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Friday, March 4, 2016

Eugenics


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Logo from the Second International Eugenics Conference, 1921, depicting eugenics as a tree which unites a variety of different fields.[1]

Eugenics (/jˈɛnɪks/; from Greek εὐγενής eugenes "well-born" from εὖ eu, "good, well" and γένος genos, "race, stock, kin")[2][3] is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population.[4][5] It is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of human genetic traits through the promotion of higher rates of sexual reproduction for people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics), or both.[6] Alternatively, gene selection rather than "people selection" has recently been made possible through advances in gene editing (e.g. CRISPR).[7] The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined. The definition of it as a "social philosophy"—that is, a philosophy with implications for social order—is not universally accepted, and was taken from Frederick Osborn's 1937 journal article "Development of a Eugenic Philosophy".[6]

While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as Ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom[8] and spread to many countries, including the United States and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies meant to improve the genetic stock of their countries. Such programs often included both "positive" measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly "fit" to reproduce, and "negative" measures such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed unfit to reproduce often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges of different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups. The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust—the murder by the German state of approximately 11 million people—when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the US eugenics programs.[9] In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually abandoned eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them Sweden and the US, continued to carry out forced sterilizations for several decades.

Since the 1980s and 1990s when new assisted reproductive technology procedures became available, such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989) and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear about a possible future revival of eugenics and a widening of the gap between the rich and the poor has emerged.

A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether "negative" or "positive" policies are used, they are vulnerable to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in inbreeding depression instead due to a low genetic variation.

History


Francis Galton was an early eugenicist, coining the term itself and popularizing the collocation of the words "nature and nurture".[10]

The idea of eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[11] The idea of eugenics to decrease the birth of inferior human beings has existed at least since William Goodell (1829-1894) advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[12][13]

However, the term "eugenics" to describe the modern concept of improving the quality of human beings born into the world was originally developed by Francis Galton. Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Galton believed that desirable traits were hereditary based on biographical studies, Darwin strongly disagreed with his interpretation of the book.[14] In 1883, one year after Darwin's death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[15] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained a controversial concept.[16]

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources.[17] Organisations formed to win public support, and modify opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, included the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907, and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen, and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[18] Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[19] It has roots in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States.[20] Later, in the 1920s and 30s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries, including Belgium,[21] Brazil,[22] Canada,[23] Japan and Sweden.[24]

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rüdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, in Sweden the eugenics program continued until 1975.[24] In addition to being practised in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations.[25] Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics,[26] the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution,[27] and the Eugenics Record Office.[28] Its political aspects involved advocating laws allowing the pursuit of eugenic objectives, such as sterilization laws.[29] Its moral aspects included rejection of the doctrine that all human beings are born equal, and redefining morality purely in terms of genetic fitness.[30] Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure "Nordic race" or "Aryan" genetic pool and the eventual elimination of "less fit" races.[31][32]

As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. At this point in time, eugenics was practiced around the world and was promoted by governments and influential individuals and institutions. Many countries enacted[33] various eugenics policies and programmes, including: genetic screening, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and segregation of the mentally ill from the rest of the population), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, and genocide. Most of these policies were later regarded as coercive or restrictive, and now few jurisdictions implement policies that are explicitly labelled as eugenic or unequivocally eugenic in substance. The methods of implementing eugenics varied by country; however, some early 20th century methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as "degenerate" or "unfit", the segregation or institutionalization of such individuals and groups, their sterilization, euthanasia, and their mass murder.[34] The practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.

A Lebensborn birth house in Nazi Germany. Created with intention of raising the birth rate of "Aryan" children from extramarital relations of "racially pure and healthy" parents.

By the end of World War II, many of the discriminatory eugenics laws were largely abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany.[34][35] After World War II, the practice of "imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a population] group" fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[36] The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims "the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons".[37] In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, government practices of compulsive sterilization continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, allegedly 2,000 persons were involuntarily sterilized.[38] China maintained its coercive one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation in order to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations.[39][40][41] In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilisations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan.[42] During the years 2005–06 to 2012–13, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.[43]

Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century are raising numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject. Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.[44] This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a "new era of eugenics", and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, "where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products".[45] In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction.[46]

Some, such as Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family.[47] Comfort suggests that "[t]he eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise."[48] Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that "[e]ugenics doesn't seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn't sufficient to show that they're wrong."[49]

In October 2015, the United Nations' International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements; however, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want or cannot afford the enhancements.[50]

Meanings and types


Karl Pearson (1912)

The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883,[51] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin.[52][53] Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance, and the theories of August Weismann.[54] The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu ("good" or "well") and the suffix -genēs ("born"), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word "stirpiculture", which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones.[55] Galton defined eugenics as "the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations".[56] Galton did not understand the mechanism of inheritance.[57]

Eugenics has, from the very beginning, meant many different things.[citation needed] Historically, the term has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia.[citation needed] To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that "the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent."[58] Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics has continued to the present day.[59]

Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry.[60] The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of "improvement" of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. This aspect of eugenics has historically been tainted with scientific racism.

