Britain to lose Northern Lights due to solar winds of change

Posted: February 2, 2017 by oldbrew in Geomagnetism, research
Tags: ,

Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]

Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]

‘We could see these changes occurring as early as the next few decades’, say the researchers.

Britain may lose the magic of the Northern Lights by the middle of the century due to major shifts in solar activity, scientists have discovered.

Space scientists at the University of Reading conclude that plummeting solar activity will shrink the overall size of the sun’s ‘atmosphere’ by a third and weaken its protective influence on the Earth, reports

This could make the Earth more vulnerable to technology-destroying solar blasts and cancer-causing cosmic radiation, as well as making the aurora less common away from the north and south polar regions for 50 years or more.

Dr Mathew Owens, from the University of Reading’s Meteorology department, led the research. He said: “The magnetic activity of the sun ebbs and flows in predictable cycles, but there is also evidence that it is due to plummet, possibly by the largest amount for 300 years.” If so, the Northern Lights phenomenon would become a natural show exclusive to the polar regions, due to a lack of solar wind forces that often make it visible at lower latitudes.

“As the sun becomes less active, sunspots and coronal ejections will become less frequent. However, if a mass ejection did hit the Earth, it could be even more damaging to the electronic devices on which society is now so dependent.”

The study, ‘Global solar wind variations over the last four centuries’, published in Scientific Reports, shows how sunspot records can be used to reconstruct what happened the last time the Earth experienced such a dramatic dip in solar activity more than three centuries ago. Combined with updated models and contemporary reports, the researchers were able to predict what could happen during a similar event, likely to occur in the next few decades.

‘Protective bubble’
The scientists believe the coming ‘grand minimum’ could be similar to the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century, when sun spot activity almost stopped – another symptom of a less active sun.

The report continues here.
– – –
How can I see the Northern Lights in the UK?

  1. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    I never see them as it’s always cloudy down here when it happens anyway 😂

  2. oldbrew says:

    Our link says you need ‘a clear sight of the northern horizon’ to stand any chance of seeing the Northern lights in the UK – and even then your chances are limited 😦
    – – –
    At the end of the report we get what could be called the ‘AGW disclaimer’:

    Co-author Professor Mike Lockwood FRS, University of Reading, said: “If the decline in sunspots continues at this rate, and data from the past suggests that it will, we could see these changes occurring as early as the next few decades.

    “The Maunder Minimum in solar activity of the 17th century is sometimes mistakenly thought to be the cause of the so-called Little Ice Age, when winter temperatures in Europe, and elsewhere in the world, were lower than average.

    “But the Little Ice Age began before the Maunder Minimum and ended after it, and our previous work with the Met Office has shown that the coming solar minimum will do little to offset the far more significant global heating effects of greenhouse gas emissions.”
    – – –
    None of which explains where the LIA actually came from, but no-one believes it was man-made, therefore a natural cause or causes must have been in play – for hundreds of years.

    Awkward for climate warmists.

  3. Sparks says:

    This minimum in solar cycles will be nothing like the Maunder minimum, as the only person on the planet with accurate data on future solar cycle variability, there is NO Maunder minimum solar type event coming up! a lot of colder winters but the timing of the solar polarity reversal will continue to reverse although slowly at first then gradually speed up again…

    Solar activity will be low over the next few cycles and gradually increase again to early-mid 20th century levels, nothing spectacular is going to occur over this century.

    Man made global warming will be on hold for sometime, let’s hope in 40 years from now they remember lol

  4. Sphene says:

    This in the paper’s Discussion and Conclusions section looked interesting:

    “Assuming these relations hold prior to the space age, annual solar wind speed reconstructions are extended back to 1617. ..In-ecliptic, the annual zonal-mean solar wind speed varies very little (~70 km/s variations about a mean value of 420 km/s) back to circa 1715, but drops to a minimum of approximately 275 km/s during and prior to the MM [Maunder minimum]…The longest periods of sustained slow wind actually occur prior to the Maunder minimum, when there were weak sunspot cycles.”

    Owens, M. J. et al. Global solar wind variations over the last four centuries. Sci. Rep. 7, 41548; doi: 10.1038/srep41548 (2017).

  5. Sparks says:

    Solar wind is nonsense, Solar coronal holes are nonsense, during a sunspot minimum between two solar maximums, the entire sun is a giant “coronal hole” which basically means the suns polarity has settled at its geographic poles, the difference recorded between solar activity and so called coronal holes is that the polarity and flow of the suns magnetic orientation is being observed after the fact when both polarities have moved away from the solar equator, where both solar polarities interact and cause, produce and result in the observed activity. lmao “coronal holes”

  6. oldbrew says:

    The Solar Wind

    ‘The solar wind continuously flows outward from the Sun and consists mainly of protons and electrons in a state known as a plasma. Solar magnetic field is embedded in the plasma and flows outward with the solar wind.’

    Real-time solar wind from the ACE satellite.

  7. TLMango says:

    We have passed solar max and we are experiencing
    periods of high solar wind. They seem to be happening
    in ten week intervals. Just a few months ago at the 900
    level and now in the 700’s.

    I think it was Dr S. a while back pointed out that it was not
    uncommon for a sun winding down toward minimum to have
    periods of high solar wind.

    Even if this turns out to be a not so grand . . grand minimum,
    we live in exciting times and we’re going to learn a lot about
    the nature of solar wind and solar minimums.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Keep an eye on the coronal holes.

    ‘Coronal hole size and population correspond with the solar cycle.’

  9. tom0mason says:

    Recent up-lift in solar winds have impacted us in the Northern hemisphere with the wild movements in the jet-stream. This may be similar to what happened at the end of December/start of the new year with significant snow events happening across the Northern hemisphere (snow from Siberia to North America and south to Greece, Spain, North Africa, and even Saudi Arabia)

    Currently we are about to have the effects of of the recent solar coronal hole facing earth and blasting us with a little more solar winds than usual.
    From the end of this week to the end of February we are likely to have another cold spell as the solar winds cause upper stratospheric warming that gradually filters down to the troposphere disrupting the jet-streams again.

    From is this YouTube ( ) video of his interpretation of the progress of the this event from JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency — national weather service of Japan) projections.