by James A. Marusek
February 9, 2018
The sun is the natural source of heat and light for our planet.
Without our sun, the earth would be a cold dead planet adrift in
space. But the sun is not constant. It changes and these subtle
changes affect the Earth's climate and weather.
At the end of
solar cycle 23, sunspot activity declined to a level
not seen since the year 1913. [Comparing Yearly Mean Total Sunspot
The following was observed during the
solar cycle 24:
The number of sunspots over the entire solar cycle decreased
significantly by 50% or greater.
There were fewer solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME's),
which produces Solar Proton Events (SPE's) and geomagnetic storms on
During the transition, beginning in July 2000, the sun
produced 6 massive explosions in rapid succession. Each of these
explosions produced solar proton events with a proton flux greater
than 10,000 pfu @ >10 MeV.
These occurred in July 2000, November
2000, September 2001, two in November 2001, and a final one in
October 2003. And there hasn't been any of this magnitude since.
The magnetic field exerted by the sun significantly weakened.
Average Magnetic Planetary Index (Ap index) is a proxy measurement
for the intensity of solar magnetic activity as it alters the
geomagnetic field on Earth. It has been referred to as the common
yardstick for solar magnetic activity.
Ap index measurements began
in January 1932. The quieter the sun is magnetically, the smaller
the Ap index. During the 822 months between January 1932 and June
2000, only one month had an average Ap index that dropped down to 4.
But during the 186 months between July 2000 and December 2015, the
monthly Ap index fell to 4 or lower on 15 occasions. 3
The number of Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) striking Earth
increased. GCRs are high-energy charged particles that originate
outside our solar system. They are produced when a star exhausts its
nuclear fuel and explodes into a supernova.
The Sun's magnetic field
modulates the GCR flux rate on Earth.
Cosmic rays are deflected by
the interplanetary magnetic field embedded in the solar wind, and
therefore have difficulty reaching the inner solar system. The
effects from the solar winds are felt at distance approximately 200
AU from the sun, in a region of space known as the Heliosphere.
the sun went quiet magnetically, the Heliosphere shrunk, and a
greater number of these particles penetrated into the Earth's
atmosphere. The sun's interplanetary magnetic field fell to around 4 nano-Tesla (nT) from a typical value of 6 to 8 nT. The solar wind
pressure went down to a 50-year low.
current sheet flattened. In 2009, cosmic ray intensities
increased 19% beyond anything that was seen since satellite
measurements began 50 years before. 4
In general, the sun's total irradiance varies about 0.1 percent
over normal solar cycles.
But this variation is not linear across
the entire radiation spectrum. Between 2004 and 2007, it was
observed that the decrease in ultraviolet radiation (with
wavelengths of 400 nanometers) was 4 to 6 times larger than
expected, whereas the visible light (400-700 nanometers) showed a
slight increase. 5
This is significant because Solar UV flux is a
major driver of stratospheric chemistry.
atmosphere of Earth collapsed.
ranges in altitude from 90 km to 600+ km above the Earth's
surface. During the depth of last solar minimum in
2008-2009, the thermosphere contracted by the largest amount
observed in at least the last 43 years.
The magnitude of
the collapse was two to three times greater than low solar
activity could explain. 6
Solar radio flux
during the peak of the solar cycle diminished significantly.
The F10.7 index
is a measure of the solar radio flux per unit frequency at a
wavelength of 10.7 cm, near the peak of the observed solar
The solar cycle
minimum produced the lowest F10.7 flux since recordings
began in February 1947. 7
Sightings of noctilucent clouds (or night clouds) are appearing
at lower latitudes.
These clouds are formed from ice crystals in the
extreme upper atmosphere, called the mesosphere. Noctilucent clouds
(NLCs) were first reported by Europeans in the late 1800s.
days, you had to travel to latitudes well above 50º to see them.
Now, however, NLCs are spreading. In recent years they have been
sighted as far south as Colorado and Utah in the United States.
II. Background - Solar Cycles
Sunspots are dark spots that appear on the surface of the sun. They
are the location of intense magnetic activity and they are the sites
of very violent explosions that produce solar storms.
The sun goes through a cycle lasting approximately 11 years.
starts at a solar minimum when there are very few sunspots and
builds to a solar maximum when hundreds of sunspots are present on
the surface of the sun and then returns back to a solar quiet
This cycle is called a solar cycle. We are currently in the
solar minimum separating Solar Cycle 24 and 25.
The first solar
cycle documented by scientist began in March 1755.
Image of Solar Cycle 23 from the
Solar and Heliospheric
(SOHO) by Steele Hill (NASA GSFC)
Sunspot activity throughout the Holocene.
Blue and red
areas denote grand minima and maxima, respectively.
series is spread out over two panels
for better visibility. ref8
The sun exhibits great variability in the strength of each solar
Some solar cycles produce a high number of sunspots. Other
solar cycles produce low numbers. When a group of cycles occur
together with high number of sunspots, this is referred to as a
solar Grand Maxima.
When a group of cycles occur with minimal
sunspots, this is referred to as a solar Grand Minima. Usoskin
details the reconstruction of solar activity during the Holocene
period from 10,000 B.C. to the present. 8
Refer to Figure 2.
The reconstructions indicate that the overall level of solar
activity observed in the middle of the 20th century stands amongst
the highest of the past 10,000 years.
The 20th century produced a
very strong solar Grand Maxima.
Typically these Grand Maxima's are
short-lived lasting in the order of 50 years. The reconstruction
also reveals Grand Minima epochs of suppressed activity, of varying
durations have occurred repeatedly over that time span.
