Does sunspot numbers cause global temperatures? Evidence from a frequency domain causality test
Luis A. Gil-Alaña
Rangan Gupta
Olaoluwa S. Yaya
Applied Economics Vol. 47 No. 8

This article applies the causality test in the frequency domain, developed by Breitung and Candelon (2006), to analyse whether sunspot numbers (used as a partial approximation to solar irradiance) cause global temperatures, using monthly data covering the time period 1880:1–2013:9. While standard time domain Granger causality test fails to reject the null hypothesis that sunspot numbers do not cause global temperatures for both full and sub-samples (identified based on tests of structural breaks), the frequency domain causality test detects predictability for both the full-sample and the last sub-sample at short (2–2.6 months) and long (10.3 months and above) cycle lengths, respectively. Our results highlight the importance of analysing causality using the frequency domain test, which, unlike the time domain Granger causality test, allows us to decompose causality by different time horizons, and hence, could detect predictability at certain cycle lengths even when the time domain causality test might fail to pick up any causality. Further, given the widespread discussion in the literature, those results for the full-sample causality, irrespective of whether it is in time or frequency domains, cannot be relied upon when there are structural breaks present, and one needs to draw inference regarding causality from the sub-samples, we can conclude that there has been an emergence of causality running from sunspot numbers to global temperatures only recently at cycle length of 10.3 months and above.