This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Monday, July 13, 2015

New prediction of a "mini ice age" during the 2030's

A sun without any sunspots, photo taken on July 17, 2014
Photo from here.
I am reluctant to feature research here that hasn't been through peer-review, but it's a losing battle as prestigious groups, such as the British Royal Astronomical Society, release press releases about exciting ideas. So, take the following for what it is worth, it's at least interesting to think about!

Here is the reference for the press release.

The sun's activity varies over a solar cycle of roughly 11 years (22 years if the polarity of sunspots is considered). To date, the cycle has been analyzed the phenomenon in terms of a dynamo driven by fluids convecting deep within the sun. A dynamo is a fluid dynamic condition of convection within a body that moves a convecting, rotating, and electrically charged fluid around within a body. Traditionally, solar physicists attempt to explain the measured properties of the sun and their variability with a single dynamo within the sun. We had a prolonged drought of sunspots over the past two years, but there are a few now and they emit strong enough particles to cause some concerns about telecommunications.
Sun configuration on July 13, 2015
From space weather.com

Valentina Zharkova is presenting a paper at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno that proposes two dynamos: the traditional one deep in the sun, and another close to the surface. Each dynamo gives a periodicity of about 11 years, but they are slightly different and offset in time. The idea is that if they coincide appropriately, the effects will be large. The data are based on observations from 1976-2008. Running the model into the future, the model predicts that during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022,  and into cycle 26 (2030-2040) the waves due to the two dynamos will become exactly out of synch. This would result in a reduction in solar activity equivalent to the Maunder minimum of the 1600's, 370 years ago.

It will be interesting to follow this because the implications are enormous for global stability and economics. I recommend the great website space weather.com to follow solar events.

For a bit of prehistory, and my interest in the sun, my first published paper was a documentation of the evolution of sunspot groups, in the inaugural edition of a new journal Solar Physics: Zirin, Harold and Werner, Susan, Detailed analysis of flares, magnetic fields and activity in the sunspot group of Sept. 13-26, 1963, Solar Physics, 1, pp. 66-100, 1967,


Michael Snyder said...

Not only is this not peer reviewed.

But the author never mentioned anything about a "mini ice age"

Its irresponsible to continue to push this mislabeled story.

Susan W. Kieffer said...


Thank you for your comment. As my disclaimer said, I am reluctant to highlight unreviewed research, but this is a blog, not a peer reviewed, "journal" and in this case, I thought it to be of enough interest and potential importance to feature. The "mini ice age" came straight out of the press release cited. I appreciate your interest and the fact that a reader is thinking critically about how this type of material should be dealt with.