back to article Earth may be headed into a mini Ice Age within a decade

What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening, as heavyweight US solar physicists announce that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age. Average magnetic field …

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Childcatcher

This may be a good thing

70 years of ice age may buy us the time we need. In the 70 or so years it takes the planet to go in and out of a mini ice age, fossil fuels will be severely depleted (not least by us having to use far more energy to keep warm), and in addition to that perhaps China's thorium reactor projects will have taught us all that this is the way forward - when we do come out at the other end we won't then be so reliant on CO2-making solutions. Meanwhile I'll be holding off on investing in solar panels for a while.

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Silver badge

Crap

This just means that the gubbermint will insist on even greater agricultural subsidies so agri-business can still grow their crop of choice in their heated green houses with nutrient depleted soil. At least irrigation will be easier given they can use the ice that melts from the roof. It will be the only way to keep those third worlders in the third world... errr, I mean save the jobs of the children on both of the remaining family farms... 'cause we're gonna do it for the children, right?

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Facepalm

Thames freezing

I wish people would stop using the 'Thames freezing' red herring.

This has more to do with tidal reach than solar changes. The old London Bridge acted more like a leaky dam (than the bridge it was supposed to be), meaning that on its non-seaward side the Thames was effectively non-tidal (so prone to some stable freezing).

Once the bridge was demolished in the early 1800s, the frost fairs came to an end (the last freeze being in 1813/14). Indeed, many such freezing events were recorded during the Medieval Warm Period (that preceded the Maunder Minimum).

A more recent example of the tidal/non-tidal divide could be seen during the harsh winter of 1963/64. The Thames froze as far as Teddington; the limit of tidal influence.

You weaken your main argument by using factually incorrect supporting statements. That's a shame, because solar variability is an interesting topic (in the context of climate variability).

I realise that you like to trumpet the "it's an IPCC conspiracy to steal taxpayers money" viewpoint, but the mainstream science community does actually look into such things. If you toned down the red-rage a few notches, then you might even find a few papers to add weight to your thesis. e.g., from that supposed IPCC lackey Science:

Solar Forcing of Regional Climate Change During the Maunder Minimum, Drew T. Shindell, et al. Science 294, 2149 (2001)

Small changes in solar irradiance lead to small changes in global temperatures BUT larger regional cooling (i.e. 1-2C cooling over the NH). It uses climate models, which I realise will start the rage off again...but there is some straight observed temp/solar proxy regression analysis too.

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Angel

@Cheese

Don't you stride in here with your facts and your reasonableness. This is the hyperbole and conspiracy theory room, you terrible spoilsport.

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Meh

Frost Fairs

There's been a concerted attempt by climate profiteers to air-brush evidence of past climate extremes like the frost fairs out of the history books - with claims that they weren't really that extrem, just due to tides, or just regional events of no significance. This allows them to claim modern extremes are unprecedented and all man's fault.

However you can still find some accurate historic accounts of frost fairs eg. here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames_frost_fairs which haven't yet been doctored by the warmists. And you'll notice they are clustered around the Maunder minimum from 1600-1750.

How about we wait 10 years to see what happens before ruining the economy with and massive energy taxes, energy rations and more failed socialism?

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Better get that Arctic oil

while we still can.

There won't be much of anything living up there in 20 years if this holds true.

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Alien

If so ...

this will give us time to work out some less primitive method of energy generation than burning stuff. We need to do that if we are ever to get off the planet and into space, which is where the future really lies.

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Joke

Not having much scientific understanding......

....but if there's global cooling that needs more carbon dioxide to be expelled to heat things up again, and we breath out carbon dioxide, isn't this great news for politicians since they will be able to talk more drivel and for even longer, and justify it by saying their words are for the good of the planet?

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But, but, but...

...Gordon Brown insisted, INSISTED dammit, the science was settled.

He wasn't telling fibs, was he?

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Headmaster

@Dangermouse

I have no idea why you think Gordon Brown is relevant, but precisely nothing in this paper questions any aspect of the settled science on global warming or the role of man-made CO2.

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Coat

hang on a sec

we know nothing of the way the universe works we do not have enough data or understanding yet.

We have only just started gathering data on the sun and 400 yrs ago the earth was flat, the periodic table was almost empty in 1970 now look at it of you did any type of science in the 1970`s

so until someone has gathered data for at least 10000 years we will never understand or be able to proove or disproove the earths cycles against sunspot activity because we really need data to overlap.

just my 10p`s worth

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Silver badge

Wish it had been

> the periodic table was almost empty in 1970

Boggle!

Where do you get this information from?

Actually, if it had been it would have made my chemistry O level a lot easier. Though Tom Leher would have 1 less song to his repertoire.

Oh yes, nobody thought the world was flat 400 years ago. It's been known since the ancient greeks that it was round. Eratosthenes even calculated its circumference.

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FAIL

@ken jay

Let's take this step by step.

"we know nothing of the way the universe works"

In a typical academic library, the journals on astronomy and cosmology will fill an entire floor and number into the tens of thousands of volumes and millions of articles.

"400 yrs ago the earth was flat"

Science has understood that the earth is approximately spherical for millenia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

"the periodic table was almost empty in 1970"

Only a handful of new elements have been added to the periodic table since 1970:

http://www.chemicalelements.com/show/dateofdiscovery.html

You are falling into the age-old trap of assuming that just because _you_ are ignorant about a subject, everybody else must be ignorant about it too. Take your 10p and use it to buy a Ladybird book from Oxfam as the first step on the road to enlightenment.

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Mushroom

10p`s worth? I don't think so.

I want my money back.

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Thumb Down

Can't Have It Both Ways

The idea that the sun has been getting brighter over the last hundred years or so and thus warming the earth has been often quoted by global warming doubters. The evidence has clearly mounted against this idea, but they keep pushing it anyway. Repeated studies failed to show any measurable increase in average solar output, just the normal variations as the solar cycles progress. This new research seems to indicate precisely the opposite is in fact happening - the sun *may* actually be reducing it's output, getting cooler not hotter. What we do know without a shadow of a doubt is that the average global temperatures have been rising at an accelerating rate for the last century or so.

Do I really have to point out the contradiction here? On the one hand the hotter sun is supposedly the real cause of global warming according to some, but now evidence indicates that the sun may actually be cooling (temporarily). So, the earth has been warming while the sun's energy output was steady, or possibly falling; therefore the sun can't possibly have been responsible for the warming that has occurred already.

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Alert

Contradiction?

There is no contradiction - although global temperatures were rising prior to 2000 (at the height of 'global warming' alarmism) the temperature hasn't risen much if at all, (in fact, observational evidence suggests a drop) since about 2000 onwards - much the the shagrin of climate scientists - and is the reason for much sceptism in man-made global warming (especially as CO2 levels have still been rising, not falling).

This graph clearly shows peak solar activity around 2000 - which actually correlates quite nicely with the sun being the main driving factor behind global temperature fluctuations, not man.

Having said that, taking a very small sample graph from a known maxima to known minima and extrapolatiing that to still lower activity is not a sensible thing to do though either; it's just as scaremongering and disingenuous as anything the IPCC ever came up with!

I would love to see a proper plot with at least 10 cycle's data to see just how out of the ordinary the current trend really is.

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Headmaster

@FoolD

"the temperature hasn't risen much if at all, (in fact, observational evidence suggests a drop) since about 2000 onwards"

False.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record

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Boffin

Who the hell drew a straight line through those data points!?

Whoever it was should be taken outside and kicked to death by respectable physicists.

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Anonymous Coward

Don't say that!

you'll get 8+ down votes before you can blink!

Unless, perhaps, it was my PGplot comment? Apparently it might-be (or si) actually IDL, but it sure looks a lot like PGplot to me. I had no idea misidentifying plotting software was so unpopular.

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Trollface

I don't believe it!

We are actually due massive solar storms that are going to send lobotomised $ky satellites careering into our greenhouses and EM radiation killing all our iPods.

Oh no, that was last year's scare story, wasn't it? There should be a ban on scientists having press releases.

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Anonymous Coward

Thames will never freeze again

The Thames is unlikely to ever freeze again in central London for two reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with global warming of any kind. Firstly the old London bridge was replaced and secondly the embankments where built. These two factors have prevented the Thames freezing ever since.

The proof of this is that winters like 1963 which was the coldest since 1740 in England yet the Thames did not freeze, despite being colder than 1776, 1788, 1795 and 1814 when frost fairs where held on the Thames. Based on temperature alone the Thames should have frozen twice in 2010 but did not...

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Mushroom

Did you ever believe all those "green" nutters, anyway?

Especially those making money out of us poor taxpayers.

Global warming or cooling - when you are a mere 93million miles from a huge nuclear furnace, what do you expect? If it turns the heat up, we get warm, it it turns the heat down, then we skate on the Thames - As Alexsander would say "Simples!"

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Bronze badge

Science and politicians--what a mess it'll be.

We're likely headed for a shortage of fossil-fuel sources. And they'll be more important as feedstock for the chemical industry.

Things such as better insulation to reduce the energy demand will make sense, whatever happens.

I don't expect the politicians to see that.

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Silver badge
Meh

maybe nitpicking, but...

