The Solar Harbinger

By David Archibald – Re-Blogged From

The people of Canberra are the richest in Australia so they voted in a provincial government that proved how virtuous they were by increasing the proportion of their power supply that came from wind and solar sources. As a consequence, the cost of power went up and the people of Canberra have responded by seeking out warm public buildings in the current southern winter. Respiratory disease load increases in winter and so no doubt there will be some deaths caused by the government’s virtue signalling.

Hundreds of thousands of people in first-world-country Germany have gone off grid because they can’t afford power any more. Of course heat kills too and the biggest heat-related, first-world die-off in recent years was in Europe in 2003. As Dave Rutledge wrote in 2015, “During the great European Heat Wave of 2003, 70,000 people died, most of them indoors. This is a horrible way to die. The people who were indoors could have been saved by a $140 Frigidaire window unit, but only if they could afford to pay for the electricity.”

All the energy that drives the Earth’s climate system comes from the Sun. So could there have been a solar component to the 2003 event? A number of solar parameters suggest there might have been:


Figure 1: Solar Wind Plasma Temperature 2000 – 2017


Figure 2: Solar Wind Plasma Speed 2000 – 2017

Figures 1 and 2 show a big excursion in 2003, the year of the killer European heatwave. Supporting evidence comes from the F10.7 flux plotted against sunspot area:


Figure 3: Hemispheric Sunspot Area and F10.7 Flux 1985 – 2016

The F10.7 flux closely follows sunspot area except for an excursion in 2003 during which the F10.7 flux peaks much higher. What could have caused Europe to have had its own heat wave and not affect most of the rest of the planet? Climate does respond to higher levels of solar UV as described by this paper by Haigh, in 2005 which states:

The results clearly show a weakening and poleward shift of the jets when the sun is more active, again, as predicted by the model studies. The GCMs also predicted a response to higher levels of solar UV in the tropospheric mean meridional circulation. This consisted of a weakening and expansion of the Hadley cells and a poleward shift of the Ferrel cells. It is interesting to note that precisely these features, which are highly correlated with solar activity, have now been detected in NCEP–NCAR vertical velocity data (Gleisner and Thejll 2003).

Now it seems the opposite is happening with EUV dropping rapidly over the last two years as shown by the Lyman Alpha solar index:


Figure 4: Lyman Alpha Solar Index solar cycles 22, 23 and 24 aligned on minima

The Lyman-alpha line is a spectral line of hydrogn emitted when the electron fall from the n=2 orbital to the n=1 orbital, where n I s the principal quantum number. It is in the vacuum ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum and thus measurement of solar Lyman-alpha emissions are made by orbiting instruments. Sunlight in space at the top of Earth’s atmosphere is composed of about 50 percent infrared light, 40 percent visible light, and 10 percent ultraviolet light, for a total intensity of about 1,400 W/m2 in vacuum. At ground level sunlight is 44 percent visible light, 3% ultraviolet and the remainder infrared. The atmosphere blocks about 77 percent of the Sun’s UV, almost entirely in the shorter UV wavelengths.

The significance of Figure 4 is that it shows that EUV has fallen to levels of solar minima. Generally, weak solar cycles, such as Solar Cycle 24, are long cycles. If Solar Cycle 24 ends up being 12 years long, which would take it to the edge of the graph, then it has another three years to go. Therefore, it is most likely that the solar minimum is going to be long, deep and relatively spotless. The Hadley cells will contract and strengthen, according to theory. It is also possible, though unlikely, that Solar Cycle 24 will be weak and short, as predicted by Ed Fix’s solar model. Either way, we have the promise of interesting developments.



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