• Scientific Reports retracted a study regarding climate change
  • The study cited the Sun, not human actions, as the main cause of rising temperatures
  • The journal ruled the study's conclusion was based on flawed assumptions 

A scientific journal has retracted a study that identified the Sun as the primary cause of climate change on Earth. The editors of the journal ruled that the conclusion of the study was based on flawed assumptions.

The controversial study, entitled “Oscillations of the baseline of solar magnetic field and solar irradiance on a millennial timescale,” was published in the journal Scientific Reports in June 2019. It was led by Valentina Zharkova, a mathematician from Northumbria University in the U.K.

According to Zharkova’s study, human activity is not the primary cause of climate change on the planet. Instead, Earth’s changing distance from the Sun is the main reason behind the rising global temperatures, Science Alert reported.

This notion is based on the idea that the Sun moves, which is actually true. As explained by scientists, the Sun is orbited by massive planets. Although the giant star has been regarded as the center of the Solar System, the exact center is actually the concentration of the entire mass of the planets and the Sun.

The Sun tends to move within this region, which is known as the barycenter, due to the gravitational pull of the other planets. As noted by Zharkova and her colleagues, the movement of the Sun within the barycenter over the last hundreds of years has altered its distance from Earth by up to 3 million kilometers.

Unfortunately, as other scientists pointed out via the online journal club PubPeer, Earth orbits the Sun, not the barycenter. This means that even if the Sun moves, Earth’s distance from it will still remain constant due to its natural orbit.

Due to the inaccurate information presented in the study, the editors of Scientific Reports ruled that its conclusion was no longer viable. This prompted the journal to retract the paper.

“After publication, concerns were raised regarding the interpretation of how the Earth-Sun distance changes over time and that some of the assumptions on which analyses presented in the Article are based are incorrect,” the editors stated in a retraction notice.

“As a result, the editors no longer have confidence in the conclusions presented,” they continued.

An illustrated model shows our solar system and its planets. NASA/JPL