Weather

Rare solar cycle has cold implications for UK climate

NASA last week confirmed their prediction that the current solar cycle 24 is likely to be the weakest since 1906.

Intriguingly, the current solar cycle shows a striking similarity with solar cycle 5 which was also very weak, with the same double peak as the current cycle, and ran from approximately the mid 1790s to around 1810.

Solar cycle 6 was weaker still and stretched from around 1810 to the early 1820s.

Solar cycles 5 and 6 were so unusual that they were named the Dalton solar minimum after meteorologist John Dalton and coincided with a period of increasingly cold winters and poor summers.

This type of climate is a result of a jet stream that’s positioned further south than normal – caused, it’s thought at least in part, by the behaviour of the sun.

The mechanism as to why weak solar cycles may affect the position of the jet stream is poorly understood.

But a more southerly positioned jet stream is the reason why the UK has recently seen a return of cold snowy winters and a run of poor summers.

Should solar activity continue to mirror that which was observed from 1795 to 1820 then it’s possible that our weather could be similar too.

The Central England Temperature (CET) record, which began in 1659, gives an intriguing insight into what might lie ahead.

The period was littered with examples of cold, wet summers and cold winters – indeed the decade from 1810-1819 was the coldest since the 1690s.

There were exceptions, for example the very warm summer of 1818; and not every winter was harsh.

It’s worth noting that the year 1816 was complicated by a huge volcanic eruption in Indonesia the year before, which depressed temperatures worldwide.

But despite some temporary warmer interludes, historical weather records give a good indication of the type of weather the UK could experience should current solar activity continue to mirror that which was observed during the Dalton minimum over 200 years ago.

And it’s sobering to remember that the Dalton solar minimum lasted for 25 years.

END

My guest on this weekends weather show is former BBC weather forecaster John Kettley, who offers interesting opinions on climate past, present and future. It will be available on the BBC iplayer later on sunday, click HERE

Comments

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  • Comment number 125. Posted by QuaesoVeritas

    on 19 Sept 2013 19:58

    #120. Lazarus

    "The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has been declining at about 7% per year since 2004. "

    No doubt caused by "global warming"?

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  • Comment number 124. Posted by ukpahonta

    on 19 Sept 2013 19:43

    #120 Lazarus

    Good call, it will be interesting to see their initial conclusions hold up with a longer period of data and an improvement in the GCM's by adjusting the magnitude of forcing employed.

    "We have shown that there was a slowdown in the AMOC transport between 2004 and 2012
    amounting to an average of −0.53Svyr (95% c.i.−0.06 to−1.00Svyr) at 26◦N, and that this was primarily due to a strengthening of the southward flowing gyre in the upper 1100m and a reduction of the southward transport of NADW below 3000m. This trend is an order of magnitude larger than that predicted by climate models associated with global climate change scenarios, suggesting that this decrease represents decadal variability in the AMOC system rather than a response to climate change."

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  • Comment number 123. Posted by mjmwhite

    on 19 Sept 2013 17:51

    That 60% increase

    http://notrickszone.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Arctic-2013pdf.gif

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  • Comment number 122. Posted by ashleyhr

    on 19 Sept 2013 16:46

    New blog alert: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulhudson/posts/Fine-end-to-September-more-on-rare-solar-cycle

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  • Comment number 121. Posted by JaimeJ

    on 19 Sept 2013 16:23

    Lazarus

    "Furthermore, besides being at odds with the published science, your assertion that “you cannot meaningfully compare the last 34 years' data with data previous to that time without the risk of drawing false conclusions” is at odds with your claim of “ exactly what DID happen” during that time and what you claim is exactly what you need it to be to support your beliefs now looks ridiculous".

    Say again? You've rather lost me there I'm afraid!

    You accuse me of being totally unaware and/or totally in denial of the science:

    "Continuing to claim satellite records are needed to make meaningful conclusions about ice cover before satellites shows you are either totally unaware or totally in denial of the science on this subject, like these example papers"

    Then you give me this paper in Nature as one example of that 'science'.

