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Grand Minimum May Usher In 50 Years Of Global Cooling

February 8, 2018

By Paul Homewood


Reposted from nextbigfuture:



Reduced sunspot activity has been observed and indicates the sun is heading into a 50 year reduced solar activity similar to what happened in the mid-17th century.

Comparison to similar stars indicates the reduced activity will cause 0.25% less UV for 50 years.

Modelling indicates that this will cause a few tenths of a degree of cooling.

This will counteract global warming for 50 years.

The cooldown would be the result of what scientists call a grand minimum, a periodic event during which the Sun’s magnetism diminishes, sunspots form infrequently, and less ultraviolet radiation makes it to the surface of the planet. Scientists believe that the event is triggered at irregular intervals by random fluctuations related to the Sun’s magnetic field.

Scientists have used reconstructions based on geological and historical data to attribute a cold period in Europe in the mid-17th Century to such an event, named the “Maunder Minimum.” Temperatures were low enough to freeze the Thames River on a regular basis and freeze the Baltic Sea to such an extent that a Swedish army was able to invade Denmark in 1658 on foot by marching across the sea ice.

A team of scientists led by research physicist Dan Lubin at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego has created for the first time an estimate of how much dimmer the Sun should be when the next minimum takes place.

There is a well-known 11-year cycle in which the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation peaks and declines as a result of sunspot activity. During a grand minimum, Lubin estimates that ultraviolet radiation diminishes an additional seven percent beyond the lowest point of that cycle. His team’s study, “Ultraviolet Flux Decrease Under a Grand Minimum from IUE Short-wavelength Observation of Solar Analogs,” appears in the publication Astrophysical Journal Letters and was funded by the state of California.

“Now we have a benchmark from which we can perform better climate model simulations,” Lubin said. “We can therefore have a better idea of how changes in solar UV radiation affect climate change.”

Lubin and colleagues David Tytler and Carl Melis of UC San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences arrived at their estimate of a grand minimum’s intensity by reviewing nearly 20 years of data gathered by the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite mission. They compared radiation from stars that are analogous to the Sun and identified those that were experiencing minima.

The reduced energy from the Sun sets into motion a sequence of events on Earth beginning with a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer. That thinning, in turn, changes the temperature structure of the stratosphere, which then changes the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, especially wind and weather patterns. The cooling is not uniform. While areas of Europe chilled during the Maunder Minimum, other areas such as Alaska and southern Greenland warmed correspondingly.

Lubin and other scientists predict a significant probability of a near-future grand minimum because the downward sunspot pattern in recent solar cycles resembles the run-ups to past grand minimum events.

Despite how much the Maunder Minimum might have affected Earth the last time, Lubin said that an upcoming event would not stop the current trend of planetary warming but might slow it somewhat. The cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After hundreds of thousands of years of CO2 levels never exceeding 300 parts per million in air, the concentration of the greenhouse gas is now over 400 parts per million, continuing a rise that began with the Industrial Revolution. Other researchers have used computer models to estimate what an event similar to a Maunder Minimum, if it were to occur in coming decades, might mean for our current climate, which is now rapidly warming.

One such study looked at the climate consequences of a future Maunder Minimum-type grand solar minimum, assuming a total solar irradiance reduced by 0.25 percent over a 50-year period from 2020 to 2070. The study found that after the initial decrease of solar radiation in 2020, globally averaged surface air temperature cooled by up to several tenths of a degree Celsius. By the end of the simulated grand solar minimum, however, the warming in the model with the simulated Maunder Minimum had nearly caught up to the reference simulation. Thus, a main conclusion of the study is that “a future grand solar minimum could slow down but not stop global warming.”

Read the full story here.


The claim that global warming will offset this cooling is, in my view, highly tendentious, as it assumes the sort of underlying warming we have not seen yet.

In any event, a global temperature is a meaningless concept, and will be of no consequence to most of the Northern Hemisphere struggling with low temperatures.


NASA’s Earth Observatory explains the Grand Minimum very well:


Chilly Temperatures During the Maunder Minimum

Many things can change temperatures on Earth: a volcano erupts, swathing the Earth with bright haze that blocks sunlight, and temperatures drop; greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, and temperatures climb. From 1650 to 1710, temperatures across much of the Northern Hemisphere plunged when the Sun entered a quiet phase now called the Maunder Minimum. During this period, very few sunspots appeared on the surface of the Sun, and the overall brightness of the Sun decreased slightly. Already in the midst of a colder-than-average period called the Little Ice Age, Europe and North America went into a deep freeze: alpine glaciers extended over valley farmland; sea ice crept south from the Arctic; and the famous canals in the Netherlands froze regularly—an event that is rare today.

