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Maunder Minimum & The CET

February 10, 2018

By Paul Homewood






Back to that Grand Minimum.



As mentioned yesterday, scientists now believe we could be heading into a 50 year period of reduced solar activity similar to what happened in the mid-17th century, which could lead to a drop in global temperatures of “several tenths of a degree Celsius”.


As has been pointed out, climate is a far more complex matter than climate scientists admit, and one about which we still know very little.

Whether a Maunder-like Minimum will happen again in the next few years, and whether it will have the effect claimed, remain to be seen.

But there is considerable evidence that the Maunder Minimum did coincide with a sharp fall in temperatures across the NH, as NASA show above.

The purpose of this post is to focus on the Central England Temperature series.



Although the NASA analysis, quoted above explains how low solar activity can lead to more severe winters, in England, at least, the effect appears to be all year round.

The Maunder lasted roughly from 1645 to 1715, and the drop in temperatures around this time in the CET is obvious.

The CET only started in 1659, so we can not see if the decline began earlier in the 1640s.

The 1751-60 period is fairly typical of the second half of the 18thC. The average annual mean temperature for that decade was 9.09C.

Between 1671 and 1708, the 10-year trailing average was below 9.09C every single year. The 10-year average fell to its lowest point in 1700, at 8.10C, in other words nearly a full degree below the “norm”.

We find a very similar pattern with winter and summer temperatures:






In winter, the 1751-60 average was 3.3C. The 10-year average was below this throughout the 1672 to 1706 period, with the exception of 1691, (in other words, the average for 1682/91).

This was due solely to the remarkably mild winter of 1686, one of the warmest winters in the whole series. 10-year averages slumped to 2.3C in 1684 and 1685.

In summer,  the 10-year average did not get above the 1751-60 baseline of 15.4C between 1674 and 1706. The 10-year figure went as low as 14.3C in 1698.

In other words, both winter and summer temperatures were unusually low for four decades, and dropped as much a 1C below the mid 18thC numbers.

And it was not just England which was affected. HH Lamb, for instance, reproduces this analysis of the climate in Berne:


Climate, History and the Modern World

There of course will be no surprise about this, as the documented history about the glaciers in Switzerland at this time show.



Lamb goes on to show the widespread effect on harvests:



A drop of 1C in CET would see a return to the temperatures seen during the 19thC.

The authors of the latest study suggest that underlying global warming will have offset this drop by 2070, which may not be of much comfort in the meantime.

However, there is no evidence that CET is continuing to increase. Let’s look at that annual graph again:




There is a clear step up in temperatures in the late 1980s, but they have been pretty much flat since 1990. The 10-year average peaked in 2006, and has been dropping since.

Remarkably, the 10-year average is barely higher than it stood in 1738, 10.12C v 9.90C.

I would have zero confidence in forecast that said temperatures would start increasing again.


Mike Lockwood, Professor of Space Environment Physics at the University of Reading, spoke about the increasing likelihood of a grand minimum in 2013, with the BBC reporting:

Professor Lockwood doesn’t hold back in his description of the potential impacts such a scenario would have in the UK.

He says such a change to our climate could have profound implications for energy policy and our transport infrastructure.

Although the biggest impact of such solar driven change would be regional, like here in the UK and across Europe, there would be global implications too.


Our warming obsessed government is busy tearing up energy infrastructure in a vain attempt to combat “global warming”, when it should instead be preparing for the very real danger of another Little Ice Age.

  1. Richard Bell permalink
    February 10, 2018 12:20 pm

    In the Winter of 1963 when I was three years old I was taken with my siblings down to the Thames near Walton Bridge by my parents where we walked on the FROZEN surface ……!!!

    • dave permalink
      February 10, 2018 2:22 pm

      Hm! Sounds a bit like what happened with Hansel and Gretel…

      That same time (1962/3 winter), one could walk on the River Cam, in the dark between the silent, lighted, colleges which was beautiful.

      God help this country when we get a repeat of that winter or the 1946/7 one.

