Climate Change and the Grand Minima
The “Grand Minima” is coming! It’s nearly here. No joke. How will it affect global climate change?
New evidence is making the obvious more obvious. For years solar physicists have been amassing evidence that the sun is headed toward a grand minima. The sun, folks, is going to sleep! For how long, nobody knows. If the past is any guide then it’ll be for about 60 years.
Two more new pieces of supporting evidence for this theory came to light last week. One piece is from NOAA’s monthly solar cycle progression report. The other is from a new paper in the Physical Review Letters of October 25th that rated a story last week in the regional science journal Nature India.
October Sunspot Number – November 5th, 2012
NASA released the October monthly sunspot number last week. Unexpectedly… once again it plunged. Now it’s down to 53.3!
That makes 3 months running that the sunspot number has dropped when it should be streaking skyward like a rocket toward solar maximum early next year. Its going the wrong way.
Instead, sunspots are fading. With only two months left in the year the sunspot number is only 58.8 for the year. It is now solidly on track to be the least active solar max since the Dalton Minimum 200 years ago.
This is not the only oddity. Stranger things are happening on the sun and new discoveries are constantly being made.
Nature India – November 5th, 2012
They published a paper on their theoretical research that made the big time in India science circles this month:
“Mystery of Sun’s ‘time out’ unravelled“
– K.S. Jayarama, Nature India, 11/5/2012
Using a theory they call the “flux transport dynamo model”, Choudhuri and Karak were able to calculate that there should have been between 24-30 ‘grand minima’ over the last 11,000 years; that the sun should have spent 10-15% of its time in a grand minima over that span and that a grand minima should occur in 1%-4% of all solar cycles.
A “grand minima” is defined as any period of time 20 years or longer when the sunspot number averages 15 or less.
Reconstructions of past solar cycles based on cosmogenic 14C and 10Be show there have been 27 grand minima over the last 11,000 years; that the sun has spent 17% of its time in a grand minima and that grand minima have occurred in 2.7% of all solar cycles.
That is a remarkable agreement between theory and empirical reconstructed data.
Over the last 11,000 years, grand minima have happen, on average, every 407 years. The last grand minima was the Maunder Minimum. It was 400 years ago.
The Las Cruces Bombshell
That takes us straight back to a stunning announcement made by solar physicists on June 14th, 2011 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Back then, at the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division annual meeting, three totally independent lines of research were presented that all point toward the sun heading into another grand minima. The three are:
- The sun’s magnetic field is decreasing to zero
- Sunspot umbras are fading
- The sun’s Cycle 25 ‘jet stream’ is missing
At the time, Dr. Frank Hill, the lead author presenting the ‘jet stream’ data made this amazing statement:
If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades. That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate
October’s solar progression report loudly proclaims that Dr. Hill and the others are right. Choudhuri and Karak’s dynamo theory provides a theoretical basis that ties everything together into a neat and tidy package.
Accumulating data and new theories are bridging the gap between speculation and expectation. The grand minima is coming!
A theoretical framework sounding like something strait out of the move Back to the Future – “flux transport dynamo” – backs it up.
Our current pathetically weak cycle, cycle 24, is not it yet. The next one, cycle 25, is it. By then sunspots will continue fading away like the Cheshire Cat as the sun’s magnetic field dribbles off to nothingness and the river of plasma that drives the engine of solar activity doesn’t come back for decades.
Paleoclimatology tells us that during past grand minima that the Earth has cooled off significantly. There is no reason to believe things won’t cool again now.
The question facing humanity is whether or not anthropogenic global warming (AGW) will be enough to offset the effect of solar cooling. Even a 3° C increase in AGW heating by the end of this century may not be enough to fight off the cold.
The historical record of the last 11,000 years indicates we will shiver.