The main story is at the Space Daily and it about the impact of solar changes on communications satellites, spacecraft, and high altitude flyers. However, this latest research on reduced solar activity could have a major impact our climate. First the research and then the climate impact.
Recent research shows that the space age has coincided with a period of unusually high solar activity, called a grand maximum. Isotopes in ice sheets and tree rings tell us that this grand solar maximum is one of 24 during the last 9,300 years and suggest the high levels of solar magnetic field seen over the space age will reduce in future.
Graduate student Luke Barnard of the University of Reading will present new results on ‘solar climate change’ in his paper at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester.
The level of radiation in the space environment is of great interest to scientists and engineers as it poses various threats to man-made systems including damage to electronics on satellites. It can also be a health hazard to astronauts and to a lesser extent the crew of high-altitude aircraft.
The main sources of radiation are galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), which are a continuous flow of highly energetic particles from outside our solar system and solar energetic particles (SEPs), which are accelerated to high energies in short bursts by explosive events on the Sun.
The amount of radiation in the near-Earth environment from these two sources is partly controlled in a complicated way by the strength of the Sun’s magnetic field.
There are theoretical predictions supported by observational evidence that a decline in the average strength of the Sun’s magnetic field would lead to an increase in the amount of GCRs reaching near-Earth space.
By comparing this grand maximum with 24 previous examples, Mr. Barnard predicts that there is an 8% chance that solar activity will fall to the very low levels seen in the so-called ‘Maunder minimum’, a period during the seventeenth century when very few sunspots were seen.
Livingston and Penn have been observing the strength of the magnetic fields on the sun, especially around sunspots and have predicted that by Cycle 25 the sunspots will vanish, resulting in another grand minimum.
According to Henrik Svensmark’s cosmic theory of climate change, which was validated in experiments in 2006 and then reconfirmed in 2011 in the CLOUD experiment at CERN, cosmic rays coming from old supernovas can indeed make molecular clusters that can grow nearly a million times in mass to be large enough to become “cloud condensation nuclei” on which water droplets can form. Just a 10% increase in cloud cover from significantly reduce the earths temperature, and could bringing on a little ice age.
Readers can learn more about cosmic rays and climate change in The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change by Nigel Calder and Henrik Svensmark.
If Luke Barnard’s solar climate change research is correct, a quiet sun will allow more cosmic ray reach the earth. And, if Henrik Svensmark is correct then these cosmic rays will produce more clouds , and we can expect a much cooler world.
The question is will be have another little ice age? You thoughts are most welcome in the comments.