Early eugenists were mostly concerned with perceived intelligence factors that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.[14]

Eugenics also had a place in medicine. In his lecture "Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics", Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.[61]

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories. Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful.[62] Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning.[63] The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of positive eugenics done voluntarily. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally "undesirable".[62] This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.[63] Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.[64]

Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means "good genes" and using it as synonym for genocide is an "all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States." According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not "Hitler's twisted Final Solution".[65]

Implementation methods

According to Richard Lynn, eugenics may be divided into two main categories based on the ways in which the methods of eugenics can be applied.[66]
  1. Classical Eugenics
    1. Negative eugenics by provision of information and services, i.e. reduction of unplanned pregnancies and births.[67]
      1. "Just say no" campaigns.[68]
      2. Sex education in schools.[69]
      3. School-based clinics.[70]
      4. Promoting the use of contraception.[71]
      5. Emergency contraception.[72]
      6. Research for better contraceptives.[73]
      7. Sterilization.[74]
      8. Abortion.[75]
    2. Negative eugenics by incentives, coercion and compulsion.[76]
      1. Incentives for sterilization.[77]
      2. The Denver Dollar-a-day program, i.e. paying teenage mothers for not becoming pregnant again.[78]
      3. Incentives for women on welfare to use contraceptions.[79]
      4. Payments for sterilization in developing countries.[80]
      5. Curtailment of benefits to welfare mothers.[81]
      6. Sterilization of the "mentally retarded".[82]
      7. Sterilization of female criminals.[83]
      8. Sterilization of male criminals.[84]
    3. Licences for parenthood.[85][86][87]
    4. Positive eugenics.[88]
      1. Financial incentives to have children.[89]
      2. Selective incentives for childbearing.[90]
      3. Taxation of the childless.[91]
      4. Ethical obligations of the elite.[92][clarification needed]
      5. Eugenic immigration.[93]
  2. New Eugenics
    1. Artificial insemination by donor.[94]
    2. Egg donation.[95]
    3. Prenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders and pregnancy terminations of defective fetuses.[96]
    4. Embryo selection.[97]
    5. Genetic engineering.[98]
    6. Gene therapy.[99]
    7. Cloning.[100]

Arguments

Doubts on traits triggered by inheritance

The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan, who demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with white eyes from a family of red-eyes.[101] Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate.[101] Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined.[102] In spite of Morgan's public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.[103][104]

Ethics

A common criticism of eugenics is that "it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical".[105] Historically, this statement is evidenced by the obvious control of one group imposing its agenda on minority groups. This includes programs in England, Germany, and America targeting various groups, including Jews, homosexuals, Muslims, Romani, the homeless, and those with intellectual disabilities.[106]

Many of the ethical concerns from eugenics arise from the controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics has had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws (i.e. no inter-racial marriage and marriage restrictions based on land ownership).[107] Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.[108] In short, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.

With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion. The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion.[109] The ability to manipulate a fetus and determine who the child will be is something questioned by many of the opponents of, and even proponents for, eugenic policies.

Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement.[110] Public policy often focuses on issues related to race and gender, both of which could be controlled by manipulation of embryonic genes; eugenics and political issues are interconnected and the political aspect of eugenics must be addressed. Laws controlling the subjects, the methods, and the extent of eugenics will need to be considered in order to prevent the repetition of the unethical events of the past.

Most of the ethical concerns about eugenics involve issues of morality and power. Decisions about the morality and the control of this new science (and the subsequent results of the science) will need to be made as eugenics continue to influence the development of the science and medical fields.

Losing genetic diversity by classifying traits as diseases

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted "improvement" of the gene pool could very likely—as evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations (e.g., the dodo, Raphus cucullatus, of Mauritius)—result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.[111]
Edward M. Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes.[112] Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.[112]

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology there is at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.

However, some genetic diseases such as haemochromatosis can increase susceptibility to illness, cause physical deformities, and other dysfunctions, which provides some incentive for people to re-consider some elements of eugenics.

Autistic people have advocated a shift in perception of autism spectrum disorders as complex syndromes rather than diseases that must be cured. Proponents of this view reject the notion that there is an "ideal" brain configuration and that any deviation from the norm is pathological; they promote tolerance for what they call neurodiversity.[113] Baron-Cohen argues that the genes for Asperger's combination of abilities have operated throughout recent human evolution and have made remarkable contributions to human history.[114] The possible reduction of autism rates through selection against the genetic predisposition to autism is a significant political issue in the autism rights movement, which claims that autism is a part of neurodiversity.

Many culturally Deaf people oppose attempts to cure deafness, believing instead deafness should be considered a defining cultural characteristic not a disease.[115][116][117] Some people have started advocating the idea that deafness brings about certain advantages, often termed "Deaf Gain."[118][119]

Heterozygous recessive traits

The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child.[120] The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.[120]

Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington's disease, are dominant, it could be argued[by whom?] from certain perspectives that the practicality of "eliminating" traits is quite low.[citation needed]

There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (Tay–Sachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan's disease, and Gaucher's disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[121]

Pleiotropic genes

Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect.[122] Andrzej Pękalski, from the University of Wrocław, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects for a pleiotropic gene that is also associated with a positive trait. Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together.[123]

Supporters and critics


G. K. Chesterton, an opponent of eugenics, in 1905, by photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn

At its peak of popularity, eugenics was supported by a wide variety of prominent people, including Winston Churchill,[124] Margaret Sanger,[125][126] Marie Stopes,[127][128] H. G. Wells,[129] Norman Haire, Havelock Ellis, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, John Harvey Kellogg, Robert Andrews Millikan,[130] Linus Pauling,[131] Sidney Webb,[132][133][134] and W. E. B. Du Bois.[135]

In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.[18] In 1925 Adolf Hitler praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of "defectives" that had been pioneered in the United States.[136]

Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward,[137] the English writer G. K. Chesterton, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas,[138] and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Ward's 1913 article "Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics", Chesterton's 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas' 1916 article "Eugenics" (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address "Consumption: Its Cause and Cure",[139] and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes. Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben.[140] Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism that sterilization of "defectives" would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.[141]

Some supporters of eugenics later reversed their positions on it. For example, H. G. Wells, who had called for "the sterilization of failures" in 1904,[129] stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights he believed should be available to all people was "a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment".[142]

Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations.[143] Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalise voluntary sterilisation were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party.[page needed] The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii.[18] In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: "Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason."[144]

Monday, February 29, 2016

Solar cycle


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Line graph showing historical sunspot number count, Maunder and Dalton minima, and the Modern Maximum
400 year sunspot history, including the Maunder Minimum

"The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 69 in the late Summer of 2013. The smoothed sunspot number reached 68.9 in August 2013 so the official maximum will be at least this high. The smoothed sunspot number has been rising again towards this second peak over the last five months and has now surpassed the level of the first peak (66.9 in February 2012). Many cycles are double peaked but this is the first in which the second peak in sunspot number was larger than the first. We are currently over five years into Cycle 24. The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which had a maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906."[1] The monthly sunspot number was still rising as of March 2014.[2]
The solar cycle or solar magnetic activity cycle is the nearly periodic 11-year change in the Sun's activity (including changes in the levels of solar radiation and ejection of solar material) and appearance (changes in the number of sunspots, flares, and other manifestations).
They have been observed (by changes in the sun's appearance and by changes seen on Earth, such as auroras) for centuries.
The changes on the sun cause effects in space, in the atmosphere, and on Earth's surface. While it is the dominant variable in solar activity, aperiodic fluctuations also occur.
Evolution of magnetism on the Sun.

Definition

Solar cycles have an average duration of about 11 years. Solar maximum and solar minimum refer respectively to periods of maximum and minimum sunspot counts. Cycles span from one minimum to the next.

Observational history

Samuel Heinrich Schwabe (1789–1875). German astronomer, discovered the solar cycle through extended observations of sunspots
Rudolf Wolf (1816–1893), Swiss astronomer, carried out historical reconstruction of solar activity back to the seventeenth century

The solar cycle was discovered in 1843 by Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, who after 17 years of observations noticed a periodic variation in the average number of sunspots.[3] Rudolf Wolf compiled and studied these and other observations, reconstructing the cycle back to 1745, eventually pushing these reconstructions to the earliest observations of sunspots by Galileo and contemporaries in the early seventeenth century.

