Mar 17th 2010

Future low solar activity periods may cause extremely cold winters in North America, Europe and Russia

by Jarl R. Ahlbeck

The writer is D.Sc. and lecturer at Abo Akademi University, Finland

Summary.

The observed winter temperatures for Turku, Finland (and also generally for North America, Europe and Russia) for the past 60 winters have been strongly dependent on the Arctic Oscillation index (AO). When the Arctic Oscillation index is in "positive phase", high atmospheric pressure persists south of the North Pole, and lower pressures on the North Pole. In the positive phase, very cold winter air does not extend as far south into the middle of North America as it would during the negative phase. The AO positive phase is often called the "Warm" phase in North America. In this report I analyzed the statistical relation between the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation index (QBO is a measure of the direction and strength of the stratospheric wind in the Tropics), the solar activity, and the Arctic Oscillation index and obtained a statistically significant regression equation. According to this equation, during negative (easterly) values of the QBO, low solar activity causes a negative Arctic Oscillation index and cold winters in North America, Europe and Russia, but during positive (westerly) values of the QBO the relation reverses. However, the influence of the combination of an easterly value of the QBO and low solar activity on the AO is stronger and this combination is much more probable than the opposite. Therefore, prolonged low solar activity periods in the future may cause the domination of a strongly negative AO and extremely cold winters in North America, Europe and Russia.

Arctic oscillation index and Turku winter temperature.

Turku is located in the SW corner of Finland where the Arctic Oscillation Index for December-February almost completely controls the winter temperature for these months. See Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1. Turku Winter temperature December-February 1951-2010 and corresponding Arctic Oscillation index, data from NOAA (2010).

Figure 2. Same as Figure 1., but the Arctic Oscillation index is by means of regression analysis converted to the same scale as the Turku winter temperature.

In January and February 1989 the Arctic Oscillation index jumped up to a very high level causing a warm winter. The index stayed at a higher level, but collapsed back to a record low level in December 2009 - February 2010. This kind of behavior of a time series is very typical for 1-lag and 2-lag random walk mechanisms.

The data for the Arctic Oscillation index (AO) December-February 1951-2010 (NOAA 2010) are presented in Appendix 1., and the probability density diagram in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Probability density diagram for the Arctic Oscillation index for December-February 1951-2010.

The Arctic Oscillation index for the winter months 1951-2010 follows a Gaussian distribution with an arithmetic mean value of -0.375.

The random walk behavior of the Arctic Oscillation index points towards a mechanism whereby the index consists of white noise that is driven by two or more harmonic oscillations. Most probable candidates for these oscillations are the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation with a period length of about 28 months, and the solar activity cycle with a period length of about 138 months.

A clear influence of the solar activity and the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation index on the Arctic Oscillation index has been discovered by Labitzke (2005) and will here be verified by means of statistical methods.

Quasi-Biennial Oscillation index.

The Quasi-Biennial Oscillation index is a measure of the strength and direction of tropical stratospheric wind. A negative value corresponds to easterly wind, and a positive value to westerly wind. The data for the Quasi-Biennial oscillation index (QBO) December-February 1951-2010 (NOAA 2010) are presented in Appendix 1. and the probability density diagram in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Probability density diagram for the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation index for December-February 1951-2010.

For the winter months 1951-2010 the distribution is almost rectangular with an arithmetic mean value of -2.9. Thus, negative or easterly values of the QBOhave been predominant during the winter months.

The solar activity.

Labitzke (2005) used the 10.7 cm solar flux as a measure of solar activity. As the correlation coefficient between this measure and the sunspot number is 0.98, we may as well use the sunspot number directly.

The data for sunspot number (SUN) December-February 1951-2010 (NOAA 2010) is presented in Appendix 1. and the probability density diagram in Figure 5.


Figure 5. Probability density diagram for the sunspot numbers for December-February 1951-2010.

As the sunspot number can never be negative, a log-Gauss curve fit can describe the observations. We can see that low solar activity has been more common than high solar activity. Taken together with theQBO, the combination low QBO- low SUNhas been much more common during the winters than the combination high QBO- high SUN.

AOas a function of QBOand SUN.

By means of multiple regression analysis, the following equation was tested:

AO = b0+ b1*QBO+b2*SUN+b3*QBO*SUN+b4*QBO2+b5*SUN2 (1)

where b0- b5are regression coefficients. The result is shown in Appendix 1. b2, b4, and b5were eliminated as statistically insignificant.

The final statistically significant regression equation (p < 0.05) is:

AO = -0.2779 + 0.06096*QBO- 0.0005149*QBO*SUN (2)

Graphical presentation of the regression equation.

