As Earth Warms? The Sun Is Remarkably Quiet

Bob Henson, Weather Underground Blog

If you’re looking toward the sun to help explain this decade’s record global heat on Earth, look again. Solar activity has been below average for more than a decade, and the pattern appears set to continue, according to several top solar researchers. Solar Cycle 24, the one that will wrap up in the late 2010s, was the least active in more than a century. We now have outlooks for Cycle 25, the one that will prevail during the 2020s, and they’re calling for a cycle only about as strong as–and perhaps even less active than–Cycle 24.

While Henson tries to make the case that sunspots have little influence on the climate, citing Solar Cycle 24 low sunspot intensity, while planet experience rising global temperatures.

Newly precise measurements confirm that the total solar energy reaching Earth actually doesn’t change all that much from cycle to cycle. As a single cycle ramps up from minimum to maximum, the sun spits out as much as 10 times more energy in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. However, the sun’s total energy output (irradiance) goes up by a mere 0.1% during a solar cycle, and this boosts global surface temperature by no more than 0.1°C per cycle, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Bolstering his argument with a chart from which seems to ignore the 20-year global warming pause in the satellite temperature measurements. I will leave that discussion for another time but it seems to me that the pause and a low solar cycle may have some connection. Moving on to more interest items in Bob Henson’s post,  the future of Solar Cycle 25.

Outlook for the 2020s: Another modest cycle
The community of solar researchers has only recently come into consensus on the “polar predictor” method of using polar magnetic fields as the best predictor of solar cycles. A decade ago, various methods produced conflicting results on how strong Cycle 24 would end up. Forecasts based on polar fields at solar minimum did remarkably well; others had more trouble in capturing the cycle’s length and strength. “One of the things we learned is that the difference between the hemispheres is critical,” said McIntosh. The north half of the sun ran about two years ahead of the south during Cycle 24, and that overlap led to the double-peaked maximum (2011 and 2014) while lessening the cycle’s overall peak strength.

Researchers are now trying to push the limits of prediction further. They’re using statistical and dynamical models, plus some data-based intuition, to predict several years in advance how the subsurface magnetic fields will look when they emerge near the poles around 2020, and what, in turn, those fields may tell us about Cycle 25.

• David Hathaway (recently retired from NASA) and Lisa Upton (NCAR and Space Systems Research Corporation) expect a Cycle 25 about as strong as Cycle 24, or perhaps slightly weaker. They published their outlook in November in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Hathaway and Upton used an ensemble model to project the polar fields from now to the end of 2019, with the ensemble showing an uncertainty by that point of about 15%. Natural solar variations in the early 2020s could add to the uncertainty, they note.

• Leif Svalgaard (Stanford University) pioneered the idea of using solar polar fields as prediction tools with colleagues in the 1970s, and he successfully pegged the eventual weakness of Cycle 24 back in 2005. Svalgaard is calling for a weak Cycle 25, but perhaps just a bit stronger than Cycle 24, based on precursors that appear slightly more active this time around.

• NCAR’s McIntosh believes Cycle 25 could extend the recent string of progressively weaker cycles. “We anticipate that the growing degree of overlap between cycles means that Cycle 25 will be weaker than Cycle 24,” he told me.

• Also at NCAR, Mausumi Dikpati will release her outlook for Cycle 25 in a paper to be published later this year. Dikpati and colleagues predicted a stronger-than-average Cycle 24 (as did Hathaway and others). This didn’t materialize, but Dikpati did correctly forecast that Cycle 24 would begin later than usual. Dikpati is now doing a post-mortem on her Cycle 24 forecast, which was based on a pioneering model of the solar dynamo (the flow of plasma that produces magnetism within the sun). As with weather models, she expects that improved data assimilation–bringing the latest observations into the solar dynamo model–will help boost its accuracy.

With several decades of quiet solar activity, we will be experiencing a “Grand Minimum.” The open question is will this Grand Minimum produce a cooler plant, similar to the Dalton Minimum or the Maunder Minimum which is associate with the little ice age. Only time will tell.  Your thoughts?

Bob Henson’s full post is HERE. It also includes an interesting discussion of the threat from solar eruptions to our electrical grid, even during a grand minimum.

