Slowing Sun = cooling Earth

Science story of century

Mini Ice Age on way?

Strange happenings in the sun

End of global warming?

At WUWT Anthony Watts announces: The American Astronomical Society meeting in Los Cruces, New Mexico, has just made a major announcement on the state of the sun. Sunspots may be on the way out and an extended solar minimum may be on the horizon.

“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the NSO’s Solar Synoptic Network, said of the results. “But the fact that three completely different views of the Sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.”

Spot numbers and other solar activity rise and fall about every 11 years, which is half of the Sun’s 22-year magnetic interval since the Sun’s magnetic poles reverse with each cycle. An immediate question is whether this slowdown presages a second Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period with virtually no sunspots during 1645-1715.

“We expected to see the start of the zonal flow for Cycle 25 by now,” Hill explained, “but we see no sign of it. This indicates that the start of Cycle 25 may be delayed to 2021 or 2022, or may not happen at all.”

All three of these lines of research to point to the familiar sunspot cycle shutting down for a while.

“If we are right,” Hill concluded, “this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades. That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate.”

h/t Andy Scrase.

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21 Thoughts on “Slowing Sun = cooling Earth

  1. Andy on 15/06/2011 at 2:56 pm said:

    I take it that the doctor didn’t say “lay off the blogging”

    Welcome back!

  2. Andy on 15/06/2011 at 5:52 pm said:

    More on Stuff

    They seem to have applied the usual caveats from the warmists.

    Skeptics of man-made global warming from the burning of fossil fuels have often pointed to solar radiation as a possible cause of a warming Earth, but they are in the minority among scientists. The Earth has warmed as solar activity has decreased.

    Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria, said there could be small temperature effects, but they are far weaker than the strength of man-made global warming from carbon dioxide and methane. He noted that in 2010, when solar activity was mostly absent, Earth tied for its hottest year in more than a century of record-keeping.

    Hill and colleagues wouldn’t discuss the effects of a quiet sun on temperature or global warming.

    “If our predictions are true, we’ll have a wonderful experiment that will determine whether the sun has any effect on global warming,” (National Solar Observatory associate director Frank Hill,)Hill said.

    Indeed. Frank Hill is wise not to make these blanket assertions, unlike Andrew Weaver, who has his CO2 based climate modelling career to think of.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 15/06/2011 at 6:58 pm said:

      Andy, the Stuff article is from AP by Seth Borenstein – this explains the warmist caveat.

      Andrew Weaver’s home page (U of V, BC Canada) speaks volumes. He’s author of :-

      Generation Us: The Challenge of Global Warming


      Keeping our Cool: Canada in a Warming World

      And yup, he’s in the climate modeling group – quite a house of cards all up.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 15/06/2011 at 7:46 pm said:

      Generation Us reviewed by Bryan Walker at HT no less.

      No mention of the solar story though – I guess it got filtered out of their news scanner.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 15/06/2011 at 11:39 pm said:

      Andrew Weaver is following Hansen’s alarmist advocacy lead – with kids, and he’s caught the attention of CFACT at Climate Depot.

      Victoria global warming expert turns his attention to the future: youth

      Monday, June 13, 2011
      By LARRY PYNN, Vancouver Sun

      Andrew Weaver apologizes for being late for the interview but explains he was giving a lecture to his daughter’s class at Lambrick Park secondary school in Victoria.

      “It may be a provocative statement, but I’ll say it anyways: I’m fed up speaking with the stereotypical angry, retired, grey-haired engineer,” explained the University of Victoria professor and global warming guru.

      “They’re stuck in their ways and think everything can be fixed and that this is not a big problem.”

      Since 1989 Weaver has been studying climate issues and, more recently, trying to get governments to act decisively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, largely from burning of fossil fuels. He’s now come to the conclusion that the federal government isn’t interested, and that it’s time to concentrate on Canada’s youth — the next generation of leaders.

      “Leadership will have to be grassroots, starting with the consumer and the youth of today,” he said, citing public demand for organic food and fuel-efficient vehicles as two encouraging examples. “I have absolutely given up on Ottawa ever showing any leadership on this.”

      Weaver, a research chair in climate modelling and analysis, was a lead author in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and, as such, a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007……………………

      Interesting fellow.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 15/06/2011 at 6:39 pm said:

    So whose models will be the best predictors? The solar physicists or the climate scientists?

    I’m backing the solar physicists.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 15/06/2011 at 7:38 pm said:

    Andy’s “The A Register” tip article in “Global Warming” has the best opening paragraph I think.

    What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening, as heavyweight US solar physicists announce that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age.

