“Our sun may be entering a grand minimum of sunspot activity, not unlike the Maunder Minimum that some climatologists think caused record low winter temperatures in Northern Europe during the latter half of the 17th century,” says this article on Forbes.com.
“My opinion is that we are heading into a Maunder Minimum,” said Mark Giampapa, a solar physicist at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. “I’m seeing a continuation in the decline of the sunspots’ mean magnetic field strengths and a weakening of the polar magnetic fields and subsurface flows.”
“We’re at the sunspot maximum of Cycle 24,” said David Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. “It’s the smallest sunspot cycle in 100 years and the third in a trend of diminishing sunspot cycles. So, Cycle 25 could likely be smaller than Cycle 24.”
During the 1645 — 1715 Maunder Minimum, sunspots basically disappeared and Northern Europe suffered unusually cold winter temperatures known as The Little Ice Age.
Could wreak havoc by curtailing agricultural growing seasons
“If we’re entering a Maunder Minimum, it could persist until the 2080s,” said Giampapa. Such a minimum could wreak havoc by curtailing agricultural growing seasons, leading to lower wheat production.
It could also result in local climate extremes in terms of both anomalous temperatures and precipitation, says Giampapa.
Could this mitigate a warming climate?
Not likely, says Hathaway.
Although the rise of global temperatures “seems to have currently leveled off,” says Hathaway, even a Maunder Minimum would still not be enough to counter the warming effects of anthropogenic climate change. (I think Hathaway is woefully wrong on this point.)