by Robert Maynard
True North Reports has posted several articles in the past making the case that solar activity is a much bigger bigger factor in climate change than human generated CO2. We have also noted that satelite data indicates that the warming trend we had been experiencing actually ended in 1998. Now some scientists have taken note of a very short “solar maximum” and a lessening of solar activity that some believe has the potential to bring on a “Little Ice Age.” Here is a an excerpt from an Irish Times artilce:
The sun is acting bizarrely and scientists have no idea why. Solar activity is in gradual decline, a change from the norm which in the past triggered a 300-year-long mini ice age.
Three leading solar scientists presented the very latest data about the weakening solar activity at a teleconference yesterday in Boulder, Colorado, organised by the American Astronomical Society. It featured experts from Nasa, the High Altitude Observatory and the National Solar Observatory who described how solar activity, as measured by the formation of sunspots and by massive explosions on the sun’s surface, has been falling steadily since the mid-1940s.
The sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle with a maximum, when sunspot activity is at its peak, followed by a minimum when sunspot numbers are reduced and are smaller and less energetic. We are supposed to be at a peak of activity, at solar maximum.
Outside the norm
The current situation, however, is outside the norm and the number of sunspots seems in steady decline. The sun was undergoing “bizarre behaviour” said Dr Craig DeForest of the society.
The fall-off in sunspot activity still has the potential to affect our weather for the worse, Dr Elliott said. Research by Prof Mike Lockwood at the University of Reading showed how low solar activity could alter the position of the jet stream over the north Atlantic, causing severe cold during winter months. This was likely the cause of the very cold and snowy winters during 2009 and 2010, Dr Elliott said.
“It all points to perhaps another little ice age,” he said. “It seems likely we are going to enter a period of very low solar activity and could mean we are in for very cold winters.”
The last sentence contained a qualifier stating that the scientists really do not know what this unusual solar activity means for our future: “And while the researchers in the US said the data showed a decline in activity, they had no way to predict what that might mean for the future.” It is refreshing to hear some scientists admit that they really do not know what is going to happen. Global climate cycles are a complex phenomenon with many factors driving them. Making the claim that we know for a certainty what it has in store for us is displaying more than a little unwarranted hubris.