  5. Alexander K on 16/06/2011 at 1:21 am said:

    Very interesting that, coincidentally with the solar info, Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit has posted a damming expose of the IPCC’s corruption in presenting a wildly innacurate report on the wondrous capabilities of renewable energy (windmills, heliographs and bonfires) authored by Greenpiece combined with Alternative Energy special interest groups and presenting it as actual sciency stuff using . Worth a read!
    Also noticible is that two climate alarmists, Leo Hickman and Mark Lynas, who write warmist fables for the Guardian, have jumped on this one and are very loud in their condemnation. See the excellent Bishop Hill blog.
    Why does the idea of rats and sinking ships occur?

    • Andy on 16/06/2011 at 8:05 am said:

      Very interesting I agree. The same Mark Lynas also recently wrote an article about windfarms killing endangered species.

      Bishop Hill’s article on the gaggle of warmists singing Steve McIntyre’s praises is interesting.

  6. Andy on 16/06/2011 at 8:20 am said:

    James Delingpole has chipped in with an entertaining read on this

    10 reasons to be cheerful about the coming new Ice Age

  7. Andy on 16/06/2011 at 2:10 pm said:

    I was imagining that John Cook at Skeptical Science would be frantically preparing a “rebuttal”.

    Here it is:

    • Bob D on 16/06/2011 at 4:39 pm said:

      Pretty much what Schmidt said. A maximum difference of 0.3°C in 2100, over a projected 4.5°C (about 7%).
      I’m happy they’ve taken that stance, because as temperatures drop (or remain static) over the next few years, they won’t be able to say “Well, it’s because the sun is quiet you know.”

  8. A C Osborn on 19/06/2011 at 1:51 am said:

    Glad to see that you’re back, I hope the procedure went well.

  9. Andy on 29/06/2011 at 5:36 pm said:

    Incidentally, I raised the issue of the potential Maunder Minimum on the “James Hansen NZ visit” Facebook page, and have been accused of being an anti-science loony who should be “punished for crimes against humanity”

    Much hilarity this end !

    (“latest State of the Climate report. Not very good news “)

  10. Richard C (NZ) on 30/06/2011 at 11:34 am said:

    Sent this to MfE CC (Cc’d to PMSAC)

    Sun Headed Into Hibernation, Solar Studies Predict

    To the Climate Change Office, MfE.

    Nation Geographic reports:-

    “Three independent studies of the sun’s insides, surface, and upper
    atmosphere all predict that the next solar cycle will be significantly
    delayed—if it happens at all. Normally, the next cycle would be
    expected to start roughly around 2020.

    The combined data indicate that we may soon be headed into what’s
    known as a grand minimum, a period of unusually low solar activity.

    The predicted solar “sleep” is being compared to the last grand
    minimum on record, which occurred between 1645 and 1715.

    Known as the Maunder Minimum, the roughly 70-year period coincided
    with the coldest spell of the Little Ice Age, when European canals
    regularly froze solid and Alpine glaciers encroached on mountain

    The Washington Times EDITORIAL: An inconvenient cooling, states:-

    “Cornelis de Jager, a solar physicist from the Netherlands and former
    secretary-general of the International Astronomical Union, announced
    that the sun is about to enter a period of extremely low sunspot
    activity, which historically is associated with cooling trends. Backed
    by other scientists, he predicted the “grand solar minimum” is
    expected to begin around 2020 and last until 2100.”


    “The ebb of solar activity is shaping up to resemble what occurred
    during the Little Ice Age, the period from 1620 to 1720 when sunspot
    activity diminished and temperatures dropped an estimated 3 degrees
    Celsius. The era was noted for colder-than-usual winters in North
    America and Europe, when rivers and canals froze over, allowing for
    ice-skating and winter festivals. It also resulted in crop failure and
    population displacement in northern regions such as Iceland.”

    1) Given that a cooler climate regime has already claimed hundred’s of
    lives and disrupted national economies e.g. South America last winter,
    will (or has) MfE CC advise(ed) the NZ government via the PMSAC of
    this development and that the possibility of a sustained period of
    global cooling is on the way and that it should be factored into
    long-term planning and policy formation?

    2) Given that cooling vs warming pits the predictions of
    astrophysicists against climate scientists, will the MfE CC take an
    impartial position and evaluate each case on it’s merits?

    3) Given that Feulner and Rahmstorf’s finding that a new grand minimum
    would produce no more than 0.3 deg C cooling by 2100 in the paper “On
    the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future
    climate on Earth” (2010) is based solely on climate model simulations,
    what criteria will MfE CC use to evaluate the relative merits of the
    predictions for warming based on global climate models and cooling
    based on solar physics models?


    Richard Cumming

  11. Andy on 06/07/2011 at 12:30 pm said:

    There’s another article on this by Chiefio

    This is actually reporting independent work in this area – yet another scientist predicting a grand minimum.