On order to obtain a picture of the Equation (2), AO was plotted as a function of SUN for two values of QBO in Figure 6. These values were chosen as minimum and maximum values from the rectangular probability density in Figure 4.


Figure 6. Statistically significant (p< 0.05) regression model for the Arctic Oscillation index as a function of Sunspot Number plotted for minimum (east), neutral, and maximum (west) values of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation index.

It is very obvious that a predominantly low sunspot solar activity at negative (easterly) Quasi-Biennial oscillation index is able to decrease the Arctic Oscillation index much more than the other combinations are able to change the Arctic Oscillation index.

At high solar activity, the Arctic Oscillation index has not been very sensitive to the Quasi-Biennial oscillation.

Turku winter temperature.

The fact that the solar activity and the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation together with stochastic noise control the Arctic Oscillation means that the Turku winter temperature too is dependent on these two oscillating parameters.

Equation (2) together with the connection obtained from Figure 2. give the result shown in Figure 7. Despite considerably high variations between different winters, the combination low QBO-low SUN is more likely to correspond to colder winter temperatures in Turku than all other combinations.

Figure 7. Turku winter temperature as a function of solar activity and Quasi-Biennial oscillation.

Conclusion.

Historically, low solar activity has been connected to cold winters in Europe. A definitive physical mechanism for this fact has not yet been presented. This analysis however shows that the influence of solar activity together with stratospheric mechanisms acting on the Arctic Oscillation is statistically significant. It also explains why the Arctic Oscillation seems to behave according to a random walk mechanism. If the solar activity in the future goes into a new Dalton or Maunder Minimum, the winters inNorth America, Europe and Russia may become very cold.


REFERENCES

Labitzke, K., 2005: On The Solar Cycle-QBO relationship, a summary. J. Atm. Sol-Terr. Phys., 67, 45-54

Update on:
http://strat-www.met.fu-berlin.de/labitzke/moreqbo/MZ-Labitzke-et-al-2006.pdf

NOAA, 2010: AO-data on:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/monthly.ao.index.b50.current.ascii

NOAA, 2010: QBO-data on:
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/climateindices/

NOAA, 2010: Sunspot data on:
ftp://ftp.ngdc.noaa.gov/STP/SOLAR_DATA/SUNSPOT_NUMBERS/MONTHLY


APPENDIX 1.

