Auroral Evidence of Upcoming Mini or Little Ice Age?

Guest Opinion; Dr. Tim Ball

A recent article in the British newspaper The Express titled, “Northern Lights in the UK: Can you watch Aurora Borealis from UK? Where can you see it?” raises interesting questions and comparisons with historical events. It also appears to reinforce the climate forecasts for the next few decades.


Source: Daily Express

Sir Edmund Halley (1656 – 1742) was one of the great astronomers in history. He proved his science in the best way possible by making an accurate prediction. He predicted the return of a comet that they then named after him. I became familiar with his work while working on the climate record of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) at Churchill, Manitoba.

The record was given a great scientific boost when in 1768/9 two astronomers, William Wales and Joseph Dymond arrived in Churchill to measure the Transit of Venus. Halley first identified this event and devised a procedure to gather data to determine the distance of the Earth from the Sun. This distance was critical to accurately testing Newton’s theory of gravity. A Transit occurred in 1761, but lack of knowledge and a useable technique resulted in failure. The 1769 Transit was critical because another Transit would not occur for 105 years.

Sir Neville Maskelyne, President of the Royal Society, sent the astronomers. They brought a range of instruments made specifically for them by the Society to carry out a range of scientific measures including thermometers and barometers. They left them at Churchill where the HBC employees continued to maintain some of the earliest instrumental records in North America.

In an interesting irony, Halley’s life spanned the coldest portion of the Little Ice Age with the nadir in 1680. To my knowledge, he did not write about this, but he did write about astronomical events related to it. For example, he was invited by the Royal Society to visit Scotland to observe and submit a report on the newly seen Aurora Borealis. His submission was published in their Philosophical Transactions, in 1714 under the magnificent title,

An account of the late surprizing appearance of the lights seen in the air, on the sixth of March last; with an attempt to explain the principal phænomena thereof; as it was laid before the Royal Society by Edmund Halley, J. V. D. Savilian Professor of Geom. Oxon, and Reg. Soc. Secr.

His abstract is very different from those we see in today’s academic or scientific journals, but this is a time when the title scientist did not exist. He wrote,

The Royal Society, having received accounts from very many parts of Great Britain, of the unusual lights which have of late appeared in the heavens ; were pleased to signify their desires to me, that I should draw up a general resation (sic) of the fact, and explain more at large some conceptions of mine I had proposed to them about it, as seeming to some of them to render a tollerable solution of the very strange and surprizing phænomena thereof.

He knew about them from earlier reports, and he also knew about their relationship with sunspots. He knew about sunspots from Galileo’s work but had not seen them either because his life also spanned a period with very few sunspots. The diagram shows the most accepted reproduction of sunspot numbers with only a few over Halley’s lifetime.


Aurora borealis or northern lights are among the most spectacular atmospheric displays. Called Aurora australis in the southern hemisphere they are visible evidence of the relationship between the sun and climate. In early days they called them Petty Dancers from the French petite danseurs. In England, they were also called Lord Derwentwater’s lights because they were unusually bright on February 24th, 1716, the day he was beheaded. A bad omen for him, but they were also an indicator of the bad weather and harvest failures of the period.

Ionized particles streaming out from the sun are called the solar wind. The term is misleading because they are solid electrically charged particles. Activity on the Sun is seen as sunspots and solar flares and coincides with variations in the strength of the solar wind. When these charged particles reach the upper levels of the earth’s atmosphere, they collide with the molecules of nitrogen and oxygen. This collision creates electrical charges that make the gas molecules glow. The gas determines the colours of the Aurora. Nitrogen produces red and oxygen the shades from almost white through yellow to green.

Many northern North American First Nations people used them to predict the weather. The Cree in Manitoba expected three to four weeks of cold weather after a prolonged period of display. This is very accurate as it relates to the average eastward movement of the Rossby Waves. Henry Youle Hind, leader of a scientific expedition across Canada, wrote on the 19th of September 1858 about Ojibway predictions:

We arrived at the mouth of the river at 10 A.M. and hastened to avail ourselves of a south-east wind just to rise. Last night the aurora was very beautiful, and extended far beyond the zenith, leading the voyageurs to predict a windy day. The notion prevails with them that when the aurora is low, the following day will be calm; when high, stormy.

Samuel Hearne spent two and one-half years with the Chipewyan, (then called the Northern Indians.) His report on their explanation of the aurora is fascinating.

The Northern Indians call the Aurora Borealis, Ed-thin; and when that meteor is very bright, they say that deer is plentiful in that part of the atmosphere;,,, Their ideas in this respect are founded on a principle one would not imagine. Experience has shewn tham, (sic) that when a hairy deer-skin is briskly stroked with the hand in a dark night, it will emit many sparks of electrical fire, as the back of a cat will.

This describes the phenomenon of static electricity and is remarkably close to the current explanation of the Aurora.

The composite image from NASA shows the Aurora from space as a circle around the Magnetic Pole.


Although at a higher altitude it is coincident with the dome of cold air that sits over the Pole.


The auroral ring expands and contracts as the cold air dome expands and contracts. This means when the Aurora is seen closer to the Equator there is cold pervading the Northern hemisphere. This is the situation of the last several years. It is accentuated by the change of pattern in the Rossby Waves along the Polar Front from low to high amplitude Waves. It results in more extreme outbreaks of cold air pushing further toward the Equator and warm air penetrating further to the Pole as the cold air moves out of the way.

Similar conditions occurred in the 17th century. Diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) wrote about the conditions on many occasions. They were especially concerned about the mild winters, so the government recommended action. On January 15, 1662, Pepys wrote,

And after we had eaten, he (Mr. Bechenshaw, a friend) asked me whether we have not committed a fault in eating today, telling me that it is a fastday, ordered by the parliament to pray for more seasonable weather it hitherto had been some summer weather, that is, both as to warm and every other thing, just as if it were the middle of May or June, which doth threaten a plague (as all men think) to follow, for so it was almost all last winter, and the whole year after hath been a very sickly time, to this day.”

