Something is Happening With the Sun

Russ Steele

I have a post at the Next Grand Minimum on changes on the sun which could have some long term impacts here on earth. Link is HERE, where this graphic is explained in more detail.

We could be headed for a Maunder level minimum, which took place during the Little Ice Age,  a cold period between AD 1550  and AD 1850.  There were three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, each separated by intervals of slight warming.

There were no Sierra glaciers before the LIA. We could see these glaciers grow again if the sun experiences another Grand Minimum.  We are on the cusp of some very interesting times in solar history. Stay Tuned.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

6 Responses to Something is Happening With the Sun

  1. gjrebane says:

    Russ, please take the next step and give us some plausible scenarios re future climate change with your odds of their coming true – i.e. cut to the chase.

    • Dena says:

      Something exact is not possible because little money has been spent to study this. The sun appears to have a 400 year cycle and sun spot study just happened to start in the early 1600’s so with one cycle under our belt, there is some guess work. My money is we are restarting the 400 year cycle and it will look something like this.

      For the latest up to date information on the sun, the best place to look is
      While direct sun spot numbers are only available for 400 years, indirect information provides us with the 400 year cycle and the information that the sun and climate are related.

    • Russ says:


      It is hard to come up with a solid probability. Penn and Livingston point to a linear decrease of 50 Gauss per year in the magnetic fields that create sunspots. When the level magnetic fields reaches 1500 Gauss, the sun spots will be very hard to see. This is a linear extrapolation, and Livingston and Penn caution that it is risky to extrapolate linear trends. I think this caution is appropriate as there are only 17 years of data.

      That said, there is a 200 year cycle +/- 20 years when there is a series of low sunspots. Solar Cycle 25 is predicted to be the lowest in modern history. The probability of a very low solar cycle 25 is quite high, in the 90% range.

      However, in the 17th century, the sun plunged into a 70-year period of spotlessness known as the Maunder Minimum that still baffles scientists, who are not willing to make a forecast based in probability. We could be headed for another Maunder. However, my gut feeling, after reading multiple papers, is that we are more likely to see a Dalton level minimum, than a Maunder.

      I would be interest in other readers point of view.

      • Sean says:

        I commented over at NextGrandMinimum site that Leif Svalgaard feels like the effect that Livingstone and Penn have been observing is what essentially occurred in the Maunder Minimum but not in the Dalton.

    • Russ says:

      Predicting solar cycles is rather difficult, as Kristof Petrovay, Eotvos University, Department of Astronomy Budapest, Hungary illustrates in his long paper on Solar Cycle Prediction.
      The Abstract:
      A review of solar cycle prediction methods and their performance is given, including forecasts for cycle 24. The review focuses on those aspects of the solar cycle prediction problem that have a bearing on dynamo theory. The scope of the review is further restricted to the issue of predicting the amplitude (and optionally the epoch) of an upcoming solar maximum no later than right after the start of the given cycle. Prediction methods form three main groups. Precursor methods rely on the value of some measure of solar activity or magnetism at a specified time to predict the amplitude of the following solar maximum. Their implicit assumption is that each numbered solar cycle is a consistent unit in itself, while solar activity seems to consist of a series of much less tightly intercorrelated individual cycles. Extrapolation methods, in contrast, are based on the premise that the physical process giving rise to the sunspot number record is statistically homogeneous, i.e., the mathematical regularities underlying its variations are the same at any point of time and, therefore, it lends itself to analysis and forecasting by time series methods. Finally, instead of an analysis of observational data alone, model based predictions use physically (more or less) consistent dynamo models in their attempts to predict solar activity. In their overall performance during the course of the last few solar cycles, precursor methods have clearly been superior to extrapolation methods. Nevertheless, most precursor methods overpredicted cycle 23, while some extrapolation methods may still be worth further study. Model based forecasts have not yet had a chance to prove their skills. One method that has yielded predictions consistently in the right range during the past few solar cycles is that of K. Schatten et al., whose approach is mainly based on the polar field precursor. The incipient cycle 24 will probably mark the end of the Modern Maximum, with the Sun switching to a state of less strong activity. It will therefore be an important testbed for cycle prediction methods and, by inference, for our understanding of the solar dynamo.

      The author concludes:
      Throughout the ages, mankind felt and tried to answer the urge to predict events to come. Omens were carefully collected and categorized on Mesopotamian clay tablets; omen-based prediction was developed into an industry in the form of hepatoscopy (analyzing the shape of the liver of a sacrificed animal) and, in later Roman times, of auspicium (watching the flight of the birds). Ancient Greeks often turned to oracles like the Pythia of Delphi. By the late antiquity, the astrological world view was widespread throughout the civilized world, implying that cosmic and terrestrial events were subject to cosmic cycles governed by a variety of (planetary) periods.
      Today we tend to smile at these “superstitious” early attempts. Yet, ironically, many of the “advanced” methods we have for the prediction of solar activity are based on principles that hardly differ from those listed above: just substitute “precursor” for “omen”, “neural network” for “oracle” or “harmonic analysis” for “cosmic cycles”. . .
      But in parallel with the often na ̈ıve phenomenological or empirical prediction attempts, already in the Hellenistic world, a handful of enlightened scientists started the development of physical mod- els, based on logic and experience, that would lead to the advanced predictive skills of many models of modern science (Russo, 2004). Extending the analogy, we can see that the real importance of the recent debut of model-based solar cycles predictions is not their still dubious success rate but the conceptual leap they represent.
      Despite the rather poor overall performance of solar cycle prediction attempts, the extensive efforts invested in this endeavour were not in vain as they have contributed and keep contributing to a better understanding of the physical processes governing the solar cycle and to constraining the dynamo.

  2. Sean,

    I am open to a Maunder, but Livingston and Penn are very cautious in that regard. We could be on a much longer cycle as suggested Dena. I need to go back and spend some more time studying Leif’s Power Point Presentation.

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