Is the World Ready for another Ice age?

Little Ice Age conditions are sweeping across most of the northern hemisphere creating travel chaos, financial damage and, unfortunately, many deaths in the process. I predicted this back in July 2010 in my “ A Massive Winter Heading for the Northern Hemisphere?” article that has come home to roost. An excerpt I predict the extra boost from my predicted solar grand minimum along with the current oceanic conditions the next northern winter will experience conditions similar to the Little Ice Age (1250-1850).”

The conditions are perfect at present for continued cold, the oceans are cold with the important atmospheric oscillations forcing cold arctic air further south than usual. The negative AO and NAO are producing blocking high pressure cells that bend the jet stream which allows the southern movement of arctic air. At present there is an unusual permanent high pressure cell over Greenland.  I think this pattern should prevail over the next 20 to 30 years and replaces the positive pattern of the last 30 years. The global warming models have suggested that man-made CO2 will keep the AO and NAO in positive mode….how wrong have they been?

Many are asking what causes the global ocean and atmospheric oscillations to follow these heating and cooling trends. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a large player that has a 60 year cycle, this follows the solar velocity oscillations as the sun orbits the centre of the solar system as described by Scafetta. The NAO works very closely with the PDO but is possibly governed by changes in the height of the atmosphere as a result of the reduced EUV that is a product of a quiet Sun. NASA has reported that the height of the Thermosphere is at the lowest point since records began; EUV is a controller of atmospheric height. We are told that the TSI or total heat output of the Sun only varies by 0.1 percent over a typical solar cycle. But we are now learning that the Sun has other ways of affecting climate that the models have not allowed for. EUV is capable of a 16% (correction: 30-100% depending on wave length) modulation over the cycle and, at present, is refusing to ramp up. This current minimum sees the EUV level 15% lower than the previous minimum which, if correct, dispels the theory of a solar base floor.

With solar output being so crucial to climate, where are we heading in the next hundred years?

Right now I think we are heading into a solar grand minimum that will last 2 cycles producing a very different world compared to what we have experienced over the last 30 years. After that a brief warming will occur before slipping into a familiar pattern that started in the early 1900’s, which is more cooling gradually warming over several decades. The Sun is controlled by its angular momentum which is in turn controlled by the outer planets…My published paper has all the details for those wishing to dig deeper.

Click on the pic for a larger view.

But is there more? There are two types of global cooling – one is solar output modulation as discussed, but lets look at the other. Over the past several million years the planet has spent around 80% of its time under ice. There is a regular pattern as discovered in the Vostok ice cores that show us a roughly 100,000 year cycle of ice ages. Mankind for the past 11,000 years has enjoyed the Holocene which is an interglacial or warm period that will soon come to an end. The outer planets over long periods influence the shape of the earth’s orbit via gravitation perturbations. This has the effect of changing the way heat is received from the Sun which leads to a gradual build up of snow/ice that does not melt during summer in the northern hemisphere. But looking at the ice core records we can see a fairly abrupt change in temperature that suggests there is another factor in play governing what tips us into the ice age plunge. It is very possible that a solar grand minimum that is in position at the right time could assist the natural orbital changes as outlined via the Milankovitch Cycles. A kick start forced on by 30 years of negative PDO, AO and NAO might be all that is needed to push us over the edge…we are well overdue, but of course this is highly speculative.

We are now two years into solar cycle 24 and today we are heading into our 8th consecutive spotless day as counted by the Layman’s Count.  This cycle is currently undercutting the first cycle of the Dalton Minimum. Solar F10.7 flux has struggled to get over 80 all year and currently this month is likely to show a further decline. If you would like to follow the daily progress of solar cycle 24 be sure to check out the Layman’s page and I also encourage any questions and discussions relating to this article, simply register as a user and fire away.