The prayers paid off. On January 26th Pepys wrote,

“It having been a very fine clear frosty day. God send us more of them, for the warm weather all this winter makes us fear a sick summer.”

Pepys’ concern mirrors an old English saying that,

“A green winter makes a fat churchyard.”

His concern was well-founded because the plague returned, reaching London in 1665.

When you read the entire series of weather entries in Pepys’ diaries that cover the period 1660 – 1690, the pattern of remarkably variable weather is symptomatic of a Meridional Rossby Wave flow.

It was a similar pattern described in Barbara Tuchman’s 1978 book “A Distant Mirror; The Calamitous Fourteenth Century.” It was another example, like Halley of an important person, the nobleman Enguerrand VII de Courcy, whose life spanned an important climate period the 14th century, with weather comparable to the 17th century and the early 21st century. It lasted longer and was more profound because it was a transitional century as the world cooled from the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) to the Little Ice Age (LIA).

The current debate attracting more and more people is that we are cooling with the only question left as to the extent and intensity. Will it be weather similar to the cooler period coincident with the Dalton Minimum from 1790 – 1830? Alternatively, will it be colder with similar conditions to those by the early fur traders in Hudson Bay or those that spanned the life of Sir Edmund Halley? The appearance of Aurora in northern England suggests the latter, although I can predict who will protest this suggestion.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
March 9, 2019 10:24 pm

A giant Rossby Wave kept most of North America in the freezer for February, right into March. And earlier in the winter, much of eastern North America too. Including a lot of Russia and Siberia most of the winter, which is normally cold anyway. But it is an interesting ‘coincidence’, and if low solar activity continues for years to come and it continues to cool, it will be hard to argue that the Sun doesn’t contribute something very powerful to Earth’s climate and cooling cycles, whether we understand the mechanism or not.

Reply to  Earthling2
March 10, 2019 5:04 am

This video points out that space weather affects terrestrial weather. The contention is that, because climate scientists do not properly account for the effects due to space weather, those effects are lumped in with CO2. If you properly account for those effects as natural, the effect due to CO2 disappears.

Space Weather
X-Ray Solar Flares
Coronal Mass Ejections
Particle Radiation Storms
Geomagnetic Storms
Solar Wind / Interplanetary Fields
Cosmic Rays

CMIP6 includes energy due to space weather and when that’s included, the effect due to CO2 goes away. Due to popular demand from climate scientists, CMIP6 is now available without the pesky space weather stuff.

Reply to  commieBob
March 10, 2019 8:03 am

Are the two versions of CMIP6 already available? The with/without space weather would be most interesting. It may be an effective tool to show the public how little we know.

Reply to  R2DToo
March 10, 2019 8:33 am

If I understand correctly, the guy who did the video says there are two versions available.

Reply to  commieBob
March 10, 2019 1:19 pm

A very interesting video. The narrator seems very well informed and I caught no errors in my first run through. Do you know who did the video?

Reply to  commieBob
March 10, 2019 4:42 pm

DMA March 10, 2019 at 1:19 pm

… Do you know who did the video?

As far as I can tell, it’s Ben Davidson. link

Steven Mosher
Reply to  commieBob
March 10, 2019 8:50 pm

Too funny.

I like the part where cosmic rays cause volcanoes

Steven Mosher
Reply to  R2DToo
March 10, 2019 9:05 pm

“CMIP6 models without chemistry that perform a preindustrial control simulation with time-varying solar forcing will need to use a modified version of the SPARC/CCMI Ozone Database that includes solar variability. CMIP6 models with interactive chemistry are also encouraged to use the particle forcing datasets, which will allow the potential long-term effects of particles to be addressed for the first time. ”

be careful what you wish for

Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 11, 2019 4:28 pm

Why should we be careful what we wish for? Unlike some people, CO2 skeptics are actually trying to understand reality, not argue like a lawyer who is trying to get the verdict he wants. There is only one side in this debate that wants to suppress or evade evidence.

Reply to  commieBob
March 10, 2019 11:27 am

Thank you .

Steven Mosher
Reply to  commieBob
March 10, 2019 9:02 pm
Reply to  Earthling2
March 11, 2019 1:38 am

Very interesting article, it shows there could be many unknown variables scientists do not yet understand regarding climate variations.

steve in seattle
March 9, 2019 10:30 pm

Hmmm …. the tenacity and intensity of the Northern lights as it might show a relationship to climactic changes on Earth ? Perhaps modulated by the Sun’s time varying particle streams – the background cosmic wind.

Very interesting !

Dennis Sandberg
Reply to  steve in seattle
March 9, 2019 11:00 pm

Naw, it’s all about CO2 from burning “fossil fuels”, you know the 4% of 4% of “greenhouse gases”/sarc

March 9, 2019 10:44 pm

The sun sends us several ‘messages’ about its activity. One [beautiful] one is the aurora which has been observed since antiquity. I recently gave a seminar on those messengers:
The aurorae evidence is very difficult to calibrate.

Richard G.
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 10, 2019 10:52 am

“The aurorae evidence is very difficult to calibrate.”
In other words, the majesty of the universe is hard to express in numbers. I guess that is why we resort to poetry.
Thanks for being the educator that you are.

Richard G.
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 10, 2019 1:26 pm

Slide 37 on Helioseismic Probing of the sun’s interior has an eye opener: “Surprise: ‘solid body’ rotation in radiative interior”.
Does this not confound and contradict the gaseous model? Doesn’t this introduce the prospect of a condensed matter core, possibly metallic hydrogen with a hexagonal planar lattice structure?

Reply to  Richard G.
March 12, 2019 8:48 am

No, as the temperatures are in the millions of degrees.
The expectation was that the rotation rate would be constant on cylinders. [Vogt, 1975]

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 10, 2019 4:58 pm

Did you mean “quantify” when you said “calibrate?”

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 12, 2019 8:49 am


Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 10, 2019 8:17 pm

Thanks for sharing this fascinating material.