    "Here we use a network of high-resolution terrestrial proxies from the circum-Arctic region to reconstruct past extents of summer sea ice, and show that—although EXTENSIVE UNCERTAINTIES [my emphasis] remain, especially before the sixteenth century—both the duration and magnitude of the current decline in sea ice SEEM to be unprecedented for the past 1,450 years."

    Which of course proves my point that, however hard you try, you CANNOT reconstruct past Arctic ice extent via proxy data and erstwhile sea-charting data and compare it directly with highly accurate satellite age data without risking error. Therefore you cannot prove your belief in man-made Arctic sea-ice decline.

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  • Comment number 120. Posted by Lazarus

    on 19 Sept 2013 16:08

    This could be another piece to the puzzle of the UKs climate and likely to produce colder weather;

    http://www.ocean-sci-discuss.net/10/1619/2013/osd-10-1619-2013.html

    The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has been declining at about 7% per year since 2004.

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  • Comment number 119. Posted by Lazarus

    on 19 Sept 2013 16:00

    Hard to find out exactly where all these figures for sea ice are coming from but Bob Ward from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment states;

    "the NSIDC confirmed to me yesterday that the main figure used by Rose for his article was mistyped and that the mistake was corrected on 10 September, showing that Arctic sea extent in August 2013 was only 29 per cent higher than was recorded for the same month last year."

    http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/Media/Commentary/2013/Sept/humiliating-mistakes-mail-on-sunday.aspx

    29% isn't that much of an increase, similar increases have happened before, during the long term trend of sea ice decline.

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  • Comment number 118. Posted by Lazarus

    on 19 Sept 2013 15:42

    #112.
    JaimeJ says;

    “All of these things combine to convince me that this year's Arctic ice recovery is not just 'noise' and/or an aberration in an otherwise steady linear downward trend.”

    Like I said, you are grasping for flimsy evidence to justify your beliefs. You are basing it on less that a years data because you were making no claims last year when both PDO and ENSO were not positive and there was a record ice loss. If not for this single year of 'recovery', which was fully expected and a 'recovery' to the 6th lowest on record, you would be making no claim at all. Claims of “the start of a real and lasting recovery “have no credible scientific or statistical basis.

    Continuing to claim satellite records are needed to make meaningful conclusions about ice cover before satellites shows you are either totally unaware or totally in denial of the science on this subject, like these example papers;

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v479/n7374/full/nature10581.html

    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/agl/2001/00000033/00000001/art00071

    Furthermore, besides being at odds with the published science, your assertion that “you cannot meaningfully compare the last 34 years' data with data previous to that time without the risk of drawing false conclusions” is at odds with your claim of “ exactly what DID happen” during that time and what you claim is exactly what you need it to be to support your beliefs now looks ridiculous.

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  • Comment number 117. Posted by JaimeJ

    on 19 Sept 2013 13:05

    QV #115

    "It depends on which data source you use,
    Based on JAXA v1, it seems to have been 5.0 million, which was an increase of 39% on 2012.
    Based on JAXA v2, it was 4.809 million, which is up 50%."

    I was basing this on NSIDC whose provisional figure for this year is 5.1 million sq km

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Their figure for 2012 was 3.41, so the increase equates to just under 50%.

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2012/09/arctic-sea-ice-extent-settles-at-record-seasonal-minimum/

    I've no idea why IARC have chosen to switch from v 1.0 to v 2.0 at this particular time. It does rather confuse things somewhat. Who knows, maybe that's the intention! I note v 2.0 significantly reduces last year's minimum in relation to this year's (which it also reduces) thereby exaggerating the rebound. All very curious.

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  • Comment number 116. Posted by buythermals

    on 19 Sept 2013 11:38

    I'm still waiting to see the causal link between man-made CO2 and climate demonstrated and backed up by real data. Someone had better get a move on, actuarially I only have about 30 years left to live.

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