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Now the sun has gone into lockdown! - SOLAR ALERT !

Started by EvadingGrid, May 15, 2020, 04:20:37 AM

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Now the sun has gone into lockdown!
Reduced activity on the solar surface has sparked fears of a doomsday mini ice age. So is it time we saw the light, asks JANE FRYER

By Jane Fryer for the Daily Mail
Published: 00:32 BST, 15 May 2020

Big news this week about the giant, burning, boiling, spinning thermonuclear reactor which lies 93 million miles away from Earth but is our primary source of life-­giving heat and light. And one might be forgiven for hoping — after weeks of lockdown, far too many deaths, a largely hobbled workforce and an economy spiralling deep into recession — that it might be good news.

Forecasts of a lovely, long, blueskied barbecue summer to perk up our enforced staycations, perhaps? Or, at the very least, a spot of predictable, settled weather to keep our battered spirits afloat. Sadly, not.

Because it turns out that even the Sun has gone into a lockdown '­recession'. Or, more accurately, a deep period of 'solar minimum'. Which means that the activity on the Sun's surface has fallen dramatically, and its magnetic field has become weaker, letting into the environment more of the sort of cosmic rays that cause dramatic lightning storms and interfere with astronauts and space hardware. They can also can lead to the explosion of 'sprites' — clusters of orange and red lights that shoot out of the top of thunderstorms like 60-mile-high palm trees in the sky. Oh yes, and on top of all that, theoretically it could cause the temperature on Earth to drop to potentially catastrophic new lows.

While the Met Office and members of the Royal Astronomical Society are urging us not to panic and reminding us that this is just nature, nothing to worry about and the sort of thing that happens every 11 years or so as the Sun passes through its activity cycle, some doom-and-gloomers are much less optimistic. Perhape they're haunted by the extreme 'solar minimum' thought to have contributed to the so-called Little Ice Age in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the temperatures fell so low the River Thames froze over, crops failed, lightning storms lit up the skies, and — in 1816 — the weather was so crazy that it snowed in July. As we all know, the Sun — which is 4.5 billion years old and more than a million times bigger than the Earth — is not only a source of cheer when it finally pops out from behind the clouds, it also keeps us all alive. Which means that the teeniest change in its activity levels can have extraordinary consequences — triggering lightning storms, the appearance or disappearance of the Northern Lights and those amazing sprites.

But the Sun's activity is changing constantly as it passes through its regular cycle, from solar maximum (hottest and most active) to solar minimum (quieter and cooler).

Since the 17th century, scientists have been measuring the depth of a solar minimum by counting the 'sunspots' — areas of m­agnetic activity on the solar surface which show up as relatively dark spots — and solar flares, large explosions that hurl charged particles into space. The general rule is the fewer the sunspots, the more severe the minimum and the higher the chances of lightning storms, sprites and disruption on Earth. So far this year, the Sun has been 'blank' — with no sunspots — 76 per cent of the time. A figure surpassed just once since the Fifties, last year, when it was 77 per cent blank.

So could we be heading for a grand solar minimum, a sustained period — decades, even centuries — of particularly weak solar cycles? Are we now — on top of everything else — facing another mini ice age?

While it might all sound terribly dramatic and end-of-the-world-ish, history does tell a salutary lesson. Two hundred years ago, we were deep in the midst of the Dalton Minimum, which occurred between 1790 and 1830 and was marked by periods of brutal cold.

Temperatures fell by 2c over 20 years, which may not sound much, but had the effect of devastating the world's food production and causing widespread famine.

The misery was then exacerbated by (unrelated) powerful volcanic eruptions. On April 10, 1815, the secondlargest volcanic eruption in 2,000 years happened at Mount Tambora in Indonesia, killing more than 71,000 people and plunging the temperature still lower, as giant ash clouds blocked the solar rays. The following year became known as the 'year without a summer' or '­eighteen hundred and froze to death', after snow fell in July and thousands died in the famine, food riots and starvation which spread across Europe. A typhus epidemic made things worse. Before all that came the Maunder Minimum (named after astronomer WalterMaunder), a grand solar minimum which started in 1645, took in the ice fairs on the River Thames during the reign of Charles II and dragged on for 70 years.

During this time scientists observed only 50 sunspots — compared to the 40,000 to 50,000 that we would expect during an equivalent period of 'normal' activity. So it's a relief to hear from Mathew Owens, professor of space physics at Reading University, that history is not about to repeat itself.

While he admits today's solar minimum is 'fairly deep', he insists we don't need to worry about finding ourselves in a mini ice age any time soon. 'We get a solar minimum every 11 years, so it's a fairly regular occurrence,' he says. He also insists it needs putting in context, because any fall in temperature would be minuscule. 'After all, the last solar minimum, which we had in 2009/10, was the deepest for 100 years, and we didn't die then!' Meanwhile, Met Office scientist Jeff Knight insists that, while a solar minimum does have an effect — contributing to very slightly colder winters (the last minimum between 2008 and 2010 coincided with some colder than usual winters in the UK) — it is very small.

'A solar minimum is likely to affect the global mean temperature, making it cooler, but by barely a 20th of a degree,' he says.

