of heat in the atmosphere, triggering easterly winds that bring freezing weather and snow storms to northern Europe and the United States and milder weather to Canada and the Mediterranean.” The satellite data used was taken from measurements made by NASA’s Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE). The SORCE satellite was launched in 2003 and its purpose is to measure solar radiation across the entire UV spectrum. Ineson and her team took the data gathered from SORCE and generated a computer model to verify their findings. PhysOrg.com explains that the unusually harsh winters experienced in the UK during the past couple of years have been because the sun is now at its solar minimum, and per the study’s conclusions, winters should be harsher during this period of lower radiation.