As predicted, by John L. Casey and several others, including my analysis,1 we are entering a period of massively reduced sunspot activity. This may have significant ramifications for weather on this planet. Reduce sunspots means reduced solar activity and hence reduced solar flares and other associated solar activity. A new article, headlined with “The sun has gone blank twice this month. This is what it means”, reports2 that we are now seeing the sun some days with no sunspots and none of the grainy turbulence features as shown in Fig. 1.
The news report2
According to scientists, this unsettling phenomenon is a sign we are heading for a mini ice age.
Meteorologist and renowned sun-watcher Paul Dorian raised the alarm in his latest report, which has sparked a mild panic about an impending Game of Thrones-style winter not seen since the 17th century.
“For the second time this month, the sun has gone completely blank,” Mr Dorian says.
“The blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years.
“At first, the blankness will stretch for just a few days at a time, then it’ll continue for weeks at a time, and finally it should last for months at a time when the sunspot cycle reaches its nadir. The next solar minimum phase is expected to take place around 2019 or 2020.”
In order to illustrate what he means by a blank sun look at these two pictures of the sun. The first (Fig. 1) is what the sun “normally” looks like, in all its glory, solar flares and other blemishes. That was imaged in 2012, which was a year of increasing sunspots and solar activity. Now look at Fig. 2. This is what the sun looks like now. There are no features; in appearance, it is as smooth as a billiard ball.
The number of sunspots occur in the sun as part of several natural solar cycles, the shortest one being approximately every 11 years. This cycle is marked by the increase and decrease in the number of sunspots. They are visible as darker regions (cooler by comparison to the background) on the sun’s surface, which is called the photosphere. The greatest number of sunspots in any given solar cycle is designated as “solar maximum.” The lowest number is “solar minimum”. We are now entering a very pronounced solar minimum in sunspot cycle number 24. See Fig. 3.
On June 4th 2016, the sun went completely spotless for the first time since 2011 and that quiet spell lasted for about 4 days.3
Sunspots then reappeared for the next few weeks on a sporadic basis, but now they are once again completely missing from the surface of the sun. The blank sun is evidence that the next solar minimum is fast approaching and there will be an increasing number of days devoid of sunspots over the next few years. This will be accompanied by decreased solar activity, which may have significant consequences on Earth weather. The news report again.2
Given that the sun is the main driver of all weather and climate, the sinister-sounding “blankness” to which Mr Dorian refers has some experts predicting a “Maunder Minimum” phase similar to one which began in 1645 and which is referred to as the “Little Ice Age”.
The Maunder Minimum, named after solar astronomer Edward Maunder, lasted for a brutal 70 years and was so cold the Thames froze over.
A slightly less intense ice age-like period called the Dalton Minimum — after British Meteorologist John Dalton — arrived decades later and lasted from about 1790 to 1830.
“If history is any guide, it is safe to say that weak solar activity for a prolonged period of time can have a cooling impact on global temperatures in the troposphere which is the bottommost layer of Earth’s atmosphere — and where we all live,” Mr Dorian says.
Mr Dorian’s findings back research by professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University,4 who warned that a predicted sharp decline in solar activity between 2020 and 2050 was a sign another ice age was coming.
“I am absolutely confident in our research,” Prof Zharkova said.
As I have reported before we have been experiencing a 2-decade-long pause in any global temperature increase.5 The latest data (see Fig. 4) from Roy Spencer6 indicates a slight anomaly of 0.55 °C in average temperature for the lower atmosphere as of May 2016, with a trend of 0.1 °C/century. How long this trend continues and what are the main drivers behind it may soon be determined if this global downturn in temperatures results, following reduced solar activity. There is even the suggestion that we could be headed into another little ice age, but not quite as severe as the last big one.
Despite the warming alarmism still affecting the world’s politics the sun is behaving as expected and it will not be too long for us to wait to see if global weather trends as predicted. If it results in something like the Dalton Minimum we are in for a few decades of very cold weather indeed. It also would prove, without doubt, that mankind does not affect the weather as much as some believe.
- John G. Hartnett, The coming long dark winter?, March 29, 2015.
- The sun has gone blank twice this month. This is what it means, news.com.au, June 30, 2016.
- 10:15 AM | *THE SUN GOES BLANK AGAIN DURING THE WEAKEST SOLAR CYCLE IN MORE THAN A CENTURY*, June 23, 2016.
- V.V. Zharkova, S.J. Shepherd, S.I. Zharkov, Principal component analysis of background and sunspot magnetic field variations during solar cycles 21-23, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 424, Issue 4, pp. 2943-2953; PDF available.
- John G. Hartnett, The pause continues, December 22, 2015.
- Roy Spencer, Latest global average tropospheric temperatures, accessed July 1, 2016.