"This could overturn decades of received wisdom on such things as CO2 emissions, "

No it wouldn't. It would still be the case that CO2 globally is rising, that it is affecting climate, and that humans are partly responsible. The difference is that instead of wanting less CO2 to prevent the earth warming, we might be wanting more CO2 to keep it warmer.

That, by the way, is not be the best idea since long-term we anyway need to find viable energy sources that are not fossil fuel. A global 'YAY to CO2' movement would destroying R&D in renewables that might be needed for the future. Besides that, with the expected booms in energy consumption in China, India etc, even keeping current gov policies would still result in considerable CO2 increases which will keep us nice and warm if/when the sun goes to low-power mode

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Thumb Up

So:

are we saying this is a good time to get shares in ski's / all snow/cold related products???

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Extra reading - climate disruption

I'm pretty certain Lewis is fully aware that climate is a bit more complicated than just solar activity. The "Little Ice Age" was pre-Industrial Revolution, before CO² emissions really took off.

Sunspots and global warming: http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm

And because this is absolutely brilliant (and sNSFW): http://youtu.be/xFTddFk6zb8

Enjoy

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If I was the Reg moderator

I would take out a contract on Lewis Page.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: If I was the Reg moderator

Nah, just a few commentards. I know a guy, he does mates' rates.

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Lewis generates page hits.

The sillier his posts become, the more hits he gets and the more advertising revenue he generates. He's a revenue troll. They'd be mad to try to curtail his ramblings.

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Meh

Thorium smorium

Will all those of you who keep insisting on Thorium based reactors being the proverbial answer to a maiden's prayer please stop a moment and consider that they will still generate waste to be disposed of but, more importantly, use a fuel source and technology over which we have NO CONTROL!

UK does not extract Thorium from mines in UK and as soon as it starts to become necessary worldwide we will not, being a pissy little country in the edge of Europe, be top of the list to be supplied. We gave up reactor design and now import American or French designs/builds and associated control and management systems.

We are surrounded by Seas and have an estuary or two. We have vast caverns in the North Sea into which CO2 or H2 can be pumped using well established technologies. What possible reason would any sane government or scientist advance for proceeding with imported fuels and technologies for Nuclear reactors. Cost is not a medium or long term factor.

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Boffin

Thorium Yum Yum

The reprocessing implicit in a pure thorium fuel cycle means that the waste is "just" fission products. About 2 tonnes per gW-year; maybe about 300 kg to go to 300-year storage if you were willing to reprocess. Natural uranium reactors produce transuranics like americium, curium (and plutonium, of course) in much greater quantities and that's why traditional nuclear waste is a 10,000-year worry with much greater volumes. Fission products tend to be wildly unstable, which by shortening their half lives makes them actually easier to manage than the transuranics, and that's a huge advantage for breeder/reprocessing.

Compare that 300 kg with the megatonnes of CO2 -- every year -- from an equivalent coal burner with carbon sequestration, and remember that THAT waste has to be kept out of circulation for ever.

The same thing means that this example 1gW plant is using one or two tonnes of thorium a year compared to 200 tonnes of natural uranium. It's not an uncommon metal, it's found all over the world including the UK, and security of supply is much less of an issue than uranium. It really is worth a look, but it needs the right reactor technology to make the reprocessing work.

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FAIL

UK does not extract Thorium from mines in UK

No but we could if we wanted to it is present in many UK locations.

We could also extract heat from deep geothermal plants which need not screw the rest of nature by disrupting tidal flows and wave energy all of which, contrary to popular belief, have negative environmental aspects. For example, have you seen how quickly things silt up when you restrict the flow in an estuary.

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Mushroom

Why is everyone missing the real point.

Beyond the stupid AGW vs No-AGW argumentation that almost everyone seems to be so hung up about. The REAL problem is that despite what AGW people claim about warming being the end of the world as we know it, in reality a slight amount of warming isn't actually a bad thing... but a slight amount of cooling can have immediate catastrophic consequences.

Diminished crops, surplus energy demands, entire seasons ruined by early or late frosts etc etc... The food supply being what it is, even a few degrees of cooling can spell world hunger, raising food prices and heating crisis all over the world... THAT is a real problem.

MUCH worse that a few degrees of warming.

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tittle

" in reality a slight amount of warming isn't actually a bad thing"

What about a rapid change to an amount of warming unprecedented for millions of years? That's where we are heading

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FAIL

Getting hotter?

@tittle

"What about a rapid change to an amount of warming unprecedented for millions of years? That's where we are heading.."

We're going to have trouble reaching that hot future you hope for. The last 10 years show a continual DOWNWARD temperature trend.

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/from:2001/to:2010/trend

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Lewis Page, what a complete retard.

