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Did Quiet Sun Cause Little Ice Age After All?
ScienceNOW ^ | 26 May 2011 | Govert Schilling

Posted on 05/26/2011 1:50:30 PM PDT by neverdem

Enlarge Image
sn-LittleIceAge.jpg
Brrr ... Cold winters in 17th century Europe, as shown in this painting by Hendrick Avercamp, may have been caused by a lack of solar activity after all.
Credit: Hendrick Avercamp/Wikimedia Commons

BOSTON—For decades, astronomers and climatologists have debated whether a prolonged 17th century cold spell, best documented in Europe, could have been caused by erratic behavior of the sun. Now, an American solar physicist says he has new evidence to suggest that the sun was indeed the culprit.

The sun isn’t as constant as it appears. Instead, its surface is regularly beset by storms of swirling magnetic fields. As a result, like a teenager plagued with acne, the face of the sun often sprouts relatively dark and short-lived “sunspots,” which appear when strong magnetic fields inhibit the upwelling of hotter gas from below. The number of those spots waxes and wanes regularly in an 11-year cycle. However, even that cycle isn’t immutable.

In 1893, English astronomer Edward Maunder, studying historical records, noted that the cycle essentially stopped between 1645 and 1715. Instead, the sun was almost devoid of sunspots during this period. In 1976, American solar physicist John “Jack” Eddy suggested there might have been a causal link between this “Maunder Minimum” in the number of sunspots and the contemporaneous Little Ice Age, when average temperatures in Europe were a degree centigrade lower than normal.

One might expect the absence of dark spots to make the sun slightly brighter and hotter. But the absence of other signs of magnetic activity, such as bright patches of very hot gas known as faculae more than compensates for this effect. So in fact, the total energy output of the sun is lower during a solar minimum. If the minimum is prolonged, as it was in the second half of the 17th century, the dip in output might indeed affect Earth’s climate.

However, scientists have debated whether the effect could have been large enough. For instance, in a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, solar physicist Karel Schrijver of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, and his colleagues argue that during the Maunder Minimum, the sun couldn’t have dimmed enough to explain the Little Ice Age. Even during a prolonged minimum, they claim, an extensive network of very small faculae on the sun’s hot surface remains to keep the energy output above a certain threshold level.

Not so, says Peter Foukal, an independent solar physicist with Heliophysics Inc. in Nahant, Massachusetts, who contends that Schrijver and his colleagues are “assuming an answer” in a circular argument. According to Foukal, who presented his work yesterday here at the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society, there is no reason to believe that the network of small faculae would persist during long periods of solar quiescence. In fact, he says, observations between 2007 and 2009, when the sun was spotless for an unusually long time, reveal that all forms of magnetic activity diminished, including the small-faculae network.

What’s more, detailed observations from orbiting solar telescopes have shown that the small faculae pump out more energy per unit surface area than the larger ones already known to disappear along with the sunspots. So if the small faculae start to fade, too, that would have an even stronger effect on the total energy production of the sun. “There’s tantalizing evidence that [during the Maunder Minimum] the sun may have actually dimmed more than we have thought until now,” Foukal says.

Even so, Foukal concedes that other factors, such as enhanced volcanic activity around the globe, may also have played a role in causing Europe’s Little Ice Age. Meanwhile, the biggest worry to solar physicists—and to society—is that no one knows what caused the sun’s prolonged quiescence in the first place. As far as anybody knows, a repeat of the Maunder Minimum could start within a few years with the next dip in the number of sunspots.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: lia; littleiceage; sunspots
As if all this volcanic activity could have happened without anyone taking note of it? I find this hard to believe. The Europeans were in the process of exploring the rest of the globe or setting up trading outposts.
1 posted on 05/26/2011 1:50:35 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Decrease solar activity was the cause as has been known for decades. Many decades.


2 posted on 05/26/2011 1:52:37 PM PDT by texmexis best
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To: neverdem

Who would believe that the changes in the giant ball of thermonuclear fusion that supplies all of earth’s energy would have anything to do with the climate?


3 posted on 05/26/2011 1:56:38 PM PDT by Flightdeck (If you hear me yell "Eject, Eject, Eject!" the last two will be echos...)
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To: Flightdeck
Who would believe that the changes in the giant ball of thermonuclear fusion that supplies all of earth’s energy would have anything to do with the climate?

;-)

4 posted on 05/26/2011 2:00:28 PM PDT by b4its2late (Ignorance allows liberalism to prosper.)
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To: Flightdeck

the sun doesn’t keep us warm! dirty factories, burning oil and cow farts create the heat in the atmosphere. duh.