Brett Keane
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 10, 2019 8:39 pm

Leif, Astrophysicists seem to accept Gas Laws GTE heating of nascent Stars to where they ignite the Nuclear fires, maybe with help from Quantum Tunnelling where Gas Mass is slightly lacking. How about you, and if not why not? Brett

Reply to  Brett Keane
March 12, 2019 8:51 am

The release of potential gravitational energy when the protostar is contracting heats the interior to the point where nuclear reaction can begin.

Brian Johnson
March 9, 2019 10:49 pm

I was by Loch Lomond in 1957 shooting a documentary, around late August when at nearly 11:00 pm, while laying on a grassy bank gazing at the Milky Way, the sky was suddenly filled with whorling, vibrating, noiseless Aurora colours. Lasted for hours. That summer was the driest, sunniest for years in the North of Scotland.

Documentary was “Busman’s Holiday” by Anglo Scottish Pictures.
1962/3 was a cold winter and I drove my Mini Cooper ‘S’ onto the Thames at Old Windsor and on to Runnymeade and back up the Old Windsor Skiff and Punting Club slipway and into the nearby Bells of Ouseley for some single malt whiskey.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Brian Johnson
March 9, 2019 11:14 pm

I didn’t find your documentary, but I find an electric bus of 1968.

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
March 10, 2019 1:25 am

When I was in my early teens growing up in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire they were known as Trolley Buses. On cold winter mornings with frost on the wires when the boom passed you would occasionally get blue flashes from the electricity.

Reply to  RexAlan
March 10, 2019 1:24 pm

Aye up lad! I remember them trolley buses well, on the way to school 😉

Interesting in the above clip they refer to the new “deadly diesels”.

Reply to  RexAlan
March 10, 2019 5:18 pm

That first part was a trolley bus in Reading! The church in the background was where I was married!

Reply to  Annie
March 10, 2019 5:22 pm

I hated the noisy smelly diesel buses that replaced them.

Reply to  RexAlan
March 10, 2019 5:38 pm

In many parts of the world trolleybuses still run. I live in Budapest I ride them to get lunch. I don’t know if it’s economical to use them but I personally prefer them.

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
March 10, 2019 8:08 am

Still had them in Atlanta when I was a child in the 1950s. In case anyone’s wondering: the two thick poles going from the bus to the wires provided the electrical connection to the overhead supply lines. They stayed in place via springs pushing the poles against the wires (I think there were little casters on top of the poles that ‘rode’ on the wires). Occasionally, the trolley would hit a rough patch, and the pole would bounce off the wire. The bus lost power and immediately stopped. The conductor had a long pole he would use to reposition the pole onto the wire to restore the connection. That is what you are seeing in the picture.

Reply to  jtom
March 10, 2019 9:14 am

Absolutely, I worked on trolley buses in my summer vacations at that time. One of the routes had a turntable at the terminus and we drove the bus onto the turntable and the conductor (me) would get out and use the pole to disconnect the bus and reconnect them after we’d used the turntable. Lots of passengers would take photos of us doing this, like the one above. Liked working on those buses, sorry to see them go.

Reply to  Phil.
March 10, 2019 12:01 pm

I used to go to school on a trolley-bus in Durban South Africa. Probably around 1958 or so. I was always amazed at how a full double-decker used to pull going up the very steep hill crossing North Ridge road. Diesels really used to struggle on the same route where they only used single-deckers.

Reply to  jtom
March 10, 2019 4:03 pm

They had them in Philly in the 50s too, we called them “trackless trollies”

Richard Patton
Reply to  jtom
March 10, 2019 4:23 pm

Seattle Washington still has some of them (much newer of course). They have some of the bus routes that are so steep that if the diesel-powered buses stopped on the slope with a full load, they can’t start back up. And they also have buses that both run on diesel and trolley wires. The bus “mall” in downtown runs underground. Not a good idea to be running diesel in an enclosed space.

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
March 10, 2019 5:13 pm

That looks like one of the Reading trolley buses! The colour is right anyway.

Jeff Duntemann
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
March 11, 2019 1:19 pm

Chicago had electric buses in daily service until 1973. I used to take them to high school along Central Avenue. The overhead wires were left over from the streetcar network; a second wire was added for a complete circuit. A couple of times a month a pothole would shake the bus hard enough to dislodge one or both of the spring-loaded “feelers” that drew current from the overhead wires. The driver then used a tool like this to get them back under the wires.

Reply to  Brian Johnson
March 10, 2019 4:16 am

I was by Loch Lomond in 1957… That summer was the driest, sunniest for years in the North of Scotland.

Sure it wasn’t 1955 Brian? 1957 was the wettest summer in N Scotland since 1946 and the 6th wettest on record:

1955 was the driest on record for N Scotland and inside the top 10 warmest.

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  Brian Johnson
March 10, 2019 4:56 am

As a young chap, I once had a very enjoyable holiday rowing an Eton skiff from Windsor up to Henley and back, happy days.
More recently, about five years ago I think, I was discussing with the land lady of my local pub how there’d been a major solar flare and that I’d be keeping a lookout for aurora on my way home. At the end of the session, having locked up the pub, she came outside with me and there, despite being in a well lit street, was a beautiful green aurora. We are at about 51° N here, so I’m guessing that this would’ve been a very rare event.

Non Nomen
Reply to  Brian Johnson
March 10, 2019 11:59 am
Reply to  Brian Johnson
March 11, 2019 10:16 am

There are 3 sunspot cycles: An 11.49-year fundamental cycle, a 187-year ‘long cycle’ and an 18,139-year ‘Grand solar cycle’. The planet Mercury is the prime mover. Mercury’s changing magnetic field causes cycle minimums. See http://www.MauriceCotterell ‘The Cause of Global warming and Global cooling’.

