Our Current Minimum is More Maunder than Dalton

Guest Post by David Archibald

This is a plot of three year windows on the Maunder and Dalton Minimum and the current minimum:


What it is showing is how the start of the current minimum compares with the starts of the Maunder and Dalton Minima.  The solar cycle minimum at the start of the Dalton was a lot more active than the current one.  If you consider that very small spots are being counted now, the activities are very similar.  This is how they look without the Dalton:


If you consider the [current sunspot] counting problem, they are actually a pretty good match.

David Archibald


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Neil O'Rourke

Is your graph based upon published numbers or Leif’s corrected numbers?

How about the Oort Minimum? Can you put up a chart for that?


Whatever the outcome, I hope “Science” gets its act together and
never allows the statement “The debate is over!” to be heard ever again.


No kidding… this was in the Google Ads from this post:
“Is Doomsday Sooner Than
We Think? Find Out What Nostradamus Says About The Years 2009 – 2012.
If we are at the start of a Maunder Minimum, it’s gonna be hard for many generations to come.
Hmmm, how will Gore spin this one in order to keep fooling the people to still pay for this… because he will make sure that we can still feel the guilt of what nature decides to do next.

Richard Henry Lee

This current solar minimum may give a chance for Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Institute to test his theories regarding the effect of galactic cosmic rays on cloud formation as playing a role in climatology.
He postulates that, in this case, a decrease in solar activity would also reduce the solar wind would also lead to a decrease in the interplanetary magnetic field which acts as a shield for galactic cosmic rays. The decreased magnetic field would allow more galactic cosmic rays to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and induce more cloud formation due to the production of ions which act as nuclei for cloud formation. An increase in cloud formation would lead to a cooling cycle.
Svensmark’s current work is here:
While his work is not broadly accepted, it is an interesting theory nevertheless. His book, “The Chilling Stars”, is interesting reading.


My first prediction came true 🙂 The first region is indeed a plague, although it wasn’t difficult since it did look less active than the other region in the behind images! Now we will see what the next region brings, a few spots perhaps..
Neil O’Rourke:
What do you mean by “corrected”? Are these “corrected” numbers viewed as correct by other solar physicists? Just curious.
These graphs are indeed pretty but I doubt that the weaker activity of the sun post 2006 is similar to the Maunder…

Neil O’Rourke (22:44:08) :
Dr Svalgaard exists in a parallel universe of data series he has created to support his notion that the Sun does not vary enough to change climate. He can’t fiddle with the Be10 data though. We can’t go back to the 19th century and rerecord the aa data, but we can go back to the Greenland ice sheet and get the same ice core data over and over again.
Mike Lorrey (22:48:01) : No data for the Oort. The observations for most of the 17th century were pretty good, and more consistant that parts of the early 19th century.
There a few signs that this minimum is special. The sunspot data suggests that it could be Maunder-type special.


Better yet, chart it against the so-called ‘Damon Minimum’ of the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

Willem de Rode

How comparable are the three datasets ?
Were the technical means during dalton and maunder minima that accurate that they could deliver data that can compared with the actual data ?

>>Is your graph based upon published numbers
>>or Leif’s corrected numbers?
I wouldn’t put much stock in Leif’s corrected numbers – he was arguing on the basis that “the data does not agree with my theory, so the data must be wrong.” Thus, the Maunder minimum disappeared in a puff of logic, in much the same way that Douglas Adam’s Babel-fish made god disappear in a similar puff of logic.
Now I know that Einstein was supposed to have said, “if the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts”, but the facts still are the facts. The Maunder minimum was cold, and many distinguished astronomers of that era could not see any spots. Spot-counting is not rocket science, after all. Its not something that is going to be wildly affected by observational technique and there were many different teams doing the observing – so even if the Vienna team were a bit off (as Leif argues), the Greenwich team would not have been affected by any presumed Austrian incompetence. So why did the Greenwich observer’s data mimick that of the Vienna team? Answer – there were very few spots and the data is correct.
The revised Sunspot number theory for the Maunder and Dalton minimums just does not stack up.
P.S. We had a big discussion about this on another thread, but I cannot find it any more. I did a search for ‘Einstein’ and ‘Greenwich’ and it did not find the other thread.

Paul Stanko

After further examination, my uncle (who is also a meteorologist) and I came to a similar conclusion… rather than simply competing with the Dalton, this minimum may actually be on course to crush it. Also, other interesting research points to a potential Maunder-like minimum…
First of all, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Yes, Dr. Hathaway’s prediction for cycle 24 bombed, but just suppose he does have a good method (speed of convection currents) for forecasting 2 cycles out. He has gone on record as saying that he expects cycle 25 to be the weakest in centuries as the speed of convection currents has dropped off the bottom of his chart. So, in fact, Dr. Hathaway is really not that far removed from talking Maunder-like stuff himself.
Second, of course, is Penn and Livingston and the ongoing evident correctness of their observation that after 2015 visible sunspots will be quite rare indeed. Couple that with Leif’s prediction of a 2014 maximum for cycle 24 and things start to get very interesting indeed. It seems that cycle 24 may actually struggle to a very weak level then after that, almost nothing.
Of course, that is the greatest curse a Chinese person can give you, “May you live in interesting times.”
Regards to all,

I wonder what Unreal Climate will make of this, perhaps the graphs are pictures of fishing lines!

David Archibald (23:55:46) :
Neil O’Rourke (22:44:08) :
Of course it is not. Try to click on it to see for yourself.
Dr Svalgaard exists in a parallel universe of data series he has created to support his notion that the Sun does not vary enough to change climate. He can’t fiddle with the Be10 data though
don’t need to. McCracken and Beer have already calculated the Heliospheric Magnetic Field from the 10Be data. I replot their [hard to read] Figure here:
It should be clear from the Figure on page 2 that the HMF during the Maunder minimum was not any different from that in the 18th, 19th, and first half of the 20th centuries. As David points out, one cannot fiddle with the 10Be data, and they clearly show no change in HMF between 1600 and 1945, apart from the regular 11-year cycle and the occasional volcanic effects as marked on the Figure.

UK Sceptic

If what we are witnessing is the onset of a Maunder type minimum then surely, once it has been confirmed, this will kill warmist driven alternative energy policies stone dead?
Will increased CO2 emissions then be feted as the saviour of Greeniekind? Will the prospect of freezing their buttocks off and going hungry lead them to a rethink on the whole AGW agenda?
Probably not.
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Albert Einstein.

Richard deSousa

Be afraid… be very afraid. This could be nature’s way of culling the human race. If indeed we are heading towards a Maunder type minimum, the die off of humans will be severe.

Alan the Brit

Richard 111;-)
I don’t know, it could still be used for the AGW debate, surely? I agree that it should quitely dissappear from all scinetific debate, along with words like “consensus”, a word I always associated with “we don’t really know for sure but we’ll go along for the time being”.

Pierre Gosselin

makes a good point.
Dave may be comparing today’s trend to sunspot observations that were rough and arbitrary in the past.
How sure can we be of the sunspot numbers from a technically primitive era?
He may have a point here, but I feel he might be 6 months or a year premature. But certainly worth posting and reading.

Pierre Gosselin

Looking at the latest solar image, there were some spots.
Aren’t they a little low in lattitude?


Without getting into the science, I had felt skeptical about the impact of cosmic rays on cloud formation. In my experience, a rising column of air is doing to form a cloud with 100 percent certainty once the relative humidity hits 100 percent.
However if the cloud formation was facilitated by cosmic rays, then the rising air will more quickly heat up, causing a convective kick and a tendency to suck up more air from below. Although the amount of vapor in the atmosphere is likely to remain relatively constant, the extra air movement would facilitate convective heat transfer (at 180 W/m2 average, it wouldn’t take much fractional change to have a big impact), and any increase in those ephemeral clouds that come into being then dissipate will decrease the amount of solar energy reaching the surface.