    Chiefio writes:

    This is now a third major scientist, from a third line of evidence, all ending up at the same conclusion. This one from solar magnetic history. One based on a Fourier Transform analysis of past solar cycles. And Habibullo Ismailovich Abdussamatov based on observations of changes of the solar size (the diameter changes slightly with activity).

    IMHO “Third Times The Charm”…

    With this much all stacking up the same way, the present “cold winter” aint nothin’ yet. We’re only 1/2 way into the Major Minimum and still have about a dozen years of “dropping” to go. At that point, we’re one large volcano away from The Year Without A Summer.

    Plan accordingly…

    • Richard C (NZ) on 07/07/2011 at 10:36 pm said:

      Chiefio’s three lines of evidence from three different scientists are not the three groups from the American Astronomical Society announcement from what I can gather, so that’s six lines. Anyway here’s a fourth or a seventh, Lockwood et al 2011:-

      The solar influence on the probability of relatively cold UK winters in the future

      M Lockwood1,2, R G Harrison1, M JOwens1, L Barnard1, T Woollings1 and F Steinhilber3

      Haven’t read it yet because it looks like heavy going but here’s some of it:-

      1. Introduction
      The central England temperature (CET) data series [5, 6]
      is the world’s longest instrumental temperature record and
      extends back to 1659, around the beginning of the Maunder
      minimum in solar activity. The CET covers a spatial scale
      of order 300 km which makes it a ‘small regional’ climate
      indicator but, to some extent, it will also reflect changes on
      both regional European and hemispheric scales [7]. The mean
      CET for December, January and February (DJF), TDJF, for
      the recent relatively cold winters of 2008/9 and 2009/10 were
      3.50 ◦C and 2.53 ◦C, respectively, whereas the mean value
      (±one standard deviation) for the previous 20 winters had
      been (5.04 ± 0.98) ◦C. The CET for December 2010 was
      −0.6 ◦C which makes it the second coldest December in the
      entire record, the only colder one being in 1889/90; however
      warmer temperatures in the UK during January and February
      gave a DJF mean for 2010/11 of 3.13 ◦C. The cluster of lower
      winter temperatures in the UK during the last 3 years has raised
      questions about the probability of more similar, or even colder,
      winters occurring in the future. For example, because of the
      resource implications for national infrastructure planning, the
      probability of further severe winters is of central importance to
      the ‘winter resilience review’ announced in the UK Parliament
      by the Secretary of State for Transport in December 2010 [8].


      The results for the four thresholds are shown in figure 9. The solid lines
      assume the grand solar maximum ends in 2013 and the shaded
      areas give the effect of an uncertainty of±2 yr around this date.
      It can be seen that the probability falls over the next
      few years as sunspot activity rises with the new solar cycle.
      However, because of the long-term decline in FS25, the
      predicted FS for the next solar minimum is lower than during
      the current minimum and so the probabilities rise to greater
      values. This is repeated over the subsequent three solar cycles
      until the solar minima 45–55 years into the future yield peak
      probabilities near 18%, 12%, 4% and 1.5%, for δTDJF below
      2.5 ◦C, 1.5 ◦C, 1.0 ◦C, and 0.5 ◦C, respectively. These values
      are close to the corresponding averages for the whole interval
      covered by the CET dataset (1659–2010, which includes one
      grand solar maximum and one grand solar minimum), which
      are shown by the horizontal dashed lines in figure 9. However
      they are larger than the observed occurrence frequencies for
      the decade before the recent solar minimum (1998–2008, all
      within the recent grand solar maximum) which are 0 for all
      four δTDJF thresholds.

      The ‘winter resilience review’ seems to be a sensible risk analysis after the UK got caught unprepared 2008/9 and 2009/10.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 07/07/2011 at 10:52 pm said:

      In plain English:-

      According to the new study, chances that the average winter temperature will fall below 2.5°C will be around 1 in 7, assuming that all other factors, including man-made effects and El Niño, remain constant.

      Put in context, the average UK winter temperature for the last 20 years has been 5.04°C. The last three winters have averaged 3.50°C, 2.53°C and 3.13°C, with 2009-10 being the 14th coldest in the last 160 years.

      Lockwood says that a full-on Maunder minimum is definitely possible, but obviously – remembering the historical background to the last one – this would not mean glaciers overrunning Europe.

      “Our results show that over the next fifty years there is a 10 per cent chance that temperatures will return to Maunder minimum levels. Describing the Maunder minimum as a ‘little ice age’ is somewhat misleading however,” says the prof.

      “Cold winters were indeed more common during the Maunder minimum but there were also some very warm ones between them, summers were not colder, and the drop in average temperatures was not nearly as great, nor as global, as during a real ice age.”

      Also from the same article:

      However many professional climate scientists do not believe that variations in the Sun have any significant effect on the Earth’s climate, and there is intense hostility to the idea from the green movement as it could de-emphasise the importance of human-driven carbon emissions.

      You betcha.

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