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New Maunder Minimum? Scientists Predict Rare "Hibernation" of Sunspots

sunspots maunder minimum
© AFP/Getty Images/Jared C. Tilton
US scientists say the familiar sunspot cycle seems to be entering a hibernation period unseen since the 17th century, a pattern that could have a slight cooling effect on global temperatures.
US scientists say the familiar sunspot cycle seems to be entering a hibernation period unseen since the 17th century, a pattern that could have a slight cooling effect on global temperatures.

For years, scientists have been predicting the Sun would by around 2012 move into solar maximum, a period of intense flares and sunspot activity, but lately a curious calm has suggested quite the opposite.

The signs include a missing jet stream, fading spots and slower activity near the poles, said a trio of studies presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Solar Physics Division in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"This is highly unusual and unexpected," said Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory's Solar Synoptic Network.

"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."

Solar activity tends to rise and fall every 11 years or so. The solar maximum and solar minimum each mark about half the interval of the magnetic pole reversal on the Sun, which happens every 22 years.

Experts are now probing whether this period of inactivity could be a second Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period when hardly any sunspots were observed between 1645-1715 known as the "Little Ice Age."

Comment: More on this subject:

Scientists: Sun's Approaching 'Grand Cooling" Assures New Ice Age

Global warming and the sun

Eminent geophysicist rejects global warming theory, says world on verge of 'mini ice age'

What those who pin their hopes on "global warming" to offset the effects of sun cycles seem ignore is that the onset of ice ages have been preceded by a drastic warming phase. Nothing could be further from the truth:

Climate Change Swindlers and the Political Agenda


Sherlock

'Incredibly exciting' rare pre-Ice Age handaxe discovered on Orkney

Rare handaxe

Discovered: The tool could potentially 'set back our known history'.

A Palaeolithic handaxe has been found by a local walker on an Orkney beach.

An "incredibly rare" pre-Ice Age handaxe which may have been used to kill woolly mammoths, has been found on an Orkney beach.

The Palaeolithic - or Old Stone Age - tool, which could be anything between 100,000 and 450,000 years old, is one of only ten ever to be found in Scotland. The axe, which was found on a stretch of shore in St Ola by a local man walking along the beach, is the oldest man-made artefact ever found in Orkney.

The stone tool, which is around five-and-a-half inches long, has been broken, and originally would have tapered to a point opposite the cutting edge, but at some point in time, the point broke off and someone reworked the flint to its present straight edge.

Orkney-based archaeologist Caroline Wickham-Jones, who has studied the axe, described its discovery as "incredibly exciting".

Ms Wickham-Jones, who a lecturer in archaeology at Aberdeen University, said: "This axe is definitely older than 100,000 years - so old it's become geology.

Snowman

Eminent geophysicist rejects global warming theory, says world on verge of 'mini ice age'

Image
© NASA
Sunspot activity since 1990
An eminent Mexican geophysicist says that despite predictions of global warming based on computer models, the world may be on the verge of an eighty-year cold period similar to the "little ice age" experienced by Europe from 1300 to 1800 A.D..

Víctor Manuel Velasco, of the University of Mexico's Institute of Geophysics, says that recent winter conditions are similar to those of the "little ice age", and in particular the "Maunder Minimum," a period during which sunspot activity dropped significantly. He also notes that the Earth is in a similar position today in relation to the rest of the solar system, a fact which he regards as significant for climate.

"We are talking about the period between 1645 and 1715, which is known as the Maunder Minimum, a period in which the sunspots practically disappeared from the surface of the sun, and in which our planet occupied a position similar to which it has today, with respect to the center of gravity of our [solar] system." Velasco said in an interview published by the university.

Info

Did Quiet Sun Cause Little Ice Age After All?

Ice Age
© Hendrick Avercamp / Wikimedia Commons
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.

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.

Bizarro Earth

US: Mysterious Maine Earthquakes Caused by Ice Age Rebound

Mid Coast Earthquakes
© Wire.com
Mid coast earthquakes.
On the last day of April and first five days of May, dozens of tiny earthquakes caused Maine's eastern coast to tremble. What could have shaken this geologically quiet region, located in the middle of a tectonic plate, far from any active faults?

The last ice age, say geologists. Like a trampoline's surface after liftoff, Earth's crust along the eastern seaboard is still springing back from the pressing weight of a massive ice sheet that has since melted. The earthquakes are a present-time reminder of processes that are prehistoric at a human scale, but from a geological perspective still ongoing.

"This action is still taking place," said Robert Marvinney, director of Maine's Bureau of Geology. "Five or ten thousand feet of ice weighs a lot."

Igloo

US: Temperatures Lowest For Time Of Year Since 1940s

Chicago - Not only has Chicago dealt with chilly rain, hail and even snow this week, but temperatures Tuesday were at their lowest for this late spring date since the 1940s.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says the high Wednesday is expected only to reach 46 degrees with a peek or two of sunshine, but the chilly conditions will make it feel like winter never ended. As of 6:45 a.m., the temperature in Chicago was just 34 degrees.

Image
© Columbia Broadcasting System
Cold, pouring rain had people running downtown Tuesday night.
Glaros says if there were precipitation Tuesday morning, some snow would likely be mixed in. Fortunately, the storm systems have moved east and conditions were just cold and overcast.

