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.

Varhrenholt: "I feel duped on climate change"

Fritz Vahrenholt

More spectacular publicity from Germany for a high profile convert to scepticism. We posted on Fritz Vahrenholt, and his book, “The Cold Sun”, at the end of last month. Now Spiegel Online carries an interview with the renewable energy executive and former global warming disciple:

SPIEGEL: Do you seriously believe that all 2,000 scientists involved in the IPCC are deluded or staying true to the official line?

Vahrenholt: It’s not like that. However, I am critical of the role played by the handful of lead authors who take on the final editing of the report. They claim that they are using 18,000 publications evaluated by their peers. But 5,000 of them are so-called gray literature, which are not peer-reviewed sources. These mistakes come out in the end, just like the absurd claim that there will no longer be any glaciers in the Himalayas in 30 years. Such exaggerations don’t surprise me. Of the 34 supposedly independent members who write the synthesis report for politicians, almost a third are associated with environmental organizations like Greenpeace or the WWF. Strange, isn’t it?

SPIEGEL: Why are you taking on the role of the climate rebel with such passion? Where does this rage come from?

Vahrenholt: For years, I disseminated the hypotheses of the IPCC, and I feel duped. Renewable energy is near and dear to me, and I’ve been fighting for its expansion for more than 30 years. My concern is that if citizens discover that the people who warn of a climate disaster are only telling half the truth, they will no longer be prepared to pay higher electricity costs for wind and solar (energy). Then the conversion of our energy supply will lack the necessary acceptance.

SPIEGEL: If we take your book to its logical conclusion, it will be unnecessary to reduce CO2 emissions at all.

Vahrenholt: No. Even a temperature increase of only one degree would be a noticeable change. But I am indeed saying that climate change is manageable because the cooling effects of the sun and the ocean currents give us enough time to prepare. In any case, it will be easy for us in Germany to adjust.

SPIEGEL: So, is it a mistake to concentrate exclusively on the reduction of carbon dioxide?

Vahrenholt: Yes. In addition to carbon dioxide, we also have black soot, for example. It creates 55 percent of the warming effect of CO2, but it could be filtered out with little effort within a few years, especially in emerging and developing countries. And, in doing so, we would achieve huge benefits for human health.

Read it all here.

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…

"The Cold Sun"

"The Cold Sun"

The Sun will be playing a “starring” role in the climate over the next few decades, if predictions of a forthcoming solar decline are proved correct. This is going to be a very interesting time for all sides of the climate debate, because when the Sun decides to take it easy for a few years, it will, with luck, demonstrate clearly the magnitude of the effect the our nearest star has on our terrestrial climate, and how it compares to that of man-made greenhouse gases.

As we have seen, the AGW consensus team (“The Cause”) like to assure us at every turn that the only mechanism by which the Sun can alter the climate is by means of changes in solar irradiance. Earlier this week, the Met Office insisted that a predicted reduction in solar output over the next few years would be too small to offset greenhouse gas warming.

IPCC AR4 dismisses solar irradiance changes as too small to have any significant effect on our climate, but at the same time rates understanding of indirect solar effects as “very low”. Despite this, AR4 was still able to claim that “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” (Summary for Policymakers, p10).

How the IPCC could have made that leap of faith is a matter of political expediency rather than scientific certainty. But that’s the IPCC for you – a political organisation making political statements.

Svensmark and Calder’s “The Chilling Stars” (Amazon link) set the scene for novel mechanisms by which the Sun could modulate the Earth’s climate, apart from the traditional method of changes in solar irradiance. The most prevalent of these is modulation of cosmic rays via solar wind.

Put simply, increasing solar wind from an active Sun shield the planet from galactic cosmic rays (GCR), resulting in a reduction in cloud cover and consequent increase in global temperature. Conversely, when the Sun is dormant, the reduced solar wind allows more GCR, which act as cloud formation nuclei, thereby increasing cloud cover and reducing global temperature.

Recent experiments at the CLOUD facility have confirmed that the mechanism appears to have a basis in science.

Now we have articles appearing which indicate that Solar Cycle 25 could be the smallest in 300 years. If this were indeed the case, we could be looking at a “Grand Minimum” like the famous Maunder Minimum in the 17th century, during which the River Thames regularly froze and fairs were held on its icy expanses.

And from No Tricks Zone in Germany, news that a prominent environmentalist, Fritz Vahrenholt, has abandoned the faith and is predicting global cooling:

Fritz Vahrenholt wrote one of the standard books for the environmental protection movement, was the most well-known green-type social democrat, and today leads a company that is investing billions in renewable energy. But now not even he believes any longer in the forecasts of the IPCC and the Potsdam Institute concerning climate warming. More on that in tomorrow’s FOCUS (only in the print edition, not online). Also there is an interview with physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, who feels global cooling is far more problematic than a warming.”

