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

Apr 17th 2019
On the night of April 15, 2019, in Paris, the emotions were raw. “Notre Dame is burning, the whole of France is crying, the whole world is crying,” said Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris. “It’s terrible, frightening, painful, a tragedy, a nightmare.” “This place leaves no one untouched. When you enter this cathedral, it inhabits you,” said Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, in front of the burning monument. “We will rebuild,” said the Rector of Notre Dame, “we will rebuild.”
Apr 15th 2019
High-level political purges are gathering pace in Russia. The latest evidence came in late March, with the arrests of Mikhail Abyzov, a former minister for open government affairs, and – two days later – Viktor Ishayev, a former Far East minister and ex-governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk region. Unsurprisingly, the arrests of such senior figures is having a chilling effect among the country’s elites. The authorities have now arrested or imprisoned three former federal government ministers and a supporting cast of regional officials
Apr 8th 2019
The reaction to this type of paternalism, sensible and well-meant as it usually was, came in the form of petulant populism. Like a child who refuses to eat his spinach, just because his mother claims it is good for him, supporters of Trump, Brexiteers, or Baudet want to give the finger to the politics of virtue. That is why Nigel Farage, the chief promoter of Brexit, likes to be photographed with a glass full of beer and a smoldering cigarette: if the virtuous elite want us to drink less and quit smoking, let’s have another and light up.
Apr 8th 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to be on a roll. He has sent a rocket to the dark side of the moon, built artificial islands on contested reefs in the South China Sea, and recently enticed Italy to break ranks with its European partners and sign on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s unilateralist posture has reduced America’s soft power and influence. China’s economic performance over the past four decades has been truly impressive. It is now the main trading partner for more than a hundred countries compared to about half that number for the United States. Its economic growth has slowed, but its official 6% annual rate is more than twice the American rate. Conventional wisdom projects that China’s economy will surpass that of the US in size in the coming decade. Perhaps. But it is also possible that Xi has feet of clay.
Apr 2nd 2019
"......as prime minister, May called a snap election in the name of helping her deliver Brexit. She openly dismissed anyone opposing Brexit – which at the very least meant the 16.5m who had voted remain – as “playing games with politics”. In hock to the hardline Brexiteers within her own party, May pushed a for a version of Brexit that would make this small group of around 100 or so individuals happy, regardless of what millions out in the country thought."
Apr 1st 2019
The financial crisis occurred in 2008 because deficient regulation allowed huge risks to develop within the financial system itself. But the depth of the subsequent recession, and the long period of slow growth that followed, was the result not of continued financial system fragility, but of the excessive leverage in the real economy that had developed over the previous half-century. Between 1950 and 2007, advanced economies’ private-sector debt (households and companies) grew from 50% to 170% of GDP and adequate growth seemed attainable only if debt grew far more rapidly than nominal GDP. After the crisis, loan growth turned negative and remained depressed for many years, not because an impaired financial system lacked the capital to extend credit, but because overleveraged households and companies were determined to pay down debt even if interest rates were zero. The same pattern was observed in Japan in the 1990s.
Mar 28th 2019
The American people should have known that something was awry when President Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, announced on Friday, March 22, that he had received special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and would provide a summary of its findings to certain congressional leaders over the weekend. We should have asked: Why Barr’s summary and not Mueller’s? Presumably, Mueller had attached one to his report. It turned out there was a propagandistic reason for this unusual arrangement: Barr issued the best possible interpretation of Mueller’s report – from the president’s standpoint – including perhaps even a twist on what Mueller had said and intended. This allowed the president and his backers to propagate and celebrate what Mueller didn’t say: that the report’s conclusions were a “total exoneration” of Trump. In fact, even Barr’s brief summary, quoting Mueller’s report, said, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Mar 26th 2019
"The 2020 campaign could easily devolve into street violence at Trump’s instigation."
Mar 26th 2019


 

BEIJING – The global economy is weakening, in no small measure because of a deep, widespread sense of uncertainty. And a major source of that uncertainty is the ongoing Sino-American “trade war.”