If there is a die off, I predict that said die off will consist of the Catlin Team members, their wannabes, fans, everyone who is looking forward to living fat off of Carbon Tax welfare statism, PETA members, and all the other fools who couldn’t live without a big city to support them.
How cold do you bet it will get before they start telling us to throw more logs on the fire?
Then again, they already took care of a new ice age in “The Day After Tomorrow”: thats due to global warming also.

Chris H

@UK Sceptic “once it has been confirmed, this will kill warmist driven alternative energy policies stone dead?”
Since when have facts got in the way of Al Gore, or the AGW social-political religion in general? AGW will only be dead once they’ve found some other equally bad scare to replace it. (AGW replaced the AIDS hysteria, for which several decades of facts have proven their dooms-day predictions wrong.)

TFN Johnson

What are the x and y axes please?

Paul Stanko

There were some meteorological errors in that movie, “The Day After Tomorrow”. I got stuck on a 14 hour flight from Houston to Narita with only Japanese movies with English subtitles or “The Day After Tomorrow”. I tried for 8 hours to watch the other movies, but even with the English subtitles it was a bit tough. Probably just a culture barrier. I finally threw in the towel and was left watching “The Day After Tomorrow” 3 times. Not bad as a story, but again, let’s just say it leaves something to be desired as a meteorology lesson.
Hurricanes (and Typhoons or any other name you can find) have a clear center because they are warm core. They actually end up being a high pressure system at high altitudes due to the hypsometric equation (how’s THAT for an inconvenient truth?). This causes the sinking air that forms the storm’s clear eye. Plainly, the storms they were depicting in “The Day After Tomorrow” were anything but warm core.
If you remember the scientist said when asked “Wouldn’t the sinking air warm?” and he replies it would, except it is sinking too fast. WRONG – if it sank faster it would warm faster. They only way it could avoid warming is for its pressure and volume to remain constant… about as likely as the North Pole becoming ice free next month. Air of any temperature sinking from the stratosphere would be much more likely to flash fry you than flash freeze you.
So, hopefully, we could shoot some holes in that as well if they started to use it. Interesting to get back in my field for a bit here. Since I’m employed by NOAA, I dare not comment on most of the weather related stuff here. It would be far too easy for what I said to be misinterpreted as the official opinion of NOAA, which it is not. I type what I think, and that’s all. This info is just from my meteorology degree.
Hope this helps,


The comparison is simple: Both the Maunder and Dalton were recorded in groups. They didn’t count spots, they counted groups. There are still group counts that go on to this day. Compare them at the group level.
The weakest part of the record for the 3 is the Dalton, and it still shows more activity at this point than present day. The Maunder actually had better coverage.
On this page, 2nd graph down:
http://www.robertb.darkhorizons.org/2008fac.JPG – the white light faculae for 2008.
Rotating into view right now is a white-light faculae for the 1st region we saw on stereo behind.
As you can see in that graph, they too have become quite scarce.
Except for a small gap in the record, this data has been kept by Greenwich for 100 years and now http://www.vds-sonne.de/gem/res/results.html
The dearth of faculae at present is somewhat remarkable.
If you were to do a faculaless days count, you might be surprised.

On this and other blogs I have, from time to time, asked for evidence that the Dalton minimum period was in fact significantly colder than other periods in the 19th century. So far – nothing! None of the long term temperature records (apart from one, perhaps) indicate anything remarkable during the DM. A few tenths below the then average, perhaps, but nothing to write home about.
Actually, it’s not true that I got nothing back. There were a few pieces of anecdotal evidence. Most notable was the loss of Napoleon’s troops due to cold during the retreat from Moscow. Apparently, winter in Russia was cold during the Dalton Minimum. However, I don’t believe this is unique to the Dalton Minimum. I seem to think the Germans found it a bit parky in the early 1940s – a relatively warm period globally.
The DM picture is also confused by the level of volcanic activity including the massive Tombura eruption in 1815. But it’s also worth noting that on a polar expedition in 1817, William Scoresby Jr “noted a remarkable diminution of the polar ice” – a time when Britain was considering the possibility of opening up arctic sea routes.
So I’ll ask again. Is there any evidence that temperatures during the Dalton minimum (1790-1820) were significantly lower than the 19th century average. Here’s the CET record for starters