      • Adrian permalink
        February 10, 2018 5:57 pm

        Actually might be fun, as we get hysterical warnings, and so called traffic chaos when England gets 15-25mm of snow it would be interesting to see if the met office and their shrieking mouthpiece the bbc (lower case deliberate, they ceased to merit cap letters yrs ago) actually explode if we get a real winter or so.

      • HotScot permalink
        February 10, 2018 11:01 pm


        Well, we kind of did have a real winter in 2009/2010 when the NE Coast of Scotland had the best part of 6 months under snow.

        But that was just weather, of course.

        In the SE of England, there was a few weeks of snow and ice, and it was of course, a global disastrous phenomenon, whilst Scotland shovelled snow and got on with it.

        Were I a kid again in 1970’s Scotland, I would bemoan the loss of snow and ice to play in. But like much of our ageing population, Snow is pants for anything other than looking at.

        Indeed the Arctic poles contribute nothing to humanity other than ice for a G&T.

        Melt baby, melt.

  2. Adam Gallon permalink
    February 10, 2018 12:31 pm

    Hudson’s blog is from October 2013, but nothing’s changed since then.

  3. A C Osborn permalink
    February 10, 2018 12:34 pm

    Paul, do you know how the Equipment has changed over the 20th & 21st Century?
    ie, locations, Instruments etc?

    • Chris, Leeds permalink
      February 10, 2018 12:53 pm

      I think with the CET they tried to standardise as much as they could. CET is now calculated from slightly different locations than those before the 1960s and there is the difficulty of allowing for urbanisation – the long-term station of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory has become more urbanised for certain. The other point is electric thermometry has now replaced mercury-in-glass – quite abruptly so – and I am not aware of any overlap and assessment of implications. However, the jonova web-site in Australia has shown from data in that country that the electric sensors respond much more quickly than mercury-in-glass and this has significantly increased extremes recorded on any day.. Jo reported cases where maxima could be a degree higher because of a ‘momentary’ hot blast that previously would not have been recorded because the old mercury thermometers were much slower to react!

      • John F. Hultquist permalink
        February 10, 2018 4:57 pm

        “… sensors respond much more quickly …”

        That may be only an OZ thing. Seems other countries take an average over a short interval to eliminate the momentary spikes.
        You will have to find out what the sensors of interest do and record.
        Likely that info is buried on a web site, if you can find it.

      • Ian G permalink
        February 10, 2018 7:01 pm

        The BOM in Australia record at one second intervals – most other countries average over seven or ten minute intervals.

  4. February 10, 2018 12:44 pm

    Tony Brown has estimated the CET back to 1538, seems to reinforce the Maunder trough:

    Its interesting to read the panicked comments from some about temperatures around 1550 being just as high as today.

  5. Chris, Leeds permalink
    February 10, 2018 12:48 pm

    I’ve always thought one of the most remarkable things about the CET record is the astonishing rise in temperature from the 1690s to the 1730s – far more than anything in the last century and it all came to an abrupt end, very suddenly in the extraordinary year of 1740? How can we be sure that something similar can’t happen again. When the Met Office and others constantly use the phrase “pre-industrial temperatures (1850-1900)” and say that we are warmer, what was so special about 1850-1900? Since when were pre-industrial temperatures a constant? What about the 1680s and 1690s, what about the 1730s, let alone what we know about medieval and roman warm periods – temperatures fluctuated by at least 2C without any human intervention. Why do the Met Office and others hide this and don’t talk about it?

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      February 10, 2018 5:03 pm

      Because there is an agenda being pursued, and it is not to understand climate.