On Tuesday, the high topped out at 38 degrees in the city. In the early evening hours, just walking a few blocks along the streets of Chicago felt like going out to sea in an open boat during a rainstorm in northern Canada. Anyone walking against the wind was blasted continuously in the face with cold droplets of rain, and given the strength of the winds, an umbrella was as good as useless.

And that was before the severe storms even hit. Lightning bolts and thunder claps soon appeared, and hail of up to 1 inch in diameter was spotted in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

More than an inch and a half of rain fell in less than half an hour Tuesday evening, forcing the cancellation of more than 450 flights at O'Hare and Midway international airports, and leaving people sleeping on terminal floors.

Snowman

Glaciers Growing on Mt. Shasta

Image
© USGS Lyn Topinka
Mount Shasta and Shastina, California.
Although the media has done a great job of covering this up, the inconvenient fact is that all seven glaciers on California's Mount Shasta are growing. This includes Whitney Glacier, the state's largest.

Yes, growing. Not melting.

Not only are Mt. Shasta's glaciers growing, two have nearly doubled in size.

Both the Hotlum and Wintun Glaciers have nearly doubled in size since 1950, says this article on Wikipedia. The Bolam Glacier has increased by half, while the Whitney and Konwakiton Glaciers have grown by a third.

Scientists first became aware of these growing California glaciers in 2002, and I began writing about them in 2003. Now, eight years later, most media outlets still refuse to acknowledge that these glaciers are growing.

After this year's record snowfall, it will become harder to continue the deception.

Alarm Clock

The Japanese Quake: Another Ice Age Precursor?

ice age
© Unknown
Back in the summer of 1997, I wrote a nine-part investigative report on climate change: Global Warming or Globaloney. It attracted a lot of attention at the time, but given the fact that the nation was being barraged by advocates of the socialist global warming propaganda campaign and their media allies, what I had to say fell mostly on deaf ears.

After all, a lot of the global warming enthusiasts appeared to have all sorts of impressive sounding scientific credentials and who's going to pay attention to a mere journalist with no academic background in climatology who claimed that global warming was a contrived myth and that there was every reason to believe that the current interglacial period of temperate weather has about reached its end.

In that series I wrote that one of the precursors of the onset of an ice age are violent tectonic events such as earthquakes of an ever increasing magnitude as was the quake that just devastated much of the Japanese islands. And despite the alarms issued by Al Gore and his cohorts much of the world has not been warming but instead experiencing some bitterly frigid winters because the polar ice caps have been growing.

Sherlock

US: Scientists Dig for Ice Age Fossils in Los Angeles

Image
© The Associated Press / Damian Dovarganes
In this photo taken Tuesday, March 8, 2011, Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits chief curator Dr. John Harris, left, and lead excavator Carrie Howard, look at fossil deposits at Box 14 of Project 23 at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.
With a dental pick in hand, Karin Rice delicately scraped off a clump of asphalt from a pelvic bone belonging to a horse that roamed Los Angeles tens of thousands of years ago.

Like many unsuspecting creatures of the last Ice Age, the horse probably stopped to take a sip of spring water only to be ensnared - and later preserved - in a pool of sticky asphalt that seeped from underground crude oil deposits.

"You're opening up this ancient world and getting to look back in time," Rice said during a recent dig at the La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles.

For the past three years, scientists have been sifting through a significant trove of bones and a nearly intact mammoth skeleton discovered in 2006 during the construction of an underground garage next to the tar pits.

It's been slow going. To make room for the parking structure, researchers at the George C. Page Museum built wooden crates to house the cache and trucked them to the tar pits complex where excavators use power and hand tools to break up the soil.

Careful to avoid the mistakes of early diggers who only prized large mammals bones and little else, a small army of museum employees and volunteers painstakingly chisels away seven days a week, recovering not only animal bones, but also saving the dirt for later inspection for microfossils.

Igloo

'Chandler's Wobble' May Usher in a New Ice Age

Last week in 'Gems,' we reported that NASA has discovered 'cracks' in the fluctuating earth's magnetic field.

This is worrisome, because this magnetic field affects the ionosphere, and particularly the winds in the lower troposphere. These 'cracks' in the magnetic field and the shifting of our planet's magnetic poles can lead to SUPER STORMS on virtually every continent like we've seen in recent months.

This month's mega-monster cyclone 'Yasi' left much of northeastern Australia in Queensland a "war zone," according to rescue workers. This incredible storm packed winds near 190 miles per hour. Although it was labeled as a Category '5' cyclone (hurricane/typhoon), theoretically it was an 'off the scale' Category '6'!

Tens of thousands of homes were severely damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of people died. Livestock herds were decimated. There were reports of "sharks swimming through the flooded houses."

As if these worsening superstorms aren't enough, we have 'Chandler's Wobble' to worry about.

It was first discovered by an American astronomer in 1891 by the name of Seth Carlo Chandler. Chandler said that the earth "wobbles like a top" whenever our planet slows down a bit in its rotation like it has in recent years.

According to NASA, "the track of this spin began to slow down very slightly about Jan. 18, 2006." Since then, we've had a series of EXTREMELY HARSH winter seasons in both hemispheres.

If this 'wobble' of the planet continues, it's entirely possible that we will eventually see at least a new 'Little Ice Age,' maybe even a new GREAT ICE AGE like the one approximately 11,500 years ago.