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Well here we are in the last week of the 2021 Southern summer.
To be honest, I feel somewhat short-changed this year.
One of the best parts of summer (for me) is being able to fall out of bed and wander around the house in just my shorts -- bathing in the glorious warmth, even before the sun is above the horizon.
Likewise, I love the extended periods of seeming unending sunny days, with nary a cloud or more than a gentle breeze to break the consistency of sun and warmth.
Obviously, the summer of 2020/21 was a huge disappointment to me, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we had a lot of *very* cold mornings.
On several occasions this summer I had to turn on the heater at 5am to compensate for temperatures that were only a little above freezing. One morning was 3 degrees and several others barely made it to 5 degrees.
That is *not* summer weather!
Likewise we had too many days where the maximum daytime temperature was stuck firmly in the teens, rather than the 20s or even the 30s, where summer temps should live.
There was also a fair amount of wind, some of it combining with the lower temperatures and rain to produce days that were just downright miserable.
However, we were not alone in experiencing cold weather.
The UK and parts of Europe were hit with extreme cold as well -- even for winter. Polar blasts caused major storms that created lows unseen for decades across those regions.
Even the usually warmer state of Texas in the USA suffered such a winter storm that it compromised the integrity of electricity supplies and saw huge numbers left without power for many days.
On the flip-side of the coin, I don't see any reports of unseasonally warm or excessively hot weather anywhere on the planet. So where has all that heat energy gone?
At a time when rising CO2 and water-vapour levels in the atmosphere are supposed to be promoting global warming, isn't it somewhat odd that the planet seems to have gone cold on us?
I often joke about "New Zealand's four-week summer" but this year I'm thinking it's for real.
Or could it be that we are starting to see a new solar minimum quietly occurring?
Might it be that the sun's output has reduced somewhat, producing lower temperatures here on planet Earth in a quite significant manner?
Probably not... because I'm sure such an event would have been quickly identified and reported -- unless there's some reason not to -- such as not wishing to ankle-tap attempts to mitigate CO2-induced climate change by admitting that the planet has suddenly cooled.
I'm sure some one will chime in and say "it's just weather" and that the climate continues to warm overall. However, I do wonder where all the energy that produces our surface temperature has gone. If temps are down across the globe, that's a *lot* of energy that has to have gone somewhere... so where has it gone?
There have been many predictions of a new Maunder Minimum due to occur in the not too distant future but Lisa Upton, co-chair of the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel and solar physicist at Space Systems Research Corporation in Westminster, Colorado, recently stated “there is no indication that we are currently approaching a Maunder-type minimum in solar activity". However, Cycle 25 is looking to be relatively weak in terms of solar activity.
This US government publication however, suggests that a grand solar minimum could be on the way, with very clear implications for global temperatures.
Who is right? What will the future hold?
Bah... all I know is that summer sucked and winter is coming so I'd better make sure I've got a good stock of firewood laid in.
Life is what it is... best to just enjoy it while we still can.
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