From the “Well that’s not good.” department…
All indications are that we are headed into a Grand Solar Minimum. The timing is right. The solar activity is right. The weather shifts are starting to match up (cold / wet in the UK and Europe, dry / hot in the US Midwest and East Russia).
So any historical examples of what happens then?
Several folks have done a lot of work to show repeating patterns of solar activity. One very useful chart is here:
based on the (roughly) 179 year solar cycle and the periodic return of “chaotic” motion as the sun enters a retrograde orbital motion about the barycenter.
Notice that the Maunder Minimum runs between the two green arrows at the start panel. Note, too, that the panels are aligned on a 180 year repeat. 1640, 1820, 2000 A.D. for alignment points of grand minima episodes. This is a nice feature for our use. We can make a ‘good guess’ about the past just by subtracting 180 from 1640 recursively to get prior “aw shit” alignments. Yes, it’s crude. Not nearly as good as actually running the computation backwards. But “good enough” for my purposes. I don’t care about a 10% change of intensity or a 1 year drift. I just want “rough decades” (since things seem to have a bit of a lag to onset of climate issues anyway).
So, 1640 then 1460, then 1280, then 1100, then 920, 740, 560…
But most likely there will be a little delay after those dates. On the graph we can see that the alignment is ahead of the onset of the minimum. There is a 10 – 60 year band. So 1470-1520, 1290-1340, 1110-1160, 930-980, 750-800, 570-620, 390-440 etc.
Notice that I am not paying attention to the Dalton Minimum type pattern at the right edge of each graph. So some of my “not a match” findings below might match on those dates / pattern.
Anything interesting in the history of those times?
The Famine of 1315 A.D.
The first one to stand out to me is the Great Famine of 1315 A.D.
The Great Famine of 1315–1317 (occasionally dated 1315–1322) was the first of a series of large scale crises that struck Northern Europe early in the fourteenth century. From the Pyrenees to Russia and from Scotland to Italy it caused millions of deaths over an extended number of years and marks a clear end to an earlier period of growth and prosperity during the eleventh to thirteenth centuries.
Starting with bad weather in spring 1315, universal crop failures lasted through 1316 until summer harvest in 1317; Europe did not fully recover until 1322. It was a period marked by extreme levels of crime, disease, mass death and even cannibalism and infanticide. It had consequences for Church, state, European society and future calamities to follow in the fourteenth century.
European famines of the Middle Ages
Famine in the Medieval European context meant that people died of starvation on a massive scale. As brutal as they were, famines were familiar occurrences in Medieval Europe. As an example, localized famines occurred in France during the fourteenth century in 1304, 1305, 1310, 1315–1317 (the Great Famine), 1330–1334, 1349–1351, 1358–1360, 1371, 1374–1375 and 1390. In England, years of famine included 1315–1317, 1321, 1351, and 1369.
For most people there was often not enough to eat and life expectancy was relatively short since many children died. According to records of the royal family of the Kingdom of England, among the best cared for in society, the average life expectancy in 1276 was 35.28 years. Between 1301 and 1325 during the Great Famine it was 29.84, while between 1348 and 1375, during the Black Death and subsequent plagues, it went down to only 17.33.
So there was a warm “Really good time” (rather like the last 100 years or so) and then a few ‘local famines’ in France and some modest crop failures. Finally, a major Aw Shit hits with two back to back years of very poor crops over much of Europe.
Centered right over that low angular momentum interval.
Coming out of it, things get better but still have some ‘carryover’ for a generation after the event.
So what did the “onset” look like? Anything closer to 1280 or 1290 A.D. that might give an idea what early signs might be?
The Great Famine was restricted to Northern Europe, including the British Isles, northern France, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, Germany, and western Poland. It also affected some of the Baltic states except for the far eastern Baltic which was only affected indirectly. The famine was bounded in the south by the Alps and the Pyrenees.
So the warmer more southern parts of Europe do “OK”…
During the Medieval Warm Period (the period prior to 1300) the population of Europe had exploded, reaching levels that were not matched again in some places until the nineteenth century (parts of France today are less populous than at the beginning of the fourteenth century.) However, the yield ratios of wheat (the number of seeds one could eat per seed planted)Mb< had been dropping since 1280 and food prices had been climbing. In good weather the ratio could be as high as 7:1, while during bad years as low as 2:1 – that is, for every seed planted, two seeds were harvested, one for next year’s seed, and one for food. By comparison, modern farming has ratios of 30:1 or more.