Data matrix1951-2010 Dec-Feb QBO-index, SUNspot Number, and AO-index

           QBO       SUN    QBO*SUN sq(QBO) sq(SUN)   AO-index (dependent)
1951 -4.8800     59.700    -291.34     23.814     3564.1    -.80400              -6.1600     34.400    -211.90     37.946     1183.4     .20300              -2.4200     21.400    -51.788     5.8564     457.96    -1.0370              -4.7000     .70000    -3.2900     22.090     .49000     .82100E-01          -8.4600     17.900    -151.43     71.572     320.41    -.71700              -.14000     80.400    -11.256     .19600E-01 6464.2    -1.2250              -13.320     132.00    -1758.2     177.42     17424.     .18600               5.5700     189.70     1056.6     31.025     35986.    -.94600              -18.750     163.60    -3067.5     351.56     26765.    -.38500
1960  5.4900     126.40     693.94     30.140     15977.    -1.5790              -5.8200     52.500    -305.55     33.872     2756.3    -.40900               4.2400     35.000     148.40     17.978     1225.0    -.13100              -16.390     17.100    -280.27     268.63     292.41    -1.9140               4.8900     11.400     55.746     23.912     129.96    -.45600              -1.0800     14.100    -15.228     1.1664     198.81    -1.1250              -20.100     19.300    -387.93     404.01     372.49    -1.5020               11.590     83.800     971.24     134.33     7022.4    -.26600              -8.6200     46.600    -401.69     74.304     2171.6    -.97000              -8.1200     106.40    -863.97     65.934     11321.    -2.2880
1970  1.3000     117.50     152.75     1.6900     13806.    -1.8670              -10.580     86.300    -913.05     111.94     7447.7    -.49500               8.4200     76.700     645.81     70.896     5882.9     .26500              -7.0300     40.500    -284.71     49.421     1640.3     1.0850               .30000E-01 24.400     .73200     .90000E-03 595.36    -.14600              -18.220     15.500    -282.41     331.97     240.25     .78200               9.8900     6.2000     61.318     97.812     38.440     .99300              -13.640     18.000    -245.52     186.05     324.00    -2.6170               3.9300     60.800     238.94     15.445     3696.6    -1.2000               2.5100     140.70     353.16     6.3001     19797.    -1.3030
1980 -10.920     145.10    -1584.5     119.25     21054.    -.56800               8.3200     142.00     1181.4     69.222     20164.    -.16800              -13.180     138.80    -1829.4     173.71     19265.    -.37500               10.870     86.000     934.82     118.16     7396.0     .17300              -11.140     56.100    -624.95     124.10     3147.2     .26300              -1.4400     15.900    -22.896     2.0736     252.81    -1.2670               9.4700     12.100     114.59     89.681     146.41    -1.8060              -10.600     5.8000    -61.480     112.36     33.640    -.85400               7.4600     40.900     305.11     55.652     1672.8    -.44700              -2.9500     167.40    -493.83     8.7025     28023.     2.6880
1990 -9.6700     157.90    -1526.9     93.509     24932.     1.2530               9.2500     152.80     1413.4     85.563     23348.     .37500              -13.660     147.70    -2017.6     186.60     21815.     1.0950               9.5400     78.900     752.71     91.012     6225.2     1.1790              -7.8300     50.700    -396.98     61.309     2570.5    -.41800               7.4400     26.900     200.14     55.354     723.61     .72300              -5.7500     8.9000    -51.175     33.063     79.210    -1.0550              -3.8300     8.5000    -32.555     14.669     72.250    -.96000E-01          -1.0100     34.900    -35.249     1.0201     1218.0    -.77800               1.6600     71.000     117.86     2.7556     5041.0     .64900
2000  5.1600     98.000     505.68     26.626     9604.0     1.1300              -15.260     97.100    -1481.8     232.87     9428.4    -1.3120               4.7100     128.50     605.23     22.184     16512.     .45400              -1.1000     74.800    -82.280     1.2100     5595.0    -.64500              -1.2000     45.700    -54.840     1.4400     2088.5    -.94300               .31000     25.930     8.0383     .96100E-01 672.36     .10500              -18.370     22.800    -418.84     337.46     519.84    -.81000               3.7500     14.600     54.750     14.063     213.16     1.0030              -12.200     4.8000    -58.560     148.84     23.040     .85900               11.170     .80000     8.9360     124.77     .64000     .25800
2010 -15.000     4.5000    -67.500     225.00     20.250    -3.4220

Mean of Var.( 1) = -2.9428 stdev. = 8.98
Mean of Var.( 2) = 64.414 stdev. = 53.7
Mean of Var.( 3) = -163.12 stdev. = 798.
Mean of Var.( 4) = 87.990 stdev. = 98.1
Mean of Var.( 5) = 6982.6 stdev. = .908E+04
Mean of Var.( 6) = -.37535 stdev. = 1.08

Backward Elimination Multiple Regression Analysis:
Number 4 is insignificant and eliminated (square of QBO insignificant)
Number 2 is insignificant and eliminated (linear SUN insignificant)
Number 5 is insignificant and eliminated (square of SUN insignificant)

Statistically significant regression coefficients at 0.05 significance level:

b 0 ... -.27994110 Intercept
b 1 ... .60961730E-01 stdev. ... .220E-01 Linear coefficient for QBO
b 3 ... -.51492850E-03 stdev. ... .247E-03 Coefficient for QBO*SUN

F( 1) = ........ 7.68
F( 3) = ........ 4.33


Editor's note - Watch also video:

The Cloud Mystery - click here

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Aug 11th 2020
EXTRACT: "Last year, in the midst of the country-wide protests against corruption, I was honored by a Lebanese humanitarian organization. I began my remarks paraphrasing Kahlil Gibran’s poem “You have your Lebanon, I have my Lebanon.” Like Gibran, I love the Lebanese people, their poetry, art, song, and love of life. I love their generous and welcoming spirit. I also love what Lebanon has given to the world – especially its gifted people. And I love the sheer beauty of the country – its majestic snow-capped mountains and its pristine seascapes. And, like Gibran, I do not love Lebanon’s petty bickering politicians who lead because of an accident of birth. Nor can I embrace the country’s system of sectarian privilege and the corruption that is endemic to the political-economic regime that has squeezed Lebanon dry to the benefit of their chosen ones. And I reject the armed militias, whether they be Christian, Muslim, or secular that in the past and in the present continue to torment those who challenge their dominance. I told the audience that the Lebanon I loved was in the streets making their voices heard demanding fundamental reform – an end to sectarianism, corrupt feudal elites, and rule by force of arms."
Aug 8th 2020
EXTRACT: "It is time for the world’s governments and companies to wake up. Beijing’s reach is wide and deep. It is taking advantage of the West’s openness – and gaps and inconsistencies in our data protection protocols - to acquire information on all of us. The hacks on Anthem, Equifax, Marriott, and the US government are good examples of how they have already done so. American and Western companies need to take a hard look at the costs and benefits associated with operating in China and continuing to have Chinese partners. Those partners must comply with these Laws. American and Western companies that continue to operate with them may unwittingly well be aiding and abetting the Chinese government."
Aug 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "James Murdoch is not the most obvious candidate for editorial heroism. His route to resigning from the News Corp board because of “disagreements over certain editorial content” has been circuitous and colourful."
Aug 4th 2020
EXTRACT: "Say what you will about the slippery slope the US government has been on since Trump came to power, America has a rich history of promoting creative thought, running head-first into particularly uncomfortable subjects, and encouraging robust debate internally and among its allies and partners. Once Trump leaves the scene, America is sure to be perceived as having briefly lost its senses and will come charging back into the mainstream of global thought, debate, and engagement. China has entered the global arena crippled by its own ideology. Ultimately, the US is better equipped to lead the world. It knows that, and so does most of the rest of the world. Someone had better tell Beijing."
Jul 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "The Chinese government has for years argued that its ‘nine-dash line’ of sovereignty over the entire Sea is based on centuries of maritime history, and that China’s claim is air tight. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has even asserted that ample historical documents and literature demonstrate that China was “the first country to discover, name, develop and exercise continuous, effective jurisdiction over the South China Sea islands”. "
Jul 23rd 2020
EXTRACTS: "Like many, I have long been critical of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union as a dysfunctional currency area. Notwithstanding a strong political commitment to European unification as the antidote to a century of war and devastating bloodshed, there was always a critical leg missing from the EMU stool: fiscal union. Not anymore. The historic agreement reached on July 21 on a €750 billion ($868 billion) European Union recovery fund, dubbed Next Generation EU, changes that.................Unlike the United States, which appears to be squandering the opportunities presented by the epic COVID-19 crisis, Europe has risen to the occasion – and not for the first time."
Jul 21st 2020
EXTRACT: "I cannot recommend strongly enough Anne Applebaum’s recent book Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends. Advancing her arguments with eloquence and personal testimony, Applebaum passionately decries the corrosion of liberal, open-society values in the last three decades. Her book is a practical reminder of what all democrats should have learned from reading Karl Popper’s magisterial The Open Society and Its Enemies, itself written in liberal democracy’s darkest hours during WWII."
Jul 19th 2020
EXTRACT: "Political motivations aside, Macron has said aloud what few others have acknowledged: NATO is experiencing “brain death,” owing to Trump’s dubious commitment to defend America’s allies. Given that the US drift away from NATO began well before Trump, there is little reason to believe that this trend will be reversed, though it may be slowed if he loses the November election. Unless Europe begins thinking of itself as a geopolitical power and takes responsibility for its own security, Macron argues, it will “no longer be in control of [its] destiny.”
Jul 18th 2020
EXTRACT: "Uighur women in China’s Xinjiang province who have more than the approved number of children are being forcibly sterilised, forced to have abortions or having intra-uterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) inserted without their consent, according to reports that have emerged in recent weeks. The birth rate for Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim minority, has decreased significantly, according to a recent research report. These alleged practices are egregious violations of the human rights of Uighur women, and in my opinion, constitute genocide of the Uighur people."
Jul 18th 2020
EXTRACT: "The genetic makeup or “genome” of SARS-CoV-2 has been sequenced and publicly shared thousands of times by scientists all over the world. If the virus had been genetically engineered in a lab there would be signs of manipulation in the genome data. This would include evidence of an existing viral sequence as the backbone for the new virus, and obvious, targeted inserted (or deleted) genetic elements. But no such evidence exists. It is very unlikely that any techniques used to genetically engineer the virus would not leave a genetic signature, like specific identifiable pieces of DNA code."
Jul 18th 2020