The impact of the solar minimum is clear in this image, which shows the temperature difference between 1680, a year at the center of the Maunder Minimum, and 1780, a year of normal solar activity, as calculated by a general circulation model. Deep blue across eastern and central North America and northern Eurasia illustrates where the drop in temperature was the greatest. Nearly all other land areas were also cooler in 1680, as indicated by the varying shades of blue. The few regions that appear to have been warmer in 1680 are Alaska and the eastern Pacific Ocean (left), the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland (left of center), and north of Iceland (top center).

If energy from the Sun decreased only slightly, why did temperatures drop so severely in the Northern Hemisphere? Climate scientist Drew Shindell and colleagues at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies tackled that question by combining temperature records gleaned from tree rings, ice cores, corals, and the few measurements recorded in the historical record, with an advanced computer model of the Earth’s climate. The group first calculated the amount of energy coming from the Sun during the Maunder Minimum and entered the information into a general circulation model. The model is a mathematical representation of the way various Earth systems—ocean surface temperatures, different layers of the atmosphere, energy reflected and absorbed from land, and so forth—interact to produce the climate.

When the model started with the decreased solar energy and returned temperatures that matched the paleoclimate record, Shindell and his colleagues knew that the model was showing how the Maunder Minimum could have caused the extreme drop in temperatures. The model showed that the drop in temperature was related to ozone in the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere that is between 10 and 50 kilometers from the Earth’s surface. Ozone is created when high-energy ultraviolet light from the Sun interacts with oxygen. During the Maunder Minimum, the Sun emitted less strong ultraviolet light, and so less ozone formed. The decrease in ozone affected planetary waves, the giant wiggles in the jet stream that we are used to seeing on television weather reports.

The change to the planetary waves kicked the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)—the balance between a permanent low-pressure system near Greenland and a permanent high-pressure system to its south—into a negative phase. When the NAO is negative, both pressure systems are relatively weak. Under these conditions, winter storms crossing the Atlantic generally head eastward toward Europe, which experiences a more severe winter. (When the NAO is positive, winter storms track farther north, making winters in Europe milder.) The model results, shown above, illustrate that the NAO was more negative on average during the Maunder Minimum, and Europe remained unusually cold. These results matched the paleoclimate record.


Note how the Maunder Minimum resulted in much lower temperatures across virtually the whole of the NH, with the exception of Alaska and southern Greenland.

Such a sharp drop in just a few years will have dire consequences.


There will be another post tomorrow with more detail.

  1. February 8, 2018 10:29 pm

    I think we are all very ignorant about the sun’s deep oscillations and cycles. We don’t really have all that great an understanding of the 22/11 sunspot cycle. We may indeed be in for a Maunder-like minimum; we just don’t know. What we know from the past is: Solar coupled to the oceans is the root driver of all earth’s climate. The effect of Atmospheric CO2 on climate is almost certainly overwhelmed by oscillations like grand minimums and grand maximums.

    What we need is a healthy dose of humility about what we know and don’t know and a little less confidence that we have somehow figured out how to use computers to model the future.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      February 9, 2018 1:23 pm

      Humility? Good luck with that in a modern academic!

      Interesting (or it would be if it wasn’ becoming so tedious) that Lubin just cannot resist the “… which is now rapidly warming” bit.

      One degree a century coming out of the coldest period since the last ice age is rapid?! You are surely jesting, sir!

    • February 9, 2018 8:46 pm

      Just paying attention to the Sun at the astrophysicist level and modeling accordingly, might give a more realistic idea of what our climate is going to be. The current garbage coming out of the warmists book is political science, not real science.

    • bob permalink
      February 13, 2018 1:04 am

      Remember that there is no evidence that atmospheric CO2 affects global temperatures in any significant way.. Also Professor Happer has shown that CO2, in its small concentrations cant have a significant effect on global temps. Howevr H2o does affect temps but the greenies dont like to talk about clouds.

  2. Theyouk permalink
    February 8, 2018 10:32 pm

    Interesting how (if this depiction of temperature anomalies during the Maunder is accurate) Alaska (esp. southern) had a significant warm anomaly…which is the same phenomena of the predicted ‘Alaska is the canary in the coal mine for AGW’ story line. So what does a warm Alaska actually indicate? A warming or cooling NH? Oh wait…it’s heads-I-win-tails-you-lose from the warmists, isn’t it…

  3. February 8, 2018 11:40 pm

    The warmists have to maintain, come what may, that the Earth is warming uncontrollably due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions, otherwise all their funding goes poof. If we have global cooling for the next fifty years, it’s still just a respite and global warming is still there. If glaciers start rolling down into Southern England in the next few years, the warmists will find a way to declare that it’s all due to global warming.

