06 September 2009

Fear the Cold: Solar Magnetic Activity Dropping

Right now, the sun is stuck in a period of extremely low sunspot activity, not unlike the "Maunder Minimum" that may have been responsible for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe in the late 17th century as well as the fall of imperial dynasties in China. _SciAm
Sunspots underlying solar magnetic activity.
“Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,” says Penn. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

This disappearing act is possible because sunspots are made of magnetism. The “firmament” of a sunspot is not matter but rather a strong magnetic field that appears dark because it blocks the upflow of heat from the sun’s interior. If Earth lost its magnetic field, the solid planet would remain intact, but if a sunspot loses its magnetism, it ceases to exist.

“According to our measurements, sunspots seem to form only if the magnetic field is stronger than about 1500 gauss,” says Livingston. “If the current trend continues, we’ll hit that threshold in the near future, and solar magnetic fields would become too weak to form sunspots.”"This work has caused a sensation in the field of solar physics,” comments NASA sunspot expert David Hathaway, who is not directly involved in the research. “It’s controversial stuff.” _NASA
Anthony Watts has more

The Ap Solar Magnetic Index is at its lowest level in over 75 years, and sinking lower. Solar scientists are at a loss to explain the sun's behaviour -- unprecedented in recent times.
The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing? _NASA
If the sunspots "disappear" for decades or longer, the chances for another little ice age -- or worse -- grow far more significant.

Earth doesn't need a nuclear war or a large comet crash to throw the climate into a long-term state of glaciation. All it needs is an incremental increase in cloud layers that reflect more of the sun's heat back out into space. Time would do the rest. And there is nothing that humans could do to bring back the heat. Without the heat, growing seasons shrink to the point that many crops become non-viable.

At that point, the breadbaskets of the world become basket cases. Third world dictatorships perpetually dependent upon food aid suddenly go without outside food. The four horsemen of the apocalypse follow as naturally as night follows day.

Cold kills. We should not be fearing the warmth. Warmth has made the Earth a more prolific producer of food. Fear the cold.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little ice age? Cool, maybe the Arctic, Antarctic and other glaciers will stop melting.

Monday, 07 September, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Very sharp insight indeed, miggie. In fact, the Antarctic is adding new ice like there's no tomorrow. The Arctic has been a bit slower, but the ice there is beginning to thicken and extend year on year from its recent 2007 low.

Glacier melting is variable, glaciers in some parts of the world advancing, and others retreating. It is what you expect under a climate regime of quasi-chaotic interlocking cyclic activity.

Monday, 07 September, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, take me off your blogroll now. I don't want to have anything to do with people as dishonest as this comment of yours.

Monday, 07 September, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Ah, miggie, you are far more intelligent when you are joking!

As for the blogroll, it has a mind of its own. It will take you off if and when it feels like it.

Monday, 07 September, 2009  

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