Mar 19th 2019
Last week, a far-right extremist killed at least 50 people – including a three-year-old child – worshiping at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. Neither white supremacy, nor racially motivated terrorist attacks carried out in its name, are new phenomena. Yet the response to far-right terrorism remains thoroughly insufficient.
Mar 12th 2019
Allegations of Russian meddling in the affairs of Western countries have been a persistent feature of Western politics since the Cold War. Claims of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election are only the most recent in a long series of suspected conspiracies across the past century or so. But Russian political discourse is also riddled with conspiracy theories. Everything bad that happens in Russia is traced back by some to one or another anti-Russian plot hatched in the West.
Mar 10th 2019
My Soviet school built a mesh fence around its yard. Every week, tardy kids who wanted to cut through the yard tore a hole in the fence. Every weekend, the administration fixed it. But the hole would reappear the morning after. This went on forever. I wish US President Donald Trump, the fence builder of the West, had gone to my school. The Soviet Union was a country of fences, barriers, and walls. Everything was prohibited, locked, and guarded. Warning signs were phrased in no uncertain terms: “Do Not Enter: Death!” “Strangers Are Forbidden.” “The Border Is Closed.” Barriers didn’t stop people from ignoring the warnings. But they complicated things.
Mar 8th 2019

 

WASHINGTON, DC – It seems that every time I write about Donald Trump’s presidency, I pronounce it to be in more trouble than ever. This time is no different: he and his presidency are indeed in more trouble than ever. And yet that may not prevent him from winning again in 2020.

Mar 7th 2019
The Brexit process has exacerbated many of the disunities within the UK’s territorial constitution................polling in England suggests that many people think breaking up the UK is perhaps a price worth paying to deliver Brexit.......... At the referendum, only two of the four component parts of the UK – England and Wales – voted to leave the EU. This was enough to swing an overall UK-wide majority in favour of leave, but it went against the will of the Scottish and Northern Irish electorate. In both these parts of the country, significant majorities voted to remain – 62% and 55.8%, respectively.
Mar 6th 2019
Watching Michael D. Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and self-described “fixer,” testify to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform was a remarkable spectacle to behold. Here was a man who was hired by Trump to behave like a gangster. And he did that to perfection. When The Daily Beast was about to report on allegations by Trump’s first wife, Ivana, that her husband had raped her, Cohen barked at the journalist working on the story: “So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?” That journalist was hardly alone. Cohen’s job was to threaten anyone who got in the way of his old boss. He lied to congressional committees, paid off prostitutes to stop them from talking about their affairs with Trump, and much else. Cohen, who will soon begin serving a three-year prison sentence, has become what Mafiosi (and Trump) call a “rat.”
Feb 27th 2019
Extracts: "Some political catastrophes come without warning. Others are long foretold, but governments still walk open-eyed into disaster. As the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looms, most analysts agree that there will be severe economic and political consequences for the UK and the EU. And yet a no-deal Brexit still remains an option on the table....." ".......Although the consequences of a no-deal Brexit will be much less terrible, there are similarities in certain patterns of thinking and political behaviour, from the few who embrace disaster to the systemic pressures which prevent compromise. Avoiding disaster in 1914 would have required framing the stakes of the July crisis in less zero-sum ways and refusing to rationalise a general European war as an acceptable policy option. It required leaders with enough courage to compromise, even to accept defeat, and for states to offer rivals the prospect of long-term security and future gains in exchange for accepting short-term setbacks."
Feb 25th 2019
US President Donald Trump’s administration has underestimated China’s resilience and strategic resolve. With the Chinese economy slowing, the US believes that China is hurting and desperate for an end to the trade war. But with ample policy space to address the current slowdown, China’s leadership has no need to abandon its longer-term strategy. While a cosmetic deal focused on bilateral trade appears to be in the offing, the sharp contrast between the two economies’ fundamental underpinnings points to a very different verdict regarding who has the upper hand.
Feb 21st 2019
Extracts: "......after three years of referendum-induced turmoil, there is finally a new move, a brave move, by the eight Labour MPs and three Conservative MPs (and counting)......There are no policy announcements, no real statement of principles, and there is no leader or political platform. And yet, this policy-free political movement is of incredible political importance........this is an act of direct action, based on the concept of prefiguration. That is, the actual policy statement at the heart of the formation of this movement is the formation of the movement itself. There is no need for grand policy statements right now."
Feb 21st 2019
There is a fascinating chapter toward the end of Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America titled “What Kind of Despotism Do Democratic Nations Have to Fear?” in which the author attempted something truly extraordinary – to describe a social condition which humankind had never before encountered. We find him trying to put his finger on something which does not yet exist, but which – in his extraordinary political imagination – he was able to foresee with startling clarity.
Feb 20th 2019
From Trump’s very inauguration day speech, written for him by the fascist gadfly Steve Bannon and man still without a prom date Stephen Miller, it was apparent that the 45th president was a constitutional crisis waiting to happen. And now, without our realizing it for the most part, the constitutional crisis is here.