Grand Minima is defined as a period when the (smoothed) sunspot
number is less than 15 during at least two consecutive decades.
sun spends about 17 percent of the time in a Grand Minima state.
Examples of recent extremely quiet solar Grand Minima are the,
The sun has undergoing a state change. It transitioned from a Grand
Solar Maxima, which typified the 20th century to a magnetically
quiet solar period similar to a
III. Detailed Forecast
I predict that the intensity of
Solar Cycle 25 will be fairly
similar to Solar Cycle 24.
I base this prediction on two
The pattern seen in Solar Cycles 22 through 25 matches fairly
close to the historical pattern seen in Solar Cycles 3 through 6.
Refer to Figure 3.
Solar Cycle 4 to Solar Cycle 7 corresponded to a
period known as the Dalton Minimum.
The Dalton Minimum was a time of
minimal sunspots, a series of weak solar cycles; but it is not weak
enough to be described as a Solar Grand Minima.
Solar cycles come in pairs.
A solar cycle is in reality a half
cycle. It takes two solar cycles to complete one full cycle. In one
solar cycle, the magnetic polarity of the sun faces north and in the
next it faces south.
At the end of 2 solar cycles the sun is back to
its original starting point. So they are two different sides of the
same coin. The intensity of each half cycle is approximately equal.
In my opinion, the most interesting part of the upcoming solar cycle
is the period of minimal sunspots Å rather than the period of maximum
sunspots because the minimum represents the extreme, the primary
actor that foreshadows weather events.
When I compared this upcoming
period of minimal sunspots with the corresponding period of minimal
sunspots during the Dalton Minimum (between solar cycle 5 and 6), I
made the following predictive observation.
The upcoming period of
minimal sunspots will extend from the winter of 2016/17 to the
winter of 2024/25. This period is analogous to the similar Dalton
Minimum timeframe from the winter of 1806/07 to the winter of
I predict this upcoming period of minimal sunspots shall be longer
and deeper than the last one. The changes during this solar minimum
shall be more pronounced than during the last solar minimum.
Average Magnetic Planetary Index
Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs)
the sun's interplanetary magnetic field strength
solar Ultra Violet (UV) flux rate
solar radio flux per unit frequency at a wavelength of 10.7
the latitude of Noctilucent Clouds (NLC)
Early scientist have associated the weakest solar cycles that occur
in Solar Grand Minima events such as the Wolf Minimum, Spörer
Minimum and Maunder Minimum with periods of extreme cold, the
The theories that sunspots intensity correlates to Earth's climate
and weather changes was a predominant mainstream theory that goes
back centuries. In 1801, the great astronomer William Herschel
observed a correlation between sunspots and wheat yields in England.
Periods of minimal sunspots produced adverse growing seasons that
produced minimal crop yields.
In 1873, a Russian-German climatologist Wladmir Peter Köppen, using
temperature data collected from 403 stations over the whole earth
concluded that the maximum temperatures observed in the tropics
corresponded to sunspot minimums.
In 1891, Henry F. Blanford
published a series of temperature measurements taken by Professor
S.A. Hill with the solar thermometer that is black bulb and vacuum
thermometer, for the years 1875 to 1885 at Allahabad (25.4°N
latitude) that showed an annual mean temperature difference of 3.7°C (6.6°F) between sunspot minimum and sunspot maximum.
Scottish meteorologist and astronomer Charles Meldrum, showed that
periods of minimal sunspots also corresponded to periods of minimal
rainfall at tropical weather stations.
Sir Norman Lockyer
showed this was also the case for several meteorological stations in
Ceylon and in India. 9
But this relationship does not affect the entire globe equally.
Charles Chambers (1857)
Frederick Chambers (1878)
S.A. Hill (1879)
E.D. Archibald (1879)
Henry F. Blanford (1879,
...provided interesting findings.
In low latitudes, the
barometric pressure is higher during periods of low sunspots (solar
But in mid latitudes, the barometric pressure is exactly
opposite; it is higher during solar maximums in the winter.
polar latitudes, the barometric pressure is higher during the solar
minimums during the summer. 9
Great storms with high winds generally
occur when high-pressure regions clash with low-pressure regions.
In 1891, H.F. Blanford
noted that during solar sunspot minimum a smaller portion of the
tropical atmosphere is transferred to high latitudes in the
winter hemisphere. 47 In the temperate zones the sunspot frequency appeared to be related
to the approach of very cold winter.
In mid latitude regions at
Greenwich, England, Alexander B. MacDowall analyzed the data
for the period October to March for the year 1841-1895. Low
sunspot frequency corresponded to an increase in the number of
days with a (cold) north wind. 48 The number of days
of frost [days when temperature fell below 32°F] in London also
correlates to periods of minimal sunspots. 9
H. Helm Clayton
in 1895 found a very similar correlation between days of frost
and periods of minimal sunspots at both Paris, France and in New
England. But in his case, he based his findings on the full (22
year) cycle rather than the half (11 year) solar cycle. 55
Björn Helland-Hansen and Dr. Fridtjof Nansen found a similar
correlation at the Lighthouse on Ona Island, Norway (Latitude
62.9°N). They compared the mean winter air temperature from 1
November to April 30 for the years 1875-1907 and showed that
colder temperatures generally occurred during periods of minimal
Many times the data analyzing a linkage between climate and solar
cycle appeared to be conflicted or contradictory.
I feel this was
due primarily to the data being sifted through the wrong filters. By
its very nature weather is a chaotic system. I also feel that as the
period of minimal sunspots became shorter and less extreme,
especially during the Grand Solar Maxima that typified the 20th
century, the observational trends became less pronounced.