Scott Olmsted
Reply to  Maurice Cotterell
March 12, 2019 1:14 pm
March 9, 2019 11:01 pm

“The auroral ring expands and contracts as the cold air dome expands and contracts. This means when the Aurora is seen closer to the Equator there is cold pervading the Northern hemisphere.”
That interpretation does not appear to be correct and ignores physics how aurora is generated.
In times of low sunspot activity low latitude solar coronal holes are stronger and more active, this is reflected in stronger geomagnetic activity and larger auroral oval.
I strongly suspect there is direct inverse relationship between geomagnetic activity and the strength of polar vortex, hence climate cooling during prolonged solar minima.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  vukcevic
March 10, 2019 3:48 am

“I strongly suspect there is direct inverse relationship between geomagnetic activity”.

The sun does in no way care about “GEO magnetic activity”.

And planet earth always produces geomagnetic shields least in ionized atmosphere.

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 10, 2019 7:26 am

Are you confusing two different but related subjects?
A geomagnetic activity is a temporary disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere caused by a solar wind shock wave.
you can see what geomagnetic activity was during the last 7 days.
Dr. Joan Feynman et al published a paper in the 1970s showing that geomagnetic activity correlates with the long-term average of the solar wind velocity .

March 9, 2019 11:05 pm

No doubt all this fine analysis will require further downward adjustment of the temperature proxies for these early periods so any modern coldening can be put into its proper perspective. Settled science is an ongoing housekeeping project as these historical matters come to light. Duty calls along with its ongoing modest stipends for those settled in.

James Rowley-Hill
Reply to  observa
March 10, 2019 10:54 am

Is this article for real?? The northern lights get seen pretty much every night from Scotland North Coast… Nothing new nothing changed, only difference is we are now headed towards equinox when earth tilts towards the sun so has a more direct hit of the solarwinds, and also more nights of decent Aurora… This reads as pure click bait

March 10, 2019 1:01 am

“The Cree in Manitoba expected three to four weeks of cold weather after a prolonged period of display. ”
The above hypothesis ( there is inverse relationship between geomagnetic activity and the strength of polar vortex) is in accordance with the observation quoted.
During strong geomagnetic activity (widespread and prolonged ‘auroral ovation’ polar vortex is strongly ionised, and rotating at high velocity in presence of bifurcated magnetic field. Basic laws of physics imply splitting of vortex following the “lines” of magnetic field intensity.
Spreading out will eventually split vartex looses its strength, consequently it’s hold on jet stream is weakest allowing it to buckle and loop southward.
Locations of two magnetic peaks in N. Canada and central Siberia locks jet stream in fixed position talking cold Arctic air to N. America and Europe.

Reply to  vukcevic
March 10, 2019 11:31 am

Although aurora occurrences (according to the Danish observatory records) are well correlated with the sunspot cycles, it can be noted that aurora data have both the sunspot cycle (SC) and the solar polar magnetic field (2 x SC) periodicity, the last also being present in both the land and land and ocean data.
note: if anyone wonders where is visibility of 2 x SC period in the above linked time line graph? From about 1900 onwards it can be seen that in the alternative SCs aurora is stronger/weaker compared with respective sunspot cycle. AFAIK, the reason same as with the neutron count
comment image
If you are after precise explanation Dr. Svalgaard is your man.

Reply to  vukcevic
March 12, 2019 9:24 am

There is some confusion here. The number of aurorae, the amount of geomagnetic activity, and the cosmic ray modulation do indeed have a 22-yr variation, but from solar max to solar max, thus not from solar cycle to cycle [from solar min to solar min]. See section 5 of

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 12, 2019 9:50 am
March 10, 2019 1:07 am

More herring will be near Britain if fish follow the Little Ice Age pattern, as substantial Artic cold weakens the warm North Atlantic current so that the herring conditions around the North Sea will be less ideal. As per Alheit & Hagen’s (1997) “Long term forcing of European herring & sardine populations.”

Johann Wundersamer
March 10, 2019 3:10 am

“Experience has shewn tham, (sic) that when a hairy deer-skin is briskly stroked with the hand in a dark night, it will emit many sparks of electrical fire, as the back of a cat will.”

March 10, 2019 3:10 am

Why North America has severe winters during periods of very low solar activity?
Please read with my comments, ren.
Visible two centers of the polar vortex, compatible with the geomagnetic field, at the level of 500 hPa.
comment image

Johann Wundersamer
March 10, 2019 3:16 am

pray for more seasonable weather it hitherto had been some summer weather, that is, both as to warm and every other thing, just as if it were the middle of May or June, which doth threaten a plague (as all men think) to follow,

bringing the pests with thriving rats and malaria and droughts and …

Johann Wundersamer
March 10, 2019 3:20 am

(Stop making google search links ONLY as your entire comment, you need to tell us what you are talking about) MOD

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
March 10, 2019 9:45 am

Can I add to the MOD comment.
If all I see is an ugly URL, I move on. I suspect Johann’s effort is treated likewise by many.
It also is nice to see a person make the effort to create a proper link: Smile

March 10, 2019 3:30 am

The sunspot graph is interesting. Close to zero in the 1690’s which was a time of bad harvests in Scotland, known as the ‘seven ill years’ . People were starving, and estimates of death rates vary between 5 and 15% of the population. In some parts of Aberdeenshire it was 25%. There had been bad harvests in the 1680’s too, and the prevailing political and trade problems made things worse. This famine also affected Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Not nice.
Sunspots please.

Reply to  sonofametman
March 10, 2019 9:30 am

I keep wondering of the lack of sunspots and possible corresponding changes in the solar radiation are what’s really causing so many people to be depressed, suicidal, homicidal, or just plain batshite crazy. We have so few really threatening problems on earth right now, yet half the populations are hysterical. Makes you wonder . . .

Reply to  Goldrider
March 10, 2019 1:05 pm

Now that you mention it strange things are happening in the UK parliament at the moment.

Reply to  Goldrider
March 10, 2019 5:36 pm

+100 – hadn’t thought of that!

Power Grab
Reply to  Goldrider
March 11, 2019 8:27 am

I agree.

Also add to that the muckraking media. They are a huge part of the problem. Their motto is “If it bleeds, it leads.” If there isn’t a serious story to broadcast, they stage one.