  6. February 10, 2018 12:55 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  7. February 10, 2018 1:00 pm

    Estimated/Measured temperatures in Germany back to 1000 AD:

    • jim permalink
      February 10, 2018 3:43 pm

      What a crock of s*it!! Don’t tell me the baseline for made up numbers is 1960-91? The error bands for this, including the latest years are bigger than my computer screen. Anomalous anomalies taken to a new height of lunacy.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 11, 2018 9:42 am

      I don’t understand this graph at all. Why an 11 year moving average for example? And the anamoly is compared with what? And grafting instrumental data onto proxies and not making that obvious in the graph is basically fraud. And how on Earth can you estimate error bars when you have absolutely no idea what the real number is nor whether your data is remotely accurate? You cannot use standard deviations on made up data – it is simply nonsense. Using a proper statistical tool on guesses does not make the guesses accurate.

      What was the temperature in 1123?

  8. lloydr56 permalink
    February 10, 2018 1:22 pm

    I know many people read the same blogs, but I think we should consider Javier’s comments on James Marusek’s post on solar cycles (SC) at WUWT. He is generous with his praise, but then goes on to suggest that links between short-term solar events and short-term weather events are questionable.

    “You have the observations correct, and the description of the SC23-SC24 minimum is one of the best I have read. However you forget an important fact. The climate impact of the SC23-24 was small. Nothing of the sort you predict for the SC24-25 took place. At worst we should expect a bigger impact from SC24-25, but bigger than small is moderate, not catastrophic.

    “There is something that has escaped you. As we climb the ~ 1000-year Eddy solar cycle towards its maximum around 2100, the intensity of the centennial and de Vries minima decreases. The intensity of the Dalton minimum was lower than the Maunder minimum. The intensity of the Gleissberg minimum was lower than the Dalton minimum. The intensity of the current Eddy minimum is expected to be lower than the Gleissberg minimum. Therefore the climatic worsening seen during extended solar minima is decreasing, and your comparison of the present extended solar minimum with Dalton doesn’t hold water. The Dalton minimum is interesting, but hardly an analog. Moreso since many of the climatic effects of the Dalton times were due to volcanic eruptions and you don’t even mention that. That would be a serious objection to your work if in peer-review. How much of the climatic effects you talk about in the Dalton times were due to the highest volcanic activity in 300 years?”

    • February 10, 2018 1:55 pm

      Or the other way round – how much of the volcanic activity was due to the Dalton minimum?

      • John F. Hultquist permalink
        February 10, 2018 5:14 pm

        Can you explain how the temperature at the surface influences the rate of melting of rock miles below the surface?

      • J Martin permalink
        February 10, 2018 6:31 pm

        Reduced magnetic field more high energy particles impacting and energising the lava, a fairly well known hypothesis.

      • dave permalink
        February 11, 2018 12:22 pm

        “…more high energy particles impacting [the Earth] and energising the lava [deep down]…”

        In view of the detailed physical facts and the small total amount of energy involved, this does not really survive the back-of-the-envelope test.

        The solar wind and the true cosmic rays bring small amounts of energy to the Earth compared to the normal radiance of the sun – far less than one percent.

        Both the solar wind particles and cosmic rays are entirely absorbed in the atmosphere. The cosmic rays produce secondary rays which often reach ground level. Where there is deep sea (seven tenths of the Earth’s surface, of course), they are absorbed completely by the water.

        But let us consider the land. The secondary rays include muons which are the only particles which can penetrate the crust significantly, BECAUSE they are not particularly interactive with rock.

        By a quirk, both high and low energy muons are absorbed more easily than medium energy muons. As a result, nine tenths of muons, and of muon kinetic energy, are absorbed in the top one hundred meters of the crust. The other tenth is absorbed gradually and uniformly through about three kilometers of rock. It is only the kinetic energy of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of cosmic ray energy which can actually heat magma further.

        A typical magma chamber beneath a small volcano might be one kilometer by one kilometer wide and half a kilometer deep, weigh several billion tons, and have a temperature between seven hundred Centigrade and thirteen hundred Centigrade. The muons that fall on the square kilometer of land above it have – somehow – to release a thousand million million watts of energy in that particular volume – just to raise the temperature one degree. And how is one degree – or ten degrees – going to make it suddenly erupt?

        It does not compute.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        February 12, 2018 2:11 pm

        Interesting though that every time there is a peak in the speed of the solar wind there is an earthquake.