Several early scientists including,
Sir (Joseph) Norman Lockyer
(professor of Astronomical Physics and the founding editor of the
William James Stewart Lockyer
F. H. Bigelow
Dr. Major Albert Veeder M.D.
American professor C.J.
Norwegian professor Björn Helland-Hansen
Nansen [the Arctic explorer],
...and others believed
that the climate variations on Earth due to changes in solar sunspot
activity is primarily driven by Earth's atmospheric circulation
rather than by being driven by the effects of direct solar heating.
The scientific underpinnings that explain these correlation was
lacking in historical times.
It is only in modern
times that scientist have been able to measure the various important
solar, space and earth metrics and evolve theories to explain this
In 2016, I authored a
Little Ice Age Theory in an attempt
to provide those details and relationships. 12
In that paper, I identified two main theories called Cloud Theory
and Wind Theory.
Cloud theory describes a long-term climate driver
whereas wind theory describes a shorter-term weather driver.
these theories revolve around the solar interaction on Earth's cloud
I predict that this upcoming solar minimum will produce an increase
in ocean cloud cover and a gradual drop in global temperatures.
global warming pause or hiatus will continue. (According to the most
accurate temperature data from satellites, global temperatures flatlined after 1998.)
Cloud theory primarily impacts Earth's long-term climate.
Solar Grand Minima (Spörer Minimum and Maunder Minimum) came to an
end, the extreme cold did not change overnight. Rather, the change
was gradual, taking many decades for the Earth to warm up.
same token, when the Solar Grand Maxima that typifies the 20th
century warm period came to an abrupt end, the Earth will not slide
into another little ice age overnight.
This is due to the latent
heat stored in the Earth's landmass and oceans.
During the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, a meridional jet
stream flow pattern will pull frigid arctic air from the North deep
into mid latitude [30°and 60°N] regions.
This will produce record
snowfalls and record lows. The extreme cold can freeze rivers and
lakes. The meridional jet stream will produce very violent winter
storms and these storms will have explosive energy - strong winds.
At the end of winter, great floods called freshets can occur.
Extreme winters can shorten the crop-growing season producing
scarcity and famines.
The historical term freshet is most commonly used to describe a
spring thaw resulting from snow and ice melt in rivers located in
the northern latitudes.
A freshet generally occurs when either the
ground is frozen or when it is so saturated by moisture from the
spring thaw, that any additional moisture will simply be runoff.
that time if the depth of the snowfall was deep during the winter
and the melt off very rapid, or if heavy rainfalls strike the area,
great floods can occur.
When the ice in rivers and lakes break up,
the chunks of ice can flows downstream and can create ice dams.
Generally these occur at bends of a river or other obstructions in
the river such as arches of bridges, or weirs.
When this occurs, the
swollen rivers can overflow many riverbanks causing great
destruction to cities and farmland.
Jet Stream in Northern Hemisphere
jet streams (Polar and Subtropical Jet Streams) are
When the polar jet changes from a zonal to meridional flow pattern, it will also affect the subtropical jet
that pulls moisture from the equator and will weakens the trade
This will affects the major flood cycles in the Northern
Hemisphere such as the Nile River inundation, and the India monsoons
for which much of the world depends on food.
famines in the
Ferrel Cell [30°to 60°N] can be caused by shorter
growing seasons, freshets and erratic weather patterns
Hadley Cell [0°to 30°N] can
be caused by major droughts
The same process occurs in the Southern Hemisphere but the Earth's
atmospheric circulation pattern is not symmetrical.
This is due to
the distribution of landmasses, especially the tall mountain ranges.
As a result in the Southern Hemisphere winter the polar vortex is
generally located between 50°and 65°S latitude, whereas in the
Northern Hemisphere the polar vortex is located between 30°and 60°N latitude.
Therefore the location of the
Hadley Cell and Ferrel
Cell cover different asymmetrical latitude ranges within each
mid-latitude regions, I forecast the period of minimal
sunspots preceding solar cycle 25 will be responsible for,
record low temperatures during the winter
powerful and energetic winter storms
frozen lakes and rivers
great spring floods (freshets)
famines/scarcities due to shortened growing seasons,
freshets and erratic weather patterns
low-latitude regions, I forecast the period of minimal
sunspots preceding solar cycle 25 will be responsible for,
Any meteorological theory describing weather and climate should be
grounded in a firm knowledge and understanding of the past.
reason, I have included in the next section a listing of weather
events that document the analogous timeframe within the Dalton
The solar minimum period from the winter of 1806/07 to the
winter of 1814/15 should be similar to the period from the winter of
2016/17 to the winter of 2024/25.
IV. Analogous Period
Weather Events between the Winters of 1806/07 and 1814/15 that can
be attributed to a Weak Solar Minimum
Great Britain 1809 & 1810
Extreme solar minimums can produce record cold temperatures, record
snowfalls, fierce winter storms, frozen lakes & rivers, and spring
floods (freshets) within the Ferrel Cell [30°N to 60°N]. Sometimes
many elements can conspire together to create great disasters.
In January 1809, an extreme cold spell struck England and the ground
froze solid. This was followed by several days of heavy snowfall.
The snow accumulations were up to three feet deep (91 centimeters)
and "no doubt more over upland areas".
Then beginning around 24
January, the temperature rose suddenly and heavy rains fell across
the nation. All the snow melted suddenly and since the ground was
frozen, the rainwater and snowmelt produced a great flood
river in the Kingdom has overflowed its banks and immense
tracts of land have been under water." 15
Prior to the thaw many roofs were covered with snow. Snow acts like
a sponge and absorbs rainwater.
