A Grand Solar Minimum is a period of low solar activity which lasts around 120 years. Not all Grand Solar Minimums last the same amount of time, some last 10 years, while others last up to 250 years! Not all GSM’s are the same either. Aside from the fact that some last longer or shorter than others, some are also stronger or weaker than others due to the number of sunspots present during a given period of time.
Grand Solar Minimums affect the Earth’s climate greatly. Some solar minimums, which have very low sunspot activity for a long time, could spawn mini ice ages. Little ice ages are caused by low sunspot activity that drops to zero for 20 to 150+ years. During a GSM, glaciers and sea ice grow, and global temperatures fall by about two degrees Celsius from the baseline average. During a normal GSM (not a mini ice age), temperatures will drop one to two degrees Celsius.
The most famous GSM was the Maunder Minimum (1645-1750). During this time period, there was almost zero sunspot activity for well over 100 years.
During this time, global mean temperatures fell by about two degrees Celsius.
Sunspot numbers and global temperatures correspond directly.
During the Maunder Minimum (Little Ice Age), rivers froze over in the depths of winter almost every year. In the Northern Hemisphere, snow covered the ground from late December through late February. Floods were very common due to snow melt, which was due to huge temperature swings during the winter and spring months. Temperatures would stay below freezing for one to three weeks on end, then suddenly shift to 50s, 60s, and even 70s (F). Famine and crop losses were on every corner due to the shifts in temperature shocking the crops. To top that off, there was also widespread disease; from the Plague to Smallpox to Malaria.
Each time the Sun changes cycles, the greatest and most powerful empires the world has ever known will fall.
Our sun is currently transitioning cycles into a new grand minimum presumably a Maunder – type minimum. It will be known as the Eddy Minimum.
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(n.d.). Retrieved from http://worldcyclesinsitute.com/climate-cycles-influence-events/
Sunspots at Solar Maximum and Minimum : Image of the Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=37575