5 posted on 05/26/2011 2:03:35 PM PDT by rokkitapps
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To: neverdem
There were plenty of volcanic eruptions in the 1600's, but not many more than in other centuries. I don't think that is the answer.
6 posted on 05/26/2011 2:07:01 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: neverdem
Meanwhile, the biggest worry to solar physicists—and to society—is that no one knows what caused the sun’s prolonged quiescence in the first place. As far as anybody knows, a repeat of the Maunder Minimum could start within a few years with the next dip in the number of sunspots.

Exactly. God help us if sunspot activity goes through another inactive period and we experience REAL "climate change." Huge increases in energy bills, significant decreases in farmable land. Starvation, death and perhaps war in Third World countries. And as the article says, we have absolutely no control over it if it starts happening again. Vanity, thy name is Man.

7 posted on 05/26/2011 2:07:15 PM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: neverdem

I really liked the movie. Wonder what happened to the little fellows nut??? Oh, I missed the real one!


8 posted on 05/26/2011 2:07:19 PM PDT by org.whodat
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To: neverdem

Bush’s fault.


9 posted on 05/26/2011 2:09:20 PM PDT by Night Hides Not (If Dick Cheney = Darth Vader, then Joe Biden = Dark Helmet)
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To: Flightdeck

We’re just too dumb to understand. The idea that the sun affects our temperature is so primitive.


10 posted on 05/26/2011 2:09:40 PM PDT by lacrew (Mr. Soetoro, we regret to inform you that your race card is over the credit limit.)
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To: hinckley buzzard
There were plenty of volcanic eruptions in the 1600's, but not many more than in other centuries. I don't think that is the answer.

How about above normal tectonic activity, aka, earthquakes, in shaking up the planet just a teenie little bit, enough to shake it's rotation off by maybe just a degree or two.......

Think that's possible?

11 posted on 05/26/2011 2:12:35 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (It's a beautiful day and I'm glad I can see it in color.......)
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To: neverdem
Meanwhile, the biggest worry to solar physicists—and to society—is that no one knows what caused the sun’s prolonged quiescence in the first place. As far as anybody knows, a repeat of the Maunder Minimum could start within a few years with the next dip in the number of sunspots.

The question begging to be asked is, "Why should that be a worry?" There is absolutely nothing mankind can do to change the sun's activity. ... Except, perhaps, to send money to Algore.

12 posted on 05/26/2011 2:13:08 PM PDT by RobinOfKingston (An election is not a (national) suicide pact.)
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To: neverdem

Imagine that, the sun having something to do with climate. It’s amazing.


13 posted on 05/26/2011 2:13:50 PM PDT by pallis
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To: texmexis best

And increased solar activity would warm the earth - go figure.


14 posted on 05/26/2011 2:14:11 PM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: neverdem

Ok, I understand your point about volcanoes. But this mini-Ice Age actually started around 1300 ad. See: The Little Ice Age, by Brian Fagan.


15 posted on 05/26/2011 2:14:43 PM PDT by SatinDoll (NOT FOREIGN NATIONALS AS OUR PRESIDENT)
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To: neverdem

“no one knows what caused the sun’s prolonged quiescence in the first place.”

Some Russian scientists have crunched the numbers about the orbit of Jupiter, the Sun, the center of mass of the solar system, etc., and have come up with some pretty good correlations. (If I have the time, I’ll try to dig up a link.)

The bad news? According to them, we’re in the start of another doozie of a minimum...


16 posted on 05/26/2011 2:16:41 PM PDT by piytar (Obama opposed every tool used to get Osama. So of course he gets the credit. /hurl)
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To: neverdem
1645 to 1715, Europe ~ First three years are still part of the 30 Years war and Europeans were very much involved in local stuff. In 1648 the English entertained themselves with the beheading of Charles I. 1660 Charles II ascends, and just a few years later there's the Great London Fire.

Lots of other stuff happened.

Settlement of the Americas was NOT HIGH ON THE AGENDA ~ may well be big in our minds (my ancestors did it ~ fled that pestilential hellhole for the malarial backwaters of the East Coast in fact), but for the most part this was a place the Brits dumped POWs. I presume the Spanish continued with the practice as well.

The slave trade was roaring big time ~ mostly because Europeans and Indians were pretty much NOT immune to malaria. Sickle cell anemia conferred immunity on those with one gene.

Let me tell you how horrid the Americas were in that period ~ you can read 100% of every document written here in Spanish or English areas in a few days ~ there are several libraries with copies of all of it ~ either in microfiche or digital format. I think I've read most of it too.

American settlement efforts rose substantially AFTER the Maunder Minimum, and China began a period of turmoil that's only now settling down.

You could have had massive volcanism and those guys wouldn't have noticed it.

