A New Maunder Minimum?

Courtesy: NASA

A surprising set of studies released this week at the solar physics division of the American Astronomical Society show new and growing evidence that the sun is entering a dormant period. A significant decrease in the sun’s magnetic field has been noted in recent years as has a continued weakening of the strength of sunspots.

The sun is currently in Cycle 24 and studies now show the next solar cycle, Cycle 25, may be significantly delayed or may not even happen at all. If in fact sunspot activity becomes virtually non-existent over the coming decades there are interesting climate ramifications.

During the Maunder Minimum in the 1600s and 1700s and again during the Dalton Minimum in the early 1800s sunspot activity dropped substantially.

Sunspot Numbers Last 400 Years / Courtesy: Robert Rohde and the Global Warming Art Project

There is evidence to suggest that lower solar activity can reduce global temperatures.  This actually could mute the effect of global warming for several decades but it’s impossible to tell the magnitude of such a muting effect. Most studies and climate scientists say the forcing due to increasing greenhouse gases will still outweigh reduced solar forcing but it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Be on the look out for ridiculous headlines about the world entering a new ice age in the coming weeks. As is typical, Rupert Murdoch has come out with a good one right out of the gate twisting scientific research and proclaiming:

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2 thoughts on “A New Maunder Minimum?

  1. I have to admit I don’t understand everything in science, I use the other side of my brain most of the time making art, but what I do understand fascinates me. I check out a few science sites everyday to keep up with this sort of thing. It’s so odd to me that there are people in this country that want to limit science and education/information. I can’t imagine every knowing enough about anything, lol.

  2. Here’s what to watch for in the years ahead: 1. Will the sun spots wink out?
    2. Will global temperatures decline? 3. Is the Greenhouse Effect in a “lazy” saturated state (more current GHGs show little warming)? 4. How much will doubling of the CO2 change global temperatures? uhh! That may take too long, check the global temps at, say, 1/2 doubling. From preindustrial times (298ppm) say, about 450 ppm.

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