Solar Variability and Terrestrial Climate

Anthony Watt’s at WUWT discussed a new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,” lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.

This the part of the report that mentions grand minimums.

Much has been made of the probable connection between the Maunder Minimum, a 70-year deficit of sunspots in the late 17th-early 18th century, and the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters.  The mechanism for that regional cooling could have been a drop in the sun’s EUV output; this is, however, speculative.

Solar cylce spot record

The yearly averaged sunspot number for a period of 400 years (1610-2010). SOURCE: Courtesy of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

Dan Lubin of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography pointed out the value of looking at sun-like stars elsewhere in the Milky Way to determine the frequency of similar grand minima. “Early estimates of grand minimum frequency in solar-type stars ranged from 10% to 30%, implying the sun’s influence could be overpowering.  More recent studies using data from Hipparcos (a European Space Agency astrometry satellite) and properly accounting for the metallicity of the stars, place the estimate in the range of less than 3%.”   This is not a large number, but it is significant.

Indeed, the sun could be on the threshold of a mini-Maunder event right now.  Ongoing Solar Cycle 24 is the weakest in more than 50 years.  Moreover, there is (controversial) evidence of a long-term weakening trend in the magnetic field strength of sunspots. Matt Penn and William Livingston of the National Solar Observatory predict that by the time Solar Cycle 25 arrives, magnetic fields on the sun will be so weak that few if any sunspots will be formed. Independent lines of research involving helioseismology and surface polar fields tend to support their conclusion. (Note: Penn and Livingston were not participants at the NRC workshop.)

“If the sun really is entering an unfamiliar phase of the solar cycle, then we must redouble our efforts to understand the sun-climate link,” notes Lika Guhathakurta of NASA’s Living with a Star Program, which helped fund the NRC study. “The report offers some good ideas for how to get started.”

The full report, “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,” is available from the National Academies Press at
Author: Dr. Tony Phillips  |

 Quiet sun = cold planet.

Watts Up With That?

The December data from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center is in, and it looks more and more like the peak of solar cycle 24 has been reached, and that we are now past it. Even with documented problems like “sunspot count inflation” the sunspot count for December is quite low:


Note the large difference between the prediction line in red, and the counts. There are other indications that our sun remains in a slump.

The 10.7cm solar radio flux seems to have peaked also. 

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On The Cusp: Cold Summary from Tom Nelson

Historic Cold Snap In China Is Causing Dizzying Inflation In The Price Of Vegetables – Business Insider

A cold snap in China hasn’t gotten much attention here, but it might start to get more, as it’s causing massive food inflation.

Cold weather causes damages to sugarcanes in Guangxi –

Cold weather has caused damages to sugarcanes in Guangxi over the past days. Farmers are harvesting sugarcanes to avoid further losses. Weather forecast has showed that a fairly strong cold wave will hit the region on Jan. 9-12.

Schools close due to cold weather in northern provinces – Breaking news, sociey news from Vietnam

Many schools in Hanoi and several northern provinces have had to give thousands of students days off for health reasons, as cold weather has blanketed the region for several days.

BBC News – North India cold snap toll rises to 170

The Press Trust of India news agency reported that 175 people had died in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where temperatures have dipped to below zero.

Chinese wheat crop threatened by harsh winter

THE exceptionally cold weather in China this winter may have a detrimental effect on the country’s developing wheat crop, according to the China National Grain and Oils Information Centre (CNGOIC).

Cold-stunned sea turtles treated in North Carolina – Winston-Salem Journal: State / Region:

Jean Beasley of the sea turtle hospital said Monday the hospital was treating 22 turtles suffering from cold stunning.

Freezing temperatures endanger Athens’ homeless –

Snow blankets Athens, Greece as a sudden cold spell sweeps the country.

=================== Tom Nelson 

There is more cold on the way

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The Next Grand Minimum is to be the Eddy Minimum. Please read the whole post by David Archibald, as he raise some interesting question about what our future might hold, based on what has gone on before. History has a nasty habit of repeating it self, we live in world of cycles.

Watts Up With That?

Guest post by David Archibald

There were five named solar minima in the last millennium – the Oort, Wolf, Spörer, Maunder and Dalton minima. At least the last four were all associated with cold climates. The astrophysics community has elected to name the current period of low solar activity the Eddy Minimum. John A. Eddy was an American astronomer who compiled data demonstrating the periods of low solar activity prior to the Dalton Minimum. The Eddy Minimum will include at least Solar Cycles 24 and 25, and could continue until late in the 21st Century.

Benjamin Franklin was the first to suggest that volcanic eruptions might affect climate, in a 1784 communication to the Literary and Philosophical Association of Manchester:

“During several of the summer months of 1783, when the effect of the sun’s rays to heat the earth in these northern regions should have been greatest, there existed…

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On the Cusp? Alaska Winter so far is Unseasonably Early.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda – The M/V Augustine, operated by owner John Crandall, acts as an ice-breaker on Monday to clear passages in the English Bay Barge Basin. Colder-than-normal temperatures left small boats locked in the ice-choked basin.

