Solar Cycle 24 Continues Historically Weak Pace and Cosmic Ray on the Rise

Meteorologist Paul Dorian, Vencore, Inc.

Historically weak solar cycle 24 continues to transition away from its solar maximum phase and towards the next solar minimum. There have already been 11 spotless days during 2017 and this follows 32 spotless days that occurred during the latter part of 2016. The blank look to the sun will increase in frequency over the next couple of years leading up to the next solar minimum – probably to be reached in late 2019 or 2020. By one measure, the current solar cycle is the third weakest since record keeping began in 1755 and it continues a weakening trend since solar cycle 21 peaked in 1980. One of the impacts of low solar activity is the increase of cosmic rays that can penetrate into the Earth’s upper atmosphere and this has some important consequences.

More details and graphics are HERE.

One of the consequences of extended periods of low solar activity is that it can result in an increase in stratospheric radiation. Specifically, as sunspot activity goes down, there is an increase in cosmic rays that penetrate into the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Cosmic rays are high-energy photons and subatomic particles accelerated in our direction by distant supernovas and other violent events in the Milky Way. Usually, cosmic rays are held at bay by the sun’s magnetic field, which envelops and protects all the planets in the Solar System. But the sun’s magnetic shield is weakening as the current solar cycle heads towards the next solar minimum and this allows more cosmic rays to reach the Earth’s atmosphere.

[ooo]

One of the consequences of extended periods of low solar activity is that it can result in an increase in stratospheric radiation. Specifically, as sunspot activity goes down, there is an increase in cosmic rays that penetrate into the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Cosmic rays are high-energy photons and subatomic particles accelerated in our direction by distant supernovas and other violent events in the Milky Way. Usually, cosmic rays are held at bay by the sun’s magnetic field, which envelops and protects all the planets in the Solar System. But the sun’s magnetic shield is weakening as the current solar cycle heads towards the next solar minimum and this allows more cosmic rays to reach the Earth’s atmosphere.

The impact of cosmic rays on the climate are still being debated some scientist think more rays increase cloud cover, thus cooling the plant, other see the opposite impact, less cloud cover. The science is still unsettled. What is your opinion?  More cosmic rays equal more clouds?  Fewer clouds?

Posted in Cosmic Rays, Solar, Weather | 1 Comment

The New Maunder Minimum? Vegetable Shortages Strike London

Eric Worrall writing at WUWT

Why do I describe this as a possible early taste of Maunder Minimum like conditions? As WUWT has reported, solar activity has been unusually low this cycle, and appears to be trending downwards, leading to predictions we are entering a new solar grand minimum.

While the connection between solar activity and weather is controversial, in Europe, Solar Grand Minima appear to be associated with cold, rainy weather, and growing season difficulties.

Consider this description of the Little Ice Age, one of the most brutal periods of which coincided with the Maunder Minimum (1645 – 1715). The description is from Hubert Lamb, founded of the Climatic Research Unit.

Hubert Lamb said that in many years, “snowfall was much heavier than recorded before or since, and the snow lay on the ground for many months longer than it does today.” In Lisbon, Portugal, snowstorms were much more frequent than today; one winter in the 17th century produced eight snowstorms. Many springs and summers were cold and wet but with great variability between years and groups of years. Crop practices throughout Europe had to be altered to adapt to the shortened, less reliable growing season, and there were many years of dearth and famine (such as the Great Famine of 1315–1317, but that may have been before the Little Ice Age).

Read More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

Obviously in today’s connected world high speed transport will soon solve the shortage in England. It is possible to fly or ship vast quantities of food from other regions to make up for any lack.

However this unexpected food shortage should be a wakeup call to Europe and the world, that there are potential climate problems other than global warming which should occupy some of their attention.

If current conditions worsen, and crop losses in Europe and other Northern growing regions become the norm, at the very least poor people will begin to suffer from the impact of rising prices.

The rest of the article is HERE. This may be only temporary, so watch carefully if it becomes longer term trends. We are having excessive snow and rain in California which is producing excessive flooding. Long-term flooding will slow spring planting.

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

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 skepticalscience.com 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 | 4 Comments

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:

blank_strip_01-11-17

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

 

blank_strip_12_26_16

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.”

ooo

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

David:

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