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Wales (Cymru) Winter Regional Discussion 07/01/14


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"I've been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I've never seen anything quite like this," says Richard Harrison, head of space physics at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

He shows me recent footage captured by spacecraft that have their sights trained on our star. The Sun is revealed in exquisite detail, but its face is strangely featureless.

"If you want to go back to see when the Sun was this inactive... you've got to go back about 100 years," he says.

This solar lull is baffling scientists, because right now the Sun should be awash with activity.

The Sun's activity may be falling faster than at any time in 10,000 years

It has reached its solar maximum, the point in its 11-year cycle where activity is at a peak.

This giant ball of plasma should be peppered with sunspots, exploding with flares and spewing out huge clouds of charged particles into space in the form of coronal mass ejections.

The Sun should be at the peak of its activity - bursting with flares and coronal mass ejections

But apart from the odd event, like some recent solar flares, it has been very quiet. And this damp squib of a maximum follows a solar minimum - the period when the Sun's activity troughs - that was longer and lower than scientists expected.

"It's completely taken me and many other solar scientists by surprise," says Dr Lucie Green, from University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

The drop off in activity is happening surprisingly quickly, and scientists are now watching closely to see if it will continue to plummet.

"It could mean a very, very inactive star, it would feel like the Sun is asleep... a very dormant ball of gas at the centre of our Solar System," explains Dr Green.

This, though, would certainly not be the first time this has happened.

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It's an unusually rapid declineâ€

Prof Mike Lockwood

University of Reading

During the latter half of the 17th Century, the Sun went through an extremely quiet phase - a period called the Maunder Minimum.

Historical records reveal that sunspots virtually disappeared during this time.

Dr Green says: "There is a very strong hint that the Sun is acting in the same way now as it did in the run-up to the Maunder Minimum."

Mike Lockwood, professor of space environment physics, from the University of Reading, thinks there is a significant chance that the Sun could become increasingly quiet.

An analysis of ice-cores, which hold a long-term record of solar activity, suggests the decline in activity is the fastest that has been seen in 10,000 years.

"It's an unusually rapid decline," explains Prof Lockwood.

Londoners enjoyed frost fairs on the Thames in the 17th Century

"We estimate that within about 40 years or so there is a 10% to 20% - nearer 20% - probability that we'll be back in Maunder Minimum conditions."

The era of solar inactivity in the 17th Century coincided with a period of bitterly cold winters in Europe.

Londoners enjoyed frost fairs on the Thames after it froze over, snow cover across the continent increased, the Baltic Sea iced over - the conditions were so harsh, some describe it as a mini-Ice Age.

And Prof Lockwood believes that this regional effect could have been in part driven by the dearth of activity on the Sun, and may happen again if our star continues to wane.

"It's a very active research topic at the present time, but we do think there is a mechanism in Europe where we should expect more cold winters when solar activity is low," he says.

He believes this local effect happens because the amount of ultraviolet light radiating from the Sun dips when solar activity is low.

This means that less UV radiation hits the stratosphere - the layer of air that sits high above the Earth. And this in turn feeds into the jet stream - the fast-flowing air current in the upper atmosphere that can drive the weather. Perhaps we will have to wait till then for snow!

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fleeting and transitional but.............

 

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Joe B has been going on about low solar activity for years - leading to a change in climate and weather - much colder within decades

 

mix of ideas about this also includes the sun effecting the jet stream too - still a complicated subject and not all aspects of this have been worked out yet - but I would say the sun plays a huge part in governing our temps - and range of them!

 

edging colder - could be some surprises next week!

 

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trending very wintry in FI

 

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Edited by andymusic
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36mm here from that last batch of rain, was quite torrential at times. Some showers expected later then a brief respite tomorrow before the next band of fairly heavy rain moves in from the W on Tuesday.

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lovely bit of sunshine today - model thread grinding to a halt now - been a long "autumn" I think and patience is finally wearing thin - some medium/longer range forecasters seeing the signs that winter may not actually bother with the UK this year - could be a bust - not unheard of - February could still produce yet - Piers Corbyn has some forecast ref to DEC 2010 on his twitter feed - think he's encouraging subscriptions - but you never know - maybe he knows something we and the meto don't - but average temps seem to be the name of the game this winter! - I think America has stolen all our cold - and they're about to get hit again!Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

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one good thing I notice the nights are getting lighter so the kids can go out and play for a bit longer as long as its not raining ha ha. Winter has been very poor for cold lovers and loks like we may have to wait at least a few more weeks for any sign of cold. never mind 12 more weeks we may be in warm sunny weather (please)

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BBC said we mite have some snow Friday night any you guys see anything On the charts

 

It is possible as colder air to the east meets the Atlantic train and where they meet snow is possible. [uKMO 00hz suggesting this at T+96/120. ]

 

But the models are moving away from this somewhat, not that it was ever a favoured option.

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maybe - finger of cold uppers from the west!

 

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gonna need some westward correction to get any snow on friday - on this run we have some below freezing temps - but it warms up as the front comes in on the friday itself - be nice if the front came in overnight thursday and stalled a bit in the cold air - or got held up a bit by the high in the east and waited till friday night to come in allowing some colder air to persist 1st - all a bit straw clucthing as in other similar set ups - the easterly cold would be well over us, and have been around for a good few days - which is not the case this time.

 

edit - on this run the front does stall - and sticks around friday night - scandi high doesn't want to shift! - can the cold penetrate further into Wales though? that is the question!

 

pub run is having a go to lift our snowy spirits - mega wintry zonal storm around the 26th - which was showing on quite a few runs in the low res gfs - of course - charts below will all depend on what occurs between the battle of the scandi high and the fronts coming in from the west over the weekend! - so short term - some interest in a possible battle scenario coming up!

 

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seems the models aren't sure right now - fax due out shortly - but this one could run right up to friday itself!

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3 days and counting - according to the 00zs

 

 

 

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colder run - with a westwards correction - easterly getting further in

 

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plus in FI a nw/se moving low which finally drags in the easterly properly for more cold and snow!

 

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ECM - good run again tonight - nw - se tracking lows - dragging cold from the west and also potentially dragging colder air over the top from the east aswell - we are so close to something wintry - with lots of possibilities - meto going for westerly onslaught - but seeing the current output I would say it looks different to what we had before - all this kicking off as from around thursday!

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Synoptically the ECM tonight is looking the most encouraging for a while.

 

high pressure building through our side of the Arctic, from Scandinavia through to Greenland (especially form T+168 to T+240). So at last northern blocking, Of course it may not happen , and it may be gone tomorrow,

 

But it makes a massive change to the Polar Vortex over Greenland/North America for much of the winter.

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66 hours away - this thursday

 

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slight westwards correction again on the 18z for friday night/saturday morning

 

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meto not really convinced - but a little more correction further west with the block holding firm - it could still happen!

 

26th/27th - mega wintry storm ain't going away

 

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look at upper air temps

 

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someone is smiling on Wales

 

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one final chart for tonight from me - via Joe B

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Edited by andymusic
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I thought that the cold block was a little too far East and the Atlantic would win out on Thurs. Not by blasting the block away but by bringing in milder temps pushing any wintery showers to the NE. To the west will be mostly rain. Thats my reading of it anyway. Unless there is a westward correction of the cold??

 

Cold air more likely to be the winner next week

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