Jim Papsdorf

OT: ICECAP is back with posting on May 8th.
” Friday, May 08, 2009
My apologies for the site outage. A very rare major disc failure that affected a lot of clients of the hosting service occurred early on the 7th. The fastest way back was to reload the versions from April 29. They are still trying to bring back old server with info from May 6. Unfortunately the solution eliminated the 25 posts between April 29 and May 6.
Rather than post the backlog of new stories and then have them disapppear when (being optimistic) the site is fully restored, I am only going to add this notice this evening and then reassess tomorrow. My apologies. A lot is going on to tell you about.
Posted on 05/08 at 07:18 PM

>>If indeed we are heading towards a Maunder
>>type minimum, the die off of humans will be severe.
Why? We survived the Maunder Minimum in good shape, ready for the coming Enlightenment Era. Why will our age be any different?


D Archibald Totally agree.. Sun has no effect whatsoever on climate…However L Svaalgard seems to be coming round.. by default LOL


John Finn UK Met office not a credible source me thinks due to its offficial AGW commitment… LOL.. anymore anyway.. used to be a very professional body about 20 years ago


Wouldn’t it be survival of the richest?

>>In my experience, a rising column of air is doing to
>>form a cloud with 100 percent certainty
Not necessarily so, you can have a super-saturated body of water vapour that does not condense out – and ionisation most certainly assists condensation.
Yes water vapour will generally condense in the ‘violence’ of a cumulus cloud, but I don’t think that this is what we are talking about here. The idea is that humid layers in the high stratosphere are more likely to saturate given the ionisation of cosmic rays. Thus we will have more high altostratus, cirrostratus and mare’s tails in the high atmosphere that will reflect the Sun’s radiation.


Jim Hughes

My research in the mid 90’s showed that this upcoming minimum will be slightly stronger than the Dalton, as it was to Maunder and so on. And this rising pattern of the 180-200 year double Gleisberg Cycles will continue up until around 2500 AD. Then they start to decline in numerical value.
And I continue to like what I am seeing space weather wise in regards to my forecast for a June 2009 increase. Which is supposed to be the highest level of activity since March 2008.

Allan M R MacRae

ralph ellis (04:38:57) :
>>If indeed we are heading towards a Maunder
>>type minimum, the die off of humans will be severe.
Why? We survived the Maunder Minimum in good shape, ready for the coming Enlightenment Era. Why will our age be any different?
What worries me Ralph is that the scoundrels and imbeciles of the global warming cult are driving society in the wrong direction, and wasting trillions of dollars in scarce resources to fight their favorite fantasy – global warming.
If this foolish and destructive direction is not reversed soon, I fear that humanity will suffer greatly.
We are completely unprepared if severe global cooling happens.


We are absolutely seeing and counting spots today that would not have been seen or counted 350 years ago. Apples to apples, we appear to be Maundering.
What did Landechidt predict again? A Maunder or Dalton-type minimum?

Dave Middleton

Commenting on…
David Archibald
This is a plot of three year windows on the Maunder and Dalton Minimum and the current minimum

It might make your comparison even more compelling if you plotted a couple of typical (recent and historical) solar minima on the chart of the Maunder, Dalton and Modern minima.

The major reason will be starvation. Under a Maunder Minimum, there will be significant reduction in growing season in the northern latitudes. Countries such as Canada that are major food exporters would become food importers. There won’t be enough food to feed the masses.

gary gulrud

“The dearth of faculae at present is somewhat remarkable.”
Good info, thanks.


ralph ellis 04:38:57
An excellent question. I agree with Richard de Sousa that we face a holocaustic die-off of humans if the cooling is dramatic and lengthy. The primary reason will be widespread crop failures, followed by plagues and wars. A mere 5% die-off of the human race is 350 million people. The first world societies cannot be completely insulated from the consequences of such a catastrophe.
Also, society is much more highly structured today than in the past. Consequences of cooling are all pretty speculative at this point except for crop failures, and of course, will depend on the magnitude and length of the cooling. We are an adaptable species, however, and may do better than I expect.
Leif 01:36:06
Sorry to bore you but I’d like you to go through something from another thread, again. In one thread I speculated that if the sunspots go away, and if there aren’t any other changes in the known manifestations of the solar dynamic, then any global cooling, barring volcanoes or anthropogenic albedo change, might be attributable to the lack of spots or some unknown manifestation of the sun. Your answer didn’t make any sense to me

John Finn (04:26:11) :
So I’ll ask again. Is there any evidence that temperatures during the Dalton minimum (1790-1820) were significantly lower than the 19th century average.

