Is a Grand Solar Minimum Something We Should Worry About? Is Another “Little Ice Age” Approaching?

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

You may have recently heard the term grand solar minimum and Maunder minimum bandied around by the media lately, but what the heck are they talking about? And should we be worried about another Little Ice Age approaching?

Well, there are two types of solar minimum. One of them ordinarily happens about every eleven years. In the simplest terms, a solar minimum phase is a period of time in which the sun’s activity is reduced to its lowest level and there are very few sunspots.

Well, there are two types of solar minimum. One of them ordinarily happens about every eleven years. In the simplest terms, a solar minimum phase is a period of time in which the sun’s activity is reduced to its lowest level and there are very few sunspots.

The sun is incredibly active. Most of the time, anyway.

Properly-filtered telescopes reveal a fiery disk often speckled with dark sunspots. Sunspots are strongly magnetized, and they crackle with solar flares—magnetic explosions that illuminate Earth with flashes of X-rays and extreme ultraviolet radiation. The sun is a seething mass of activity.

Until it’s not. Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm.

“This is called solar minimum,” says Dean Pesnell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. “And it’s a regular part of the sunspot cycle.” (source)

NASA predicts that the next solar minimum will be during 2019-2020. An ordinary solar minimum phase can have effects like geomagnetic storms, auroras, and disruptions to communications and navigation systems.

All in all, it’s nothing catastrophic, although solar minimums have been linked to colder and more eventful winters.

The strength of the solar cycle is not expected to have noticeable effects on the weather, but research has shown that during the solar minimum, which we are in now, we tend to see more zones of high pressure at the high altitudes, which tend to slow down the progress of weather systems.

For example, research has shown strong high pressure over Greenland, sometimes called the Greenland Block, is more prevalent during solar minimums. Greenland Blocks are known to favor periods of cold, snowy weather in the eastern United States and during winter.

During the last solar minimum in 2010, a measure of the strength of the Greenland Block, known as the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, hit a record low. “It was pretty impressive during that window,” said Capital Weather Gang’s Matt Rogers, a long-range forecasting specialist.

The last solar minimum coincided with the snowiest winter on record in Washington, in 2009-2010. (source)

But a GRAND solar minimum is different.

A grand solar minimum isn’t your average, every-11-year solar minimum. It’s been likened to a mini-Ice Age. A grand solar minimum can make the sun appear a little dimmer and can make the planet a little cooler.

A new study predicts that the next grand solar minimum could see the sun with almost a 7% reduction in light and heat – and this is 7% below the normal solar minimum. So pretty darned cold.

Historians believe that a grand solar minimum occurred between 1645 and 1715. That event was named the Maunder Minimum after the scientists who studied it at the time.

It got so cold that the Thames River in England froze solid. The Baltic Sea also froze and the Swedes were able to invade the Danes by marching across the frozen sea.

The Maunder minimum coincided with the coldest part of the “Little Ice Age” (c. 1500–1850) in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Thames River in England froze over during winter, Viking settlers abandoned Greenland, and Norwegian farmers demanded that the Danish king recompense them for lands occupied by advancing glaciers. The physical mechanism that explains how a drastic change in solar activity affects Earth’s climate is unknown, and a single episode, however suggestive, does not prove that lower sunspot numbers produce cooling. However, if real, the phenomenon may indicate that the Sun can influence the climate on Earth with even slight fluctuations. (source)

This wasn’t the first grand solar event in history. Another one is figured to have occurred from 1450-1540 called the Spörer minimum.

The Spörer Minimum is a hypothesized 90-year span of low solar activity, from about 1460 until 1550, which was identified and named by John A. Eddy in a landmark 1976 paper published in Science titled The Maunder Minimum.  It occurred before sunspots had been directly observed and was discovered instead by analysis of the proportion of carbon-14 in tree rings, which is strongly correlated with solar activity. It is named for the German astronomer Gustav Spörer. (source)

The “Little Ice Age” was linked to all sorts of events during the time period. Thousands of people in Europe particularly were wiped out. The time period was host to the Great Plague, terrible famines, wars, revolutions, witch hunts, and more.

Are we headed toward another mini-Ice Age?

Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, believes we could potentially be headed toward another multiple-decade grand solar minimum as seen in the middle ages and has been warning people for years.

