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Friday, April 25, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Click image for real-time views from the
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory at the Earth-Sun L1 point.

The last 11-year sunspot reached minimum about a year ago, in March 2007. (Here's what the Sun looks like near maximum.) Since then there have only been a few, very small, isolated sunspots: far fewer than would be expected a year into a new cycle.

The deepest minimum in the Little Ice Age, 1645–1715, coincided with the Maunder Minimum, a period of extremely low solar activity, suggesting, along with other evidence, that solar activity is correlated with terrestrial climate, with low sunspot counts associated with periods of global cooling.

Writing in The Australian, Phil Chapman notes that the apparent rapid temperature decline in 2007 is aligned with the delayed onset of the expected next sunspot cycle and sketches the possible consequences if what we're observing is indeed the onset of another Little Ice Age or even a Big One.

Posted at April 25, 2008 21:42