Snow Shovel-Ready


Michael Mann may get some use out of that hockey stick yet.

After a particularly quiet solar minimum, solar physicists are preparing for the possibility that sunspots may be scarce for a while:

Hill’s own research focuses on surface pulsations of the Sun and their relationship with sunspots, and his team has already used their methods to successfully predict the late onset of Cycle 24.

…Hill’s results match those from physicists Matt Penn and William Livingston, who have gone over 13 years of sunspot data from the McMath-Pierce Telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona. They have seen the strength of the magnetic fields which create sunspots declining steadily.

Three different methods all confirm that we’re headed into uncharted solar waters, potentially rivaling the Maunder Minimum, which coincided with a particularly severe 70-year stretch of the so-called Little Ice Age:

Naturally, the headline writers have seized on the term “Ice Age,” with the result that people who only read the headlines think that they’re likely to wake up one morning in 2025 only to see that the massive 10-ft wall of blue ice has finally sealed them into their homes for good.

In fact, the Little Ice Age may have been a regional phenomenon, affecting the northern hemisphere.  OK, yes, that’s where most of the land is, and, yes, that where most of the people live, so this isn’t necessarily good news by any stretch.  Cooler periods tend to be drier and less fertile, although better for ice skating on wide, frozen rivers.  But we don’t know the magnitude of the effect of diminishing the sun’s input.  It certainly seems counter-intuitive at best to argue that the earth will be just as good if not better at capturing the sun’s heat when there’s less of it coming in.

Sure, the Hockey Puck has one hockey stick that can state with certitude that less heat from the sun absolutely, positively, won’t make any different whatsoever in the earth’s climate, which seems a little silly to me, inasmuch as it gets colder at night.  But most actual scientists, you know, the ones who aren’t going around trying to suppress their model, data, or emails, recognize that the climate is a complex chaotic system, and that even small changes in the inputs can result in huge and sudden variations in the output.

NASA, for instance:

And the changes in the inputs may not be as small as the Nittany Lyin’ wants to assert:

In a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, solar physicist Karel Schrijver of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, and his colleagues argue that during the Maunder Minimum, the sun couldn’t have dimmed enough to explain the Little Ice Age. Even during a prolonged minimum, they claim, an extensive network of very small faculae on the sun’s hot surface remains to keep the energy output above a certain threshold level.

Not so, says Peter Foukal, an independent solar physicist with Heliophysics Inc. in Nahant, Massachusetts, who contends that Schrijver and his colleagues are “assuming an answer” in a circular argument. According to Foukal, who presented his work yesterday here at the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society, there is no reason to believe that the network of small faculae would persist during long periods of solar quiescence. In fact, he says, observations between 2007 and 2009, when the sun was spotless for an unusually long time, reveal that all forms of magnetic activity diminished, including the small-faculae network.

What’s more, detailed observations from orbiting solar telescopes have shown that the small faculae pump out more energy per unit surface area than the larger ones already known to disappear along with the sunspots. So if the small faculae start to fade, too, that would have an even stronger effect on the total energy production of the sun. “There’s tantalizing evidence that [during the Maunder Minimum] the sun may have actually dimmed more than we have thought until now,” Foukal says.

Let’s assume, just for argument, that we’re in for a century’s worth or so of cooling temps.  That would imply that just about every policy we’re pursuing right now to prevent “climate change,” is both ineffectual and mistaken.  Instead of eating our food, we’re burning it for fuel.  Instead of expanding our energy resources, we’re constricting them, just at the time when some natural gas might come in handy on those cold, dark, May nights.

Most of these policies are easily reversible, given the will, but Global Warmism has become such an idee fixee on the part of the political class and its bought-and-paid for scientists that they’re more than capable of looking at a cooling thermometer (as it has been for the last 13 years), and declaring that nothing’s changed.  Self-trained to see nothing but warming, and certain that they’ll be insulated from any ill-effects, the political class will, like their predecessors in Soviet Ag Policy, declare that every crop failure or shortage is a result of “special circumstances.”

I’m not sure I place any more faith in NASA’s complex models just because the results are sort of comforting and sort of intuitive.  (There’s a reason Easy-Bake Ovens don’t work very well.)  That has to go for the other side, as well, but then, that would require a level of intellectual honesty that a dependence on a government-funded viewpoint precludes.

So expect this report – and any actual observations that James Hanson sees fit to print – to change the political debate over climate change not one bit.  But for those paying attention, a climate science that’s been maundering about quite a bit on its own is likely to get some very interesting data over the next few decades.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunspot_Numbers.png

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