People these days cast aspersions at the old shows on American TV that depicted problems getting solved in 30 minutes (or less)…maybe even solved by an unarmed sheriff! Well, at least they weren’t training the prime time viewing audience how to cheat, steal, and commit mayhem on their close friends and relatives!

Ron Long
March 10, 2019 3:34 am

Both Tim’s posting and many of the comments are excellent examples of Anecdotal Science, wherein there are actual pieces of good data, somewhat mixed up with personal impression. This in total is remarkably ahead of the mindless blather that comes from Global Warming/Ten Years To The Tipping Point crowd. Excellent!

Reply to  Ron Long
March 10, 2019 6:32 am

Well it was the reason we all understood the null hypothesis that the climate is always changing until the computers and weak minds came along with an axe to grind.

Reply to  Ron Long
March 10, 2019 8:39 am

As an undergraduate (early 60s) I had to take a one-term course in the history of science to get a degree in science. At the time I thought it was an unnecessary requirement. Sixty years later the lessons learned seem far more significant. Although often wrong in detail, observations throughout human history did provide the basic information for testable hypotheses through time. All we have done since is progressively identify, measure and analyze earlier observations. Science as we know it has been a slow, sometimes painful, and controversial process of refining the ever-increasing observations of practitioners. There have always been cultural and political roadblocks to science. Today’s interference in the process may be the strongest in that the advent of modern communications and computer worship reach a much wider audience much faster. There also is a serious lack of understanding of how science has evolved.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  R2DToo
March 10, 2019 9:08 am

Today’s climate activist is like a person who knows they will die before they can finish reading a story so they make a model to project the ending to satisfy their need to know how it will turn out.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Ron Long
March 12, 2019 4:26 pm

These old accounts also reveal the intelligence, skill and integrity of scientific endeavours, too in those days. To in 1760s mount an expedition to Churchill, Manitoba (was it not York Factory, Tim?) with instruments MADE by the Royal Society to measure the transit of Venus across the sun to calculate the distance earth to sun is something wonderful. I would like to try something like that.

Back in the 70s a scientist at the Canadian Government told me that there were many more scientists today than have lived and died throughout history. I opined that there were a lot of horn-rimmed glasses and white lab coats sold for sure but I think the numbers of scientists are fewer than he thought. We won’t remember many of their names when we study history of science. There are a lot of PhDs in Hubris these days.Remember the one who had a PhD in Feminine Glaciology – the journals were afraid not to publish her papers.

Jimmy Haigh
March 10, 2019 3:38 am

I foubd a very interesting paper once here on mega aurora in Prehistoric times which were the inspiration for cave paintings around the globe. I’ll try to find it and post it again. Something about “z-class aurorae”.

March 10, 2019 4:24 am

To make matters worse, or more likely they significantly helped cause the worst parts of the LIA in NW Europe, was the role volcanoes in the 17th century played, especially Iceland where they really piled on to make the worst of the LIA truly horrific. There were at least 15 significant Icelandic eruptions that century and some erupting sporadically over several years. With a NW trajectory, there are many reports of sulphuric rain causing widespread boils on people and livestock killing many, not to mention wiping out the harvests in Great Britain and parts of NW Europe. Iceland was also devastated. We may recall what one eruption did to airline traffic in 2010. Just imagine what havoc a LIA and a lot of untimely vulcanism would wreck on today’s civilization. This is what happens periodically with climate and external forcing and when it is cold already then this is truly an apocalypse. Who knows if there is a connection between volcanic activity and sun spot activity. And they complain about nice warm weather now and want to make it colder.

March 10, 2019 5:21 am

Having two super blooms in two years is highly unusual. In California, super blooms happen about once in a decade in a given area, and they have been occurring less frequently with the drought.
Top places to see the wildflower super bloom in Southern California in 2019.

Peta of Newark
March 10, 2019 5:42 am

Simple really – and = where the GHGE falls flat on its face.

It is not the QUANTITY of light/energy that matters – it is the QUALITY.
The colour. The spectrum

The things that respond to colour are the plants.
If you wanna make big phat organic molecules, you need big phat fotons to do it.
It is the big phat molecules that are the Vitamins, the proteins and the quality (saturated) fats within ‘food’

No phat fotons > low quality food > low quality health in people & animals.

For England, you really are ‘pushing it’ being so far North.
Yes it has rich soil, having been recently ploughed by glaciers & ice-sheets,
Yes it is ‘warm’ via the Gulf Stream

The mind numbing simplicity & wrongness that says “CO2 causes Global Greening” then asserts that “Everything is thus a bed of roses”
But, by being so far away from the strong Equatorial sun, England’s plants are in a very precarious position with regards to the spectrum/colour of the sun.
Either via terrestrial process (volcanoes, large fires, contrails) or solar processes like sun spots & whatever.

Then and on-top of the CO2=Green fallacy/fixation, Climate Science gets its Causes & Effects all wrong ways about.
It is actually plants that determine Climate for a lot of locations. Just check out Koppen.

So, what colour was the sun during the Maunder and the LIA.
Even before you do start to account that plants control climate, what effect did Henry 8 and his daughter have – by chopping and burning England’s forest?
Again, only amazement that when even skeptics look at a forest, they only see carbon and even worse, only see it in the trees themselves.
They don’t/can’t/won’t see all the carbon in the forest floor/dirt/soil/litter and the epic amounts of water tied up therein.
So when the forest went, so did all that water and its thermal inertia.

Next question, what temp was the Atlantic during the LIA?
What happens to your climate models/assumptions/thinking if you simply regard A Forest as an extension of The Ocean? Thus wither Yamal

It gets even worse for Engfland’s plants because, if you want to make big & nutritious organic molecules like proteins and vitamins, you need nitrogen and sulphur.
In those times, that would have been coming from volcanoes and forest fires.
Thanks California for the sacrifice (and plant food) – I’d like to say we acknowledge and appreciate it but the brain deadness of Climate Science doesn’t even see it.