      • dave permalink
        February 13, 2018 2:49 pm

        The actual transfer of kinetic energy of the solar wind particles to the Earth is roughly equivalent to one pistol bullet hitting the Earth each second. So not much there.

        I suppose it is conceivable that magnetic interactions with the Earth’s field might transfer energy as well; and little “shakes” might trigger earthquakes which were ready to go.

    • jim permalink
      February 10, 2018 4:41 pm

      Javier is good, but very arrogant in his belief that he knows more than others in this field. Others have responded to his comments negatively. The point is we, he is correct until he is wrong. We will have a fair idea by 2023.

      • J Martin permalink
        February 10, 2018 6:34 pm

        Javier produced a seminal work, he overlayed the Marcott temperature reconstruction of the Holocene with the curve of planet Earth’s obliquity- it’s a precise match.

      • jim permalink
        February 10, 2018 7:18 pm

        J Martin, sorry if I sound sceptical, but temperatures over 1M years with estimates of obliquity, I would like to see an error band around that. Others have got good matches using Gaborn Transforms. Basically you can ‘prove’ anything with stats/maths if you want to, especially when you don’t really have a clue about the veracity of the variables you are using.

      • J Martin permalink
        February 10, 2018 8:19 pm

        This is the graph that impressed me, the purple obliquity line looks like as good a match for the jagged black temperature curve as one could hope for. It’s only a pity that he didn’t also include a smoothed curve for the black temperatures, but clearly it would be very close indeed to the purple obliquity curve.

      • J Martin permalink
        February 10, 2018 8:33 pm

        Obliquity drives the descent into glaciation, but during the glaciation eccentricity provides a match. I’m not sure if precession plays any role, if it does it is minor.

        I am always frustrated when people produce works with all three factors blended into a mishmash, no advances can be elucidated from average indolation.

      • jim permalink
        February 10, 2018 11:15 pm

        Its worse than you described. He has curve fitted against an ‘anomaly’ series of numbers going back 1M years. What were the base years? Looking at the steep incline at the end I guess 1960-1991. So how exactly is this relevant to 1M years ago?
        At least the guys using Fourier analysis didn’t use anomalies.
        So this guy thinks because he has done this completely silly curve fitting he can say with any sort of certainty what is going to happen over the next 50 years? This spurious ‘expertees” gives him no more credibility than anyone blogging on this site.

      • J Martin permalink
        February 11, 2018 9:49 am

        The graph goes back just 11 thousand years, not 1 million years. The purple curve is obliquity overlaid on the last 11,000 years. He makes no predictions from it, others can draw their own conclusions. It makes it clear that thus far orbital parameters are ultimately dominant.

        The graph certainly gives no guide to time frames as short as 50 years but does suggest that the next correction in temperatures may be severe assuming co2 has not played a significant part in the recent uptick. Likelyhood is that none of us will be around to witness that.

        Getting back on topic, the next 30 years or so, Javier doesn’t think we’ll see much in the way of cooling, less than we got in the 1970s. Personally I would hope for a bit more than that so as to dampen down the insufferable bleating of the alarmists.

      • jim permalink
        February 12, 2018 2:47 am

        11k years not 1M years, so what! Its still a load of rubbish.
        And yes it does mean this guy has no more credibility than my cat about what is going to happen over the next 30 years. But he arrogantly puts everybody down who comments on his comments on WUWT.

  9. Bloke down the pub permalink
    February 10, 2018 1:23 pm

    Interesting how the blip in annual mean temperatures that occurred around the 1980s is far more obvious than the corresponding blips in the winter and summer means.

  10. February 10, 2018 1:28 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  11. February 10, 2018 1:40 pm

    The Maunder Minimum pre-dates the solar cycle record which starts in 1755 (i.e. SC 1).

    But note that SC5-SC7 had low maximum sunspot numbers (ISN) at the time of the Dalton Minimum, similar in fact to the max of the current SC24. If this trend goes on into SC 25 as many pundits predict, the scene will be set for another minimum.

