Sun spots and global warming have become a hot controversy today. People really want to understand and predict, or even control the weather. Human nature dictates that what is “normal” is what each individual has personally experienced during their life. It takes a major effort to step outside of this nature. Scientists have to make this effort when they try to understand historical data. It has been remarked that it is impossible to completely step outside of one’s personal world experience.
Climate change has been a long established and measured pattern. Early Chinese dynasties began long before Christ to keep careful astronomical and climate data. While early data was not as detailed or organized as today, it is evident that cycles of sun spot activity and climate change have occurred. No one knows if one causes the other, but they definitely occur in patterns, no matter what causes them.
Sun spots are disturbances on the surface of the Sun. They initially looked to observers as simply dark spots, prior to more sophisticated observation. In actuality, they are explosions which send into space different types of matter and radiation. On earth, for example, when there is numerous spot activity, it interferes with radio and other electronic transmissions.
The Maunder Minimum, named after its first European describer, was the period from 1645 to 1720 in the northern hemisphere. It is also called the Little Ice Age. Temperatures dropped and caused short summers and harsh winters. Oddly, it also happened that certain trees produced the best wood for making stringed instruments such as violins, etc. Those instruments today bring absolutely stratospheric prices when offered on the market (think Stradivarius). Not since then have such sounds been possible with later woods.
Maunder Minimum is only one of a number of such miniums prior to 1645. Identifying these other minimums did not come from personal observation but rather from sophisticated tree ring analysis. In any event, during such events the crops possible in a given northern hemisphere country changed. England is such an example. Several crops grown today were impossible to bring to harvest during the Maunder Minimum.
Another early example is Greenland. Europe from 800 AD to 1299AD was two
degrees warmer than it is today. Grapes were cultivated by Nordic colonists who had settled there. Remains of their construction remain to this day. It is now impossible to grow grapes outside.
All this means is that what is happening today with climate change will have to contend with Nature’s cycles. Greenhouse emissions may modify a cold
cycle. It seems, since the Maunder Minimum apparently is beginning again, that greenhouse emissions might keep it from getting too cold. It seems unlikely that we will warm and melt the ice packs.