While some have argued that ebbs and flows in the Sun’s activity are driving the climate – overriding the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that solar variation only makes a small contribution to the Earth’s climate.
How often have we been told that the sun plays little to no part in the planet’s climate? It’s the CO2 stupid!
Wriggle room in the climate research labs:
Is our Sun falling silent?
“I’ve been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” says Richard Harrison, head of space physics at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.
He shows me recent footage captured by spacecraft that have their sights trained on our star. The Sun is revealed in exquisite detail, but its face is strangely featureless.
“If you want to go back to see when the Sun was this inactive… you’ve got to go back about 100 years,” he says.
This solar lull is baffling scientists, because right now the Sun should be awash with activity.
The Sun’s activity may be falling faster than at any time in 10,000 years
It has reached its solar maximum, the point in its 11-year cycle where activity is at a peak.
Dr Green says: “There is a very strong hint that the Sun is acting in the same way now as it did in the run-up to the Maunder Minimum.”
“We estimate that within about 40 years or so there is a 10% to 20% – nearer 20% – probability that we’ll be back in Maunder Minimum conditions.”
The era of solar inactivity in the 17th Century coincided with a period of bitterly cold winters in Europe.
Londoners enjoyed frost fairs on the Thames after it froze over, snow cover across the continent increased, the Baltic Sea iced over – the conditions were so harsh, some describe it as a mini-Ice Age.
So could this regional change in Europe have a knock-on effect on for the rest of the world’s climate? And what are the implications for global warming?
“If we take all the science that we know relating to how the Sun emits heat and light and how that heat and light powers our climate system, and we look at the climate system globally, the difference that it makes even going back into Maunder Minimum conditions is very small.
Ah…hang on….a mini ice age…but it’s not really ‘significant’…it’s only going to be in Europe….globally the effect is insignificant….curious how global warming in the Arctic region drives climate around the globe but a mini ice age in the Northern hemisphere has no effect on global climate….do you think they make the science up to suit their own prejudices?
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.
According to research conducted by Michael Mann in 2001, a vociferous advocate of man-made global warming, the Maunder minimum of the 1600s was estimated to have shaved 0.3C to 0.4C from global temperatures.
Though he adds:
It is worth stressing that most scientists believe long term global warming hasn’t gone away. Any global cooling caused by this natural phenomenon would ultimately be temporary, and if projections are correct, the long term warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would eventually swamp this solar-driven cooling.
But keep panicking….if you think you’re safe in a colder world think again:
BBC Laughter: Less warming may cause more damage
From BBC Radio’s Today program.
The BBC’s Roger Harrabin reports:
So it is possible that the climate would warm less than predicted, but the effects of the warming at a low level might be greater than predicted.
Good old Roger….would have made a great priest.
The scientists can’t agree…..regional or global…..
Large changes in solar ultraviolet radiation can indirectly affect climate……We conclude that changes in atmospheric circulation amplified the solar signal and caused abrupt climate change about 2,800 years ago, coincident with a grand solar minimum.
An influence of solar irradiance variations on Earth’s surface climate has been repeatedly suggested……If the updated measurements of solar ultraviolet irradiance are correct, low solar activity, as observed during recent years, drives cold winters in northern Europe and the United States, and mild winters over southern Europe and Canada, with little direct change in globally averaged temperature.