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You might think that since the spots are cooler than the solar surface we’d see a drop in light from the Sun and a corresponding cooling of the Earth during solar max. Sunspots are surrounded by a rim called faculae, and in this region the temperatures are actually .On top of that, faculae emit more UV than the solar surface does, and that wavelength of light is preferentially absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, increasing the efficiency of heating. That jibes with the idea of a cooling trend during solar minimum; fewer spots means fewer faculae, so the Sun emits less Earth-warming radiation.
And even if it can, was the Little Ice Age sparked by the Maunder Minimum?
But when you look at the numbers, again, it’s not so simple.
The effect from faculae is very small, not enough to significantly change the Earth’s temperature on their own.
The jet stream strength and direction depends on many factors, including, of all things, ozone.
The dependence is complicated, but the bottom line is the jet stream is weaker when there’s less ozone (it has to do with latitude-dependent temperature gradients across the upper atmosphere; those gradients are strong in winter and weak in summer). So that may be the connection between the Sun’s Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age.
Ice cores trap atmospheric gases, and samples from the 1690s (a period of particularly severe cooling in Europe) show significantly more atmospheric sulfur than usual. A dip south can bring very cold arctic air to one place while a northward kink keeps another region temperate.
This is a volcanic gas, and is very good at reflecting incoming sunlight. When the jet stream is strong it flows well and that doesn’t happen, but when it’s weak it can meander, flopping north and south in various locations.Doug Biesecker, a solar physicist NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center [full disclosure: Doug is an acquaintance of mine; I interviewed him for an episode of "Bad Universe" about solar storms] , has written a document calling the findings into question.It’s not exactly a rebuttal; it’s more of a warning not to over-interpret the results.Mind you — and this is fairly important — there’s evidence that the Little Ice Age began long before the Maunder Minimum.It may have actually been more like series of cold pulses that started Chill, dude So where does that leave us?But scientists studying the Sun have seen three independent lines of reasoning indicating that the next rise to the solar peak, in 2022 or so, may be delayed or even not occur at all.