Dated from January 4th, 2008, with confirmation of sunspot #10,981.
Friends, as many people will attest: it has been somewhat cold of late. There has, for example, been snow in both Bagdad and Jerusalem recently and Hong Kong is having a record cold snap.
I’m having fun here and I don’t really believe it’s the dawn of a new Ice Age — or so I would hope for all our sakes. Also, this is an issue largely independent from AGW since it deals with "global warmth" rather than "warming" (as I'll address later in the post).
But there is substance to this Watch and with it an explanation for why this winter is the way it is: solar radiance.
There is a strong link between both sunspot activity and the sun's magnetic flux as to how brightly it shines. Right now both of these have bottomed out (here's a link to the Canadian observatory that keeps track of solar flux, updates daily): in terms of sunspot activity this means only a few or no sunspots; in terms of the solar flux a value of 64 to 68 is just about as low as it gets.
As you can see from today's solar flux values:
[/INDENT]Flux Density Values in sfu for 18:00 on 2008:02:17
Julian Day Number : 2454514.239
Carrington Rotation Number : 2066.861
Observed Flux Density : 0070.8
Flux Density Adjusted for 1 A.U. : 0069.2
URSI Series D Flux, Adj. x 0.9 : 0062.2
... we have indeed bottomed out. Other daily values I've personally seen since I began toying with this "Watch" idea are:
[/indent]Density Values in sfu for 22:00 on 2008:01:30
Observed Flux Density : 0073.6
Flux Density Adjusted for 1 A.U. : 0071.4
Flux Density Values in sfu for 22:00 on 2008:02:12
Observed Flux Density : 0072.2
Flux Density Adjusted for 1 A.U. : 0070.4
Flux Density Values in sfu for 20:00 on 2008:02:13
Observed Flux Density : 0070.5
Flux Density Adjusted for 1 A.U. : 0068.7
Flux Density Values in sfu for 18:00 on 2008:02:15
Observed Flux Density : 0069.9
Flux Density Adjusted for 1 A.U. : 0068.2
Flux Density Values in sfu for 18:00 on 2008:02:16
Observed Flux Density : 0070.3
Flux Density Adjusted for 1 A.U. : 0068.6
For a MUCH longer term perspective consider this chart of the solar flux for the last several decades:
You may notice, for example, the period from 1966 to 1976 that had people so concerned about global cooling and the beginning of a new ice age.
As for sunspot activity this chart shows our current status too:
As does the information from NOAA's site: Solar Cycle Progression. Also, for a nice "real-English" discussion of sunspots I would suggest this (link).
It would seem a given that if old Sol is putting out less energy that we would in fact be cooler.
So what is going on here?
Well, Solar Cycle 23 which has been an ongoing concern for around the last 11 years has reached a minimum at which point Solar Cycle 24 should begin:
But Solar Cycle 24 just doesn't seem to have any oomph to get started. As you may have noticed above NOAA announced the first official SC24 sunspot on January 4 of this year; however, what that doesn't tell you is that SC23 was not behaving normally.
The usual length of time from a Maximum to a Minimum is 33 months +/- 5 months. Since SC23 reached its maximum in January of 2004 it has been 49 months and SC24 is still sputtering.
Does that mean we will enter another minimum like the Maunder Minimum (from about 1645 to 1715) or the Dalton Minimum (1800 to 1810)?
No. Not at all.
But unlike the spurious claims made in the Hong Kong article above, Global Warming cannot be the cause of Global Cooling. Think about it for a moment: isn't the nature of AGW global warming to increase the amount of heat retained? If so then even AGW global warming effects can only be a moderating consideration if, because the sun turns down for a bit, things cool off.
But, someone might ask, what of El Niño and La Niña? Well, it turns out that both are driven by solar activity (link).
You see, when we are talking about solar irradiance we are talking about something that is BEHIND either global warming or cooling. This is because the sun provides virtually all warmth to our atmosphere and so all discussions about thinks like green house gases are secondary to what the sun is doing. If the sun were to enter a Gore-Hansen Minimum the only thing that AGW could possibly do is to moderate some of it.
I will update this thread until, hopefully, SC24 finally gets off its lazy butt and starts cranking out some energy. NOAA had predicted this to occur in March plus or minus 6 months.
Only time will tell.