April 17, 2011
Sun Spot Activity Coming Back: Little Ice Age Averted?
Okay, anyone fantasizing about a new Little Ice Age due to an extended period of low sun spot activity should probably give up hope for revival of Thames frost fairs on a frozen river because the sun appears to be swinging back up out of its recent low point of sun spot activity. The solar cycle appears to be kicking up again.
Quiet spells on the sun are nothing new. They come along every 11 years or so—it's a natural part of the solar cycle. This particular solar minimum, however, was lasting longer than usual, prompting some researchers to wonder if it would ever end.
The sun's flaring and doing big spews of particles.
News flash: The pot is starting to boil. "Finally," says Fisher, "we are beginning to see some action."
As 2011 unfolds, sunspots have returned and they are crackling with activity. On February 15th and again on March 9th, Earth orbiting satellites detected a pair of "X-class" solar flares--the most powerful kind of x-ray flare. The last such eruption occurred back in December 2006.
Another eruption on March 7th hurled a billion-ton cloud of plasma away from the sun at five million mph (2200 km/s). The rapidly expanding cloud wasn't aimed directly at Earth, but it did deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field. The off-center impact on March 10th was enough to send Northern Lights spilling over the Canadian border into US states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.
No need to worry about the loss of prospects for an ice age epic disaster. When nature takes away it often gives as well. With large coronal mass ejections come back we should think about the real possibility of a solar Carrington Event with destruction of large numbers of electric power transformers and cause civilization to collapse. Even worse, there'd be no way to recharge Kindles and iPads.
So basically you are telling me we could get our electric power grid wiped out by one big CME followed by a plunge into a Little Ice Age. Oh great. Go ahead and make my day, will ya?
I'm good as long as the Mammoths don't eat my wife's bushes
The least energetic solar cycle in the 20th century eneded around 1913 - SC14.
The PDO was negative.
1910 was the coldest year in the 20th century.
SC24's predicted max sunspot # is 62
SC 14's maximum smoothed sunspot number (monthly number of sunspots averaged over a twelve month period) observed during the solar cycle was 64.2.
It could be a cold decade or two or three.
Nobody has a clue about future solar output cycles. Hathaway, the supposed guru, initially predicted solar cycle 24 was going to exceed cycle 23 in output just a few years ago and has revised his predictions downward several times since.
In actuality, solar flux is a more reliable measure since sunspots of much smaller size (eg observed from satellites) than were ever able to be counted in the past are routinely included in current counts. http://www.solarham.com/flux.htm
Bruce makes good points though. We will see if this cycle, which is very late with a protracted inactive period, is as low in output as is currently predicted and if successive cycles continue to be smaller than recent cycles as is predicted by some. If they are, we are in for a cold series of decades which should finally put "global warming" to a deserved grave.
Does the LIA mean I can grow tomatoes in the summer here in TX? Usually by June my back yard is too hot at night for them to produce... if so, let's see it!!
Don't worry about CA crops. It's not like we have any since that judge shut down our farm water.
I have to say that I'm a little disturbed by the talk here about Sun cycles controlling our climate, when we all know that only Man does that!! It's "settled science." Even Charlie Manson agrees!