Thus we can ask, was the air over England especially clear during the LIA – how much nitrogen and sulphur were raining down compared to other times?
And its incredible yet again that even skeptics will assert that to = Acid Rain and hence = toxic.
It is exactly the opposite – unless you really are directly under an especially smelly volcano

We know from contemporary Scandinavian foresters that smoke/pollution from the UK has a fertilising effect on forest trees so, did Henry 8’s charcoal makers & iron smelters have any effect. Has anyone looked?

Meanwhile, how’s Dry January going out there – only 328 days to go,
Should be getting easy now and real results will start showing (in the mirror) from August onwards.

Exciting stuff innit – we might get some clear headed people, with genuine senses of humour and able to recognise sarc *without* a tag, asking and coherently answering some serious scientific questions.
You may even become a Babe Magnet = they like that sort of thing

Maybe even getting Cause & Effect the right way round.
phew. breathless.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 10, 2019 5:12 pm

You asked, “So, what colour was the sun during the Maunder and the LIA.” Even if we could answer that question, it might not tell us much. The sun has its peak emission in green; however, it appears yellow to us because of the blue light that is scattered out of the beam that we observe. So, the apparent color of the sun is the result of both the sun’s spectral shape and the composition of the atmosphere, particularly the temporary elevation of aerosol density.

Jimmy Haigh
March 10, 2019 5:59 am

This is a video based on the paper I mentioned earlier. You can find the PDF of the paper online. Z-Pinch Aurora in Antiquity by Perrat.

Jimmy Haigh
Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
March 10, 2019 6:01 am

Oops – forgot the link…

Reply to  Jimmy Haigh
March 10, 2019 6:22 am

The Z-pinch is a plasma phenomenon of fusion reactor design, and found in nature, a natural compression to very high densities and temperature. The Aurora is a plasma phenomenon. Perrat has done tremendous work.

March 10, 2019 6:10 am

Has anybody actually read some of Barbara Tuchman’s 1978 book “A Distant Mirror; The Calamitous Fourteenth Century.” To attribute that catastrophe to “climate” lets the Lombard/Guelphi Venetian bankers that actually collapsed the economy off the hook.

Today a massive financial catastrophe is about to hit, some trigger (then it was England’s repudiation of Lombard debts) will bring the entire thing to implode.

The Biche and Mouche of today hope “climate” will hogswoggle most while they force a bailout, hence the incredible hysteria.

March 10, 2019 6:53 am

Auroral Evidence of Upcoming Mini or Little Ice Age?

I prefer reading tea-leaves or even better, entrails of sacrificed animals.

Reply to  beng135
March 10, 2019 8:35 am

Do not give short shrift to ancient anecdotes. Our ancestors were far more cognizant of what happened in the real world than we are today with the plethora of manmade distractions we have. They may not have understood the ‘why’, but did have a clue to cause and effect: have a headache? Drink tea made from the bark of a eucalyptus tree. Suffer malaria, make tea from the bark of a cinchona tree. Want to dispose of an enemy? Hemlock tea will do it.
There have been fakes in the past insisting on the ability to devine the future one way or another, but you will notice there is no real lore attached to what happens when leaves or entrails are arranged in various configurations. Plausibility is another test. It is plausible that (chemical) properties of what we ingest affect our bodies. It is plausible that the sun can affect the climate as well as the upper atmosphere in varying ways depending on solar conditions. It is not plausible that the future can affect tea leaves in a cup.

Ian W
Reply to  jtom
March 10, 2019 12:34 pm

Yes in the old days the Babylonians had haruspices divining the future by assessing the state of a sacrificed animal’s liver the Etruscans used the entrails of animals.

Nowadays we have climate ‘scientists’ and economists using equally dependable computer models

Reply to  jtom
March 11, 2019 6:05 am

I agree that ancestors could indeed be very smart, but that something as transient and local (the visible sky) as auroras can tell anything other than the solar wind is impacting the upper atmosphere in that area is a stretch — way too much. That was my point.

Reply to  beng135
March 10, 2019 2:55 pm

My cat has a Ouija board. . .

Kevin A
March 10, 2019 6:55 am

Nice image “NASA shows the Aurora from space” and thought provoking subject.
Thanks Dr. Ball

Ben Vorlich
March 10, 2019 7:23 am

Possibly a traditional song, possibly written in 19th century by James Kerr

When I was a lad, a tiny wee lad, my mother said to me,
“Come see the Northern Lights my boy, they’re bright as they can be.”
She called them the heavenly dancers, merry dancers in the sky,
I’ll never forget that wonderful sight, they made the heavens bright.

The Northern Lights of Aberdeen are what I long to see;
The Northern Lights of Aberdeen, that’s where I long to be.
I’ve been a wand’rer all of my life and many a sight I’ve seen.
God speed the day when I’m on my way to my home in Aberdeen.

I’ve wandered in many far-off lands, and travelled many a mile,
I’ve missed the folk I’ve cherished most, the joy of a friendly smile.
It warms up the heart of the wand’rer the clasp of a welcoming hand.
To greet me when I return, home to my native land.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 10, 2019 9:50 am

Ben V.,
Thanks. New to me.

Jimmy Haigh
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 11, 2019 7:01 am

My dear old Dad – a Yorkshireman – used to sing this song after a few beers!

March 10, 2019 8:13 am

Secular drift of the auroral ovals: How fast do they actually move?
N. A. Tsyganenko
Geophysical Research LettersAccepted Articles
First published: 04 March 2019

A surprisingly fast secular drift of the Northern geomagnetic dip pole during the last two decades has attracted much interest lately, in particular, evoking speculations about a possibility of a sweeping relocation of the auroral oval. This letter presents first results of a model investigation of this issue, based on an empirical representation of the distant magnetosphere combined with a series of internal geomagnetic field models for 12 epochs, covering the interval from 1965 through 2020. The secular drift of the Northern auroral oval was found to result in its net displacement over the 55‐year period, commensurate with the concurrent shifts of the centered, eccentric, and corrected geomagnetic poles, all of them much smaller than the enormous spurt of the Northern dip pole. In the Southern Hemisphere, the shift of the auroral oval and of the poles over the same period is much weaker, revealing a remarkable interhemispheric asymmetry.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
March 10, 2019 12:45 pm

According to Vuk’s model the inner liquid core has three vertically rising off centre vortices driving the Earth’s field.
However, the nearly settled science thinks otherwise

March 10, 2019 8:13 am

During my travels to that far northern community of the upper peninsula of Michigan in the period of 1978 to 1980 there was both a measured set of phenomena of great snow, cold, and ice accumulation (Lake Superior) with a star gazer spectacle from the Northern Lights.

