Solar activity has been falling steadily since mid-1940s, a change that in the past triggered a 300-year-long mini ice age.
At a teleconference yesterday in Boulder, Colorado, three leading solar scientists from Nasa, the High Altitude Observatory and the National Solar Observatory described how solar activity has been falling steadily since the mid-1940s.
The sun is undergoing “bizarre behaviour” said Dr Craig DeForest of the the American Astronomical Society.
Sunspot cycle could be shutting down or entering a dormant phase
“The sun’s current maximum activity period is very late and very weak, leading to speculation that the sunspot cycle itself could be shutting down or entering a dormant phase,” said DeForest before the teleconference.
The monthly average sunspot total should range between 90 and 140, said Irish solar science specialist Dr Ian Elliott, quoting from figures released by Nasa on the 1st of this month. But in fact, the present monthly average is only 67, Dr Elliott said. A typical average at maximum during much of the early 20th century was about 200.
“The smallest solar maximum we have seen in 100 years”
“It is the smallest solar maximum we have seen in 100 years,” said Dr David Hathaway of Nasa. We are currently in solar cycle number 24 which is about half as active as cycle 23, but cycle 25 is likely to be smaller again due to changes in the magnetic flux on the sun’s surface,” said Hathaway.
Another Maunder Minimum?
Dr Giuliana de Toma of the High Altitude Observatory acknowledged the clear signs that solar activity was in decline but this did not mean the earth was heading for another “Maunder Minimum”. This was a time between 1645 and 1725 when solar activity was extremely low or nonexistent, a situation which caused a mini ice age.
The fall-off in sunspot activity still has the potential to affect our weather for the worse, Dr Elliott said. Research by Prof Mike Lockwood at the University of Reading showed how low solar activity could alter the position of the jet stream over the north Atlantic, causing severe cold during winter months. This was likely the cause of the very cold and snowy winters during 2009 and 2010, Dr Elliott said.
“It all points to perhaps another little ice age”
“It all points to perhaps another little ice age,” he said. “It seems likely we are going to enter a period of very low solar activity and could mean we are in for very cold winters.”
This should be front-page news!
Instead, the LA Times presented a spin version that didn’t bother to mention even the possibility of a mini ice age.
See entire article:
Thanks to Peter Lamb, Thomas McHart and Bill Gannon for this link.
Thanks to Thomas for the LA Times spin version.
“We whom disagree with the AGW crowd now have a slight bit of help from the fine folks from Nasa, the High Altitude Observatory and the National Solar Observatory,” says Bill.