The weight of the rain soaked snow
placed a heavy weight load on the roofs and as a result many roofs
"In Lambeth all the lower apartments of some hundreds of
houses are three and four feet under water; and throughout the
metropolis, and its neighborhood, few houses have escaped a
drenching from top to bottom, excepting those from the roofs
of which the inhabitants took the precaution to have the
snow removed previous to the commencement of the thaw."
"Water flowing through cellars, shops and
ground floors of building, so that goods were washed away or
made worthless, and inhabitants had to retreat upstairs and
be supplied with food and fuel through windows from boats
disrupted, streets were filled with torrents carrying away
all manner of debris, building had to be abandoned, or they
collapsed killing or injuring their occupants. Many people
lost their all and were totally ruined."
impossible on foot and could be dangerous for carts and
countryside, vast areas were inundated, and livestock were
drowned before their owners could get them to higher ground.
flooded, and wagons, field gates, fences and hay ricks were
were interrupted and mail was got through by using
circuitous routes; carters misjudging the depth of water on
the road lost their horses and farmers had their crops
destroyed. Along the river, traffic was delayed, barges
sunk, mills stopped working and weirs were damaged.
In many places
this was the worst flood for decades or 'beyond the memory
of man'." 14
The swollen rivers overflowed many riverbanks.
One of the hazards
from a freshet is caused by the ice from frozen rivers. When the ice
breaks up, it flows downstream and can create ice dams.
these occur at bends of a river or other obstructions in the river
such as arches of bridges, or weirs [A weir is a barrier across the
horizontal width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of
the water and usually results in a change in the height of the river
In this flood,
"About a mile above Carlisle, the weir that
diverts the Calder to Messrs Losh & Co.'s print work flowed into the
adjoining grounds… and swept away large trees of various
The river having
now lost its natural channel, the new one produced the most
dreadful ravages in its progress." 14
Many large cities contain
rivers. Ice dams can break up very suddenly and send a wall of water
downstream causing great damage.
This freshet, which extended widely across much of England but to a
lesser degree in Wales and Scotland, also destroyed or damaged many
bridges. This flood collapsed the bridge at Wallingford over the
Part of the old bridge over the river Thames at
Wheatley near Oxford gave way. The bridge between Pangbourne and
Whitchurch was very severely damaged.
Also the bridges at Twyford,
on the London road from Reading were broken down. In Devon the
Feniton bridge over the river Otter gave way.
Also in Devon,
center arch on the main river Exe at Cowley-bridge fell in and the Bickleigh-bridge was so damaged to render the road to Tiverton
In Wales, the bridge over the river Usk at Crickhowell
was carried away. In Scotland, the bridge over the river Yarrow, two
miles from Selkirk was entirely swept away.
The Inchinnan Bridge
over the Black Cart Water near Paisley collapsed in the flood. 14
The harvest weather of 1809 [from July to October] was
exceedingly wet. Large portions of the wheat suffered from
mildew and from sprouting. 16
During the next
winter a great storm struck England in December.
A great deal of snow
fell in the interior of the country. It is said to be lying in
drifts of nine feet deep in some places on the east side of the
country and the adjoining part of Northumberland. 17
From 13 January 1810
to March the Midlands of England experienced freezing conditions
with snow and hard frost affecting the young crops. The month of
May brought in night frosts. 15
In 1810, England
imported over a half a million tons of wheat, flour, other
grains and meal.
"But for that
importation, it would have been a year of famine." 16
four years out of this eight-year period, the Mississippi River
in the United States experienced major floods or one might even
say great floods.
These were years
1809, 1811, 1813, and 1815. The flood of 1815 was due to
freshets in the Ohio River, the Upper Mississippi River, the
Missouri River, the Cumberland River and the Tennessee River.
In the flood of 1813, the Mississippi River
overflowed its banks and flooded the country on the west side
inundating it to the distance of 65 miles, by which 22,000 head
of cattle were destroyed. 19
The flood of
1809, inundated all the plantations near Natchez, Mississippi
and the flood destroyed the crops. 18
Winter of 1806/07
The winter of 1806/07 in the U.S. was long, and produced extreme
cold, great snowfalls and several freshets.
Pennsylvania, the first frost occurred on 17 October 1806. And
there were deep snows from the 4th to the 12th
of December. 20
On 26 January 1807, an extreme cold spell struck New England.
that day temperatures fell to,
-13º F in Cambridge, Massachusetts
-33º F at Hollowell
in Kennebec County, Maine
-9º F at
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
-4º F at
-12º F at
Smithfield, Rhode Island
-6º F at
Hartford, Rhode Island
-15º F at
-10º F at
Deerfield, Massachusetts 21
On 9 February 1807
and another cold spell struck which dropped temperatures at
Deerfield, Massachusetts to -14º F and at Albany, Vermont down
to -20º F. 21
A great flood struck New England
in the United States during the beginning of February 1807.
The freshet was
caused by heavy rains, which melted the snow and swelled the
rivers until they overflowed, carrying away bridges and mills,
entering warehouses and stores and doing great damage.
The floods carried
away several bridges east of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It also
took out a bridge over the Little River in Haverhill,
Massachusetts. The principal bridge at Lawrence [connecting
Andover and Methuen] was destroyed.
Other bridges further
up the Merrimack River were destroyed. The Watertown Bridge and
the Milford Bridge were carried away. At Pawtucket, Rhode
Island, the bridge was destroyed along with a cotton factory and
four or five other buildings.
