Mini Ice Age expected: Solar activity is predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to ‘mini ice age’ levels, according a new study



Solar cycle The sun’s 11 year heartbeat explained 


Solar activity is predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to ‘mini ice age’ levels, according a new study


Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo

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Montage of images of solar activity between August 1991 and September 2001. Credit: Yohkoh/ISAS/Lockheed-Martin/NAOJ/U. Tokyo/NASA. Click for a full-size image

Montage of images of solar activity between August 1991 and September 2001. Credit: Yohkoh/ISAS/Lockheed-Martin/NAOJ/U. Tokyo/NASA.

Date:
July 9, 2015
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary: Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo
A new model of the Sun’s solar cycle is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat. The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone. Predictions from the model suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age‘ that began in 1645.

Results were presented on July 9 2015 by Prof Valentina Zharkova at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno.


It is 172 years since a scientist first spotted that the Sun’s activity varies over a cycle lasting around 10 to 12 years. But every cycle is a little different and none of the models of causes to date have fully explained fluctuations. Many solar physicists have put the cause of the solar cycle down to a dynamo caused by convecting fluid deep within the Sun. Now, Zharkova and her colleagues have found that adding a second dynamo, close to the surface, completes the picture with surprising accuracy.

Sun Earth System

Sun Earth System

“We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different, and they are offset in time.  Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97%,” said Zharkova.

Zharkova and her colleagues derived their model using a technique called ‘principal component analysis’ of the magnetic field observations from the Wilcox Solar Observatory in California. They examined three solar cycles-worth of magnetic field activity, covering the period from 1976-2008. In addition, they compared their predictions to average sunspot numbers, another strong marker of solar activity. All the predictions and observations were closely matched.

Solar cycle 24 sunspot prediction 2015/01 NASA

Sunspot Prediction for Solar Cycle 24 (Revised Jan. 2015) A sunspot prediction for solar cycle 24. Planning for satellite orbits and space missions often require knowledge of solar activity levels years in advance. Current prediction for the next sunspot cycle maximum gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 58 in July of 2013. As of March 2011, we are over two years into Cycle 24. The predicted size would make this the smallest sunspot cycle in nearly 200 years. Credit: NASA/ARC/Hathaway

Looking ahead to the next solar cycles, the model predicts that the pair of waves become increasingly offset during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022. During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030-2040, the two waves will become exactly out of synch and this will cause a significant reduction in solar activity.

“In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other – peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun. Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other.

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Solar-Cycles Solar Min__396x228

Maunder Grand Minimum and Grand Maximum

We predict that this will lead to the properties of a ‘Maunder minimum’,” said Zharkova. “Effectively, when the waves are approximately in phase, they can show strong interaction, or resonance, and we have strong solar activity. When they are out of phase, we have solar minimums. When there is full phase separation, we have the conditions last seen during the Maunder Minimum, 370 years ago.”

Story Source Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)Irregular heartbeat of the Sun driven by double dynamo 

A comparison of three images over four years apart illustrates how the level of solar activity has risen from near minimum to near maximum in the Sun's 11-years solar cycle. These images are captured using He II 304  emissions showing the solar corona at a temperature of about 60,000 degrees K. Many more sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections occur during the solar maximum. The increase in activity can be seen in the number of white areas, i.e., indicators of strong magnetic intensity .

A comparison of three images over four years apart illustrates how the level of solar activity has risen from near minimum to near maximum in the Sun’s 11-years solar cycle. These images are captured using He II 304  emissions showing the solar corona at a temperature of about 60,000 degrees K. Many more sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections occur during the solar maximum. The increase in activity can be seen in the number of white areas, i.e., indicators of strong magnetic intensity. SOHO NASA


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The Solar Cycle: The sun’s 11 year heartbeat 

Extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began in 1755

A silent sun - In 2011 this image was captured showing an almost clear sun - which experts say could happen for almost a decade from 2030

A silent sun – In 2011 this image was captured showing an almost clear sun – which experts say could happen for almost a decade from 2030

Conventional wisdom holds that solar activity swings back and forth like a simple pendulum.
At one end of the cycle, there is a quiet time with few sunspots and flares.
At the other end, solar max brings high sunspot numbers and frequent solar storms.
It’s a regular rhythm that repeats every 11 years.
Reality is more complicated.
Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular.

What is a solar cycle
Solar Cycle Predictions
List of Solar Cycles

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Eleven years in the life of the Sun, spanning most of the solar cycle (Solar cycle 23 in this image), as it progressed from solar minimum to maximum conditions and back to minimum (upper right) again, seen as a collage of ten full-disk images of the lower corona. Of note is the prevalence of activity and the relatively few years when our Sun might be described as “quiet.” Credit: ESA&NASA/SoHO source

Solar Dynamo

The solar dynamo is the physical process that generates the Sun‘s magnetic field. The Sun is permeated by an overall dipole magnetic field, as are many other celestial bodies such as the Earth. A helical dynamo deep near the center of the Sun’s mass produces a strong electric current flowing deep within the star, following Ampère’s law. A second chaotic dynamo near the surface of the Sun is responsible for weaker fluctations in the Sun’s magnetic field which often result in the most noticeable solar activity. These currents of electrical conduction are produced by shear between different parts of the Sun that rotate at different rates, governed by the laws of magnetohydrodynamics

 The Maunder Minimum

400 years of sunspot observations

The River Thames frozen near Kingston Bridge

The River Thames frozen near Kingston Bridge source

The Maunder Minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum or Solar minimum) is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time. It caused London’s River Thames to freeze over, and ‘frost fairs‘ became popular. Examples of very cold winters are 1683-4, 1694-5, and the winter of 1708–9. In such years, River Thames frost fairs were held.

This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the ‘ Little Ice Age‘ when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes.

There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past, Nasa says.
The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.

Some scientists hypothesize that the dense wood used in Stradivarius instruments was caused by slow tree growth during the cooler period.
Instrument maker Antonio Stradivari was born a year before the start of the Maunder Minimum.

 Whitehouse, David (December 17, 2003)."Stradivarius 'sound' due to Sun". BBC News. 

More info  

Maunder Minimum wiki
Who named the Maunder Minimum?
Solar minimum wiki
sunspots wiki
Little Ice Age wiki
Solar variation wiki
Solar maximum wiki
Solar dynamo wiki

What is a solar cycle
Solar Cycle Predictions
List of Solar Cycles  
The Sunspot Cycle
IPS – Solar Conditions – Monthly Sunspot Numbers
Layers of the sun
Principal Component Analysis
Principal Component Analysis explained visually
Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC)
Solar Cycle Progression
Graphics of historic solar cycles at the SIDC page
Near realtime solar images from SOHO
Global Temperature Trends From 2500 B.C. To 2040 A.D.
First Ever STEREO Images of the Entire Sun (Feb 6, 2011)
Graphs of Historical Solar Cycles
IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph)
SolarDynamo.org

Climate History

History of The Great Freeze of ’63 Windsor History
Ultimate History – The Frost Fairs of London
Frostiana or a history of the River Thames in a frozen state (PDF)  Feb 5 1814

Research


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