Thanks for reminding me of the observed connections.

March 10, 2019 8:43 am

El Niño will remain weak.
comment image

Reply to  ren
March 10, 2019 2:07 pm

Strong cooling for sure in region 1+2. ..comment image

March 10, 2019 8:43 am

When describing the shifts of the aurora oval and the reasons, it seems to me you would also need to include how the meandering if the magnetic pole might enter in to it. Besides shifting eactly where the oval is, I suspect the further away it is from the axis, the more the distortions would be – just a gut feeling.

Bruce Cobb
March 10, 2019 8:53 am

Unfortunately, the sun’s position of climate control has been outsourced, and its services are no longer required due to climate downsizing. We sincerely regret this turn of events, and note with gratitude the many millennia of faithful service the sun has performed.
In other news, we welcome aboard the newest, and even more powerful addition to the Climate Team, Carbon.
Further details will be forthcoming, but it is safe to say that moving forward, Carbon will add a compelling and uniqely unifying aspect to ClimeCentral Inc.

March 10, 2019 8:56 am

comment image

March 10, 2019 9:10 am

They are also responsible for ‘aurora arcs’, the familiar, slow-moving green curtains of light that can extend from horizon to horizon.

While much is known about these current systems, recent observations by Swarm have revealed that they are associated with large electrical fields.

Heated ions travel upward
These fields, which are strongest in the winter, occur where upwards and downwards Birkeland currents connect through the ionosphere.

Bill Archer from the University of Calgary explained, “Using data from the Swarm satellites’ electric field instruments, we discovered that these strong electric fields drive supersonic plasma jets.

“The jets, which we call ‘Birkeland current boundary flows’, mark distinctly the boundary between current sheets moving in opposite direction and lead to extreme conditions in the upper atmosphere.

“They can drive the ionosphere to temperatures approaching 10 000°C and change its chemical composition. They also cause the ionosphere to flow upwards to higher altitudes where additional energisation can lead to loss of atmospheric material to space.”

March 10, 2019 9:15 am

Slightly OT but this discussion take me (way) back to my teen years, and a fall weekend of grouse hunting near the Flambeau River in northern Wisconsin. My father and I stopped by the local fire watchtower around 10 pm–just as the auroras began a sky-wide, magical dance of light. At one point there was a pulsating circle of light persisting directly overhead, surrounded by horizon-to-horizon curtains. I can honestly say the sensation was one of being in the presence of ‘The Great Spirit’ (subject to personal interpretation). It was truly an awe-inspiring experience, and one I’d wish everyone to have.

Reply to  Theyouk
March 10, 2019 11:22 am

I can relate to your experience as I witnessed something similar.

While spending the summer fishing in SE Alaska in July, 1986, directly overhead were swirls and curtains of various shades of purple, lavender, pink and greens and the aurora appeared to be within arm’s length, so close but out of reach. It seemed as though the sky was falling all around us. The faint crackling of static electricity was surprising and I just stood there in utter amazement. The display lasted only ten minutes and when it ended, my fellow fishermen let out a sigh of sadness. What a breathtaking moment of splendor.

March 10, 2019 10:50 am

From Scafetta & Willson 2013 Planetary harmonics in the historical Hungarian aurora record (1523–1960), from the pdf

“The maxima of the Hungarian auroral record (near 1610, 1725, 1784, 1834, 1870, 1913 and 1945) correspond closely with the maxima in the sunspot record. The Maunder (1645–1715) and Dalton (1790–1830) solar activity minima are clearly seen in both records. “

March 10, 2019 11:23 am

“He predicted the return of a comet that they then named after him”

Halley did conjecture three previous comets which appeared roughly 75 years apart were the same comet (which was eventually named after him)

However his prediction of return was off by almost 2 years. It took some French astronomers and I believe a Cathic bishop to calculate the correct return and they were also off by a month.

Just to point out – science is tricky and not always clear cut.

March 10, 2019 12:06 pm

With all do respect to all learned and initiated in knowledge,
If you lack basic knowledge of electricity and how it happens to be there in every aspect of your life,
as granted and a given, you lack the proper understanding, regardless of tittles or else, in science or what so ever.

With all your best interest there no chance of proper addressing of the issues.

Ignoring your own illiteracy in prospect of electricity, does not really help…try to learn what it basically is..
if you cold, before jumping in maverick ventures…in complete lack of understanding in electricity.

If you do not have it, that is it, you do not have it…period…regardless.

Try to mend your knowledge by at least accepting that much….

No any disrespect, or insult meant, but hey, that is how it is, and is not any easy matter…even when it seems so easy to grapple with!


William Astley
March 10, 2019 12:54 pm

It is cold in the high Arctic this winter. Polar vortexes notwithstanding.

We have let ourselves get anchored in the cult of CAGW’s paradigm.

We hence have no explanation of past cyclic climate change and if CAGW/AGW is incorrect, have no idea how our climate will change in the future.

Climate has changed in the past.
Author’s copy.

Sudden climate transitions during the Quaternary
According to the marine records, the Eemian interglacial (William: Eemain was the interglacial that preceded the last glacial period) ended with a rapid cooling event about 110,000 years ago (e.g., Imbrie et al., 1984; Martinson et al., 1987), which also shows up in ice cores and pollen records from across Eurasia. From a relatively high resolution core in the North Atlantic. Adkins et al. (1997) suggested that the final cooling event took less than 400 years, and it might have been much more rapid.

