The start of 2021 in Antarctica has been an unusually chilly one. In fact, the first half of January has been the coldest since 1978, according to data compiled by @LpdlcRamirez and @peikko763 on Twitter.
As of Jan. 19, the month-to-date temperature anomaly across Antarctic is approx. -0.5C, making this the continents coldest first 3-or-so-weeks of Jan. since 1978 (solar minimum of cycle 20), according to research conducted by @peikko163 on Twitter, who also notes that the Southern Hemisphere as a whole is suffering anomalous January chills not seen since 2012.
But this chill of solar minimum isn’t just confined to the Southern Hemisphere either, the mercury ACROSS the planet is tumbling. In one month global temperatures dropped by a whopping 0.26C: from 0.53C above the 1981-2010 avg. in Nov. 2020 to just 0.27C above the avg. in Dec. 2020 (UAH). This drop was in spite of a warming Arctic–a region expected to “heat” during times of otherwise “global” cooling (more on that below).
The Sun appears to be sliding into its next Grand Solar Minimum cycle–a multidecadal spell of reduced solar output where the solar disc can be devoid of sunspots for months or even years at a time. The result on Earth’s climate will be one of violent swings between extremes due to a weakening of the jet streams: intense bursts of heat will linger in one area, while a teeth-chattering chill will dominate nearby, and then the regions will “switch” — it is this unpredictable chopping and changing that will hasten the failure of our modern food production systems: crops will fail, on a large scale, and famine could quickly ensue.
Overall, Earth’s temperature trends colder during a Grand Solar Minimum, as the Sun’s output sinks lower and lower (increased cloud nucleation being one likely forcing). However, not ALL regions experience the chill: as with the previous GSM (the Maunder Minimum 1645-1715), areas such as the Arctic, Alaska, and S. Greenland/N. Atlantic actually warmed while the rest of the planet cooled — NASA reveals the phenomenon in their Maunder Minimum temperature reconstruction map: