Let me preface this post by saying that I mistrust everything I read on the internet even if, or especially if, it is sponsored by a US government agency. It is not that there is so much that is blatantly and demsonstrably untrue, it’s that there is so much information available that people can find the information that re-enforces their own prejudices while ignoring the rest.
However, I thought that this topic is worthy of note, and you can make of it what you will.
I’m sure that most everybody who can read this post is familiar with the 11-year solar cycle in which the number of sunspots wax and wane. This cycle has been observed continuously since the 18th Century, and they have been consecutively numbered. We should now be in Solar Cycle 24.
Well, that’s the problem.
The last several solar cycles have shown an increasing trend, and in fact, solar experts predicted that Cycle 24 would be a real doozie. Turns out that the sun had other ideas.
The number of sunspots have remained at the minimum level for way too long. In fact, solar historians inform us that the last time it took a Solar Cycle this long to get its act together, it brought on a Little Ice Age in northern Europe. You see, the problem here is that when there are no sunspots, the sun is dimmer.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, even though global average temperatures remain higher than the 20th Century average, the Winter of 2007-2008 was the coolest since 2000, and the Jan-December averages for 2008 are the coolest of the 21st Century so far. Some climatological highlights of the 2007-2008 season can be found here. 2008 highlights here. You tell me if the data support the hypothesis.
Could we be headed for another Ice Age, be it little or big? If this happens, I predict two things:
1. Al Gore, who wagered his political career on Global Warming, will issue a “D’oh!” that will be heard around the world.
2. People who bought land in Alaska in anticipation of Global Warming will want to trade it for land in Mexico.
It would be nice if we could get some of our glaciers back.
I have been asking people for the last three weeks whether they have heard about the Great Sunspot Mystery, and out of about 50 people, only one had. Not a scientific pole, but revealing none the less. It will be interesting to see what happens if Solar Cycle 24 becomes a household word.
I’m not going to post a lot of graphs and pictures here. You can get far more accurate and detailed information by googling on Solar Cycle 24 and Sunspots and Global Cooling. Just keep in mind that nothing is certain yet.