Ominously, the embryonic markers of solar cycle 25 are three years late and are nowhere to be seen. Scientists are asking if this could be the start of another Maunder-type Minimum. (The bummer with that, being that during those 70 quiet years the world slipped into the Little Ice Age; animals froze in barns, people starved, disease raged… see The brutal cold of the Maunder Minimum and the Great Irish Frost for some light entertainment.)
If it were going to happen, we ought to start preparing now, right? You know, take precautions, “buy insurance”, figure out if CO2 actually does any useful warming (and if so, pump more of it into our atmosphere). You know it makes sense…
Seriously, if the cold is coming, we really ought to pay attention. — Jo
From the press release today (June 14):
Major Drop in Solar Activity Predicted
“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the NSO’s Solar Synoptic Network, said of the results. “But the fact that three completely different views of the Sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.”
Latitude-time plots of jet streams under the Sun’s surface show the surprising shutdown of the solar cycle mechanism. New jet streams typically form at about 50 degrees latitude (as in 1999 on this plot) and are associated with the following solar cycle 11 years later. New jet streams associated with a future 2018-2020 solar maximum were expected to form by 2008 but are not present even now, indicating a delayed or missing Cycle 25.
“We expected to see the start of the zonal flow for Cycle 25 by now,” Hill explained, “but we see no sign of it. This indicates that the start of Cycle 25 may be delayed to 2021 or 2022, or may not happen at all.”
Spot numbers and other solar activity rise and fall about every 11 years, which is half of the Sun’s 22-year magnetic interval since the Sun’s magnetic poles reverse with each cycle. An immediate question is whether this slowdown presages a second Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period with virtually no sunspots during 1645-1715.
See all the graphs and images from the press release.
If it were going to happen, we ought to start preparing now, right?
You know, take precautions, buy insurance, figure out if CO2 actually does any useful warming, and if so, pump more of it into our atmosphere.