Could be heading towards a Grand Solar Minimum but not an ice age

The last relatively low energy 11 year solar cycle, according to some scientists, suggests the planet could be heading for a Grand Solar Minimum. The last time this happened over three hundred years ago Earth experienced the Little Ice Age, but even if we do experience a Grand Solar Minimum it ios thought that global warming will more than compensate, so no ice age is expected.

NASA Climate Blog: There Is No Impending ‘Mini Ice Age’

There is no impending “ice age” or “mini ice age” to be caused by an expected reduction in the Sun’s energy output in the next several decades.

Through its lifetime, the Sun naturally goes through changes in energy output. Some of these occur over a regular 11-year period of peak (many sunspots) and low activity (fewer sunspots), which are quite predictable.

temperature vs solar activity

The above graph compares global surface temperature changes (red line) and the Sun’s energy that Earth receives (yellow line) in watts (units of energy) per square meter since 1880. The lighter/thinner lines show the yearly levels while the heavier/thicker lines show the 11-year average trends.

But every so often, the Sun becomes quieter, experiencing much fewer sunspots and giving off less energy. This is called a “Grand Solar Minimum,” and the last time this happened, it coincided with a period called the “Little Ice Age” (a period of extremely low solar activity from approximately AD 1650 to 1715 in the Northern Hemisphere, when a combination of cooling from volcanic aerosols and low solar activity produced lower surface temperatures).

Some scientists have suggested that the relatively small magnitude of the last solar cycle (SC 24) presages a new Grand Solar Minimum in the next few decades.

grand solar minimum on timeline

In terms of climate forcing – a factor that could push the climate in a particular direction – solar scientists estimate it would be about -0.1 W/m2, the same impact of about three years of current carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration growth.

Thus, a new Grand Solar Minimum would only serve to offset a few years of warming caused by human activities.

What does this mean? The warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from the human burning of fossil fuels is six times greater than the possible decades-long cooling from a prolonged Grand Solar Minimum.

Even if a Grand Solar Minimum were to last a century, global temperatures would continue to warm. Because more factors than just variations in the Sun’s output change global temperatures on Earth, the most dominant of those today being the warming coming from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

So it would only impact slightly on the current rate of warming.

We’ve just had five consecutive mornings of light frosts here in Dunedin, which is a bit unusual compared to the last few years where winters have been milder and frosts have been uncommon even in June/July, but this has nothing to do with the grand scheme of things, it’s just a minor variation in the current living level.

 

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24 Comments

  1. Kimbo

     /  20th May 2020

    Yeah, but it is all grist for the mill until the acknowledged expert in climate change, Greta Thunberg, makes the definitive judgement. “How dare you?!”

    Reply
    • It’s all right, she’s a Covid expert now. Climate change may have to take a back seat, but Little Greta doesn’t want to,

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  20th May 2020

      She self isolated , probably had the virus but wasn’t tested…what sort of country is Sweden , don’t they even try at contact tracing

      Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  20th May 2020

    As we’ve noted before, thank heavens for global warming – an ice age would be infinitely more devastating.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  20th May 2020

      Yes. The default situation in the last couple of million of years is Ice Age and the warm periods are short ‘in betweens’

      Reply
  3. oldlaker

     /  20th May 2020

    Whenever I come home I drive around the block a few more times to help avert another Ice Age. We all have to do our bit.

    Reply
  4. Zedd

     /  20th May 2020

    so much for all the nonsense about; Climate change is just part of a ‘normal cycle, (just look at the graph) as is still touted by the ‘nay sayers’ led by the C-C denier-in-chief & the Fossil Fuel industry & all those who are benefiting from it 😦

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  20th May 2020

      Look at the time scale, Z. It’s a mere tick of the clock for humanity. It’s meaningless for perspective.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  21st May 2020

        really AW.. so are you saying ‘human induced C-C is still a myth’ ?

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st May 2020

          Can find where I ever said that except in the voices in your head, Z?

          Reply
  5. Gezza

     /  20th May 2020

    We’ve had about five cold mornings in the last 10 days, with morning dews.

    I left the lounge gas heater on very low all night because the inside air temp got very chilly late yesterday night & when I turned it off it got cold inside quite quickly.

    This morning we had our first proper light frost. When I opened the curtains the grass was very wet, the air outside was Southerly cold, but there was no wind, & all the neighbours’ dark decrabond roof tiles were white with frost.

    That’s quite early for a frost. In the last few years we haven’t got any until June.

    Reply
    • We very seldom have one now, and when we do they are half-hearted ones. The skating waxeye was several years ago and the frost that turned the waterbowl into a mini skating rink was the only one like that.

      It’s still warm enough for light clothes up here, but the die-hards who dress by the calendar are in winter clothes and must be cooked.

      Reply
      • I spoke too soon about the frosts. Let’s hope the forecast’s wrong as it often is.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  20th May 2020

          I forgot to bring the recycling wheelie bin in from out on at the street kerb. Just went out & got it. It’s a clear sky night & bitingly cold out there. If the skies stay clear there’ll probably be a doozy of a frost tomorrow morning. I’ve got the gas heater on as the tempersture’s dropped, but I’m gonna turn it off now & shoot up to ma’s place. Forgot to clear her letterbox.
          1954 hrs.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  20th May 2020

            Clear sky up here too so will be cold again. May drop out of double figures. Was 13.5C this morning at 8am. Fire going for 3rd night – v early for winter.

            Reply
  6. Fight4nz

     /  20th May 2020

    A hatrick of quintessential posts of self entitlement.
    The old, pampered, privileged self-centered clinging to any farcical notion supporting their abhorrence of anything that would interfere with their avarice. Their legacy will be remembered with such respect and admiration by those who follow.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  20th May 2020

      Thanks F4NZ. I’m not averse to respect and admiration right now though I doubt Griff will oblige.

      Reply
  7. Griff.

     /  20th May 2020

    The fringe cranks will not except well founded science .
    Multiple studies come to very similar results.

    On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on Earth
    Georg Feulner Stefan Rahmstorf
    Geophysical Research Letters
    10 March 2010
    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2010GL042710

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  20th May 2020

      The fringe cranks will not except well founded science.
      Actually, your problem with them is that, from your perspective, they DO.

      Hint: Use a dictionary.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  20th May 2020

      Griff, how do you explain the data from the future they are using for their analysis.
      Can they give lotto results as well with their amazing crystal ball.
      Instrument record ends around 2005 for this 2010 study,
      It’s you that is the crank if you think this claimed Temp ∆ means anything let alone from 2020 for a few years

      Reply
  8. Duker

     /  20th May 2020

    Ah the volcanic eruptions triggered the start of LIA theory…….must be true as their computer models have worked it out….as they put it ‘decadally spaced eruptions’
    Another problem , aerosols have a short persistence in atmosphere.
    The biggest problem is of course ‘what eruptions’ ?
    Computer models have been dispatched to find these eruptions’ as that’s how climate science works now ..as nothing in reality is allowed to contradict the models

    Reply

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