The M/V Augustine and John Crandall, owner of Cook Inlet Marine, worked to break ice choking off the English Bay Barge Basin on Monday to make room for a barge recently rescued from a near-tragic grounding at Cold Bay.

The stranded crabbing barge, Unimak Trader, was rescued after nearly sinking on Nov. 13 while working 40 miles from Cold Bay. Aboard were 1.4 million pounds of crab that other vessels lightered off to be delivered to Dutch Harbor or Cold Bay seafood processors. The U.S. Coast Guard, meanwhile, supervised the removal of 20,500 gallons of fuel.

Once stabilized, the 250-foot vessel began the journey to Homer, towed by the Ocean Ranger. Here, it will be salvaged by Peninsula Scrap and Metal, said Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins, since the cost to repair the barge is exceeded by its value.

In order to make room for the enormous barge, the M/V Augustine cleared a channel of ice in Mud Bay and the basin where three other barges were moored. The Monday-morning clearing provided the 150-foot Polar Bear barge a chance to break free on a high tide, thanks to warmer temperatures after several days of being iced in Homer.

Crandall, who owns the only ice-breaker in Kachemak Bay, the heavy-duty M/V Redoubt, said the deep cold that took ahold this winter so far is unseasonably early. Redoubt’s sister vessel, the M/V Augustine isn’t an icebreaker, but she’s a tough ship that spent just a little over an hour breaking paths free for the Unimak Trader.

More HERE.

Sun Has Developed a Rash of Spots (Updated 01-06-13)

Space Weather has this photo of the sun showing a sudden outbreak of spots.


The Sunspot number is 181.  Could this be the restart of the climb to the predicted solar cycle maximum? This might create a solar cycle with twin peaks. Stay Tuned.


Update (12:45, 01-06-13)  Here is a comparison of past solar cycles. Note the double top on Cycle 23 in red below.


The effect of the double top was to lengthen the solar cycle. According to some scientist, the longer the cycle the cooler the climate on earth. Historic climate records support that view in some areas. archibald_energy_security_35

If we have double top on Solar Cycle 24, which is relatively low sunspot cycles, it will stretch the length in years and could result in even more cold.   Stay Tuned.

On the Cusp? 1000 China Vessels Stuck in Ice

Bitter cold has stranded about 1,000 vessels in a layer of thick sea ice on Laizhou Bay in China’s Shandong province, reports the China Daily newspaper.

The ice expanded to 291 square km this week and is continuing to grow, said Zheng Dong, chief meteorologist at the Yantai Marine Environment Monitoring Center under the State Oceanic Administration.

According to aquafarmers, the ice may lead to heavy losses as farmers are unable to penetrate the ice to provide adequate ventilation for sea cucumbers and other aquatic organisms.

Coastal police have warned the ice may damage vessels passing through deeper sea areas near the Bohai and Yellow seas, in the northern East China Sea.

Since late November the country has endured an average of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, 1.3 degrees colder than the previous average, and the chilliest in 28 years, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday, citing the China Meteorological Administration.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall forced the closure of some sections of the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway, the China Daily said. /international_January147.xml&section=international

H/T to Ice Age Now for the links.

The most interesting information is the shift in the corn belt as the climate cools.

Watts Up With That?

Note: the original title Solar Neutrons and the 1970s cooling period was unintentionally misleading as Dr. Svalgaard points out in comments:

What produces Solar Neutrons?
the title of the post is misleading. The cosmic rays are protons, not neutrons, and are not produced by the Sun, but by supernovae in the Galaxy. The ‘neutrons’ are produced in the Earth’s atmosphere when cosmic ray protons collide with air. Neutron Monitors can detect those ‘secondary’ neutrons.

I meant to convey the modulation effect of the sun’s magnetic field on cosmic rays, and hence neutrons. So I’ve truncated the title to: Neutrons and the 1970s cooling period – Anthony

Guest post by David Archibald

The world’s most eminent climatologist was Professor Hubert Lamb, who founded the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Professor Lamb was guided by the principle that if a climatologist is to project future climates, he must…

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USA – Current snow cover most in 10 years

USA – Current snow cover most in 10 year

As of January 1, 2013, we have more snow on the ground in the U.S then in the past 10 years! And records only go back 10 years calculating the percentages.

January 1 2013: 67%

January 1 2012: 20%

January 1 2011: 50%

January 1 2010: 61%

January 1 2009: 39%

January 1 2008: 47%

January 1 2007: 43%

January 1 2006: 29%

January 1 2005: 25%

January 1 2004: 29%


H/T to Ice Age Now at USA – Current snow cover most in 10 years.