Sunspots and a possible new ice age (updated)
There is some serious evidence accumulating that we may be on the brink of not just global cooling, but an ice age. Sunspots are historically correlated with temperature on earth. During the Dalton Minimum, beginning in 1790, the number of sunspots was low, as the earth's climate turned cold for a few decades. At http://www.spaceweather.com/ you can see live images of the sun taken from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory in space. Right now there is but one tiny sunspot.
The sunspot number follows a cycle of somewhat variable length, averaging 11 years. The most recent minimum was in March last year. The new cycle, No.24, was supposed to start soon after that, with a gradual build-up in sunspot numbers.
It didn't happen. The first sunspot appeared in January this year and lasted only two days. A tiny spot appeared last Monday but vanished within 24 hours. Another little spot appeared this Monday. Pray that there will be many more, and soon. [....]That the rapid temperature decline in 2007 coincided with the failure of cycle No.24 to begin on schedule is not proof of a causal connection but it is cause for concern.
It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into another little ice age, similar to the one that lasted from 1100 to 1850.There is no doubt that the next little ice age would be much worse than the previous one and much more harmful than anything warming may do. There are many more people now and we have become dependent on a few temperate agricultural areas, especially in the US and Canada. Global warming would increase agricultural output, but global cooling will decrease it.
Millions will starve if we do nothing to prepare for it (such as planning changes in agriculture to compensate), and millions more will die from cold-related diseases.
The next sunspot cycle will be 30-50% stronger than the last one and begin as much as a year late, according to a breakthrough forecast using a computer model of solar dynamics developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Predicting the Sun's cycles accurately, years in advance, will help societies plan for active bouts of solar storms, which can slow satellite orbits, disrupt communications, and bring down power systems.The scientists have confidence in the forecast because, in a series of test runs, the newly developed model simulated the strength of the past eight solar cycles with more than 98% accuracy. The forecasts are generated, in part, by tracking the subsurface movements of the sunspot remnants of the previous two solar cycles. The team is publishing its forecast in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters."Our model has demonstrated the necessary skill to be used as a forecasting tool," says NCAR scientist Mausumi Dikpati, the leader of the forecast team at NCAR's High Altitude Observatory that also includes Peter Gilman and Giuliana de Toma. [....]The scientists expect the cycle to begin in late 2007 or early 2008, which is about 6 to 12 months later than a cycle would normally start. Cycle 24 is likely to reach its peak about 2012.