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Homeric Minimum

24 July 2020
Climate change

The Homeric Minimum is a postulated solar minimum event dated between 2800 and 2550 years ago, an inordinately long  time for the sun to remain quiet. See www.thegrandsolarminimum.com/homeric-minimum/ … a period of low solar activity is hypthesized in a period of time which Velikovsky was to locate his series of fly bys by an errant planet. Whereas we might nowadays water down Velikovsky and think in terms of meteors rather than big cosmic objects the idea of a grand solar minimum is interesting as we know that in the Roman Warm Period we probably have a phase of climate instigated by the opposite, enhanced solar activity. The Homeric Minimum is compared to the Sporer Minimum. It also coincided with a geomagnetic excursion, the Sterno-Etrussia (which grabbed the headlines a few years ago). These events are not fully understood, if at all. Then we have the Hallstart anomaly – an injection of C14 into the atmosphere creating a plateau event in which it is extremely difficult to date artefacts by the carbon methodology (as the dates bunch). This, in turn, has led to the idea that there is actually a gap in tree ring and C14 data – a hole in chronology if you like. What is clear is that the Hallstatt Plateau gave rise to the C14 calibration, an attempt to make carbon methodology fit with what were regarded as well known historical facts. They may not have been as well known as historians like to think – but that is bye the bye. Underlying all this and basic to the idea of a solar minimum is the fact that climate in NW Europe became colder and wetter. This climate switch is apparently now called the Homeric Climate Oscillation – which is where the Homeric Minimum comes in. It is assumed it was caused by low activity on the Sun. Other possibilities are not at the forefront of investigation. This, then, is why we are supposed to have entered a Homeric Minimum and one has to wonder if volcanoes and earthquakes might also be involved, and a more dust laden upper atmosphere restricting the amount of sunlight  filtering through an opaque sky. In fact, colder and wetter weather was a feature of Northern Spain, the Netherlands and Germany, and no doubt France and a few other countries. The North Atlantic Oscillation also changed – as a result of atmospheric pressure differences between Iceland and the Tropics. Further east, levels in the Caspian Sea rose contemporary with a wetter central Asia, almost certainly as a result of a shift southwards of the jet stream.

The same story is at https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/the-homeric-minimum-climate-c… … which is primarily concerned with comparing climate change then with now. Contrary to both links societies seem to have thrived, in spite of the weather. People adapt. In Britain, for example, archaeological literature suggests there was a movement by farmers to move to cattle farming, in an intensive fashion. Evidence for this has come from black layers at Iron Age sites, with the suggestion cattle were reared in close quarters. This was perhaps a reaction to a shorter growing season for arable crops. Wheat and barley, as staple commodities, continued to be be grown. Where would they have got their beer if there was no barley to malt. The idea of the solar minimum is popularised possibly because the Maunder Minimum was a part of the Little Ice Age scenario – although somewhat later than the coldest of the weather. The Sporer Minimum, on the other hand, seems to fit into what has been called the Little Medieval Warm Period (roughly contemporary the early to mid Tudors). It is true there were some bad floods and storms in the mid 16th century but Cracknell attributed this to other factors, not least rising sea levels as a result of warming. The truth is somewhere in between. Did the Sporer Minimum create the storms or was that down to a concoction of Icelandic Lows and a jet stream on a more southerly path (per Lamb). Solar scientists are divided on what solar minimums entail. At the web site at the top they assume we are approaching a grand solar minimum which will peak in around 2050 – but this is mostly guesswork. It is still classed a  theory. The evidence is not overriding that solar minimums necessarily equate with cold weather (cooler summers for example). Not only that but cool and wet weather was also a feature of the13th and 14th centuries, at a time when the population of Britain was quite high (later decimated by the Black Death in the mid to late 14th century). There was also a Mid Saxon cool and wet phase according to Cracknell and Lamb. Is that asociated with a solar minimum.

At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sporer_Minimum … we have a 'hypothesized' 90 year span of low solar  activity. Again, it is a theory based on the idea that low solar activity always corresponds with cool and wet weather in for example Britain and Ireland. It is dated between 1460 and 1550. Solar activity research is defined by proxy methodology and involves the production of cosmic rays. The latter are inhibited from entering the solar system during periods of high solar activity (which is the middle years of 11 year solar cycles). In between two solar cycles, as we are now, more cosmic rays are able to penetrate our solar system. So, periods of enhanced cosmic rays over an extended period are thought to be a sign of a solar minimum such as the Homeric or Sporer minimums. The Maunder Minimum is known from a prolonged bout of low sun spot activity as reported by scientists of the time. Hence, they can't go further back in time as sun spots were not recorded in earlier periods, their significance or curiosity apparently not recognised.

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