News blog

Mini-Maunder minimum


Physorg carries a NASA story pointing to an abnormal dearth of sunspots.

As of Sept. 27, 2008, the sun had been blank, i.e., had no visible sunspots, on 200 days of the year. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1954, three years before the launch of Sputnik, when the sun was blank 241 times.

People with a keen interest in possible links between the sun and the climate (which is not entirely a subset of people-who-want-you-not-to-worry-about-fossil-fuels — but it’s close) will be getting excited: the most striking evidence for a sun-climate link is that a long period of sunspotless years called the “Maunder minimum” coincided with the Little Ice Age. The estimable Clive Cookson goes over the whole story at the FT

Here, for those who need it, is a pretty good account of current controversies on sun-climate links, and why they are not really that controversial anymore. The sun is not a governing factor in the current climate. The point is actually nicely made by one of Clive’s sources:

Although some people who are sceptical about the human influence on global warming like to emphasise the link between solar variability and climate, Prof Mayewski turns their argument on its head: “The fact that we are not in conditions like the little ice age today shows that the atmosphere is being perturbed by human activities,” he says.

Here are the other posts on the issue from Real Climate for those who want a bit more.

And people who want a great deal more, including some lovely history, might check out Stu Clarke’s “The Sun Kings”

The fact that there are a lot of blank days, by the way, does not mean there are no sunspots at all. The Times of India reports one was spotted last week.

Image: NASA


  1. Report this comment

    Uncle Al said:

    “Global Warming” is average sunspot activity plus temporal phase lag. What of Enviro-whiners plus Nobel Laureate, Oscar winner, carbon credit arbitrageur extraordinare Al Gore? They remain the hollow priests of rancor they have always been.

    NASA must load each Space Scuttle with a three-stage 300 MT thermonuclear device and blast them into the sun to Save Our Children! A $900 billion solar bailout is only the beginning.

  2. Report this comment

    dave marven said:

    This article should be updated. It is now April 27 and still very low solar activity. Prof. Mayewski is not allowing for a reasonable lag between a drop in solar activity and an effect on climate.

    For the record, I welcome the fact that humans may control the earth’s climate. As a Canadian, I fear global cooling more than a small amount of global warming.

  3. Report this comment

    alvin oakville said:

    “People with a keen interest in possible links between the sun and the climate (which is not entirely a subset of people-who-want-you-not-to-worry-about-fossil-fuels — but it’s close) will be getting excited…”

    Oh, really, sir?

    The comes close to a body slam, and is certainly well beyond an editorial, especially for a forum such as this.

    I guess that’s what happens when the factual bottom is falling out for some interests.

    In addition, the “History” Channel recently compared AGW skeptics with Holocaust deniers, as did 60 Minutes. When facts don’t suffice, calumny will do, it seems.

    Well, it also seems that CO2 has risen each and every year consecutively, without fail, since 1998 but the temperature went non-correlating BIG time. Google “Global temperature since 1998”

    SOME correlation.

    Also check out, Graphic Correlation of Solar Cycle Length and Global Temperature (surface):


    …and then say that again, about ME and other honest people, who have neo-radical notion that the sun has someting to do with climate.

  4. Report this comment

    William in AZ said:

    Just another junk article promoting the junk science of AGW. Several premises and assumptions in the article and linked articles are promoted on faith rather than tangible scientific data and thorough analysis … it’s not hard to see the agenda behind these propaganga pieces.

    No one would really give a spit if economy-wrecking politics weren’t tied to the AGW falsehoods.

Comments are closed.