The event at 8200 ka is the most striking sudden cooling event during the Holocene, giving widespread cool, dry conditions lasting perhaps 200 years before a rapid return to climates warmer and generally moister than the present. This event is clearly detectable in the Greenland ice cores, where the cooling seems to have been about half-way as severe as the Younger Dryas-to-Holocene difference (Alley et al., 1997; Mayewski et al., 1997). No detailed assessment of the speed of change involved seems to have been made within the literature (though it should be possible to make such assessments from the ice core record), but the short duration of these events at least suggests changes that took only a few decades or less to occur.

The Younger Dryas cold event at about 12,900-11,500 years ago seems to have had the general features of a Heinrich Event, and may in fact be regarded as the most recent of these (Severinghaus et al. 1998). The sudden onset and ending of the Younger Dryas has been studied in particular detail in the ice core and sediment records on land and in the sea (e.g., Bjoerck et al., 1996), and it might be representative of other Heinrich events.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  William Astley
March 12, 2019 4:47 pm

Yes, William. Despite all that dumping of bitterly cold air over North America and Russia from November to… still going on in Eastern US and Canada, it is still -40 below up there. WUWT?

March 10, 2019 1:15 pm

I am surprised Leif doesn’t mention that Tim gets the relationship between aurorae and solar activity backwards.

This article is superstitious nonsense from beginning to end, and what little science is in there is wrong. Reading Tim’s articles of late has become an exercise in scientific parody comic relief. But hey! cooling alarmists have a long tradition of making a fool of themselves. Predicting a mini ice age on an aurora sighting, it just cannot get any worse than that. Thanks for the fun.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Javier
March 10, 2019 5:27 pm

Could you be more specific as to what you object to regarding Ball’s article? As I read it, he tryies to establish a historical correlation between auroras, both in time and space, and cold weather. While auroras are more common during high sunspot activity, they are not unknown during sunspot minima.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 10, 2019 6:11 pm

he tryies to establish a historical correlation between auroras, both in time and space, and cold weather.

Isn’t that sufficiently absurd to you? Weather is regional. February was cold in North America and warm in Europe. Trying to establish a correlation between weather and sunspots is so 18th century, and aurorae are much worse as the record is spotty. Aurorae and sunspots correlate, so he can go back to sunspots. It is all anecdotal evidence with a selection bias and having the correlation backwards. It can’t get any worse than that. The Mini Ice Age part is a bad joke.

Had other person signed the article Leif and Willis would have demolished it systematically, since it is Tim Ball he gets a free pass. What a couple of hypocrites that defend their principles only against some people.

Reply to  Javier
March 10, 2019 9:06 pm

I thought you knew this one Javier. Obviously, if you are witnessing Aurorae, especially if it is 18th/19th century and you have no other long range communication, you have a clear view of the skies and it is a high pressure system that more than likely stays entrenched for awhile. So if you are seeing the northern lights in winter, it is probably very clear and cold already and probably going to stay that way for awhile. You don’t see many aurorae under cloudy skies, so for practical purposes they don’t exist and it is generally warmer under cloudy skies in the mid/far north. Most every time I see the northern lights in winter, it is already cold and clear so is a very apt prediction.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Earthling2
March 10, 2019 9:32 pm

The last time a remember seeing a memorable aurora was in early-January 1968. It was about 4:00 AM and I was driving from Woodstock (VT) to Hanover (NH). The stars were clear and there was a wispy yellow veil shimmering in the north sky. It was probably about -40F because as I started to drop down into the Connecticut River valley, I observed a thin ice-fog over the river. When I mustered out at Ft. Devens (MA) a few days later, and headed back to California, it was about -30F; it had been below zero, night and day, for 10 days.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 12, 2019 4:53 pm

I grew up in Manitoba and I can attest to aurora’s fine displays in the coldest of weather – black starry skies, no wind or clouds, frost binding your nostril hairs with each breath. We never waited 11yrs between sitings. I think they were there every winter.

Reply to  Javier
March 10, 2019 8:32 pm

This article is superstitious nonsense from beginning to end, and what little science is in there is wrong.

You noticed that too, eh?

“Although at a higher altitude it is coincident with the dome of cold air that sits over the Pole.”
…and coincidence is all it is.

“The auroral ring expands and contracts as the cold air dome expands and contracts.”
No, the auroral ring expands and contracts as the energy from the Sun gets larger or smaller associated with coronal holes, solar flares, etc.

With all the anecdotes associating auroras with cold air, he failed to note the anecdotes associating auroras with WARM air which was occurring a few degrees of longitude away where the warm ridge was building northward as the cold trof was building southward – high amplitude jet stream, teleconnections, you know – all that meteorology stuff 😉

March 10, 2019 2:04 pm

So what about “Steve”? That fairly new aurora color which I have seen SpaceWeather discuss 3 or 4 times now.

Paul Blase
March 10, 2019 3:48 pm

Has anyone done an FFT on that sunspot data? Sure looks like at least three frequencies beating there.

March 10, 2019 5:28 pm

This thread about historical aurorae and weather and human health too, is fascinating…there is so much that we don’t know. At the same time, there is nothing new in this world

I’ve yet to see any aurorae, a big regret in my life.

March 10, 2019 10:41 pm

Another wave of Arctic air flows to the Midwest.
Solar wind activity very low.
comment image

March 11, 2019 3:17 am

El Niño is weakening.
comment image

Ulric Lyons
March 11, 2019 3:26 am

The colder years of the Dalton Minimum 1807-1817 had a lack of observed aurora.

Secular variation of the aurora for the past 500 years. Page 11:

Reply to  Ulric Lyons
March 11, 2019 5:19 am

This was one of the most important elements of observing the Sun’s activity.

March 11, 2019 11:39 am

Very interesting story about the transit of Venus which was covered in this magazine in 2003:

March 13, 2019 8:45 pm

An extremely interesting submission as always from Dr. Ball. I am in agreement with everything he says. And I think as a climatologist this should carry some weight. Thank-you for this, Rod Chilton, climatologist.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights