A return to low solar activity not seen for centuries could increase the chances of cold winters in Europe and eastern parts of the United States but wouldn’t halt global warming, according to new research led by UK’s Met office and published recently in Nature Communications. The study is among the first to look at the regional climate impacts of a possible ‘grand solar minimum’.

It’s understood the Sun’s output increases and decreases, measured by the number of sunspots on the star’s surface, over a timescale of 100 – 200 years.

Some solar physicists believe there’s an increased risk that we’re heading towards the lower end of this cycle – last seen during the so-called ‘Maunder Minimum’ which ended 300 years ago. This coincided with colder winters in the UK and Europe, with ‘frost fairs’ held numerous times on a frozen River Thames. Continue reading »