Vahrenholt has written a book, Die kalte Sonne, The Cold Sun, which describes thus:

The IPCC is certain: global warming is man-inflicted. But are the infamous greenhouse gases indeed primarily responsible for our climate? And why is it not warmer? Vahrenholt and Lüninghave in the course of their studies intensively engaged with the different climate models. They come to the conclusion that global warming over the past 150 years is part of a natural cycle that is characterised primarily by the sun. The next decades will likely lead to a slight cooling rather than further heating. This provides time to develop renewable energy sources focused and make this change in an economically rational and sustainable manner.

Let’s hope for an English version sometime soon.

One thing is certain – if there is a solar decline as predicted and temperatures are unmoved as a result, we must accept that it is therefore more likely that the GHGs were the dominant cause of the modern warming. However, if temperatures fall significantly, then The Cause will have some serious thinking to do.

Forget global warming – it's global cooling we should worry about

Global cooling ahead?

For some time now, the indications have been that solar activity and sunspot number are heading towards a minimum in the next few decades. Will it be a Dalton-style or a Maunder-style minimum? If the latter, we should be looking forward to significant cooling.

We reported on a recent press release from the Met Office a few days ago (Solar decline “unlikely to offset greenhouse warming”: Met Office), where the warmist spin was that reductions in solar irradiance were insignificant and would not halt CO2-induced global warming.

And yes, if you put on your AGW-blinkers, forget 90% of the science of solar physics, focus only on solar irradiance and ignore the plethora of indirect effects on the climate which are related to the Sun, that’s probably correct.

But now others are speaking out on this narrow interpretation:

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

Notice how the data were released “without fanfare”, and consider how the data would have been released if they showed continued warming [here’s a clue, it would have been shouted from the rooftops]. As usual, inconvenient data is slipped out to avoid anyone noticing.

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food.

Because cooling is really bad news compared to a gentle warming. So be careful what you wish for…

Solar output goes through 11-year cycles, with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak.

We are now at what should be the peak of what scientists call ‘Cycle 24’ – which is why last week’s solar storm resulted in sightings of the aurora borealis further south than usual. But sunspot numbers are running at less than half those seen during cycle peaks in the 20th Century.

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still. 

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a  92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

Yet, in its paper, the Met Office claimed that the consequences now would be negligible – because the impact of the sun on climate is far less than man-made carbon dioxide. Although the sun’s output is likely to decrease until 2100, ‘This would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08C.’ Peter Stott, one of the authors, said: ‘Our findings suggest  a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases.’

These findings are fiercely disputed by other solar experts.

‘World temperatures may end up a lot cooler than now for 50 years or more,’ said Henrik Svensmark, director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at Denmark’s National Space Institute. ‘It will take a long battle to convince some climate scientists that the sun is important. It may well be that the sun is going to demonstrate this on its own, without the need for their help.’

Indeed so. Thanks to the Sun’s likely forthcoming decrease in output, we will have a real-world experiment to observe, which may finally reveal the level of influence our nearest star really has on our climate.

Read the rest here.

Sun may be "less active" in coming years

Sunspot with Earth to scale

But it won’t have any effect on the climate, because as any fule kno, the only thing that drives climate is man-made CO2 – specifically man-made CO2 from SUVs driven by right-wing sceptics.

If you were an impartial, apolitical scientist, you would be thrilled at this prospect, because it would be a heaven-sent (literally) opportunity to monitor and investigate the true effect of the sun’s activity on our climate. However, you can be sure that the alarmists will avoid it like the plague, because the results may challenge their man-made groupthink mindset.

Some unusual solar readings, including fading sunspots and weakening magnetic activity near the poles, could be indications that our sun is preparing to be less active in the coming years.

The results of three separate studies seem to show that even as the current sunspot cycle swells toward the solar maximum, the sun could be heading into a more-dormant period, with activity during the next 11-year sunspot cycle greatly reduced or even eliminated.

The results of the new studies were announced today (June 14) at the annual meeting of the solar physics division of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held this week at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

“The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus,” Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, said in a news briefing today (June 14).

The studies looked at a missing jet stream in the solar interior, fading sunspots on the sun’s visible surface, and changes in the corona and near the poles.

“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Hill said. “But the fact that three completely different views of the sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.” (source)

Some are even talking about a repeat of the Maunder Minimum, the period in the 17th century when sunspots disappeared (and, coincidentally, the planet went through the Little Ice Age). Interesting times.

(via WUWT)

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