In Connecticut, the
stone bridge over Swallow-Tail Brook at East Chelsea was
destroyed. The Shetucket River rose from 18 to 20 feet [5.5-6.1
Connecticut, the Lord and Lathrop bridges were swept away. The
Lovett, Geometry and Quarter bridges were damaged. Water rose in
houses compelling the inhabitants to climb out of their windows
and be evacuated by boats. 19
Ice that floated down
Deerfield river in Massachusetts during the flood in February
1807 was observed to be 2 feet 9 inches (84 centimeters) in
thickness and the ground was frozen solid to a depth of 3 feet
(91 centimeters). 22
In the Midwest and South,
7 February 1807 was known for many years as "Cold Friday" by
reason of the extreme low temperatures reached during that day.
temperatures dropped 60º F (33º C) within 12 hours. The violent
snowstorm produced 6 inches of snowfall in Kentucky and bitter
cold temperatures. 24
In the United States a massive late-season snowstorm traveled from
the Tennessee Valley to southeastern Pennsylvania on March 30-April
At the western end in Vincennes, Indiana; snow fell to a
depth of 11 inches.
The depth of the heavy wet snow in Pennsylvania
was 36 inches (91 centimeters) at Huntingdon; 36-42 inches (91-107
centimeters) in the Nittany Valley; and 54 inches (137 centimeters)
In Bradford County,
Pennsylvania near the New York border,
continuously three days and was between four and five feet
(1.2-1.5 meters) deep".
Snow fell to a depth
(137 centimeters) in Utica, New York
(132 centimeters) in Lunenburg, Vermont
(152 centimeters) at Danville, Vermont
(122 centimeters) at Montpelier, Vermont
(107-122 centimeters) at Norfolk, Connecticut 19,25
In April, following
the rapid thaw of this snow, one of the most notable floods of
the Susquehanna River took place. On the last day in April,
there was a very high freshet on the Connecticut River.
There was a great
flood in May in the Monongahela river, forty feet above the
common level at Brownsville, Pennsylvania that cause much
In Canada during the winter of 1807-1808, Lake Champlain, 120 miles
in length, was frozen over and was crossed on the ice.
Lawrence River was frozen completely over, a few leagues above
Quebec City and served as a road to Montreal. It seldom freezes
over, opposite to Quebec City or in the basin because the river
narrows at that spot, the currents are much stronger, and because
the rising tides have such force that it keeps the floating masses
of ice in constant motion.
During this winter it froze.
distance of eight miles, there was an immense sheet of ice, as
smooth as a mirror. Thousands of people came on it daily. Booths
were erected on the ice for their entertainment. Many people enjoyed
skating on the ice.
Others drove across it in
carrioles. [A carriole
is a light small carriage, toboggan or sled drawn by a single
The ice was so thick that horses could travel on it safely.
There were carriole races on the ice with great swiftness. It
was a kind of jubilee, an ice fair. 27
In England, on 27 December 1813, there was an impenetrable fog,
which extended fifty miles round London, and continued for eight
days. This fog was accompanied by a severe frost, which lasted six
On 14 January 1814, a tremendous fall of snow fell so deep in
the West so as to impede traveling, and the severity of the intense
cold was noticed in every part of England. And then the River Thames
froze solid and became the site of the last great London frost fair.
During the whole week of 20 January, the River Thames below Windsor
Bridge, called Mill River, had been frozen over, and was crowded
with people skating.
The ice presented a most picturesque
appearance. The view of St. Paul's and of the city, with the white
foreground, had a very singular effect; in many parts large blocks
of upheaved ice, resembled the rude interior of a stone quarry.
31 January a frost fair began to take shape.
On 3 February, large
chalkboards were set up that read,
"A safe footway over the River to Bankside".
As a result thousands of people began to walk on the ice
and to travel from the London Bridge to Blackfriars' Bridge, which
became a grand mall or walk.
Many booths were erected in the very
center of the river, formed from blankets and sailcloths, and
ornamented with streamers and various signs. One of the tents
exhibited a sheep roasting over an open fire.
In addition to,
and furnaces… blazing and boiling in every direction, and
animals, from a sheep to a rabbit, and a goose to a lark,
were turning on numerous spits."
Many other activities
were also underway.
[sledding], and bull-baiting were enjoyed, drinking tents were
filled with people, and open fires had people sitting around
drinking rum, grog, and other spirits. Tea, coffee, and eatables
were also available.
There were also
numerous booths selling toys, books, and trinkets labeled
"Bought on the Thames."
Eight or ten printing
presses were erected, and numerous pieces commemorative of the
'great frost' were printed on the ice. Even a dance was held. It
was set up on a barge that had firmly frozen in place a
considerable distance offshore. Thousands flocked to the
Then around 5
February, the river began to break up and the last Great London
Ice Fair came to an end. 17,19,28
Famine in Ireland
The winter of 1813/1814 was very severe in Great Britain. It was
remembered in many parts of England as the year of the "Great
"All over the
country the mail coaches had to cease running, and in many
instances were abandoned in the snow, the letters being sent
on by the guards on horseback.
And even this
means of conveyance proved unavailing in some localities,
for when the snow lay four feet deep in the streets of the
great towns, it may be fairly presumed that it proved a much
more serious obstacle in the country." 29
"The winter of 1813-1814 would eventually be considered
'one of the four or five coldest winters in the CET [Central England
The winter was also cold enough that the
Thames became so solidly frozen someone dared take an elephant
across it below the Blackfriars Bridge." 28
On 11 January 1814, it
"The quantity of
snow which has fallen in the upper part of Hampshire, and on
the Hind Head is very great, lying in many places fifteen
feet deep." 27
On 13 January it was reported at
Dublin, Ireland that there was an uncommon depth of snow and the
streets appeared yesterday almost deserted. 17
England it was reported that after a dark, wet and cold start to
spring, it remained very cold with some snow and sharp frosts
through May, while June was also cold. 15
Just as in England, the
winter was very severe in Ireland. The scarcity of food was severely
felt by the Irish poor in 1814 in consequence of the failure of the
potato crop. 19
The scarcity of the potato crop in Ireland in 1814
was due to the severity of the winter combined with a shortened
In the 16th and 17th centuries, European scientists invented a
device that measured temperature called a thermometer.