See Minard’s diagram of Napoleons March on Moscow in 1812
“Probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn, this map by Charles Joseph Minard portrays the losses suffered by Napoleon’s army in the Russian campaign of 1812. Beginning at the Polish-Russian border, the thick band shows the size of the army at each position. The path of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in the bitterly cold winter is depicted by the dark lower band, which is tied to temperature and time scales.”
High-res diagram with temperatures & dates at bottom

anna v

There are two things that might or might not be connected, the cold, and the heat minima.
Once more one should emphasize that the game of correlating highs and lows in sun data sequences is thankless if there is not an underlying physical connection with the climate on earth.
It may be that there is a connection not discovered yet. In my opinion it would be something that changes albedo, like the proposed cosmic ray connection . I think we will have to wait through, to see if it is really a very low low we are living through , and if the cool persists even when the PDO flips to warm. Patience, this is a one off experiment and it takes a long time to develop.

Skeptic Tank

I wouldn’t put too much stock in a comparison like this. Comparisons of just three minimal onsets seems rather anecdotal. It would be nice if we had a few hundred over a few million years, but we don’t.
This is almost the same trap climate modelers get into when testing their models. They test them over past climate cycles (even using relatively reliable, recent data), adjust them, tweak them and add additional factors until they track the actual observations. Then, they assume they are reliable predictors of the future. And they wonder why they continually diverge from actual observations year after year.
No two cycles of any system containing chaotic factors are the same.

Douglas DC


anna v

correction to my anna v (05:48:12)
The two things of course are the cold and the sun minima, not heat minima.
I wonder whether the faculty we all have of being able to read if the first and last letters are correct even though the insides are scrambled works in this case too!

In answer to the question by John Finn–” Is there any evidence that temperatures during the Dalton minimum (1790-1820) were significantly lower than the 19th century average ” is yes, we have a very good record of lower temperatures during both the Dalton and the Maunder in the glacial record, both in terms of the downvalley extent of alpine glaciers and in the isotope record of the Greenland ice cores.
Don Easterbrook

John M

ralph ellis (04:38:57) :

We survived the Maunder Minimum in good shape, ready for the coming Enlightenment Era. Why will our age be any different

But things happen so much faster now. The new enlightenment is already here. I read it in Science Magazine, so it must be right.

John W.

John Finn (04:26:11) :

So I’ll ask again. Is there any evidence that temperatures during the Dalton minimum (1790-1820) were significantly lower than the 19th century average. Here’s the CET record for starters …

Look at the graph you provided a link to. Think about what you’re seeing.
BTW, thanks for providing some evidence to disprove your own assertion.


Ralph Ellis:
There was a lot of blood, crop failures, revolution, disease and other weather induced phenomenon leading up to and during the enlightenment. The end result was good for mankind overall. As for the individuals living during that period.. not so much.

Steven Kopits

I think we have to be careful about applying apocalyptic scenarios to reduced solar output. The world today is much different from even that of the 1930’s. Consider: In the ’30’s we saw pictures of hungry babies clutching to forlorn women. My enduring vision of this recession will be my trip a few weeks ago from downtown Houston to the airport there, stuck in traffic, fuming that I would miss my plane. That’s my takeaway from the recession described as ‘the worst since the Great Depression’.

Craig Moore

I appreciate the contributions of learned and articulate contributors here at WUWT. I hope we don’t lose participation because the discussions turn personal. As to what will happen, let’s prepare to thrive in the inevitable change, whatever that may be. Shouldn’t large scale policy choices be focused on that?