EXTRACT: "The greater lack of transparency that we can now expect will only serve to make Americans pay a greater price for the president’s worst characteristics. Trump has failed our country, utterly and contemptibly. He has spread lies and misinformation. He has displayed a stunning lack of empathy or concern. He has put his personal interests before those of the nation and has revealed an abject lack of leadership. "
Jul 15th 2020
EXTRACT: "The two-state solution is dead and buried. Whatever “solution” may be found in the future will emerge not from an orderly peace process, but from chaos, the precise nature of which is impossible to predict. It could be unilateral annexation. It could be a sudden violent Israeli disengagement from parts of the West Bank. Or it could be direct conflict. This is the iron law of unintended consequences at work."
Jul 15th 2020
EXTRACT: ".........countries such as China and South Korea have been able to successfully battle the virus, and why Morocco, which just started doing the same, now has a reasonable chance of beating the virus down. America is capable of doing all this but the politicization of the virus and silly interpretations of what freedom of action means under the US Constitution have prevented us from following their example. Yes, you are free to take your own health and life into your own hands by being stupid and selfish, but you are not free to do the same with someone else’s health and life. And that is what the “live free or die” movement and conspiracy theory believers among us fail to acknowledge."
Jul 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "The ideas behind MMT [=Modern monetary theory] were mainly developed in the 1970s, notably by Warren Mosler, an American investment fund manager, who is also credited with doing much to popularise it. However, there are many threads that can be traced further back, for instance to an early 20th-century group called the chartalists, who were interested in explaining why currencies had value. These days, prominent supporters of MMT include L Randall Wray, who teaches regular courses on the theory at Bard college in Hudson, New York state. Another academic, Stephanie Kelton, has gained the ear of politicians such as Bernie Sanders and, more recently, Democrat US presidential candidate Joe Biden, providing theoretical justification for expanding government spending."
Jul 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "So we are left with herd immunity and viable treatments as the world’s only realistic near term solution. Sweden has been roundly criticized and shunned by its neighbors for embracing herd immunity at the outset of the pandemic. It has paid a price for having done so based on accelerated infection and death rates. But while the jury will remain out for some time to come about the wisdom of having done so, Sweden may prove to have been ahead of the curve in its approach. Herd immunity is an option that should be seriously considered by the world’s governments, for a safe and effective vaccine could be many years away, and may not be achieved at all. PICTURE: Daniel Wagner.
Jul 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "The war on Yemen begun in 2015 by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has been a failure militarily and a vast drain on resources that, in the age of Covid-19, neither country can any longer afford. Not only has the war been Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam, it has inflicted untold human damage on Yemenis. UNICEF has a new report out warning that millions of Yemeni children are on the brink of starvation. Yemen, with a population of about 28 million (think Texas), is one of the poorest countries in the world. Saudi Arabia, with a citizen population of some 21 million, is one of the richest. The United Arab Emirates, with a citizen population of a little over 1 million, is likewise very rich. Both have waged a high-tech air war on the indigenous Yemeni Houthis, but in the past year have pitched their Sunni proxies against one another."
Jun 25th 2020
EXTRACT: "The facts are clear: the wealthiest 0.54%, about 40 million people, are responsible for 14% of lifestyle-related greenhouse gas emissions, while the bottom 50% of income earners, almost 4 billion people, only emit around 10%. The world’s top 10% income earners are responsible for at least 25% and up to 43% of our environmental impact. Most people living in developed countries would fit into this category, meaning you don’t have to consider yourself rich in order to be globally affluent. Even many poorer people in wealthy countries have a disproportionately large and unsustainable resource footprint compared to the global average."
Jun 24th 2020
EXTRACT: "To be sure, the American Dream was always more aspiration than reality. Economic, social, and intergenerational mobility have always fallen short of what the myth of the self-made man or woman would lead one to expect. But with social mobility now declining as inequality rises, today’s young people are right to be angry."
Jun 19th 2020
EXTRACT: "There is only one way to repair America’s reputation, regain the trust of allies, and ensure that the US can act as an effective counterweight to China: address the root causes of the cracks that Trump’s disastrous presidency has exposed and widened. This is in line with the vision advanced in 2011 by two military strategists, Captain Wayne Porter and Colonel Mark Mykleby, using the pseudonym “Mr. Y.” Porter and Mykleby argued that national security depends not only on the capacity to respond to threats from foreign powers, but also – and perhaps more important – on the “application of credible influence and strength.” That influence, in turn, depends on America’s success in providing a “pathway of promise” for US citizens – and a model for the world."
Jun 14th 2020
EXTRACT: "The most critical question then is not how far Trump will go to promote his treasonous agenda, but for how long Republican leaders will silently accept and subserviently enable Trump to destroy the basic moral tenets and values on which this Union was founded, and which they swore to uphold and protect...............Of course, shame on us if we continue to be surprised by Republicans’ continuing silence, because as we all know, even when presented with overwhelming evidence that Trump committed crimes against the American people, Trump’s Republican stooges in the Senate exonerated him following impeachment almost unanimously...................The Republican leadership, to be sure, has made its bed. It has committed moral suicide. History will judge them harshly for their treason and betrayal of the nation, including all of those who have lived and died throughout our history to foster and protect our safety, integrity, and freedom."