    Another obvious point is that if the sun can cause cooling at times of low sunspot activity, the reverse is equally likely i.e. warming – such as we have seen in the late 20th century.

    • J Martin permalink
      February 10, 2018 7:32 pm

      Leif Svalgaard thinks that solar cycle 25 will be very slightly larger than 24, so in his words ” no grand minimum this time “.

      Nonetheless that will mean that we get two low cycles in a row, since solar cycles are buffered by roughly 11 years it may or may not mean that we will start to see the effects of a low cycle fairly soon, after 2020.

      The big question is, are these two cycles at a sufficiently low level to cause cooling, or at least a pause, or maybe slow warming. The big unknown.

  12. February 10, 2018 1:40 pm

    “Our warming obsessed government is busy tearing up energy infrastructure in a vain attempt to combat “global warming”, when it should instead be preparing for the very real danger of another Little Ice Age.”

    Good luck in trying to get that message across to the politicians and the MSM (particularly the BBC).

  13. jim permalink
    February 10, 2018 3:37 pm

    Paul, ‘bloke down the pub’ makes an interesting comment. I think Tony B’s analysis in 2005 demonstrated that outliers in monthly temperatures can have a remarkable effect on the trends. The autumn period, in particular October/November in the recent ‘hump’ years have been the main cause. Why is unknown, but some have pointed towards wind direction, with far more SWesterlies across the UK in those months than average. This demonstrates the lunacy of talking about ‘global averages’, it really can be down to regional weather.
    It would be good to show the seasonal maximum and minimum temps alongside the annual means. Its also interesting to use different lengths of moving averages.
    If you use 5 years for instance it shows the slight warming of winters and cooling of summers.
    And the hump up to 2000 becomes a decline thereafter. However it requires a microscope to see any meaningful trend beyond a slight ‘random walk’ around a horizontal line.
    Thank goodness, despite the MET’s ‘issues’ it still more or less without major interference maintains the only long lasting record of temps on the planet. Compared to ‘virtual anomalous anomaly’ numbers like GISS and BEST, CET is a beacon of consistency.

  14. A C Osborn permalink
    February 10, 2018 7:52 pm

    Jim, our predominant wind is from the South West, so I would suggest the wind shifts to Southerly or South Easterly would be most likely to warm up the Autumn months.

    • jim permalink
      February 10, 2018 8:10 pm

      I think it is postulated that even more S W than usually replacing northerly.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      February 12, 2018 2:15 pm

      This conforms with a zonal jetstream. However, the jetstream has now become meridional with big north – south meanders, including so far south it crossed the equator. This brings fluctuations in temperature which can be very damaging to crops.

  15. J Martin permalink
    February 10, 2018 7:58 pm

    My statistically insignificant experience of climate / weather in the middle of southern England is that during the two year solar minimum of 2008/9 I had 20cm of snow here one night when I have never previously or since experienced 2 or 3cm.

    So I have been looking forward to the next solar minimum to see if it would again be a two year minimum or maybe a three year minimum and if that would once again deliver some snow.

    A couple of weeks ago I posed this question to Leif Svalgaard and got the reply that a two year minimum crops up every 200 years and so the next minimum in about 2020 will be a one year minimum. And there I was hoping that minimums were something to do with low solar cycles, but according to Leif they are not. I must admit I was dissapointed, but time will tell. I can only wait and see.

  16. donald penman permalink
    February 11, 2018 3:46 am

    My observation of what has happened here in Lincoln UK, which is just outside of Central England temperature region is that winter was front loaded just like our Summer. December was Cold but January was “mild” and wet and while the February anomaly here is low the minimum temperature has struggled to get below freezing even when it forecast to do so. I don’t think that the stratospheric warming predicted is going to make much change here in the CET region at the altitude and latitude of Lincoln UK winter is nearing its end and it could only be very cold in January unlike the parts of the UK which are at higher altitude or are further north such as Scotland which has had a lot of snow this year.

