Saturday, February 09, 2008

Years of the Quiet Sun

Bright and sunny today, with early frost soon melting in the sun. Almost spring-like in fact, and enough that I was out in the garden until 5pm, without a jacket, just a T-shirt, starting to clear up the debris of last season, until I had almost filled the green bin. And as the weather forecast for tomorrow is much the same, I shall have to mow the lawn.

I'm glad for the Gulf Stream and the current state of La Niña, which is managing to keep Western Europe free from the current hemispheric freeze


How long will that last, though? On top of a current global cooling trend over the last decade (source data here), not only do we have suggestions that this La Niña looks like the start of the previous cooling around 1950 (PDF), but also that the current solar weather prospects are not looking healthy, either.

Well, I knew my old age was going to be cold -- if it wasn't the recently bandied about prospect of a meltwater induced suppression of the North Atlantic Convergence, then it was going to be the end of the current extended interglacial as promised when I was a kid. I just hadn't thought it might simply be another Maunder or Dalton minimum.

I see one silver lining, though. Work has been done on orbital solar mirrors, building off Soviet-era proposals to open up Siberia. Commercial space travel is on the cusp of reality. I see a natural fit there. And the lull in solar magnetic activity and associated particle storms will open up space for longer term inhabitation for some decades.

And by then, Bussard fusion (long video here) should be old technology, and we could be on track for the future as it was in the 1960s.

Post title is a slight reference to Wilson Tucker's time-travel story, Year of the Quiet Sun.

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