17 posted on 05/26/2011 2:16:53 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: texmexis best

18 posted on 05/26/2011 2:17:42 PM PDT by Bean Counter (Your what hurts??)
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To: pallis

Several years ago...on NPR’s Science Friday...they had a global warmer doing his Q&A. So a caller asked....what was the effect of the sun on climate, and the answer was “marginal if any”. I pulled up the NPR site...looked at the guy’s name...did a Google search....and found his entire bio (in particular, his degree). I went to the university site and then looked at what it would take to get a Earth Sciences degree from this university. Amazingly enough....there are no solar science or universal topic classes required...for either the bachelors or master’s degree.

So in effect....the guy likely knows nothing about solar science and just didn’t want to admit that. When any global warmer tells you some fact relating to the sun...ask them to explain solar winds in detail, and sun spots. If they can’t answer either...they don’t know much related to the sun. End of the story.


19 posted on 05/26/2011 2:24:11 PM PDT by pepsionice
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To: Flightdeck
Because it's nonsense. Crazed sex poodle told me so.

Fact is, you burn carbon, you get heat, QED

20 posted on 05/26/2011 2:24:27 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all - Aristotle)
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To: texmexis best
True.

But the idiots who bought into anthropomorphic global warming - and some of them are on Free Republic - have to pretend that this is a new discovery as the scam collapses.

21 posted on 05/26/2011 2:35:51 PM PDT by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: neverdem
"As far as anybody knows, a repeat of the Maunder Minimum could start within a few years with the next dip in the number of sunspots."

No, it's already started. Who wrote this drek? Maunder just didn't erase the spots off the sun in one go...it took nearly 3 decades to bottom out...


22 posted on 05/26/2011 2:36:34 PM PDT by StAnDeliver (Meow!)
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To: neverdem
The Sun caused "global cooling"? oh, c'mon already!
Next, you'll be saying that the Sun causes "global warming".
23 posted on 05/26/2011 2:36:51 PM PDT by Tanniker Smith (I didn't know she was a liberal when I married her.)
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To: Interesting Times; zot

Maunder Minimum ping!


24 posted on 05/26/2011 2:54:33 PM PDT by The Shrew (www.wintersoldier.com; www.tstrs.com; The Truth Shall Set You Free!)
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To: neverdem

Actually, people were just starting to experiment with reflecting telescopes around that time. While they were getting the bugs out, an inordinate amount of solar energy was sent back into space by these devices, leading to anthropomorphic global cooling.


25 posted on 05/26/2011 3:29:06 PM PDT by rightwingcrazy
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To: muawiyah
The Spaniards were in Manila, the Philippines, in 1571.

The Dutch in Indonesia

During the 17th century, after a period of fierce competition with the English, the Dutch became the predominant power in Indonesia.

My point is that any major eruptions like Krakatoa or Pinatubo would probably have been noticed.
26 posted on 05/26/2011 3:40:24 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

But there’s huge areas of the Earth that have and had had massive volcanic eruptions.

The Aleutian Islands and the Unalaska pennisula...

The Pacific Northwest (Mount St Helens, anyone?)...

Central Africa...

The Kamkatka pennisula in Eastern Russia, far North of Japan.

Even Mt Erebus in Antarctica is volcanic.

None of these places were yet settled by record keeping humans... just explored, but volcanic activity could have certainly occured when they were not being explored.


27 posted on 05/26/2011 4:36:50 PM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: neverdem; DollyCali; markomalley; Bockscar; Thunder90; Dr. Bogus Pachysandra; Normandy; ...
 


Beam me to Planet Gore !

28 posted on 05/26/2011 4:58:20 PM PDT by steelyourfaith (If it's "green" ... it's crap !!!)
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To: lacrew
You almost got it right. Our understanding of how the sun affects the temperature is primitive. Studies purporting that a link actually exists that the sun actually does influence our temperature have repeatedly been found incorrect.

Recently there was the 10Be proxy study as cited in:

Beryllium 10 and climate (a Wattsupwiththat blog publication)

However, the 10Be proxy theory was promptly shot down with claims of unrepresentative sampling, and variation of deposition. That was subsequently backed up with claims of lack of statistical support from observation of sun-like stars. The solar irradiance theory ultimately being dismissed when correlation between sun-spot minima and ultraviolet irradiance was found to be a factor of three times to five times lower than expected to produce a significant global warming contribution based on present-day climate.

See: Climate: The Vanishing Solar Factor (a Space Daily publication)

29 posted on 05/26/2011 5:03:06 PM PDT by raygun
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To: piytar
The bad news? According to them, we’re in the start of another doozie of a minimum..

Just looking at the historical data of average temperature of the earth, we are somewhat overdue for the Big Chill.

Time runs from right to left. The more "noisy" appearance of the more recent data is due to having more closely spaced measurements for that period.

30 posted on 05/26/2011 11:11:28 PM PDT by El Gato ("The second amendment is the reset button of the US constitution"-Doug McKay)
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To: The Shrew

Thanks for the global cooling ping.


31 posted on 05/27/2011 1:40:37 PM PDT by zot
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