The end of the Medieval Warm Period coincided with the onset of the Great Famine. Between 1310 and 1330 northern Europe saw some of the worst and most sustained periods of bad weather in the entire Middle Ages, characterized by severe winters and rainy and cold summers.
Changing weather patterns, the ineffectiveness of medieval governments in dealing with crises and a population level at a historical high made it a time when there was little margin for error.
So yields start to drop ( though modern yields are so much higher that we will likely have less ‘issues’ from any reduction of yield and we ship grains globally) in Northern Europe and the weather goes pretty cold and wet in the summer in the UK / Northern Europe.
In the spring of 1315, unusually heavy rain began in much of Europe. Throughout the spring and summer, it continued to rain and the temperature remained cool. These conditions caused widespread crop failures. The straw and hay for the animals could not be cured and there was no fodder for the livestock. The price of food began to rise. Food prices in England doubled between spring and midsummer. Salt, the only way to cure and preserve meat, was difficult to obtain because it could not be evaporated in the wet weather; it went from 30 shillings to 40 shillings.
Looks to me like water dominates the process, at least for Europe. Grains and foods that need drying conditions fail. Likely water loving and cold tolerant gardens would do better. Beets and Kale anyone?
OK, so from 1280 to 1315 is 35 years. Take 2000 and add 35 gives 2035. Smack on top of the predicted cold peak from Habibulo Abdusamatov. We’re getting similar results from divergent methods. ( Habibulo looks at solar diameter changes, Landscheidt is based on planetary positions / solar motion – but changes in angular momentum might well show up as diameter changes).
Good news / bad news time… Good news is that there’s still about 22 years (next solar cycle or two?) before it’s likely to be “bad”. Also, we have global food distribution so “good times” somewhere like Brazil might well offset for us, but not in 1300. Bad news is that things start getting colder, wetter, and having less yield before the couple of “Aw Shit” years.
If you think you will be around, and in North Europe, in the next couple of decades this might be a good time to investigate food storage systems. It’s pretty clear the the government will not be doing anything to prepare for ‘bad times’ and pretty much everyone is ignoring the Biblical directive to prepare for 7 bad years.
I have a ‘rule of thumb’ that it takes about 1 lb of dry food per person per day. Rice, wheat, beans, whatever. That’s 360 lbs a year or a bit over 700 lbs for a 2 year crop failure. That’s about $400 for bulk grains. Hardly a bank breaker and can be stored in one large closet ( or make a rectangle out of it, put a cover over it, and call it a table ;-)
FWIW, Lentils can be stored for 10 to 15 years ( I have some that I’ve kept for 19 years and were still edible) but regular “common beans” and especially peas get hard in storage and it takes forever to cook them (think ‘fuel storage’…) or for peas they may never soften. ( Some bicarb of soda helps then to soften). So my ‘typical’ is jugs of wheat, rice, and lentils. I’m working on adding some quinoa and millet for variety.
At present, I’ve got about 3 months of “food storage” as I’ve been terribly lax about it. I grew up in a Mormon Town where the “norm” was a 1 year supply of stored food; but having moved to a “just in time” urban area, never did get enough ambition about it to go over about 6 months worth. (Which turned into 3 months when I got married ;-) IMHO, the time for being lax is ending.
There are a couple of other interesting bits of coincidence.
Lists some known dates for the freezing of the Bosporus.
THE FROZEN IN BOSPHORUS AND ITS PALEOCLIMATIC IMPLICATIONS – A SUMMARY OF THE HISTORICAL DATA –
YAVUZ, Vural, Engineering Geological Department, Faculty of Mines, ITU Maslak Campus, Istanbul, 80626, Turkey, firstname.lastname@example.org, AKÇAR, Naki, Institute for Geol Sciences, Baltzerstrasse 1-3, Berne, 3012, Switzerland, email@example.com, and SCHLUECHTER, Christian, Institut for Geol Sciences, Baltzerstrasse 1-3, Berne, 3012, Switzerland
The first evidence of a frozen Bosphorus has been noted during the times of Herodotus. Analysis of the historical data about the freezing events in Bosphorus (Istanbul, Turkey) merits the presence of four main cold periods since 0 AD.
The first period was around the 1st century. Although the temperature was close to or perhaps a little lower than, that of the present, Ovidius indicates 3 successive freezing events between 7-17 AD.
So if we run that 390 A.D. on back a couple: 210-260 A.D., then 30-80 A.D. Within one solar cycle of 15 A.D. and not bad at all given the crude method of wiggle matching / cycle calculation.