    The wellspring of their funding comes from the wind/solar industry. Three trillion dollars since 2004, and possibly a further ten trillion by 2040 if all their plans come to fruition. With money like this, who needs logic or science. Just follow the money.

    • dave permalink
      February 9, 2018 10:15 am

      If “the problem of overheating” is delayed in this way by the sun’s mechanism for fifty years, then – under the rules for time preference in social matters – this either

      (1) destroys 70% of the problem, at a conservative annual rate of personal time preference of 2.5%,


      (2) destroys 90% of the problem, at the more realistic annual rate of discount of 5.0%


      (3) destroys 100% of the problem, for the reason that fifty years is two generations away, and it is none of my business.

    • February 9, 2018 10:24 am

      They are already blaming the bitter NH winters of the past 2 or 3 years on warming.

      I know.

      • dave permalink
        February 9, 2018 12:13 pm

        They are just good, old-fashioned, American, “cold waves,” precisely as described in my geography textbook at school, sixty years ago. Sheesh!

  4. February 9, 2018 12:18 am

    This will be used to justify the pursuit of CO2 and Carbon Penalties; the pause since ~2000 is real, but is caused by external cooling, thus we must continue with emissions reductions. IPCC will never surrender in their pursuit of the goal of wealth redistribution discussed in Paul’s other post today

    • dave permalink
      February 9, 2018 10:19 am

      Oh, the old

      “We have been given an extra night to dig a trench, before the enemy attack in overwhelming force! Meanwhile, I am going to ride away for help!”


  5. markl permalink
    February 9, 2018 4:02 am

    “…Modelling indicates that this will cause a few tenths of a degree of cooling……This will counteract global warming for 50 years….” So “a few tenths” of cooling doesn’t equal a few tenths of warming. Interesting. Then it will “counteract” warming. Can’t lose.

  6. Bitter@twisted permalink
    February 9, 2018 8:19 am

    So follow the logic here.
    If less solar activity equates to a few tenths lower global temperatures.
    Then then solar maximum we have just been through must mean a few tenths warming.
    Not much room for CO2’s influence is there?

    • dave permalink
      February 9, 2018 10:27 am

      You have noticed the logical flaw! Namely, assuming that the recent situation has been “normal” and not a “solar maximum”. But these “scientist minions” had to put it that way, didn’t they, or risk being burned at the stake?

      As it involved computer simulations (my Italian friends would now be making the horns with their fingers!) I am not too impressed by the detail. It is interesting that other stars show “‘solar minimums.” Multiple examples of a phenomenon are what makes useful science.

  7. Athelstan permalink
    February 9, 2018 8:51 am

    How convenient, the world is cooling but hey guys the we’re all doomed via emissions from a trace gas warmunist psciencey stuff is still valid – says NASA computer dept!!

    Wow, wouldn’t ya know it?

    Figures can’t lie but liars can figure.

  8. Phoenix44 permalink
    February 9, 2018 9:42 am

    So if the climate of 20-30 years ago was perfect, and in the next 50 years it is going to be different from that, shouldn’t we be spending billions to make sure that doesn’t happen?

  9. Stonyground permalink
    February 9, 2018 10:26 am

    Presumably it is impossible for the warmists to admit that the warming over the last few decades was natural and caused by an increase in the output of the sun. Ooops we thought it was CO2 but it turned out to be not only completely natural but completely beyond our control. Sorry about all the money that was wasted but we hope there won’t be any hard feelings, after all it was a genuine mistake. Shut up it was.

    • dave permalink
      February 9, 2018 10:29 am

      “Shut up, it was.”

      And no, you can’t have the money back.

  10. February 9, 2018 11:11 am

    This is much too complicated for a normal scientist (not a post-normal one). First the so-called “heat” is hiding in the oceans and now it is hidden by the “cold”.

  11. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 9, 2018 11:14 am

    What makes these computer models totally incorrect is that they start from assumed values of the Radiative Forcing Factor (RFF). This is a committee’s assessment of the contributions of atmospheric gases, vapours and solids to the radiation flux from the sun. In the IPCC reports it is made absolutely clear that this is not a scientifically calculated value, but the opinions of a self-selected group. The RFF is not directly measurable and if the value selected is taken as positive, as it always is, it produces increased heat flux or warming; select a value up to 9 W/m2 depending on how much fear you want to generate: GIGO!

