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More on risk of new Maunder solar minimum and its implications

Paul Hudson

There’s been, as I expected, lots of interest in my blog from last week about the risk of a new Maunder solar minimum reach you can read by clicking HERE


As part of my research into the story I visited Professor Mike Lockwood at Reading University where he told me that solar activity was falling at its fastest rate in 10,000 years, according to his analysis, and we discussed the possible implications.


To that end, I would like to make the following points.


The term ’Little Ice Age’ is one that is well documented by climatologists and is used to describe a period, particularly during the 1600’s,  across the UK and parts of Europe, when exceptionally low solar activity (The Maunder solar minimum), coincided with more frequent harsh winters in North-western Europe.


I stated very clearly that not every winter was harsh.


Professor Hubert Lamb, one of Britain’s most respected climatologists, commented in his work that ‘in many years snowfall (in this period) was much heavier than recorded before or since, and the snow lay on the ground for many months longer than it does today’.


It is also believed that an increase in volcanic eruptions worldwide was a contributory factor to this change in regional climate.


At the end of my article I move away from what I discussed with Professor Lockwood about the regional effects a new maunder solar minimum may have in the UK, and considered possible global impacts.


I refer and directly link to research carried out by Michael Mann et al (2001), which estimated that at the time of the Maunder solar minimum, global temperatures during that period cooled by 0.3C to 0.4C.


Here is the abstract from the Mann et al 2001 research (which you can read in full by clicking HERE)


‘We examine the climate response to solar irradiance changes between the late

17th-century Maunder Minimum and the late 18th century. Global average

temperature changes are small (about 0.3C to 0.4C) in both a climate model

and empirical reconstructions. However, regional temperature changes are

quite large. In the model, these occur primarily through a forced shift toward

the low index state of the Arctic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation as solar

irradiance decreases. This leads to colder temperatures over the Northern

Hemisphere continents, especially in winter (1¡ to 2¡C), in agreement with

historical records and proxy data for surface temperatures.’


In my article I also state very clearly that most scientists believe that should any such global cooling occur, it would be temporary, and ‘swamped’ by global warming caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.


But I would like to make it clear, should there be any confusion that my discussions with Professor Lockwood focused on possible regional climate effects of a new Maunder solar minimum for the UK and not any possible global implications.


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