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Posted Mon Jun 20 2011: from RealClimate:
What if the Sun went into a new Grand Minimum?
An analysis of historic sunspot observations shows that the 11-year solar activity cycle was interrupted during the late 17th century. This period of time, during which the Sun appeared without sunspots most of the time, was called the Maunder Minimum by Jack Eddy in his famous Science paper.... The Maunder Minimum falls within the climatically cooler period of the "Little Ice Age", during which temperatures were particularly low over continents in the Northern hemisphere (especially in winter). It has long been suspected that the low solar activity during the Maunder Minimum was one of the causes of the Little Ice Age, although other factors like a small drop in greenhouse gas concentrations around 1600 and strong volcanic eruptions during that time likely played a role as well.... According to these results, a 21st-century Maunder Minimum would only slightly diminish future warming. Moreover, it would be only a temporary effect since all known grand solar minima have only lasted for a few decades.... However, our model reproduces the historic Maunder minimum with these estimates of solar irradiance. Furthermore, even if one multiplied the solar effects by a huge factor of 5 (which is unrealistic), no absolute cooling would take place (the temperatures would be temporarily cooler than the base scenario, but the trends would still be warming). It is clear that if a grand minimum were to happen it would be a tremendously exciting opportunity for solar physicists, however it is unlikely to be very exciting for anyone else.
[Read more stories about: global warming, carbon emissions, anthropogenic change]

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'Doc Jim says:
I was so counting on a solus ex machina.

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