Could the quiet Sun cause the Little Ice Age?

For decades, astronomers and climatologists discuss prolonged cold snap XVII century in Europe, the most well-documented. Could it cause erratic behavior of the Sun? The new study supports this hypothesis.

The sun is not such a constant, it seems. Its surface is regularly experiencing storms swirling magnetic field. As a result, his face darkened and short-lived rather dark spots that appear when strong magnetic fields suppress the rise of the hot gases. Number of sunspots increases and decreases in the 11-year cycle. However, even this cycle can not be called the same.

In 1893, English astronomer Edward Maunder, studying historical documents, noted that the cycle, in fact, stopped in the years 1645-1715. During this period, the Sun was almost devoid of spots. In 1976, the American physicist John Eddy suggested a causal connection between the Maunder minimum and a small ice age in Europe.

It seems logical to assume that without dark spots sun is a little brighter and hotter. In fact, the absence of other signs of magnetic activity, such as the bright spots of very hot gas (torches), more than compensates for this effect. Thus, during the solar minimum total energy production is less. If the minimum time-consuming, it can really affect the Earth's climate.

It remains to determine how much can be an effect. Karel recently Shreyver of the Center for Advanced Technology Corporation Lockheed Martin (USA) and his colleagues stated that during the Maunder minimum sun does not become so dull to explain that the Little Ice Age. Even during the long minimum, they said, an extensive network of small torches keeps output power above a certain threshold.

Do not agree with Peter Fuca employee corporation Heliophysics (USA). In his view, there is no reason to believe that a network of small torches will be kept for a long period of solar quiet. In fact, he says, the observations between 2007 and 2009, when the Sun was unusually stable for a long time, show that all forms of magnetic activity are reduced, including small torches.

Moreover, these orbiting solar telescopes suggest that small torches are pumping more energy per unit surface area than large, which disappear with sunspots. So if small torches also begin to disappear, it is still strongly influenced by the total energy production. "The fact is, during the Maunder minimum Sun dimmed even more than we thought until now," — emphasizes the scientist.

Despite this, Mr. Fukai acknowledges that other factors — such as the expansion of volcanic activity around the world — could also play a role in the occurrence of the Little Ice Age in Europe. Meanwhile physicists primarily continues to excite the fact that to this day no one knows the cause of a long rest of the Sun. It is likely recurrence Maunder minimum in the years following the disappearance of sunspots.

The results were presented at the American Astronomical Society.

Prepared according to ScienceNOW.

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