There has been much hype about last year being one of the warmest on record. If you look at the data that hasn’t been “corrected” to fit a model, 1934 was the warmest on record. 1998 was the second warmest and 2010 was below 2010. However, most of the anthropogenic global warming supports have corrected their data over time and have declared 2010 the warmest on record. They have also deleted the Medieval Warm Period. If you delve into the IPCC reports over the years, this is clear. But, there is quite a buzz building about the future.
NASA recently reduced their forecast for the current solar cycle, solar cycle 24. The current revision moves the peak level to 59 sunspots. A team of Russian scientists have been predicting aggressive cooling due to reduced solar activity for quite some time. NASA has been playing catch-up and the continuous reduction in their sunspot forecast is show below. There are two solar minimum in “recent history” that they are comparing this too.
First, the Dalton Minimum is associated with Solar Cycles 5 and 6 from 1798 to 1823. During the Dalton Minimum these solar cycles had sunspot peaks of 49.2 and 48.7 sunspots. At a prediction of 59, Solar Cycle 24 is close to this range. There are very few temperature records that go back to this time period, but 3 stations did show downward temperature trends. Oberlach in Germany showed an average temperature decline of 2 degrees Celsius during this time frame. The famous “Year Without a Summer” happened during this time frame. The Year Without a Summer was probably also affected by a major volcanic eruption. Also, winters were characterized by people being able to skate on the Thames River. The winter of 1813-1814 was the 4th coldest on the Central England temperature record. London had great Christmas snow during this time frame, too:
The other major solar minium in recent history is called the Maunder Minimum. The Maunder Minimum is associated with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age. The Maunder Minimum lasted from 1645 to 1715. During the Maunder Minimum, lower temperatures were noted across Europe. Given that Central England just had their coldest December in 400 years, it should be noted that their coldest winter in the last 500 years occurred during the Maunder Minimum and is know as the Great Frost of 1709. The London area recorded temperatures of -12C that winter.
New Scientist ran a good article last summer, What’s Wrong With The Sun (New Scientist, 14 June 2010). If you want something with deeper technical information, Are Cold Winters in Europe Associated with Low Solar Activity (Environmental Research Letters, 5, 14 April 2010), provides details on how this is manifested and the actual data to support the theory. Average temperatures dropped by as much as 2 degrees celsius for the Maunder Minimum. This would wipe out all of the warming of the last century.
Other than our New Years cold wave, we have had a nice, warm winter. That hasn’t been the case elsewhere. The global average temperature has dropped since the El Nino aggressively switched to a La Nina. England, Europe and Australia have all been cold. The climate conference in Cancun in December was greeted with the coldest December temperatures ever recorded.
Personally, I think the long lingering snow and ice of the last few winters, and the associated damages, are a result of the long solar minimum and the current weak solar cycle. But, what really got me started was this recent video blog post from Joe Bastardi at Accuweather:
So, what will we be facing? We should be prepared for colder temperatures and the associated effects. Will it last two solar cycles like the Dalton Minimum, or 60 years like the Maunder Minimum? That is the question.
One more note. Friday saw the setting of new record lows for International Falls, Minnesota. At -46F, it was the 5th coldest temperature ever recorded at International Falls since 1897.