My first thought on seeing the story was FAMINE.
The Register (UK) said last night:
What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening, as heavyweight US solar physicists announce that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age....From PhysOrg:
A missing jet stream, fading spots, and slower activity near the poles say that our Sun is heading for a rest period even as it is acting up for the first time in years, according to scientists at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
As the current sunspot cycle, Cycle 24, begins to ramp up toward maximum, independent studies of the solar interior, visible surface, and the corona indicate that the next 11-year solar sunspot cycle, Cycle 25, will be greatly reduced or may not happen at all.Just a couple weeks ago I was thinking out loud in "Wind farms: Britain is 'running out of wind'":
The results were announced at the annual meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held this week at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the NSO’s Solar Synoptic Network, said of the results. “But the fact that three completely different views of the Sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.”
Spot numbers and other solar activity rise and fall about every 11 years, which is half of the Sun’s 22-year magnetic interval since the Sun’s magnetic poles reverse with each cycle. An immediate question is whether this slowdown presages a second Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period with virtually no sunspots during 1645-1715.
Hill is the lead author on one of three papers on these results being presented this week. Using data from the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) of six observing stations around the world, the team translates surface pulsations caused by sound reverberating through the Sun into models of the internal structure. One of their discoveries is an east-west zonal wind flow inside the Sun, called the torsional oscillation, which starts at mid-latitudes and migrates towards the equator. The latitude of this wind stream matches the new spot formation in each cycle, and successfully predicted the late onset of the current Cycle 24....MUCH MORE
...If the lower levels of sunspots should lead to the "Little Ice Age"temperatures experienced during the Maunder minimum, 1645-1715, what with the Thames freezing over and all, it would be a rotten time to have the power go out.A few of our posts have touched on the subject:
Wheat Market Gone Wild and "Do We All Die in 2027?"
Herschel and Me (Sunspots and Wheat)
"The 2012 sunspot sell-off"
We'll be back with more, in the meantime here's Bob Seger: