A 2400 year solar cycle?

A couple of days ago, AT focused attention on the possible climate effects of sunspots, as solar cycle 23 runs longer than forecast, in Sunspots and a Possible New Ice Age .  There are various measurements that scientists, as well as the curious, are looking at and updating almost daily, such as the length of cycle 23, number of days with no sunspots, and the official start of cycle 24.

All of it is interesting, though not very well understood.  In some circles there is a theory, increasingly backed up by data, that this extended duration and low magnitude cycle 23 is the reason for recent cooling, and that we may be in store for more cooling, maybe much more.

The Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) controversy has exposed much information, old and new.  One of the more interesting papers I have seen recently was written in the year 1999, and has to do with barycentric analysis (celestial mechanics) of the solar system and its possible effects on the solar cycle. In some scientific circles celestial mechanics has already been "ruled out, even disparaged as "astrology."  Being an engineer instead of a scientist, I can't help but view it differently, looking at the data and the results, but not yet understanding the complex mechanisms involved.  It offers a unique perspective on the 4 climate minimums during the last 1000 years, and in 1999 more or less predicted the current low cycle 23 against a consensus that was opposite.

To briefly summarize the paper -- though you should read the whole thing (the graphics help clear things up) -- the solar system has a center of mass that is somewhere near the sun.  Most of the time, the center of mass is within the circumference of the sun, though it makes occasional excursions outside the circumference of the sun.  By employing celestial mechanics using the 4 most influential planets revolving around the sun, the authors determine a number of repeating cycles -- a 2402 year cycle, a number of 178 year periods within the 2402 years, and a unique 370 year period also within the 2402 year cycle.  They discovered "ordered" and "disordered" motions of the center of mass within the 178 year periods. 

Of interest to us right now is that we are entering (since 1985, and going until 2040) one of these periods of "disordered" motion.  What is most interesting is that the last four "disordered" periods coincided with the "Wolf", "Sporer", "Maunder", and "Dalton" climate minimums.  See pp 401 of the paper (don't worry, it's not 400+ pages, it's an excerpt from a journal of only a few pages) for a very visual graphic of this. 

The paper contains many other items of interest, but this particular piece is very relevant to the current AGW discussions.  Not necessarily to explain the warming that has undoubtedly occurred, but to suggest that we may be entering a cooling period of some duration.  It suggests some level of predictive capability for solar activity, which in turn implies a level of predictive capability for climate:[extract from paper - this paper is written in 1999, 3 years into cycle 23]

Since solar motion is computable in advance, this permits predictive assessments for future solar behavior. Moving along the disordered orbit to 2035 AD. (Fig. 2, bottom), which is similar to that of the second half of the nineteenth century (Fig. 3b), the Sun should develop lower solar cycles (Rmax from 65 to 140) of very variable length (from 9.6 to 12.3 years). The initial development of the cycle 23, now in its third year, confirms this for the present cycle.

None of this science is "settled." A wide variety of theories exist, and this one is among those which have received too little attention.

Update: A similar article here


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