This quote is from an article published in 2015.

Zharkova…used a new model of the sun’s solar cycle, which is the periodic change in solar radiation, sunspots and other solar activity over a span of 11 years, to predict that “solar activity will fall by 60 percent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the ‘mini ice age’ that began in 1645…”

…At the National Astronomy meeting in Llanduno, north Wales last week, Zharkova said that a series of solar phenomena will lead to a “Maunder Minimum,” which refers to the seven decades, from 1645 to 1715, when the sun’s surface ceased its heat-releasing magnetic storms and coincided with the Little Ice Age, a period of chillier temperatures, from around 1550 to 1850 in Europe, North America and Asia, according to NASA.

“The upcoming Maunder Minimum is expected to be shorter than the last one in 17th century (five solar cycles of 11 years),” Zharkova told Live Science in an email. “It will be lasting about three solar cycles.” (source)

Not everyone agrees with Zharkova’s conclusions and many believe that “global warming” or “climate change” will negate any effects of a grand solar minimum.

What would happen during another grand solar minimum?

While countless people died during the previous grand solar minimums cited above, I believe it’s less likely to affect us so dramatically now. We’d probably see shorter growing seasons, longer and bitterly cold winters, and cool summers.

While it seems very survivable, it has the potential for a damaging effect on our economy.

An important book on the matter was recently published in paperback. Nature’s Third Cycle: A Story of Sunspots by Arnab Rai Choudhuri

…The question is whether we will enter another grand solar minimum just like the Maunder minimum which if history is a guide would mean a period of much colder weather winters and summers. More than a few experts with whom I speak regularly believe that we shall enter such a grand minimum along with the resulting bone-chilling weather.

If that happens, then there will be profound influences on the economy, including possible crop failures and rising energy use for home and workplace heating. Or in other words, expect bigger bills for food and energy. After a period in which the supply of both has been increasingly abundant then this change will likely come as a shock to many people and likely the broader global economy as well. (source)

The things preppers would need to focus on would be a food supply, alternative ways of growing, and ways to keep warm. An event lasting multiple decades would definitely outlast any supplies that most of us could squirrel away, so the key to survival would be adaptation to the new climate.

It is unlikely to send us the way of the dinosaurs, but should it begin to occur in earnest, you’d want to take your preps to an entirely different level.

Is it going to happen?

It’s impossible to accurately predict the actions of the sun. We have a good idea based on previous events, but things could always change. We’re definitely due to go into solar minimum – whether it will be grand solar minimum or not remains to be seen.

Is a grand solar minimum something for which you prepare? If so, can you share your ideas with us?

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Very informative article, Daisy.

    Yes, I worry about it. I have been going to garage sales for the last 8 years. Times are better now so there only 15% to 20% as many sales as when I started in 2010. However, for the last two years my focus has been on blankets, comforters, flannel shirts, quilted shirts, heavy coats, heavy boots and camo. Found more last year than this year. Spring is better as are “living estate sales”.

    I take a list with me and ask who is in charge. I ask that person to read my list to see if they have anything on the list that they might sell. Sometimes they point out stuff in their sale that I didn’t see and sometimes they bring stuff out of their house for me to look at. Frequently I am asked if they can keep my list and, of course, I say yes. I have many more copies in the car, all with my name and phone number. I don’t get many callbacks but enough to be worth the effort. I limit my list to one side of one page. I look for yard tools, hand tools, useful text books, and much more. Create your list from Daisy’s Book of Lists and what you need more of. I also look for collectibles that I know I can sell. Once you get enough of something, you can substitute something else on the list. I have reworked my list several times over the years.

  • Thanks, Daisy, for spreading the word about the very real risks to society and agriculture from the changing output of our sun! This is absolutely the most important issue facing us — you can’t print food.
    (That’s why I’m completely focused on the issue!)

    History of previous Grand Solar Minima:

    Mounting crop losses due to the shrinking growing season:


  • There are several good places to find information about this topic. Adapt 2030 is on you tube, steam it and twitter. Ice Age Farmer (commented below) is also a good source of information. We have discussed the colder temps in the 70’s and the fuel crisis and the difference in clothes from then until now. It is important to look back at history and delve into this as weather can and does change in a very short period of time. Check out a piece on Wyoming PBS where it was so warm in the morning the school kids went shoeless to school. The temperature dropped so fast throughout the day that school was let out early. Some of those children froze to death, never reaching home. Oppenheimer Ranch Project had a video on that storm.