Which also means this is no get-out-of-jail-free card for global warming. 'Just because we're in a minimum, it doesn't mean global warming is going to be arrested or reversed — it has a far more subtle effect than that,' he insists.

Of course, our prime concern is that the Sun continues to shine. But happily, given we have so much on our plates at the moment, we can park that worry for another five billion years.

Last Edit by Gladstone


Dalton Minimum

The Dalton Minimum was a period of low sunspot count, representing low solar activity, named after the English meteorologist John Dalton, lasting from about 1790 to 1830[1] or 1796 to 1820,[2] corresponding to the period solar cycle 4 to solar cycle 7.

Like the Maunder Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Dalton Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures. During that period, there was a variation of temperature of about 1 °C in Germany.[3]

The cause of the lower-than-average temperatures and their possible relation to the low sunspot count are not well understood. Recent papers have suggested that a rise in volcanism was largely responsible for the cooling trend.[4]

While the Year Without a Summer, in 1816, occurred during the Dalton Minimum, the prime reason for that year's cool temperatures was the highly explosive 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which was one of the two largest eruptions in the past 2000 years. One must also consider that the rise in volcanism may have been triggered by lower levels of solar output as there is a weak but statistically significant link between decreased solar output and an increase in volcanism.

Last Edit by Gladstone


Maunder Minimum

The Maunder Minimum, also known as the "prolonged sunspot minimum", is the name used for the period around 1645 to 1715 during which sunspots became exceedingly rare, as was then noted by solar observers.

The term was introduced after John A. Eddy[1] published a landmark 1976 paper in Science.[2] Astronomers before Eddy had also named the period after the solar astronomers Annie Russell Maunder (1868–1947) and her husband, Edward Walter Maunder (1851–1928), who studied how sunspot latitudes changed with time.[citation needed] The period which the Maunders examined included the second half of the 17th century.

Two papers were published in Edward Maunder's name in 1890[3] and 1894,[4] and he cited earlier papers written by Gustav Spörer.[5][6] Because Annie Maunder had not received a university degree, restrictions at the time caused her contribution not to be publicly recognized.[7] Spörer noted that, during a 28-year period (1672–1699) within the Maunder Minimum, observations revealed fewer than 50 sunspots. This contrasts with the typical 40,000–50,000 sunspots seen in modern times (over similar 25 year sampling).[8]

The Maunder Minimum occurred with a much longer period of lower-than-average European temperatures which is likely to have been primarily caused by volcanic activity.

The Maunder Minimum roughly coincided with the middle part of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America experienced colder than average temperatures. Whether there is a causal relationship, however, is still under evaluation.[13] The current best hypothesis for the cause of the Little Ice Age is that it was the result of volcanic action.[14][15] The onset of the Little Ice Age also occurred well before the beginning of the Maunder Minimum,[14] and northern-hemisphere temperatures during the Maunder Minimum were not significantly different from the previous 80 years,[16] suggesting a decline in solar activity was not the main causal driver of the Little Ice Age.

The correlation between low sunspot activity and cold winters in England has recently been analyzed using the longest existing surface temperature record, the Central England Temperature record.[17] They emphasize that this is a regional and seasonal effect relating to European winters, and not a global effect. A potential explanation of this has been offered by observations by NASA's Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, which suggest that solar UV output is more variable over the course of the solar cycle than scientists had previously thought.[18] In 2011, an article was published in the Nature Geoscience journal that uses a climate model with stratospheric layers and the SORCE data to tie low solar activity to jet stream behavior and mild winters in some places (southern Europe and Canada/Greenland) and colder winters in others (northern Europe and the United States).[19] In Europe, examples of very cold winters are 1683–84, 1694–95, and the winter of 1708–09.[20]

The term "Little Ice Age" applied to the Maunder Minimum is something of a misnomer, as it implies a period of unremitting cold (and on a global scale), which was not the case. For example, the coldest winter in the Central England Temperature record is 1683–1684, but summers during the Maunder Minimum were not significantly different from those seen in subsequent years. The drop in global average temperatures in paleoclimate reconstructions at the start of the Little Ice Age was between about 1560 and 1600, whereas the Maunder Minimum began almost 50 years later.

Last Edit by Gladstone


Little Ice Age

The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period.[2] Although it was not a true ice age, the term was introduced into scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939.[3] It has been conventionally defined as a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries,[4][5][6] but some experts prefer an alternative timespan from about 1300[7] to about 1850.[8][9][10]

The NASA Earth Observatory notes three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming.[6] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report considered the timing and areas affected by the Little Ice Age suggested largely independent regional climate changes rather than a globally synchronous increased glaciation. At most, there was modest cooling of the Northern Hemisphere during the period.[11]

Several causes have been proposed: cyclical lows in solar radiation, heightened volcanic activity, changes in the ocean circulation, variations in Earth's orbit and axial tilt (orbital forcing), inherent variability in global climate, and decreases in the human population (for example from the Black Death and the colonization of the Americas).

IPCC in full panic mode about this historic "anomaly" - LOL

Last Edit by Gladstone



Should we next plunge into a micro-ice-age, it will make not a blind bit of difference to "humans are to blame", theme ride.

Expect no public apology and abandonment of policy.

See "Report From Iron Mountain (1967)" for the "Why ?"

Last Edit by Gladstone