Interesting article apart from the authors own retarded comments and flawed ridiculous logic.

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Boffin

Watch this graph...

You can watch it happen (or not happen) here:

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/pmod

(PMOD = measurement of total solar insolation)

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/sidc-ssn/from:1975

(Sunspot number)

I think both indicate something slightly different is happening...

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Thames Frozen over

Hi,

The Thames used to freez over in part due to flow of water, and this effect is no longer possible due to changes in the banks of the river, and bridges built across it.

See, e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A970733

"1814 was to prove to be last [frost] fair. A new London Bridge was built in 1823 slightly upstream from the old bridge which was eventually demolished in 1831. The structure of the new bridge was less bulky then its predecessor, which had acted as a dam. The demolition of the latter and the narrowing of the river through the creation of the embankments on either side permanently changed the flow of the river. The Thames is now too fast-flowing to freeze over"

As a UK site I am quite worried that you were not aware that the Thames could no longer freeze!

Cheers

Liam Carton

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Mr john werneken

hmmm. Disparate facts and theories create no change in the blind unscientific enthusiasts on BOTH sides of the "climategate", so why would new facts and theories make any difference in public policy? The concept that what we do in the real world should accord with our deepest "beliefs", this is the ultimate evil.Once people imagine that others should do right and not wrong (as defined by them) we are off and running..its such a bad trip the alleged destination does not matter.

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Anonymous Coward

Now I'm puzzled ...

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Major_Drop_In_Solar_Activity_Predicted_999.html

claims these result were presented at

http://astronomy.nmsu.edu/SPD2011/

But looking at the abstract book

http://astronomy.nmsu.edu/SPD2011/PROGRAM/spdabstracts/SPD_ebook.pdf

But I can't find a presentation listed (Citing either F Hill or the NSO) which matches up.

The NSO itself has no press release on the topic that I can find.

Where did you pick the story up from? I can't find it. Where's the original?

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Anonymous Coward

ah, I missed that

spacedaily has three conference abstract reference at the bottom;

None of the three cite abstracts has text which supports the views proposed in the news article.

But P17.21 does have an abstract which ends "We do not understand the physical mechanism behind these changes or the effect, if any, it will have on the Earth environment"

That's all pretty clear then.

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WTF?

Earth temperature ...

The Sun is the primary factor in relation to the temperature of the planet, significant volcanic activity is a secondary factor in relation to the temperature of the planet, thirdy man's activities can potentially affect things (like burning fossil fuels, cutting down trees & forests, fecking the oceans, polluting in general etc)

Points 1 & 2 are significant (and naturally occurring), point 3 is unfortunate and avoidable, but we (humans) are rather stupid generally, so what do we expect...?

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And the important phrase Mr. Page should have learned at school is..

'Correlation does not imply causation'

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Trollface

School?

Surely shome mishtake.

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Megaphone

Quite correct, correlation is not causation...

...and without the capability to manually dial up or down either global temperature or the sun's sunspot activity we can never prove 100% whether these activities are just randomly occurring together, or whether (1) a causes b, (2) b causes a, or (3) some other c causes them both.

On the other hand, we can make pretty educated guesses from our existing (albeit limited) physical knowledge. Which of these seem more likely:

1) increase in Earth's temperature causes an increase in sunspot activity through a mechanism that is completely unknown and not even currently hypothesised

2) Increase in sunspot activity causes increase in earth temperature through some mechanism ( increased radiation ? ) that at least makes some sort of sense

3) Increase in the sun's energy output causes both increase sunspots and increased Earth temperature, through extremely well known, documented, studied and proven laws of thermodynamics

I mean, seriously, how is it even in question that the sun has some sort of effect on Earth's temperature, and that variations in one will cause variations in the other?

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Gold badge
Meh

IIRC Weather forcasters spent decades saying sun spot activity had *no* influence on the weather.

Well it looks like that was one of those little details they had not got round to putting into their models.

On humans affecting the weather. 1st CFC production 1933. Detectable effects on ozone by 1974.

Effect of the sun being removed. Well according to

http://encyclopedia.airliquide.com/Encyclopedia.asp

the volume change from liquid Nitrogen to Nitrogen gas at 15c is x691 and for Oxygen its 854.

If you assumed an atmosphere out to c21Km / 70 000 ft it would contract to about a a layer of 30m of LN2.

Something to keep in mind.

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Repeat after the entire Met Office:

Climate <> weather

Weather is the next few days. Climate is the long-term view.

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Happy

Here's a wild idea...

Let's just wait and see.

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Angel

I tried that method last time I was approaching a level crossing.

I was horribly killed. It's murder posting this from a harp.

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