Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Return of the Maunder Minimum?

Last January 11 I posted an article called "Can scientists be AGW Skeptics" where I showed a satellite photo of the UK covered in snow top to bottom. It was a very cold winter over there and in much of Europe.
This week Neil Reynolds writes an interesting little piece about the "little ice age" of the late 17th Century which held the British Isles and  a good chunk of the continent in its icy grip. This was a real event for which historical writings exist, along with historical corroborating weather data from the UK which tracks back 350 years.
The little ice age corresponded with a solar anomaly called the Maunder Minimum which was an extended period of low sunspot activity. Sunspots (cooler areas on the sun) vary in cycles of about 11 years (give or take) and our sun is currently at a low in sunspot activity. All this of course suggests to me that the sun varies in its energy output over time which should have profound effects on Earth's climate and maybe a more satisfactory theory explaining climate change. There is good evidence that the sun is a variable star and that its energy production seems to follow cycles both long and short. If that theory explains climate change (even partially), than it is unlikely to gain support from the scientists of the IPCC because there will be no funding for their terrestrial research into anthropogenic causes of climate change; so solar variability is ignored or played down. Who can blame them?
Reynolds' article suggests that Britain and Europe may experience another prolonged cold spell and of course the University of Reading physicist who makes this prediction says it has no relation to the ongoing global warming which is caused by humans. Of course it doesn't. Or maybe global warming is caused by one of the longish solar cycles, who knows?   

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