Posted in Analysis, Dalton, Maunder, Solar | 1 Comment

Sunspots Vanish and Cosmic Rays Increase, Will Cooling Follow?

SPACE WEATHER: So far in 2017, the big story in space weather is sunspots–or rather, the lack thereof. The sun has been blank more than 90% of the time. Only one very tiny spot observed for a few hours on Jan. 3rd interrupted a string of spotless days from New Years through Jan.11th. Devoid of dark cores, yesterday’s sun is typical of the year so far:


A lot of interesting things happen when sunspots vanish. For instance, the extreme ultraviolet output of the sun plummets. This causes the upper atmosphere of Earth to cool and collapse. With less air “up there” to cause orbital decay, space junk accumulates around our planet.

Also during Solar Minimum, the heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth. Galactic cosmic rays penetrate the inner solar system with relative ease. Indeed, a cosmic ray surge is already underway, with implications for astronauts and even ordinary air travelers.

There is growing evidence that cosmic rays can increase the planet’s cloud cover, resulting in planetary cooling. With a surge in cosmic rays,  can we anticipate increased cloud cover, resulting in temperature decline?  The real question is how much?

Posted in Cosmic Rays, Solar | Leave a comment

Space Weather: No Spots, but NOT a Dull Sun



In total, 2016 has had 31 ‘spotless days’–a whole month’s worth. We haven’t had this many blank suns in a single year since 2010 (51 days). This is a sign that the sunspot cycle is crashing toward a new Solar Minimum.

There are many misconceptions about Solar Minimum. One holds that auroras vanish when sunspots disappear. Christmas Day 2016 was proof that the opposite is true. Without a hint of a sunspot on the solar disk, intense auroras raged around the Arctic Circle on Dec. 25th. What caused the luminous outburst? An enormous hole in the sun’s atmosphere directed a stream of solar wind toward Earth, sparking a week-long display that is still underway. Such atmospheric holes are common during Solar Minimum, which is a fine time to see Arctic auroras.

Many people think space weather becomes dull or stops altogether during Solar Minimum. In fact, space weather changes in interesting ways. For instance, as the extreme ultraviolet output of the sun decreases, the upper atmosphere of Earth cools and collapses. This allows space junk to accumulate around our planet. Also, the heliosphere shrinks, bringing interstellar space closer to Earth; galactic cosmic rays penetrate our atmosphere with relative ease. Yes, Solar Minimum is coming … but it won’t be dull.

More HERE.  Emphasis add.  Some scientists think increases in cosmic ray can result in more clouds, which cool the earth. This could be the mechanism that results in global cooling, producing a grand minimum of climate change.

Posted in Analysis, Cosmic Rays, History | 4 Comments

Proof that a new ice age has already started is stronger than ever, and we couldn’t be less prepared

Editor’s Note: The Russian study was originally published July 2015 and was reported on earlier on this blog.  Lawrence provides some additional supporting evidence.

Lawrence Solomon  writing in the Financial Post:

“The New Little Ice Age Has Started.” This is the unambiguous title of a new study from one of the world’s most prestigious scientific institutions, the Russian Academy of Science’s Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg. “The average temperature around the globe will fall by about 1.5 C when we enter the deep cooling phase of the Little Ice Age, expected in the year 2060,” the study states. “The cooling phase will last for about 45-65 years, for four to six 11-year cycles of the Sun, after which on the Earth, at the beginning of the 22nd century, will begin the new, next quasi-bicentennial cycle of warming.”


Abdussamatov was once a lonely voice in the view that Earth could be embarking on a prolonged cooling spell due to solar, not manmade, factors. No longer. Because sunspots are eerily disappearing from the face of our sun — just as they disappeared during the Little Ice Age in the late 1600s — speculation of another cooling period has been widespread by bodies such as the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation. Last year, a team of European researchers unveiled a scientific model at the National Astronomy Meeting in Wales predicting a “mini ice age” from 2030 to 2040 as a result of decreased solar activity.

Full Article is HERE.

Posted in Analysis, History | Leave a comment

David Archibald: Solar Cycle 25 Amplitude Prediction


A monthly smoothed maximum sunspot number of 62 is derived for Solar Cycle 25. This would probably be around 2025. This is almost down to Dalton Minimum levels.

[. . .]

My prediction for the peak sunspot number of Cycle 25 is a monthly count of 62.

Full report with graphics and explanation is at WUWT

David mentions the Dalton Minimum. Cycle six was a companion cycle during the Dalton Minimum. If David’s prediction is accurate, Cycle 25 will be much like Solar Cycle 6, which could bring on more Dalton like climate variation.

The climate was cooler during the Dalton Minimum.  Cycle 24 so far has produced the 18-year global warming pause. The IPCC credits the “hiatus” partly to decreased solar activity. Cycle 25 will most likely continue this cooling evident in Cycle 24.

Dalton Minimum resulted in an average temperature drop of about 1 Degree C. This resulted in shorter growing seasons, with later spring frosts and early rain and snow in the fall. Some of which was caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1816, one of the two largest eruptions in the past 2000 years.  This mix of low sunspots and volcanic activity makes a climate prediction for more difficult. However there some speculation that reduced solar activity on the sun results in more volcanic activity on this planet. Increase vulcanization produces cooler climates.  Stay tuned, this is going be an interesting time to be climate observers.

Posted in Dalton, History, Solar | 3 Comments

Solar Cycles: The Bray (Hallstatt) Cycle

This is a link to a guest essay by Andy May and Javier at Watts Up With That

The evidence for a persistent irregular climate cycle with a period of 2400 ±200 years is strong. There is compelling evidence of a solar cycle of about the same length and phase; suggesting that the solar cycle might be causing the climate cycle. We will present a summary of the evidence, beginning with the original paleontological evidence, followed by the cosmogenic radionuclide (10Be or Beryllium-10 and 14C or Carbon-14) evidence. For more information, a bibliography of many papers discussing topics relevant to the Bray (Hallstatt) cycle can be found here. Only a small portion of the relevant papers are mentioned in this summary post.

This is the section that mentions solar grand minimums and maximums

The Bray cycle appears to be closely tied to tight clusters of grand solar maxima and minima. The Little Ice Age Wolf, Spörer, Maunder and Dalton grand minima are the best example of a solar grand minima cluster and they fall in a Bray low. The Greek Dark Age and the Homer grand minimum also fall in a Bray low. Significant historical events that fall in Bray lows are labeled in figure 2. A more complete picture of these events can be found here. The Little Ice Age (LIA) is a well-known cold period filled with plagues and suffering due to cold, for more details see here and in Dr. Wolfgang Behringer’s excellent book. The period labelled “GDA” is the Greek Dark Ages, during this Bray low the Late Bronze Age ended and after a period of civilization collapse, the Early Iron Age started. The “Uruk” Bray low event corresponds with the expansion of the Uruk civilization and the growth of some of the world’s first cities. Near the end of the Uruk Bray low, the Middle East transitions from the Copper Age to the Early Bronze Age and cuneiform writing appears.

You can read the full text of this interesting essay HERE. I also found the comments on this essay by Andy May and Javier very interest and worth your time to review. It is clear we have multiple solar cycles creating a complex mix of overlapping cycles, where the sum of the influence waxes and wains over time. We live in a complex universe.

Posted in Analysis, Dalton, Discovery, History, Maunder, Solar | 3 Comments

THE BLOB Has Dissipated

This post was intended as an update to the California Drought Report #47 on my  Sierra Foothills Commentary Blog. The reported blob and it’s consequences are no longer present. My apology for cluttering up The Next Grand Minimum.

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale


Animation 1 – Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Maps from the CMC Environment Canada (September 17, 2016 and October 27, 2016)

The Blob was the name given to the area of elevated sea surface temperature anomalies in the eastern extratropical North Pacific. It formed in 2013, coupling with a ridge of high pressure that impacted weather patterns across North America into 2015.  The Blob was the primary contributor to the reported record high global sea surface temperature anomalies in 2014, and contributed to the record highs in 2015 along with the 2015 portion of the 2014/15/16 El Niño. (See General Discussions 2 and 3 of my free ebook On Global Warming and the Illusion of Control – Part 1.  Also see the series of posts about The Blob for additional general information.)

After a noticeable drop in the sea surface temperature anomalies for that region…

View original post 186 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments