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NEWS: Sun Oddly Quiet - Hints at Next "Little Ice Age"?

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Author Topic: NEWS: Sun Oddly Quiet - Hints at Next "Little Ice Age"?  (Read 616 times)
Don't give me Karma!
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« on: May 29, 2009, 11:38:14 am »

A prolonged lull in solar activity has astrophysicists glued to their telescopes waiting to see what the sun will do nextóand how Earth's climate might respond.

The sun is the least active it's been in decades and the dimmest in a hundred years. The lull is causing some scientists to recall the Little Ice Age, an unusual cold spell in Europe and North America, which lasted from about 1300 to 1850.

The coldest period of the Little Ice Age, between 1645 and 1715, has been linked to a deep dip in solar storms known as the Maunder Minimum.

During that time, access to Greenland was largely cut off by ice, and canals in Holland routinely froze solid. Glaciers in the Alps engulfed whole villages, and sea ice increased so much that no open water flowed around Iceland in the year 1695.

But researchers are on guard against their concerns about a new cold snap being misinterpreted.

"[Global warming] skeptics tend to leap forward," said Mike Lockwood, a solar terrestrial physicist at the University of Southampton in the U.K. (Get the facts about global warming.)

He and other researchers are therefore engaged in what they call "preemptive denial" of a solar minimum leading to global cooling.

Even if the current solar lull is the beginning of a prolonged quiet, the scientists say, the star's effects on climate will pale in contrast with the influence of human-made greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

"I think you have to bear in mind that the CO2 is a good 50 to 60 percent higher than normal, whereas the decline in solar output is a few hundredths of one percent down," Lockwood said. "I think that helps keep it in perspective."

Even so, Lockwood added, small variations in the sun's brightness are more powerful than changes in greenhouse gas contributions. For example, a 50 percent variation in solar brightness would mean the end of life on Earth.


All that CO2 could come in handy after all!
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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2012, 03:22:01 pm »

'Solar minimum' could trigger Ice Age
Last updated 13:28 10/05/2012

The world could be heading for a new 'solar minimum' period, possibly plummeting the planet into an Ice Age, scientists say.

Researchers say the present increase in sun activity with solar flares and storms could be followed by this minimum period.

The period would see a cooling of the planet, refuting predictions of further global-warming.

The research for this comes from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.

Its scientists analysed sediment in Lake Meerfelder Maar and found direct evidence of a 'solar minimum' causing a sudden cooling in Europe 2800 years ago.

Dr Achim Brauer of the GFZ said the research shows there was an increase in humidity and windiness at the same time as the sustained reduction in solar activity. 

He said the measurements of lake sediment allow precise dating of short-term climate changes.

The theory that increased solar activity affects weather on Earth is relatively new.

It was first noticed in the 1970s when the American astronomer Jack Eddy noticed a strong correlation between historic weather records and accounts of solar activity.

He noticed that a 'quiet' sun correlates with cold weather and a 'manic' phase means warmer conditions.

The consensus view of global warming is mankind's use of fossil fuels is principally responsible.
Read a critique of this article by David Winter

An Object Lesson in the Danger of Poor Science Reporting

As you may have seen, stuff.co.nz, the online portal for the Fairfax conglomerate of papers, has launched a science section. I would like to think one of the largest news websites in the country increasing their focus on science could only be a force for good. Iím afraid the initial offerings have lurched from underwhelming to utterly ridiculous.
The thousands of viewers who found themselves reading the front page of stuff this afternoon would have been met by a giant graphic of a blue sun and a headline claiming

ĎSolar minimumí could trigger Ice Age


Having been compelled by the click-baiting headline, readers learn that

The world could be heading for a new ísolar minimumí period, possibly plummeting the planet into an Ice Age, scientists say.
Would it surprise you to lean that scientists said no such thing? In fact, Martin-Puertas et al (2012, doi: 10.1038/ngeo1460) donít have anything to say about ice ages or the future of our sun (which is actually ramping up in activity at the moment). They studied a fossilised lake bed in Germany. Lakes are great recorders of ancient biology and climate as the sediments that settle on their beds create a record of what was going on around them in the past. In this case, researchers were able to show that an historic solar minimum (a period of relatively low solar activity) contributed to a period of cooling in Europe around 3 000 years ago, which lasted for about 200 hundred years. By looking at patterns in the old lake bed that act as a proxies for past changes in windiness* they were able to build a model that explained how changes in solar output might be amplified by other changes in the climate system.
Thatís a nice result, but how does it relate to ďice agesĒ (presumably meaning glacial periods that last for tens of thousands of years and cover most of the globe in ice, not the regional pattern lasting 200 years studied here) let alone an eminent one? Even if the sun were to enter a prolonged solar minimum, Martin-Puertas et al. are explicit in their paper and the press release that got someone at the Fairfax office excited that the results they report canít be directly used to predict future events.  From the paper:

However, a direct comparison to the Homeric minimum, which was a very deep and persistent minimum with very different orbital parameters when compared with recent solar minima and probably a larger climate response, is not possible
And the press release

Albeit those findings cannot be directly transferred to future projections because the current climate is additionally affected by anthropogenic forcing.

The language in the original version of the article (now edited, but recorded by from the morgue) gives away the motivation of the articleís author:

 The period would see a cooling of the planet, refuting predictions of global-warming alarmists.
You can decide if the author of this article is in a place to call anyone else an alarmist.
The comments that followed the article are a perfect illustration of why itís worth getting upset about this sort of reporting. The vast majority of them are from people who donít believe the evidence that recent global warming is the result of our burning of fossil fuels, the rest are from people just generally being confused or disappointed by the lack of clarity on climate change in the media. Iíve plucked a commentator calling himself James as an example:

Global warming, global cooling, another ice age ? Letís face it, there is ďevidenceĒ to support all of these theories. There was also good evidence to support the theory that the world was flat. Science is simply the opinion of a group of intellectuals at any given moment. The mix of the group changes with each new piece of ďevidenceĒ. Everyone, including the intellectuals should understand that science and their own theories are just that, not indisputable facts.
James is wrong, the evidence that emitting greenhouse gases makes the world warmer is overwhelming and in no way comparable to the idea there will be a new glacial period any time soon. But can we blame him for being wrong when the major sources of news in this country are so willing to publish such rubbish?
As much as I love science blogs and specialist magazines like New Scientist and Scientific American itís important to realise that for that the people that get their science news from these sources are science fans. For most people, mainstream sources like stuff, the Herald  and TV news are going to be the main source of scientific information, and when itís as bad as this article is it any wonder that large sections of our society are left behind by science?

So what, if anything are we to make of that?
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The way politicians run this country a small white cat should have no problem http://sally4mp.blogspot.com/

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