  • For the wise, it is time to prepare. Plan to garden smarter, and can more food for when crops fail. The one good thing that will come of this is the global warming folks will be silenced.

  • Yup. this is true, anyone old engough, like me, past the howling 50s and goes into the screaming 60s, I can remeber this fluctuations when I think back, that is the reason for me initially, 25 years ago tought this was an fact, based on what I my self have expirienced.
    Cold hard winters, and I mean it by every degree of it, we had months with sub-30s to 40s, and that is bloody cold, the air is 100% clean, no moisture what so ever.
    To scurging hot summers, short, but intense, spring, well, in the artics, it was like you had to sit on the balcony and watch because it came and went like an steem train, whoosh and we had Green, and snow in May was not even unusual, june, yeah, but not even then.

    Atum, was apart from the winter the best time, winter for me is as good as summer, in the artics we used the winter as well, sleaping out door is much easier in the winter time, incl no bugs.

    What I dont like with this article, not to be critical, you cover the basics, but to what comes, again, we talk about an massive system that iis highly dynamic, and since the max have come and now is declining, regions that was affercted thru highher temp and changed weater paterns, will have their growth back as we speak, the world gets greener, do you understand that, Africa will benefit, from this minimum, as ours decline, because of this fluctuations.

    The AGW scam is obvious, the save the rain forest (the green uh……energy/oil biofuel scam) an billion dollar f….. joke, and nobody knows where the money went, use extrem conditions to justify extrem measurments witch basicly means higher taxes for reasons that dont exist, when are people getting their head straight, its an bloody scam.
    Polution, yeah, say Bottomtrawling, the numbero uno killer of habitats and they stear at you, and so on, no, nobody gives an rats ass about polution, from chemicals to plastic, the difference bewteen sanity and insanity is hemp, this animals could eat the bag, thats the difference, and going back to be an organic compound happens much faster and even in smal scale hemp isnt dangerous, since its ediable and works even on our intersrtial systems without negative consequences.

    I could go on for hours, but dont forget, we live in an open dynamic system, where the only time any system is in eqvuelibrium, is when iits dead, or returned to its original state, and energy/information only, the laws of thermodynamics dont work on open systems, thats an fact.
    The third little spoken of problem is whats been defined as the scam of the century, the science is rotten to its core, the answer to that lies in Reproducability, incl medicine, where its bad, but others are much worse, like this AGW nonsense.


  • The theory of human-caused climate change cannot explain the increased volcanic and earthquake activity, so I have been interested in the solar minimum studies for a while now. For more of an intro to the topic you can go to Adapt 2030 and Ice Age Farmer sites. For a practical, prepper view of things you can start with YouTube videos by Oppenheimer Ranch with Lee Wheelbarger.

  • A normal sun minimum can be dealt with but a GRAND SOLAR MINIMUM, as far as most individuals cannot because of the dire consequences. It a GSM happens, it will result in a steady death rate, from cold, snow, drought, crop losses etc, and it will be a very difficult time, depending on where you are located. I do grow veggies in the enclosed front porch during the winter, and being in the high desert, can grow out doors in the spring, some in the summer, and fall. That will be the key. Can someone grow enough?

  • A solar minimum sounds like a two year inconvenience. But a grand solar minimum is something entirely different – even if it is a mere three cycle event (as opposed to seven or more as in the past). Sounds like we peppers need to take things to a new level. I never heard of a solar minimum before, let alone a grand solar minimum. I will have to re-evaluate my preps now since I am retired and on a fixed income.

  • Yeppers, a grand solar minimum is over due and anyone who cares should be prepared not only with supplies but with skills to cope with the everyday cooler to cold temperatures…

  • Climate change promoters are climate change deniers, the earths climate has been changing since time began. That is how evolution works, the environment changes and some adapt and survive, some don’t adapt and die. I guess all those climate change greenies keep the world the same will finally fade away.
    I expect about 1/3 of the worlds population to die of starvation and 1/3 to die of the resulting wars over food and water. Time to move into that bunker, don’t have one, guess you will be part of the first third.

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