A study presented at the British Royal Astronomical Society’s recent annual meeting confirms that the sun may go into a “hibernation” mode around 2030 called the “Grand Solar Minimum” that could cause another “Little Ice Age.”
Breitbart News warned in May that the sun’s normally violent X-ray output had flat-lined. We pointed out that with 99.86% of the mass of our solar system, the great ball of violent fire in the sky was going quiet in the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century.
Professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University reported in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society that variations in the Sun’s activity are caused by two dynamo processes, one deep in the convection zone of the sun and one near its surface.
A scientist first spotted that the Sun’s activity varies over a cycle lasting around 10 to 12 years in 1837. Despite variations in the degree of the sun’s thermal activity, the cycle periods are consistent. Many solar physicists had postulated that the cause of the solar cycle was the convection of fluid deep within the sun. But this theory failed to explain the consistency of the cycles.
Zharkova and her colleagues found that by analyzing magnetic field activity using a technique called principal component analysis of the sun’s magnetic field observations, and harnessing data collected by California’s Wilcox Solar Observatory during the three solar cycles over the period from 1976 to 2008, they could identify magnetic waves in two different layers of the Solar interior that “fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the sun” that create an offsetting frequency of approximately 11 years.
Analyzing the current sunspot activity cycle indicates that the “sun will begin its Maunder Minimum (Grand Solar Minimum) in 15 years.”
Not since “Solar Cycle 14″ in February 1906 has there been a cycle with fewer sunspots during what astrophysicists call the “solar maximum phase” for a cycle. The average number of daily sunspots in the current “Solar Cycle 24” spiked to a “solar maximum” of 81.9 in April 2014. That surpassed an earlier cycle peak of 66.9 in February 2012. But since April 2014, the number of sunspots has consistently shrunk.
There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first period is known as the “Maunder Minimum”, named after the solar astronomer Edward Maunder, and lasting from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the “Dalton Minimum”, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton, and lasting from about 1790 to 1830.
A solar minimum “dim sun” deflects fewer cosmic rays away from Earth’s atmosphere than a bright sun. Rays entering the atmosphere seed clouds, which in turn cool the planet even more and increase precipitation in the form of rain, snow and hail. Both historical “Minimum” periods saw colder-than-normal global temperatures, and the combination of phenomena is often referred to by scientists as the “Little Ice Age.”