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EyuChyu

Effects of the Maunder Minimum on Earth

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I have heard of a periodical...period of activity on the sun known as the Maunder Minimum, During which there is a gigantic drop in sunspot counts on the sun. I’m wondering what affects would this have on the earth? Would we enter a ‘little ice age’ like the last time this happened, or would nothing happen. Would Bases on other planets be more habitable due to this decrease?

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Well, sunspots and flares do not determine the livability on Earth. These have extremely negligible effects on life, in a direct sense. The Earth's Magnetic Field is what prevents solar events and CMEs from causing harm, as this is a "shield", so to speak. There has been no evidence yet showing a direct correlation between Sunspot numbers and Earth's concurrent climate. There has been evidence of "super flares" hitting Earth several Centuries ago, and historical data suggests that it did not in fact cause an Ice Age, nor did it alter society in any significant way.

I'm watching the geological side of things more closely than the astronomical side. I can tell you that our, or Earth's magnetic field is stable enough to deflect wind streams etc. and especially so with fewer Solar events. So yeah, nothing would happen, in theory. But research is not conducted to answer questions in permanence; it is to reveal data which can structure more complex theories or disprove others, and to make progress in a futile endeavor for complete understanding. Discoveries can absolutely be made during this period, who can say otherwise?

In short, the only thing the Maunder Minimum suggests, is that the Sun is changing in a mostly predictable, or at least expected, fashion, in a way that it frequently does(Solar Cycles). You needn't worry about this, as it is more important for scientists studying the relationships between Earth and the Sun.

To entertain your "bases on other planets" part of the question, the primary features which make them uninhabitable include: Lack of sufficient atmosphere, lack of water, temperature, and gravity. Without a sufficient atmosphere, you cannot breathe or be protected naturally from sun rays, which are always flowing out despite the lack of sunspots. Without water, life cannot begin its primordial stages of development, and it would be evaporated quickly due to the lack of insulated atmosphere. The temperature is also dependent on the climatology of the body, distance to the orbital parent, tidal stresses, deep geothermal activity etc etc... and is greatly dependent on the presence of an atmosphere. For larger bodies, like Saturn, the gravity, temperature, and tempestuous atmosphere make it unsuitable for any human or man-made machine to survive a descent to the surface. Even when there, often the speeds of surface wind exceed 200kp/h. Beyond Saturn it is too cold, and the gravity of the gaseous planets would be too overwhelming.

If Venus wasn't as chaotic on the surface, then theoretically a Maunder Minimum would be a "window" to actually getting some semblance of habitability there. The reason is that Venus has an induced magnetic field rather than an independent one(like on Earth). It is within the Sun's own magnetic field and borrows from it. If a flare were to pass by or strike Venus, it would feel every bit of it, with no protection like that on Earth. However, Venus is still a bit of a mystery, so this is far-future talk right here.

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to address your question regarding the solar cycle and the Maunder Minimum its helpful to look at a time-line of sunspot activity. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiCq9OFiO_iAhXUPn0KHX_hB6sQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FSolar_cycle&psig=AOvVaw1SSpdkfyqZ-FKcoACD-l_a&ust=1560810944162014 image.png.da24d06fc6c7c403844f8fac6b08156e.png

 

The Maunder minimum is coincident with the Little Ice Age and it's easy to see that Solar activity and climate are related. There was no reduction in CO2 to cause the little Ice Age as was there was no increase in CO2 to end the Maunder Minimum  affect on climate. The Maunder minimum is a global phenomena certainaly for the Northern Hemisphere if you care to investigate further. image.png.b9016bb449d1baaab5c8c45c30bda1d2.png

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Sunspots during the Maunder Minimum. From 1645 to 1700, many years had no sunspots.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/maunder-minimum

sunspots.jpg

Solar Irradiance, Cosmic Rays, and Radiocarbon and Berylium Production Rates

D.J.Easterbrook

Abstract
Global temperature changes show excellent correlations with sunspots, total solar irradiance, 14C and 10Be production in the upper atmosphere, and cosmic ray incidence. Periods of global cooling coincided with these changes during the Oort, Wolf, Maunder, Dalton, 1880–1915, and 1945–1977 Solar Minimums. Increased 14C and 10Be production during times of increased cosmic radiation serves as a proxy for solar activity.

Increased cloudiness, produced by ionization of aerosols in the atmosphere by cosmic rays, causes increased reflection of incoming solar irradiance and results in cooling of the atmosphere. The amount of cosmic radiation is greatly affected by the sun's magnetic field, so during times of weak solar magnetic field, more cosmic radiation reaches the Earth, creating more cloudiness and cooling the atmosphere.

This mechanism accounts for the global synchronicity of climate changes, abrupt climate reversals, and climate changes on all time scales. Thus, cloud-generating cosmic rays provide a satisfactory explanation for both long-term and short-term climate changes.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128045886000148?via%3Dihub

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To add a little to the replies of John and Emilio, there are some that would argue that increased volcanic activity contributed or caused the cooling witnessed during the maunder minimum, eg Miller et al. 2012.  Some go further.  Some think that during solar minimums or transitioning from or into them, the atmosphere shrinks or expands, causing atmospheric currents to change as a result, and the result of that is a brake or push on the planet's spin leading to increased stresses on the surface of the planet causing increased tectonic activity and thus increased volcanism.  Others argue that the solar minimum affects the earth's magnetic field, or core movements, and thus causes increased volcanism... there are probably other arguments out there...

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Looks like you've got a choice of answers here. Take a realistic approach and worry not, or take the curious approach and learn as much as you can.

If you desperately need an answer and don't want to do much research on your own, find some research papers which fit your version of the narrative and see yourself out of any real discussion on the matter.

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