Fastes Recorded Solar Decline Will Cool Global Climate

  • Date: 25/06/15
  • Reporting Climate Science

Solar activity is declining faster than at any time in the last 9,300 years and there is a significant chance that this will lead to cooler winters across Eurasia and the eastern coast of North America later this century, according to new research.

There is a 15-20 per cent probability that the Sun will return to the extremely low levels of activity last seen during the so-called the Maunder Minimum in the seventeenth century, according to the research published in Nature Communications.

This could result in global cooling of, on average, around 0.1oC, lead author of the research Sarah Ineson told, although the cooling would not be sufficient to offset the impact of man-made global warming, she added. 

Regional cooling experienced by Eurasia and parts of North America will be more significant and will average between 0.4oC and 0.8oC. “We have considerable internal variability so this does not mean that every winter in Europe will be much colder but the likelihood of colder winters will be greater,” Ineson explained.

Ineson, a scientist with the UK Meteorological Office, and colleagues simulated the impact of declining solar activity on the world’s climate using a computer climate model.

The experiment assumed that solar activity would continue to decline to the levels seen during the Maunder Minimum which took place between 1645 and 1715. This period, during which very few sunspots were observed on the disc of the Sun, was associated with severe winters in northern Europe and the freezing of the River Thames in London. “Our experiment reached Maunder Minimum conditions in about 2050,” said Ineson.

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