The second cold period was in the 4th century. At that time Scaliger reports another freezing event in 401 AD. Then there was a slight increase in temperature up to the beginning of the 8th century.
Frozen right on top of the 390-440 A.D. window. Then warming to the 700s (skipping the Dark Ages? 540?) but then getting cold again “right on schedule” in the 700s (8th Century on top of that 750-800 window). But the following says it was cold ‘to the 13th’ or for about 400 years. The implication being there may be a longer cycle on top of the fast 180 year cycle. A 1/2 Bond Event from that 1500 year swing? Probably worth a ‘test fit’ to the Lunar cycle pattern… (on another day).
The third cold period extending from the middle of the 8th century to the 13th, during which the Bosphorus, and even parts of the Black Sea, were repeatedly frozen, and floating ice masses were present in the Sea of Marmara in 739, 753, 755, 762, 928, 934, 1011 and 1232. Winters were markedly mild for 400 years from the middle of the 13th century to the middle of the 17th. The fourth colder period starting in the early middle of the 17th century and lasting up to the present day was characterized by severe winters (with freezing of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and parts of the Black Sea in 1620, 1669, 1755, 1823, 1849, 1862, 1893, 1929, 1954). However, the intensity of the winter cold has gradually diminished during this interval.
These four episodes are more or less contemporaneous with the phases of glacial advances in the Northern Hemisphere. As the accuracy of the historical data increases with time, evidences of events are more condense in the fourth period. During this interlude that coincides with the Little Ice Age, freezing events are not all contemporaneous with the central European evidences. This can be explained by the low index of North Atlantic Oscillation that resulted in higher precipitation ratios.
Currently, the examination of glacial features in Anatolia contributes little to the interpretation of the Quaternary paleogeography and climate, and investigations of glacial features are incomplete and a sound chronology is non-existent. Our aim is to evaluate existing historical data on the modern cold periods, to analyze instrumental meteorological data and to correlate with the amplitude and frequency of paleoglacier advances both in the Alps and in Anatolia.
So it can get cold and icy in Turkey during those cycles, but there is a larger / longer pattern that seems layered on top. Unfortunately for us; we’ve just come out of a 700 year or so ( 1/2 Bond Event) warming trend from the start of the Little Ice Age and are likely at the start of a new 700 year cooling phase.
I note in passing that the 1620 onset of the frozen series of recent centuries was right on top of one of the cycle alignment points of 1640 (modulo one solar cycle of 22 years) and the 1669 is right where one would expect cold.
Oddly, the 1232 time is a bit early for the Famine of 1315 cycle, and a bit late for the end of the 1110-1160 time. There’s likely a complicated bit of interaction in Turkey, being about 1/2 way between ‘cold wet’ Europe and ‘hot dry’ Russia during times of “meridional flow” jet stream. This could also benefit from looking for those Dalton type dates too. Either that, or it is uncorrelated and just random matches on some dates. The mid to late 1800s land on an alignment, but are ‘bookended’ by other freezing events.
To me, it looks like there is some correlation, but a confounding longer cycle overlay.
There is a significant problem with “famine matching” in that once a society collapses, bad times and famines may keep showing up for centuries after until society reforms stability. War and other destruction can cause a great deal of shortage. Still, the ‘onset’ can be useful. Often the first onset of weather induced famine leads to the collapse of social order and wars.
Has an interesting item that lines up on that 390-440 solar status alignment.
441 BC Ancient Rome
400–800 AD Famine in Western Europe associated with the Fall of Rome and its sack by Alaric I. Between 400 and 800 AD, the population of the city of Rome fell by over 90%, mainly because of famine and plague.
So did a solar downturn (perhaps part of a ‘double tap’ with a volcano or rock fall from space in 536 A.D.) lead to the downfall of the Western Roman Empire? Hmmm…
Anything on that 750-800 A.D. point?
800–1000 AD Severe drought killed millions of Maya people due to famine and thirst and initiated a cascade of internal collapses that destroyed their civilization Maya Empire
809 Frankish Empire
875–884 Peasant rebellion in China inspired by famine; Huang Chao captured capital China
A bit of a lag. China could be an ‘out of phase’ effect, coming about 100 years off ‘schedule’. Might be interesting to make an A/B comparison of famine in China vs Europe with a cold / hot and wet / dry comparison too. I would be Very Happy to find out that as a globe, we have places offset in time from each other on this cycling…
The Maya look like another example of a ‘longer cycle’ laid on top of the trigger event shorter cycle (or we just have “the fall” and political chaos carries if for the next 100 years…)
Then there is the 930-980 period.
927–928 Caused by four months of frost Byzantine Empire
1016 Famine throughout Europe Europe
1022, 1033, 1052 Great famines in India, in which entire provinces were depopulated India
1064–1072 Seven years’ famine in Egypt Egypt
1051 Famine forced the Toltecs to migrate from a stricken region in what is now central Mexico Mexico (present day)
1097 Famine and plague France
Starts off with 4 months of frost right ‘on schedule’. England and Europe take a while to “have issues” with famine showing up after the solar downturn is over. Hmmm… Bad match? Or some factor causing a delay or sporadic cycle skip? A history of actual weather events matched to political events would be helpful sorting that out.
Then India and Egypt get on board a century late, along with Mexico. (Again a bit of hope that it’s a ‘rolling effect’ and simply moving food around the globe can cope.)
I also note that this is about 1/2 Bond Event after the 400 A.D. time. That longer cycle overlay…
The 1110-1160 has a complete miss, then we’re back at the 1290-1340 period.
1230 Famine in the Republic of Novgorod Russia
1229–1232 The Kangi famine, possibly the worst famine in Japan’s history. Caused by volcanic eruptions. Japan
1235 Famine in England, 20,000 died in London alone England
1275–1299 Collapse of Anasazi civilization, widespread famine occurred United States (present day)
1315–1317 Great Famine of 1315–1317 Europe
1344–1345 Great famine in India India
1387 After Timur the Lame left Asia Minor, severe famine ensued Anatolia
1396–1407 The Durga Devi famine India
Again we have Russia being a bit early and Europe goes wet, while the USA gets a severe drought for the Anasazi. China and India bring up the rear about 100 years late. That “rolling” pattern looks more promising…
1441 Famine in Mayapan Mexico
1450–1454 Famine in the Aztec Empire, interpreted as the gods’ need for sacrifices. Mexico (present day)
1460–1461 Kanshō famine in Japan Japan
1518 Venice Italy (present day)
1528 Famine in Languedoc France
1535 Famine in Ethiopia Ethiopia
1567–1570 Famine in Harar, combined with plague. Emir of Harar, died. Ethiopia
1586 Famine in England which gave rise to the Poor Law system England
Mexico is again ‘out of cycle’ ( a good thing…) Japan comes in early (rather like it did with Russia above). Europe ‘on schedule’ with north Africa / Ethiopia again running ‘late’. Perhaps more cold and wet helps in an African desert ;-) but the warming cycle not so much… The 1586 famine in England is clearly a ‘miss’.
At this point we start having “too much information”. The records are more complete, so it isn’t just exceptional events in the record. We have less opportunity to see the ’empty space’ as somebody somewhere is almost always having a famine. It is also the Little Ice Age cold period ( that longer cycle? or a 1/2 Bond Event?) so I’m not going to list them all. Hit the link to see them. But what happens at the start of that period?
1601–1603 One of the worst famines in all of Russian history; famine killed as many as 100,000 in Moscow and up to one-third of Tsar Godunov’s subjects; see Russian famine of 1601–1603. Same famine killed about half Estonian population. Russia 2 million
Again Russia goes early. Hmmm… Wonder if the “warm phase end” is a problem for Russia? I’m reminded of the burning wheat fields of a few years back. Then we get to the European set. Starting with a war driven famine, then more. Also Japan is again ‘going early’…
1618–1648 Famines in Europe caused by Thirty Years’ War Europe
1619 Famine in Japan. During the Tokugawa period, there were 154 famines, of which 21 were widespread and serious. Japan
1630–1631 Deccan Famine of 1630–32 (Note: There was a corresponding famine in northwestern China, eventually causing the Ming dynasty to collapse in 1644) India 2 million
And on the Starting Gun, it’s back to Europe:
1648–1660 Poland lost an estimated 1/3 of its population due to wars, famine, and plague Poland
1649 Famine in northern England England
1650–1652 Famine in the east of France France
1651–1653 Famine throughout much of Ireland during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland Ireland
1661 Famine in India, when not a drop of rain fell for two years India
1669 Famine in Bengal India
1670s and 1680s Plague and famines in Spain Spain
1680 Famine in Sardinia Italy (present day) 80,000
1680s Famine in Sahel
1690s Famine throughout Scotland which killed 15% of the population Scotland
1693–1694 France 2 million
1695–1697 Great Famine of Estonia killed about a fifth of Estonian and Livonian population (70,000–75,000 people). Famine also hit Sweden (80,000–100,000 dead) The Swedish Empire, of which Swedish Estonia and Swedish Livonia were dominions at that time
1696–1697 Great Famine of Finland wiped out almost a third of the population Finland, then part of Sweden proper
1702–1704 Famine in Deccan India 2 million
1708–1711 Famine in East Prussia killed 250,000 people or 41% of its population East Prussia
There does seem to be something of a pattern here. More famine about the cycle points. Early onset in Russian / Asian areas, late in Mexico / North Africa. USA having drought while N. Europe / UK drown. Then back to “good times” for a 1/2 long cycle.
It is the pattern that is most of interest now (as the data has a famine somewhere almost all the time due to the large data collection happening in more modern times).
We again have early onset in Asia, then a migration into Europe. Most notably the Great Irish Famine. We also have Tambora erupt in Indonesia and the “Year without a summer” in 1816 to get things started.
1810, 1811, 1846, and 1849 Four famines in China China 45 million.
1811–1812 Famine devastated Madrid Spain 20,000
1815 Eruption of Tambora, Indonesia. Tens of thousands died in subsequent famine Indonesia
1816–1817 Year Without a Summer Europe 65,000
1830–1833 Claimed to have killed 42% of the population Cape Verde 30,000
1830s Tenpo famine Japan
1837–1838 Agra famine of 1837–38 India
1845–1857 Highland Potato Famine Scotland
1845–1849 Great Irish Famine killed more than 1 million people and over 1.5–2 million emigrated Ireland 1.5 million
1846 Famine led to the peasant revolt known as “Maria da Fonte” in the north of Portugal Portugal
1850–1873 As a result of Taiping Rebellion, drought, and famine, the population of China dropped by more than 60 million China
1866 Orissa famine of 1866 India 1 million
1866–1868 Finnish famine of 1866–1868. About 15% of the entire population died Finland, northern Sweden 150,000+
1869 Rajputana famine of 1869 India 1.5 million
1870–1871 Famine in Persia Iran (present day) 2 million
1873–1874 Famine in Anatolia caused by drought and floods Turkey (present day)
And rounding it out again are Iran and Turkey (near North Africa) toward the end.
It looks to me like on a global scale things are much more manageable. The Americas have a drought issue, but it happens a bit off cycle between N and S America. Eurasia has a ‘rolling event’ that looks to sweep in from Japan / Russia, over the EU, then exit via Africa / India. A bit of ‘belt tightening’ and some global cross shipping along with a few “Meatless Mondays” and it ought to all be manageable.
OTOH, one good social collapse / spreading war or a volcano followed by disease pandemic and the whole thing could fall apart.
It also looks like there is a long cycle overlay, and we just had the ‘Cold 1/2 Bond Event’ in the Little Ice Age, so this one ought to be the mild half. (Unless we are due for a full on Bond Event… but I’m hoping that isn’t until about 2300 A.D.) Watch out for major volcanoes, don’t indulge in wars, and pay attention to both water and cold cycles.
There does seem to be an interaction (perhaps even synchronous due to orbital resonance) with some dust causing events. Volcanic for some cycles, cometary for others. It is likely to be about 2300 A.D. before we are back in the thicker part of the Taurid stream, so cometary dust not likely to be an issue for us this cycle. In 537 or so A.D. there was a significant issue with the sun being obscured by dust, but it is unclear if it was a volcano or not. Similar events are noted in some of the other historical times (especially the deeper historical events like the 2000 BC collapse).
So unless a giant Indonesian volcano blows up ( or, Lord forbid, a giant Icelandic eruption happens), I’m not seeing too much of a problem. Still, it would be prudent to start some kind of preparations. Just buy an extra 25 lb bag of rice or other grain every year and in 10 years, you have 250 lbs. Enough for one person on ‘minimal’ rations for a year. I just bought a bag of rice for $10 (for 20 lbs) so it isn’t exactly a hardship. (In reality, you cycle the inventory faster than 10 years, it’s just that you are adding some excess each year and that 250 lbs is on average only about 4 years old. Less if you really like rice ;-)
If nothing else, eating more whole grains and legumes contributes to a healthy and longer life anyway and you can’t beat the cost. (Though, in reality, I have as much in noodles as I do in rice… and a lot of sugar and tea in sealed tins.)
At some point I need to work up a better comparison of the last 1000 years of ‘drought’ in the USA vs ‘famine’ in Europe and see if there is more ‘offset’ or ‘overlap’. But now it’s lunch time. All this talk of famine has me hungry. I think I’ll start a tub of rice in the rice cooker ;-)