An erupting solar prominence photographed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). [More]
In a post a few days ago I mentioned scientists discovering that global warming appears to be happening on Mars in its polar ice caps and that this was likely evidence of a solar linkage that also affects Earth’s climate. Today NASA announced in an article shown below that the next solar sunspot cycle due in 2010 is likely to be one of the historically largest in 400 years of sunspot records.
What does this mean? Well if you follow sunspots and temperature trends on earth you’ll be able to see clear correlations between the ebb and flow of sunspots and Earthly temperature. While global warming proponents brush this off as inconsequential, the fact is that when sunspots happen in larger numbers, Earth warms up, when they disappear, the earth cools, as evidenced by a 50 year cold period in Medieval history with virtually no sunspots known as the Maunder Minimum. Its also called The Little Ice Age.
So, with a big sunspot cycle in the next few years, we can expect many record high summer temperatures and warmer than normal winters. We’ll see melting sea ice, retreating glaciers, and wailing of those saying “We told you so, CO2 is killing the planet!”. Al Gore will probably get elected President by a panicked nation, and general worry and angst will reign supreme. Emergency CO2 emissions measures may be enacted. Perhaps a rationing on driving our cars?
And then, when solar cycle 25 hits ten years later, which will likely be much smaller, the “crisis” will subside and those whom enacted those emergency measures will pat themselves on the back and bask in their “heroism”. Except, it won’t have anything to do at all with changes in emissions. It’s all about the sun. Just take a look at the picture above and notice just how small earth is compared to the sun, or even a large solar flare. Anybody whom thinks the human race has more effect on our global energy balance than an active sun does is just deluding themselves.
There’s a monetary bet out there: two Russian solar scientists are so certain that its the sun driving climate change and nothing else, they have put down a $10,000 bet with a prominent climate change scientist saying we’ll see a cooler of the earth by about 2015.
I want some of that action. Bets anyone?
From NASA, Dec. 21, 2006: Evidence is mounting: the next solar cycle is going to be a big
Solar cycle 24, due to peak in 2010 or 2011 "looks like its going to be one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center. He and colleague Robert Wilson presented this conclusion last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
Their forecast is based on historical records of geomagnetic storms. Hathaway explains: "When a gust of solar wind hits Earth’s magnetic field, the impact causes the magnetic field to shake. If it shakes hard enough, we call it a geomagnetic storm." In the extreme, these storms cause power outages and make compass needles swing in the wrong direction. Auroras are a beautiful side-effect.
Hathaway and Wilson looked at records of geomagnetic activity stretching back almost 150 years and noticed something useful:. "The amount of geomagnetic activity now tells us what the solar cycle is going to be like 6 to 8 years in the future," says Hathaway. A picture is worth a thousand words
Above: Peaks in geomagnetic activity (red) foretell solar maxima (black) more than six years in advance. [More
In the plot, above, black curves are solar cycles; the amplitude is the sunspot number. Red curves are geomagnetic indices, specifically the Inter-hour Variability Index or IHV. "These indices are derived from magnetometer data recorded at two points on opposite sides of Earth: one in England and another in Australia. IHV data have been taken every day since 1868," says Hathaway.
Cross correlating sunspot number vs. IHV, they found that the IHV predicts the amplitude of the solar cycle 6-plus years in advance with a 94% correlation coefficient.
“We don’t know why this works” says Hathaway. “The underlying physics is a mystery. But it does work.”
According to their analysis, the next Solar Maximum should peak around 2010 with a sunspot number of 160 plus or minus 25. This would make it one of the strongest solar cycles of the past fifty years—which is to say, one of the strongest in recorded history
Left: Hathaway and Wilson’s prediction for the amplitude of Solar Cycle 24. [More]
Astronomers have been counting sunspots since the days of Galileo, watching solar activity rise
and fall every 11 years. Curiously, four of the five biggest cycles on record have come in the past 50 years. “Cycle 24 should fit right into that pattern,”says Hathaway.
These results are just the latest signs pointing to a big Cycle 24. Most compelling of all, believes Hathaway, is the work of Mausumi Dikpati and colleagues at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. “They have combined observations of the sun’s ‘Great Conveyor Belt’ with a sophisticated computer
model of the sun’s inner dynamo to produce a physics-based prediction of the next solar cycle.” In short, it’s going to be intense.
Details may be found in the Science@NASA story Solar Storm Warning
“It all hangs together,” says Hathaway.
Picture above – Sunpot numbers have been increasing for the last 150 years and have been at their highest average levels during the last 20 years, which could explain much of the global warming conditions observed on earth.
Note that during the 1970s, sunspot numbers decreased, we had some severe winters, and many scientists and popular press at that time talked of a coming ice age. You can read a June 24th, 1974 article about a coming ice age in the TIME Magazine archive here:
Even as recently as 1994, TIME was concerned about a possible ice age coming as we see in this article:
Chances are, we’ll see another dramatic dip in sunspots by 2015 through 2022 and global cooling will set in again as it did in the 1970’s.