  12. February 9, 2018 12:12 pm

    I noticed an error in this interesting posting where the warm spots during the little ice age were described. The warm spot top of center of the map is located north of Svalbard (a.k.a. Spitsbergen) certainly not north of Iceland.

    • February 9, 2018 12:30 pm

      I think they mean where the Greenland warm spot is

      • Athelstan permalink
        February 9, 2018 1:24 pm

        ho ho ho said Red nosed loon and from NASAclaus………………Greenland ‘warm spot’

        “OK so instead of -45ºCel’ – it’s only – 39º Celsius……………… brrr that’s too warm for me”,

        – he shouted!

  13. February 9, 2018 1:32 pm

    There are other factor which comes into play which I did not see mentioned. When you have the low sunspot phase in the 11 year cycle where is the earth? Where is it in relation to the elliptical orbit which elongates and contracts? Where is it in relation to the earth’s tilt on it’s axis which varies? Where is it in relation to earth’s “wobble”? These 3 aspects can also exacerbate the sunspot situation if there is a convergence with earth being farther from the sun by orbit, tilt or wobble.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      February 9, 2018 1:47 pm

      What about the effects of the positions of the other planets?

    • February 10, 2018 10:37 am

      The sunspot minimum they’re talking about here is over a number of cycles – 3 at least – rather than a minimum within a single cycle. Possibly like solar cycles 5,6, and 7 where there’s a run of low maxima as well.

      • dave permalink
        February 10, 2018 11:46 am

        To be precise, the minima in each 11-year cycle are ALWAYS about zero in sunspot numbers. The “Grand Minimum” is a succession of low or very low numbers during the maxima of successive 11-year cycles. So, we will not know much more until Solar Cycle 25 is about one-third through its rise – in 5 years’ time.

        The real issue is not the sun-spots themselves so much as the overall activity of the sun’s magnetic fields, of which there are various indicators.

        Also, as matters of fact, the “11-year” cycle is not of immutable length; and the full cycle is composed of two ordinary cycles, because the polarity changes.

  14. Russ Wood permalink
    February 9, 2018 1:50 pm

    The authors blindly state “The decrease in ozone affected planetary waves”. Er – just HOW? And weren’t we worried some years ago about “the ozone hole”?

    • AZ1971 permalink
      February 9, 2018 5:23 pm

      UV rays create ozone in the upper stratosphere near the equator; the ozone migrates towards the poles where persistent cold and dark conditions allow it to be degraded. A decrease in ozone also corresponds to lower solar wind compressions on the atmosphere, which means that the jet stream doesn’t have as narrow of channels through which it flows and can therefore meander more widely from north to south.

      At least, that’s my understanding.

    • dave permalink
      February 9, 2018 11:51 pm

      “…the ozone hole…”

      That is in the other hemisphere – over Antarctica.

      We should not forget that there is a theory that the slight changes in the global “brightness temperatures” over the last forty years were CAUSED by the growth of this hole and therefore there is a prediction that AS it gradually heals (due to the halt in emissions of CFCs) those effects will be reversed.

      So much unsettled science is intriguing! Time will tell, but many of us will not be around when the answer comes out of the envelope.

  15. Tony J Carey permalink
    February 9, 2018 4:27 pm

    It is I think very desirable for “Not a lot of people know that” to also post the evidence that the global warming of 1980-2000 was mostly due to above average solar activity, with CO2 only playing a minor role.

  16. Colin permalink
    February 9, 2018 10:13 pm

    The environmental movement has truly bet the farm on AGW, if they’re found to wrong their credibility will be completely shot. A new Maunder minimum will grant them valuable breathing space and should see Mann and Co. through to a cosy retirement. I have no doubt computer projections of expected Solar cooling are in the works, these will be high with nice roomy error bars to allow for continued underlying “warming”.

    • dave permalink
      February 9, 2018 11:30 pm

      “…their credibility will be completely shot…”

      They are now immune to losing their credibility – except in favour of newer, even crazier, preachers of their religion.

  17. February 10, 2018 12:25 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  18. February 11, 2018 6:03 am

    Typo? “… it assumes the sort of underlying warming we have not seem yet.” “seem” should be “seen”.

  19. JMR permalink
    February 11, 2018 5:49 pm

    “In any event, a global is a meaningless concept….” A global what? I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say here.

    • February 11, 2018 7:00 pm


      Global “temperature” I should have said.

      Well spotted, thanks.

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