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Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
Taco Cowboy writes "Since September of last year scientists have been wondering what's happening to the Sun. It's supposed to have reached the peak of its 11-year cycle, but sunspot and flare activity remains much quieter than expected. Experts now think the recent cold snap that hit North America and the wet weather that hit part of Europe might be linked to the eerie quietness of the Sun. According to the BBC, solar activity hasn't been this low in 100 years, and if activity keeps dropping, it may reach levels seen during the 'Maunder Minimum,' an 'era of solar inactivity in the 17th Century [which] coincided with a period of bitterly cold winters in Europe.' It wouldn't have a big effect on global temperatures, just regional ones. Why? The sun's UV output drops during these lulls, and the decreased amount of UV light hitting the stratosphere would cause the jet stream to change course. Prof. Mike Lockwood says, 'These are large meanders in the jet stream, and they're called blocking events because they block off the normal moist, mild winds we get from the Atlantic, and instead we get cold air being dragged down from the Arctic and from Russia. These are what we call a cold snap... a series of three or four cold snaps in a row adds up to a cold winter. And that's quite likely what we'll see as solar activity declines.'"
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Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe

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  • Re:global cooling (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @06:11PM (#46000923)

    So would a second "Maunder Minimum" now be a good thing because it buys us a little more time to get our act together? Or a bad thing because it lets us keep our heads in the sand even longer so that we get hit all the harder and faster when the sun returns to its normal behavior?

    Not that we have solar observations going back long enough to detect long-term cycles, but another 50+ year minimum starting up now when it could make it much easier to avoid the worst permanent climate changes would be almost enough to get me believing in intelligent intervention.

  • Re:Not the sun (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bunratty (545641) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @07:12PM (#46001277)
    How is that unscientific? Warming caused by excess CO2 in the atmosphere was predicted long before it was ever observed []. Isn't that the scientific method, coming up with a hypothesis that makes predictions, then testing the predictions against observations? If we had not observed the warming, you'd have a point, but we've seen not only warming, but also melting ice and sea level rise [].
  • Re:Not the sun (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cheesybagel (670288) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @08:26PM (#46001813)

    Another piece of junk science IMO is dark energy and negative energy. Its like we've gone back to the ether theory again.

  • Re:Not the sun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @09:07PM (#46002043) Homepage Journal

    I haven't been around that long. But from what I remember the weather is, once again, as cold and wet as it was when I was a kid.

    This brings up a very important point. "Global warming" is a phenomenon where the atmosphere -- particularly the troposphere -- has more energy. That doesn't mean that that the climate in your neck of the woods is necessarily going to be warmer and drier.

    We're talking about a 0.6 degree C average temperature increase or thereabouts in the last 50 years. If the climate in your home town was 0.6 C warmer, *you wouldn't even notice*. From the point of view of whether you need to point on a sweater when you go outside it is meaningless.

    But if you consider there's something like 10^21 cubic meters of troposphere that's a lot of energy

    Consider the Coriolis force; you can't *feel* it. It makes no difference whether you walk east or north, the effect is too small to measure. But it has an enormous effect on the atmosphere, because the atmosphere is huge. The same can be said for a 1 C increase in temperature; it's not much hotter, but it's a vast amount of energy that affects the movement of huge air masses. Those changes could well make your neck of the woods colder, because air (e.g. the polar vortex) is moving more often in ways it only did rarely years ago. On the other hand other places (e.g. Greenland and Alaska) may be experiencing unusual warm patterns. Average those anomalies out over the entire globe, and you get very slight global temperature increases out of a patchwork of extremes.

    So the kind of mental test you are proposing ("is it warmer outside my house than it would have been thirty years ago?") has very little bearing on "global warming". A), it's not *global*. B) globally averaged, temperatures aren't very much warmer under "global warming".

  • Re:Not the sun (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:07PM (#46002381) Journal
    Reagan also pushed for and won an international "cap and trade" treaty for sulphur emissions which has dramatically reduced "acid rain" around the globe during the past couple of decades. Thatcher was his BFF at the time and I think it's no accident she had the same ideas, she was after all an Oxford trained chemist and was the first world leader to speak out about AGW. By today's standards Regan (and Thatcher) would be considered "too soft on greenies" to lead the republican party, kind of amazing what corporate FUD can do to peoples attitudes in such a short time.
  • Re:Not the sun (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @11:24PM (#46002701)
    No, he's just raising questions also raised by scientists skeptical of AGW alarmism. They are good questions. Also, it is possible to believe that CO2 has a greenhouse gas warming effect on earth without subscribing to climate alarmism -- the positive feedback loop aspect of the alarmist models has been by no means validated. In fact, various models have arguably been discredited by the last few decades' measurements. Anyway.

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