Many of these
early thermometers used alcohol or mercury (quicksilver). The
thermometers were a sealed liquid-in-glass tube. A bulb at the
bottom of the tube contained the liquid, which would expand with
These early thermometers used a variety of
different scales such as Fahrenheit, Celsius and
others. Mercury is a heavy, silvery-white liquid metal. It has a
freezing point of -37.89°F (-38.83°C).
So in general, when the
mercury froze in the thermometers it is indicative of extremely cold
"From meteorological observations taken at Moscow [Russia], it
appears that the greatest cold of last winter, was on the night of
the 11th of January .
Dr. Rehmann having exposed quicksilver
to the open air in a cup, it froze so hard, that it could be cut
with shears, and filed.
Count Boutourline found the mercury in three
of his thermometers frozen, and withdrawn entirely into the ball;
but in another thermometer, which was not frozen, from 6 in the
morning of the 12th, till 35 minutes after, it was at 35º below 0 on
the Réaumur [-43.8°F, -46.8°C]." 30
Towards the end of
March 1809, the mercury froze several times in the thermometer
at Moscow, Russia and there was a great fall of snow. 19,31
Quicksilver was frozen hard at Moscow, Russia on 13 January
1810. During a part of January 1810, the cold was so intense at
Moscow, Russia that the mercury froze. 19
Alcohol based thermometers (spirit based thermometers) could measure
colder temperatures than those that used mercury. Ethanol-filled
thermometers are used in preference to mercury for meteorological
measurements of minimum temperatures and can be used down to -94 °F
During 1812 & 1813 the French army under Napoleon captured the
burning and deserted city of Moscow, Russia and then retreated
during one of Russia's harshest winters, the winter of 1812/13.
Winter took its grip over all of Europe at an early stage with
severe cold. The first snow fell on Moscow on 13 October. The French
army began to retreat on 18 October and completely evacuated the
city by 23 October.
Under continuous snowfall the French army
retreated to Smolensk, Russia. From 7 November onwards, extreme
severe cold gripped the area. On 9 November, the thermometer dropped
to -12°R. (5°F, -15°C).
Larrey [Dominique Jean Larrey, a French
surgeon in Napoleon's army] carried a [Réaumur] thermometer [which
used diluted alcohol] in the buttonhole of his tunic. [He kept a
temperature record during the French retreat.]
The French army
stayed at Smolensk from 14 to 17 November. As they left Smolensk, Larrey observed the temperature had dropped to -21°R. (-15.3°F,
-26.3°C). The French Corps of Marshal Ney [that held the rear guard
during the retreat] escaped [after being cut off by the Russian
army] because on the night of 18/19 November, they crossed the
frozen Dnieper River.
The night before a Russian army corps went
with his artillery on the ice of the Dvina (Daugava) River.
November as Napoleon's troops approached the Berezina (Beresina)
River the weather had turned warmer; the river began to thaw, and
was impassable because of numerous ice floes [and bridges destroyed
during the conflict]. This left the French army without a way to
retreat, just as the Russian army was closing in.
On 26-29 November,
the French hastily constructed temporary bridges and moved their
troops across to the other side of the Berezina River. Immediately
after, the cold began again with renewed intensity, the thermometer
fell to -20°R. (-13°F, -25°C).
On 30 November it continued to
decline to -24°R. (-22°F, -30°C). On 3 and 6 December at Molodechno (now Maladzyechna, Belarus) the temperature read -30°R.
As this intense cold continued, the army
continued its withdrawal to Vilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania). During
the night of 9 December at Vilna, the temperature dropped to -32°R.
On 11 and 12 December the French army crossed the
ice of the Niemen River at Kovno (now Kaunas, Lithuania), and
brought the few remaining remnants across the Vistula River and
the Oder River to safety.
The Napoleon's army
suffered more than 400,000 casualties during this campaign and
much of this was due to the extreme cold and the lack of
preparedness for the severe winter. 19,32
New Brunswick, Ontario, Canada, about midway between Moose
Factory and Lake Superior, the lowest winter temperature in 1814
was -50°F (-45.6°C). 33
M'Keevor wrote in his
voyage to Hudson Bay in 1812 that,
winter season, which usually continues for nine months, the
spirit thermometer is commonly found to stand at [-]50.
Quicksilver freezes into a solid mass…
Wine, and even
ardent spirits, become converted into a spongy mass of ice;
even the "living forest" do not escape, the very sap of the
trees being frozen; which, owing to the internal expansion
which takes place in consequence, occasionally burst with
tremendous noise." 34
"Cold Friday" Bomb Cyclone
The "Cold Friday" of 19 January 1810 was a lethal event because the
great winds and the sudden, steep drop in temperature, which caught
many people off guard.
At the coastal New England city of Boston,
Massachusetts, the temperature dropped 57º F (31.7ºC) in less than
The coastal city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire experienced
a 54º F drop. The ocean moderates temperatures and inland regions
experienced greater extremes. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, the
63º F within 12 hours. At Warren, New Hampshire the temperature fell
from 43º F to -25º F in 16 hours, a temperature drop of 68°F.
