Sun ‘falling silent’

Not global cooling, OK? It's just a regional cold snap

Not global cooling, OK? It’s just a regional cold snap

This may prove to be tricky for The Cause. If solar activity continues to drop, CO2 levels continue to rise, and global temperatures don’t follow, then the question is, why?

The IPCC has painted itself into a corner on solar effects on climate, claiming that changes in irradiance are too small to make any significant difference to global temperatures. We may have the opportunity to separate these variables over the next decades, as CO2 goes up and solar activity goes down. Where will global temperature go?

The BBC reports:

“I’ve been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” says Richard Harrison, head of space physics at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

He shows me recent footage captured by spacecraft that have their sights trained on our star. The Sun is revealed in exquisite detail, but its face is strangely featureless.

“If you want to go back to see when the Sun was this inactive… you’ve got to go back about 100 years,” he says.

This solar lull is baffling scientists, because right now the Sun should be awash with activity.

It has reached its solar maximum, the point in its 11-year cycle where activity is at a peak.

This giant ball of plasma should be peppered with sunspots, exploding with flares and spewing out huge clouds of charged particles into space in the form of coronal mass ejections.

But apart from the odd event, like some recent solar flares, it has been very quiet. And this damp squib of a maximum follows a solar minimum – the period when the Sun’s activity troughs – that was longer and lower than scientists expected.

“It’s completely taken me and many other solar scientists by surprise,” says Dr Lucie Green, from University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

The drop off in activity is happening surprisingly quickly, and scientists are now watching closely to see if it will continue to plummet.

“It could mean a very, very inactive star, it would feel like the Sun is asleep… a very dormant ball of gas at the centre of our Solar System,” explains Dr Green.

The Maunder Minimum coincided with the Little Ice Age, yet the Cause claims that the LIA was a ‘regional’ event, and the two are not connected. Mike Lockwood makes sure we don’t draw any sceptical conclusions:

He explains: “If we take all the science that we know relating to how the Sun emits heat and light and how that heat and light powers our climate system, and we look at the climate system globally, the difference that it makes even going back into Maunder Minimum conditions is very small.

“I’ve done a number of studies that show at the very most it might buy you about five years before you reach a certain global average temperature level. But that’s not to say, on a more regional basis there aren’t changes to the patterns of our weather that we’ll have to get used to.”

I guess we’ll see, won’t we? The Sun maybe about to give us a set of experimental conditions where two variables which have, until now, been rising together, will in future be moving in opposite directions. Interesting times.

Volcanoes + computer models = Little Ice Age (not the Sun, stupid)

Still irrelevant

As soon as it becomes clear that the Sun has more to do with climate change than anything our puny civilisation can throw at it, the wheels will finally come of the global warming gravy train. So it is little wonder that those with snouts in the trough will do anything to play down the effect of the Sun to ensure that man-made CO2 becomes the only “control knob” on the climate system.

Just as “we must get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”, now we have “we must get rid of the Little Ice Age”. And finally, they’ve worked out how: blame volcanoes (with a little help from a computer model, naturally):

The Little Ice Age was caused by the cooling effect of massive volcanic eruptions, and sustained by changes in Arctic ice cover, scientists conclude. [Note that Black says “was caused by” not “may have been caused by” – clearly no doubt here – Ed]

An international research team studied ancient plants from Iceland and Canada, and sediments carried by glaciers.

They say a series of eruptions just before 1300 lowered Arctic temperatures enough for ice sheets to expand.

Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, they say this would have kept the Earth cool for centuries.

The exact definition of the Little Ice Age is disputed [not to mention its very existence by some, like Michael Mann – Ed]. While many studies suggest temperatures fell globally in the 1500s, others suggest the Arctic and sub-Arctic began cooling several centuries previously.

The global dip in temperatures was less than 1C, but parts of Europe cooled more, particularly in winter, with the River Thames in London iced thickly enough to be traversable on foot.

What caused it has been uncertain. The new study, led by Gifford Miller at the University of Colorado at Boulder, US, links back to a series of four explosive volcanic eruptions between about 1250 and 1300 in the tropics, which would have blasted huge clouds of sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere.

But here’s the clincher:

Aerosols from volcanic eruptions usually cool the climate for just a few years.

When the researchers plugged in the sequence of eruptions into a computer model of climate, they found that the short but intense burst of cooling was enough to initiate growth of summer ice sheets around the Arctic Ocean, as well as glaciers.

The extra ice in turn reflected more solar radiation back into space, and weakened the Atlantic ocean circulation commonly known as the Gulf Stream.

“It’s easy to calculate how much colder you could get with volcanoes; but that has no permanence, the skies soon clear,” Dr Miller told BBC News.

“And it was climate modelling that showed how sea ice exports into the North Atlantic set up this self-sustaining feedback process, and that’s how a perturbation of decades can result in a climate shift of centuries.” (source)

When you see the phrase “plugged into a computer model” you know what you’re dealing with.

But “phew” at least for now. What a relief. The headbangers can go on ignoring the Sun and collecting the funding. For now…

Enjoy the warmth while it lasts

Lawrence Solomon writes in the Financial Post:

Thank your lucky stars to be alive on Earth at this time. Our planet is usually in a deep freeze. The last million years have cycled through Ice Ages that last about 100,000 years each, with warmer slivers of about 10,000 years in between.

We are in-betweeners, and just barely — we live in (gasp!) year 10,000 or so after the end of the last ice age. But for our good fortune, we might have been born in the next Ice Age.

Our luck is even better than that. Those 10,000-year warm spells aren’t all cosy-warm. They include brutal Little Ice Ages such as the 500-year-long Little Ice Age that started about 600 years ago. Fortunately, we weren’t around during its fiercest periods when Finland lost one-third of its population, Iceland half, and most of Canada became uninhabitable — even the Inuit fled. While the cold spells within the 10,000 year warm spells aren’t as brutal as a Little Ice Age, they can nevertheless make us huddle in gloom, such as the period in history from about 400 AD to 900 AD, which we know as the Dark Ages. We’ve lucked out twice, escaping the cold spells within the warm spells, making us inbetweeners within the inbetween periods. How good is that?

Read it here. (h/t Climate Change Fraud)

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