Thursday, January 31, 2008
Bold Prediction of an Iminent New Ice Age
All life depends on the sun and the fact that our water (and even our CO2) is not frozen as ice is because the sun produces sufficient radiation to warm our planet to the point where most water is still liquid. Every change in radiation output of the sun has a corresponding effect back here on Earth. Even though sun spots are dark, the intense radiation around them actually increases net output; so, more sun spots historically has meant higher temperatures and vice versa. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere doesn't really matter. Over the past 400,000 years, with close inspection of the Russian's Vostok Station Antarctic ice cores, the rise in CO2 concentration followed the rise in temperature, not the opposite as Nobel Prize winning
Scientists still debate what was the cause of the Mideval Warm Period (what we used to call the Little Optimum), but nearly everyone seems to be on board with what caused the Little Ice Age, lack of sunspots.The cause was the Maunder Minimum--the period 1645 to 1715 during which there were hardly any sun spots. There have been other minimums (like the Dalton Minimum from 1800 to 1810) which were followed by very cold winters (as Napolean learned to his detriment in Russia in 1812).
The number important in observing the sun's activity (and ultimately heat to Earth) is the flux density value. I have no idea what that is, but I can read what others say. Apparently, the lower the number the lower the magnetic activity and thus the less numbers of sun spots and a cooler sun and then Earth. The scientists note over the normal 11 year sun spot cycles the numbers go generally between 64 and 268. Numbers in the 70s mean really low activity and ultimately less warmth. We're just starting a new cycle, where the number of this flux thing (and then the number of sunspots) should be increasing. So, how can it be ready to get colder if the number of sun spots is about to increase? Well, the Canadian Space Agency (who knew they had one?) is reporting a flux density number of 73.6. That's really low for this point in the cycle. Burrr. I can feel the chill winds start to blow (really--it's darned cold today here in Denver). Unless that value changes quickly and substantially, it may well be going to get a little more chilly soon. That is, of course, unless the CO2 concentration we're pumping up is staving off the already overdue cooling and reglaciation, which is an idea well known to some science fiction writers.
(h/t Brits at Their Best via Instapundit)