Several journals claimed the mercury dropped 100 degrees in less
than 24 hours, from 67°F to -33°F.
During the daylong storm, the
heavens roared like the sea in a cyclone.
Thousands of farmyard fowl
were blown away and never seen again; rabbits, partridges and crows
were frozen in the thickest woods; young cattle were frozen solid as
they huddled together in the half open barnyard sheds.
were twisted by the force of the wind like withes in the hands of
giants. Barns were swept to ruin, and shed of lighter construction
were carried away by the storm of wind like chaff.
Many people froze
to death while traveling on the highways. Houses, barns and vast
number of timber trees were blown down or broken to pieces. Ships
were wrecked. Old people died of hypothermia in their homes.
so cold that pens wouldn't write even though they were right next to
a fireplace. 19,35,36,49,50
The intensity of this storm can be described by the plight of one
"On Friday morning, the 19 of January, Mr. Jeremiah
Ellsworth, of that town [Sanbornton, New Hampshire], finding the
cold very severe, rose about an hour before sunrise. It was but a
short time before some part of his house was burst in by the wind.
Being apprehensive that the whole house would soon be demolished,
and that the lives of the family were in great jeopardy, Mrs.
[Abigail] Ellsworth, with her youngest child [little Mary], whom she
had dressed, went into the cellar, leaving the other two children in
bed. [Sally and Alvah. Sally was the oldest at 5 ½ years old.]
attempted to go to the nearest neighbor, which was in a
north direction, for assistance; but the wind was so strong
against him that he found it impracticable.
He then set out
for Mr. David Brown's, the nearest house in another
direction, at the distance of a quarter of a mile. He
reached there about sunrise, his feet being considerably
frozen, and he so overcome by the cold, that both he and Mr.
Brown thought it too hazardous for him to return.
But Mr. Brown
went with his horse and sleigh with all possible speed, to
save the woman and her children from impending destruction.
When he arrived at the house, he found Mrs. Ellsworth and
one child in the cellar, and the other children in bed,
their clothes having been blown away by the wind, so that
they could not be dressed.
Mr. Brown put a
bed into the sleigh, and placed the three children upon it,
and covered them with the bed clothes.
Mrs. E. also got
into the sleigh. They had proceeded only six or eight rods
[A rod is 16 ½ feet.] before the sleigh was blown over, and
the children, bed and covering were scattered by the wind.
held the horse while Mr. Brown collected the children and
bed, and placed them in the sleigh again.
concluded to walk, but before she reached Mr. Brown's house,
she was so benumbed by the cold, that she sunk down to the
ground, finding it impossible to walk any further.
At first she
concluded she must perish, but stimulated by a hope of
escape, she made another effort by crawling on her hands and
knees, in which manner she reached her husband, but so
altered in her looks that he did not at first know her.
His anxiety for
his children led him twice to conclude to go to their
assistance; but the earnest importunities of his wife, who
supposed he would perish, and that she should survive but a
short time, prevented him.
Mr. Brown having
placed the children in the sleigh a second time, had
proceeded but a few rods when the sleigh was blown over and
torn to pieces, and the children driven to some distance.
He then collected
them once more, laid them on the bed and covered them; and
then called for help, but to no purpose.
Knowing that the
children must soon perish in that situation, and being
pierced to the heart by their distressing shrieks, he
wrapped them all in a coverlet, and attempted to carry them
on his shoulder; but was soon blown down, and the children
separated from him by the violence of the wind.
impossible to carry them all, he left the youngest [little
Mary], the one who happened to be dressed, placing it [her]
by the side of a large log. He then attempted to carry the
other two, but was soon stopped as before.
He then took
them, one under each arm, with no other clothing than their
shirts, and in this way though blown down every few rods, he
arrived at his house, after having been absent about two
though frozen stiff, were alive, but died within a few
Mr. Brown's hands
and feet were badly frozen, and he was so much chilled and
exhausted as to be unable to return for the child left
behind. The wind continued its severity, and no neighbor
called until the afternoon, when there was every reason to
believe the child left was dead.
Towards sunset, a
physician and some other neighbors having arrived, several
of whom went in search of the other child, which was found
and brought in dead.
The lives of the
parents were saved, but they were left childless." 51
The Winter of 1812/13
The winter of 1812-13 was one of the hardest ever known in Europe.
The River Thames in England froze from the source to the sea; the
Seine River in France, the Rhine River in Germany, the Danube River,
the Po River in Italy and the Gaudalquivir River in southern Spain
were all covered with ice.
The Baltic Sea froze for many miles from
land, and the Ikagerack and the Cattegat were both frozen over.
Adriatic Sea at Venice, Italy was frozen, so was the Sea of Marmora,
while the Hellespont and Dardanelles were blocked with ice and the
archipelago was impassable.
The Tiber River in Italy was lightly
coated, and the Straits of Messina at the eastern tip of Sicily were
covered with ice. Snow fell all over North Africa and drift ice
appeared in the Nile, in Egypt.
This was the winter Napoleon's
retreat from Moscow, Russia, when 400,000 men perished, mostly of
cold and hunger.
The men froze to death in battalions, and no horses
were left either for the artillery or cavalry. Quicksilver [Mercury]
froze that winter.
[Ikagerack or the Skagerrak Sea is a strait
running between Norway and the southwest coast of Sweden and the
Jutland peninsula of Denmark. Cattega or the Kattegat Sea is a
strait between north Denmark and Sweden.] 19
Drought and Famines within the northern Hadley Cell
Wind Theory, changes in the sun's UV radiation output
will not only affect the polar jet stream (generally in the Northern
Hemisphere between 30º and 60º N latitude, but also affect the
subtropical jet stream between 0º and 30º N latitude.
A quiet sun
not only weakens the polar vortex and drives the main polar jet
stream towards a meridional flow but also plays a similar role in
altering the subtropical jet stream that pulls moisture from the
equator and weakens the trade winds.
It affects the major flood
cycles such as the Nile River inundation, and the India monsoons for
which much of the world depends on food.
So let us look at this
sensitive region (0º and 30º N latitude) between the winters of
1806/07 and 1814/15 starting at Hawaii and working our way around
Maui, Hawaiian Islands
- Latitude: 20.8º N
There is no rain between October 1806 and April 1807. Maui natives
suffered from drought and famine. Plants, including taro - the
staple food of native Hawaiians, withered and died. The death toll
from malnutrition and dehydration was high.37
Mexico - Latitude: 20.6º N
central and north-central Mexico, the summers of 1808 and
1809 brought little rain. Following the poor harvest of
1808, the summer of 1809 brought almost no rain. By August
1809, it was clear that extreme scarcities faced Mexico. In
early September, reports from Queretaro indicated that a
third of the crop (maize) was already lost. By the end of
September, two thirds had withered. This produced the famine
of 1809 and 1810. 38,39
Cape Verde Islands
- Latitude: 14.9°N
From 1809 to 1814, drought conditions afflicted Boa Vista, Maio,
and São Tiago in the Cape Verde islands, causing drought and
forcing the inhabitants to flee the islands. 40
Canary Islands - Latitude: 28.3°N
In 1812, the island of Tenerife, part of the Canary Islands, was
visited by swarms of locust, that utterly destroyed the crop and
fruit on the island, and that its inhabitants were in a state of
starvation. 41 [Plagues of locusts are often triggered by
Nubia, Egypt - Latitude: 22.3°N
1812, deaths from famine and small pox were very numerous in
Pakistan and India
- Latitude: 25.9°N
In 1812/13 there was a famine in part of Sind [Sindh province of
India - now Pakistan] and other neighboring districts, attributed to
a failure of the rains. In 1812, no rain fell.
In Kach and
Pahlunpore [Palanpur] the loss was aggravated by locusts; and in
Kattywar it was followed by a plague of rats. [Plagues of rats and
locusts are often triggered by famines.]
Guzerat [Gujarat] suffered
most from scarcity caused by export of grain to the famine
districts; and Ahmedabad was overrun with starving immigrants.
In Mahee Kanta the distress was caused by internal disturbances; whilst
in Broach [Bharuch] there was no failure of rain, but the crops,
before they were reaped, were entirely devoured by locusts, which
came in very large numbers, and spread all over the country.
Ahmedabad lost about 50% of its population. 19
Singh was the leader of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the
northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th
century. The country was not depopulated in the area he
controlled because he threw open his stores and granaries.]
Mumbai, India - Latitude: 19.1
In 1810, there was a famine in the Bombay Presidency in India [now
Between 2% and 8% of the population died. In one central
district alone 90,000 people perished from famine. On 20 June 1810,
it was reported that a forest in India, 23 miles broad and 65 miles
long was on fire and burned for 5 weeks causing the destruction of
50 villages. 19
[This is indicative of the dry conditions prevailing
at the time.] In 1811, there was a famine in Marwar and in the
peninsula because of scanty rainfall and scarcity. 44
Agra, India - Latitude: 27.2°N
1813/14 there was a partial famine in many parts of the Agra
district; the autumn crop of 1812 failed and the harvest of
the following spring was indifferent. In 1813 the rain set
in late, and were then only partial.
- Latitude: 13.6°N
In 1806 there was a widespread failure of the rains in Rayalaseema
and elsewhere in the Madras Presidency. The resulting
drought was so extensive that grain became scarce
As the rains
failed during the sowing season of 1806, scarcity further
deepened in early 1807, producing a famine in 1806 and 1807.
Ten to fifteen
percent of the cattle employed in agriculture and about 50%
not employed in farm activities perished for want of grass.
Chennai, India - Latitude: 13.1°N
1812-14, there was scarcity in the Madras Presidency of
India [now Chennai]. This was caused by the unfavorable
season of 1811. 19
Myanmar - Latitude: 21.9°N
In the Dry Zone of Burma [now Myanmar], the year 1810 is remembered
as a great famine year. 46
[The Dry Zone is marginal land that covers
more than 54,000 km2, encompassing 58 townships which span from
lower Sagaing Region, to the western and central parts of Mandalay
region and most of Magway Region.]
Drought and Famines within the southern Hadley Cell
The Earth is not symmetrical in atmospheric circulation. This is due
to the distribution of landmasses, especially the tall mountain
Hadley Cell in the Southern Hemisphere covers the region
from approximately 0°and 50°S latitude.
Australia - Latitude: 31.3°S
Between the years 1809-1811, there was a drought in New South Wales,
Australia. The drought destroyed the maize crops. There was a
serious water shortage.
It was so serious that town gangs cleaned
out the water tanks. Water sold for 3d. per full pail. Between the
years 1812-1815, the drought increased in severity in New South
Wales, Australia. The wheat yield dropped by two-thirds. The loss of
livestock was extensive.
The drought was so extreme that settlers
sought new pastures on the other side of the Blue Mountain Range
after early explorers Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William
Wentworth found a way across the mountain range. 19
South Africa - Latitude: 33.9°S
In 1807 there was an unusual drought in Cape Colony [Cape of Good
Hope] South Africa. At that time the government secured shipments of
rice from India to prevent a scarcity. 52,53
The years from 1814 to
1824 produced devastating droughts. 54
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