“Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,” says Matt Penn, who with Bill Livingston analyzed solar magnetism by studying the infrared spectral lines of iron. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”
NASA sunspot expert David Hathaway told Astrobiology magazine, “This work has caused a sensation in the field of solar physics. It’s controversial stuff.”
Low sunspot activity has been linked to colder European winters — a study published in Environmental Research Letters earlier this year studied 350 years of weather and sunspot data and connected the two.
Sunspots wax and wane in 11-year cycles. They are caused by magnetic fields beneath the surface of the sun; the fields twist from solar rotation and become rope-like and where these ropes reach the surface, sunspots are formed. The key isn’t the sunspots so much as the strength of the underlying magnetism. Penn and Livingston measured solar magnetism at 3,000 gauss in 1990 and have plotted it steadily downward to around 2,100 in 2009. At its current slide, it will reach 1,500, the point at which sunspots disappear, by 2015.
The controversy isn’t over the data, but projections of it. “It is important to note that it is always risky to extrapolate linear trends,” Penn and Livingston write, “but the importance of the implications from making such an assumption justify its mention.”
Archibald says that with global cooling underway, his own research interest has moved on to understanding the transition to cooling.
We are now headed into the third cold northern winter in a row, so perhaps there may be only 18 more winters before the climate is set up for a rapid regime shift. There is apparantly a 210 year cycle and we have reached 210 years.
Hathaway reduced his prediction for a sunspot max of 64. Archibald is at 48 the same as Dalton! Flux is still dead at 75 – 85 and the Sun is blank again at times recently! Some scientists have moved on from “Are we in a climate altering minimum” to “How cold will it get?”
At what point does the local weatherman start warning the public about cold, snowy winters coming and tell them to prepare and even buy generators, heaters and a warm coat?