Could signal a descent into Maunder Minimum-like conditions.
“The recent prolonged solar minimum and subsequent weak solar cycle 24 have led to suggestions that the grand solar maximum may be at an end,” says this study on nature.com.
The study, published in 2015, looked at past variations of solar activity. In 2010, the study found, scientists estimated a mere 8% chance of a return to Maunder Minimum-like conditions within the next 40 years.
However, “the decline in solar activity has continued, to the time of writing, and is faster than any other such decline in 9,300 years.” (Italics added)
“If this recent rate of decline is added to the analysis, the 8% probability estimate is now raised to between 15 and 20%,” the paper continues. (I think the chances are far higher than that.)
“Numerous studies have identified links between past climate and solar variability42,43,” the paper points out. “During the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715), very few sunspots were seen despite regular observations44.”
“The Maunder Minimum coincided with more severe winters in the UK and continental Europe,” the researchers agree. “On longer timescales, a grand minimum of solar activity, the Homeric Minimum (∼2,750–2,550 years before present), affected climate conditions through western Europe.”
The authors foresee a gradual descent to Maunder Minimum-like conditions, which will be last from a few decades to more than 100 years.
Unfortunately, they then pay obeisance to the Great God Global Warming, saying that once the grand solar minimum ends, global warming will continue.
Of course they couched their warning in more scientific terms: “Such a prolonged solar minimum would do little to substantially offset or delay the warming due to projected increases in long-lived greenhouse gases,” is how they put it.
I wonder how many of the survivors will be worried about global warming after billions of people have died of starvation or been killed in wars to obtain food and arable land.
See entire paper, entitled “Regional climate impacts of a possible future grand solar minimum”
Thanks to Sonya Porter for this link