    • February 11, 2018 10:18 am

      Hi Donald,

      We live only 20 odd miles north of you but have had a very different experience of winter. Just goes to show how difficult it is to predict weather! 🙂

      We are in a small rural village surrounded by thousands of acres of arable farmland on the tip of the Wolds in North Lincolnshire.

      We had a warmer than average November right upto 25th at which point temperatures plummeted. The house grew progressively colder until we had to light the wood burner to supplement our central heating. Our house is generally quite warm so it is rare to need the wood burner running and exceptionally rare to need it running almost daily over a long period. While night time temperatures have not fallen as low as in some previous winters, the day time highs have struggled to top +8c all winter, combined with the cool North Westerlies which seem to have occurred more often this winter it has left the house colder than normal. This winter the woodburner has been running virtually every day since last week in November which makes it the second coldest winter we’ve experienced after 2010 (where we had overnight lows down to -20c), that is over the 16 years we’ve lived here.

      December was a lttle colder than average but January was definitely colder than average for us here and February is proving considerably colder, daytime highs barely exceeding +6c most days so far and most nights below freezing with -5c a few evenings ago.

      Bare in mind that we’ve had a colder than average winter (according to our own weather station data) and that is with mainly ‘warmer’ westerlies I dread to think how cold it will get if the SSW causes a switch to Easterlies. I appreciate that the days are lengthening and sun is getting stronger but I fear even that will not counter very cold weather here if we get a lengthy period of Easterlies. It will depend on where the cold lays to our east, if we get south easterly off a cold Europe it could get very cold but dry weather here? However I believe North sea is warmer than average at present so an Easterly may instead bring less cold air but with the risk of significant lake effect snow. I think I’d prefer the latter as I’m fed up of the cold now! Also our energy consumption this winter is already alarmingly higher than usual.

      • February 11, 2018 6:41 pm

        PS. I have found that our weather station (and our mercury thermometers) have consistently shown 2-3c lower temperature than met office ‘official figures’ for our area during winter but in summer our figures are virtually spot on to met office. I put this down to met office using the Lincoln weather station which must include UHI effect warming in winter. I can’t think of any other explanation as to why we get consistently lower temps than met office during winter. I guess Lincoln weather station is including waste heat from the increasing urban sprawl? In summer the figures are closer because UHI effect is less noticeable due to lack of waste heat from properties during summer months?

      • donald penman permalink
        February 11, 2018 10:18 pm

        I use Waddington weather station which is just outside Lincoln and it agrees quite well with my minimum readings although I am sure my readings do include a small UHI effect in Lincoln, small as Lincoln is. It did not get really cold in January there was a very positive NAO which brought low pressure across the UK from the Atlantic. It was cold and wet in January and I hate cold and wet perhaps more sleet or snow at higher elevations but less than there was during the last cold winters around the last solar minimum. It looks like there will be more high pressure rather than low pressure around the UK by the end of February so it could get a bit colder.

      • donald penman permalink
        February 11, 2018 10:26 pm

        We were getting minimum temperatures of up to minus twenty degrees centigrade at Waddington one December not to far back and icicles were hanging off the trees.

  17. Ian Cunningham permalink
    February 11, 2018 10:04 am

    Looking at CET annual mean graph the rate of increase in temperatures between about 1720 and 1740 looks suspiciously close to that exhibited between about 1995 and 2005 and the amplitude of the change is similar too. Any explanation for the 1720-1740 rise?

    • Chris, Leeds permalink
      February 11, 2018 10:16 am

      In fact the increase was even sharper back then. The coldest ‘decade’ was 1691-1700 – with a mean CET of 8.07C. This then rose relentlessly, peaking in the ‘decade’ 1729-1738 – with a mean CET of 9.87. So there was a rise of 1.8C in just under four decades. I think the rise has been just less than 1C since 1900… but my own spreadsheet ends 2013 (decade ending 1900 – 9.27c, decade ending 2013 – 10.11c)

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