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Scientists look at and compare two past grand minimums

In a new paper just published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), scientists have used tree ring data to analyze and compare the last two past grand minimums, dubbed the Spörer Minimum (1432–1578) and the more well known Maunder Minimum (1640–1720).

The link takes you to the full paper. It is very technical but what it essentially finds is that there appear to be some differences between the two, but more important, during the deepest part of both grand minimums all evidence of the 11 year sunspot cycle (dubbed the Scwabe cycle) vanishes.

A detailed comparison between the Spörer and Maunder (CE 1640–1720) minima shows that the Spörer Minimum is associated with enhanced Δ14C variability in a band centered around the 11‐year Schwabe cycle from CE 1450 to 1479 and between CE 1545 and 1578, whereas little 11‐year variability is observed from CE 1479 to 1539. In contrast, we only observe enhanced 11‐year variability after the end of the Maunder Minimum at CE 1722–1744, which could indicate that the nature and origin of the two minima were different.

In other words, from 1479 to 1539 (Spörer) and 1545 to 1722 (Maunder) the data suggests that we would not have seen sunspots, even with today’s superior observational capabilities.

They base this conclusion by looking at carbon-14 data, which reflects the arrival of cosmic rays on the Earth. When the sun is active cosmic rays decrease. When it is inactive, with no sunspots, cosmic rays increase. This data can be compared with known and more recent sunspot cycles, and can thus provide a robust baseline for determining what the Sun’s behavior was like before the era of the telescope.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

One comment

  • Jay

    Mr.Zimmerman,
    You are correct in your statement: “When the sun is active cosmic rays decrease. When it is inactive, with no sunspots, cosmic rays increase. ”
    You should read some of the papers and watch some of the space weather videos of Dr.Skov. Her Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkXjdDQ-db0xz8f4PKgKsag
    I had the pleasure of attending her presentation about the low sunspot count for Cycle 24 a few weeks ago in Everett Washington. She brought up a lot of great topics and I learned that the solar cycles are not fixed at 11 years, this is an average, and the cycles can vary from 9 to 14 years. I hope Cycle 24 is just a longer than average cycle.

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