[Vision2020] Sunspots

Paul Rumelhart godshatter at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 17 19:48:23 PDT 2011

I've been meaning to post on this subject for a while, but have been 
short on time.

You've probably all seen the news about some research that was unveiled 
at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society that suggests that the 
Sun will become more quiet over the next few years as sunspots become 
rarer.  This is due mainly to a river of gas under the surface of the 
Sun which disrupts sunspots.

Sunspots are holes in the outer layer of the Sun caused by magnetic 
fields.  The more sunspots on the Earth-facing side of the Sun and the 
hotter it is.  Of course, this varies only slightly in comparison to the 
overall output of the Sun.

I just wanted to weigh in on this subject and to post some related 
information about it.  I'll also give my take on it.  Not that anybody 

First, here is a representative article on the subject from the BBC:


Global warming alarmists (as I like to think of them) were quick to 
rebut this idea.  Here is a representative article from Discover:


Here is a chart from NASA that shows solar cycle 24 (the one we're 
currently in) compared to solar cycle 23.  It also shows their current 
predictions for the rest of this cycle:


One of the reasons that this topic is so important is that the last time 
sunspots declined for a long period of time during the Maunder Minimum, 
we had the Little Ice Age, which followed the Medieval Warm Period.  
Some people suspect there might be a link between the two events.  Here 
is some info from Wikipedia about LIA and the Maunder Minimum:


Now, the main objection to the LIA (aside from the whole "Hockey Stick" 
fiasco) seems to be that it was a phenomenon local to Europe.  However, 
there is a paper by Huang and Pollack (1997) that looked at 6,144 sets 
of heat flow measurements obtained from all over the globe suitable for 
reconstructing temperature over the Earth for the last 20,000 years and 
concluded that the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were both 
global phenomena.  Here is a link to an article on CO2 Science about it:


Now, there have been lots of rhetoric from both sides of the fence about 
this.  No, I don't think we ought to all be idling our Expeditions so we 
don't get any colder.  I do, however, think there might be something to 
this.  Every day when I get up in the morning, I check my email, check a 
few forums I post on, and see how the sun is doing.  I like to follow 
the sunspot number, and since I check it every day I watch the 
individual sunspots form, decay, and rotate around the Sun.  It's an odd 
hobby, to be sure, but I find it fascinating.  Here are a couple of 
websites where you, too, can spend your time watching the Sun instead of 
doing something constructive:


I started this a couple of years ago.  It was extremely boring at first, 
because there would be stretches of sometimes months between sunspots.  
Now, the cycle has finally fired up.  The current sunspot number as of 
this writing is 62.  I've seen it up over a hundred, but that's still 
low compared to the last cycle.

It makes sense to me that small variations in 
ahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maunder_Minimum large ball of fusing gas 
that gives us almost all our heat might have an affect on climate.  The 
professional climate modelers are convinced that the amount of 
fluctuation is too small to make a difference, since TSI doesn't change 
but by less than a percent.  The problem with this is that it, in my 
opinion, is pure hubris.  We know so little about how the Sun actually 
affects the Earth.  For example, there is an interesting theory by a guy 
named Henrik Svensmark that states that a weak sun allows more cosmic 
rays to strike the Earth, leaving ionized air molecules for clouds to 
form around.  This causes a cooling of the Earth by shading the ground 
and by changing the albedo.  This, of course, happens over a long period 
of time, but adds up.  Poor Svensmark, lacking his stamp of authority by 
the IPCC, has been shopping around begging for cloud chamber experiment 
time.  Here is a youtube video describing the theory:


This is just one possible mechanism by which small variations in the 
Sun's output can affect climate.  To me, it seems crazy to discount the 
Little Ice Age and the Maunder Minimum as being local events are 
assuming they are not causally related simply because the climate models 
we've designed don't show as strong of a connection.  I consider most of 
the climate models unproven, while the global warming community 
apparently thinks they are evidence.

So, may take on it is that the science behind the sunspot predictions is 
sound, there seems to be a connection between the last time this 
happened and a large cooling down of the climate, and that dismissing it 
out of hand is foolhardy at this stage.


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