Following Wolf's numbering scheme, the 1755–1766 cycle is traditionally numbered "1". Wolf created a standard sunspot number index, the Wolf index, which continues to be used today.

The period between 1645 and 1715, a time of few sunspots,[4] is known as the Maunder minimum, after Edward Walter Maunder, who extensively researched this peculiar event, first noted by Gustav Spörer.

In the second half of the nineteenth century Richard Carrington and by Spörer independently noted the phenomena of sunspots appearing at different latitudes at different parts of the cycle.

The cycle's physical basis was elucidated by Hale and collaborators, who in 1908 showed that sunspots were strongly magnetized (the first detection of magnetic fields beyond the Earth). In 1919 they showed that the magnetic polarity of sunspot pairs:
  • Is constant throughout a cycle;
  • Is opposite across the equator throughout a cycle;
  • Reverses itself from one cycle to the next.
Hale's observations revealed that the complete magnetic cycle spans two solar cycles, or 22 years, before returning to its original state. However, because nearly all manifestations are insensitive to polarity, the "11-year solar cycle" remains the focus of research.

In 1961 the father-and-son team of Harold and Horace Babcock established that the solar cycle is a spatiotemporal magnetic process unfolding over the Sun as a whole. They observed that the solar surface is magnetized outside of sunspots; that this (weaker) magnetic field is to first order a dipole; and that this dipole undergoes polarity reversals with the same period as the sunspot cycle. Horace's Babcock model described the Sun's oscillatory magnetic field, with a quasi-steady periodicity of 22 years.[2] [3] It covered the oscillatory exchange of energy between poloidal and toroidal solar magnetic field ingredients. The two halves of the 22-year cycle are not identical, typically alternating cycles show higher (lower) sunspot counts (the "Gnevyshev–Ohl Rule."[5])

Cycle history


Reconstruction of solar activity over 11,400 years. Period of equally high activity over 8,000 years ago marked.

Sunspot numbers over the past 11,400 years have been reconstructed using Carbon-14-based dendroclimatology. The level of solar activity beginning in the 1940s is exceptional – the last period of similar magnitude occurred around 9,000 years ago (during the warm Boreal period).[6][7][8] The Sun was at a similarly high level of magnetic activity for only ~10% of the past 11,400 years. Almost all earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episode.[7]

Solar activity events recorded in radiocarbon. Present period is on right. Values since 1900 not shown.
Major events and approximate dates
Event Start End
Homeric minimum[9] 950BC 800BC
Oort minimum 1040 1080
Medieval maximum 1100 1250
Wolf minimum 1280 1350
Spörer Minimum 1450 1550
Maunder Minimum 1645 1715
Dalton Minimum 1790 1820
Modern Maximum 1900 present

A list of historical Grand minima of solar activity[6] came around 690 AD, 360 BC, 770 BC, 1390 BC, 2860 BC, 3340 BC, 3500 BC, 3630 BC, 3940 BC, 4230 BC, 4330 BC, 5260 BC, 5460 BC, 5620 BC, 5710 BC, 5990 BC, 6220 BC, 6400 BC, 7040 BC, 7310 BC, 7520 BC, 8220 BC and 9170 BC. Since observations began, cycles have ranged from 9–14 years. Significant amplitude variations also occur.

It was first thought that 28 cycles had spanned the 309 years between 1699 and 2008, giving an average length of 11.04 years, but recent research has showed that the longest of these (1784–1799) seems actually to have been two cycles,[10][11] meaning that one of the two had to have lasted less than 8 years.

Recent cycles

Cycle 24

The current solar cycle began on January 4, 2008, with minimal activity until early 2010.[12][13] It is on track to have the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750. The cycle featured a "double-peaked" solar maximum. The first peak was reached 99 in 2011 and the second in early 2014 at 101.[14]

Cycle 23

This cycle lasted 11.6 years, beginning in May 1996 and ending in January 2008. The maximum smoothed sunspot number (monthly number of sunspots averaged over a twelve-month period) observed during the solar cycle was 120.8 (March 2000), and the minimum was 1.7.[15] A total of 805 days had no sunspots during this cycle.[16][17][18]

Phenomena

Various solar phenomena follow the solar cycle, including sunspots and coronal mass ejections.

Sunspots


A drawing of a sunspot in the Chronicles of John of Worcester.

The Sun's apparent surface, the photosphere, radiates more actively when there are more sunspots. Satellite monitoring of solar luminosity revealed a direct relationship between the Schwabe cycle and luminosity with a peak-to-peak amplitude of about 0.1%.[19] Luminosity decreases by as much as 0.3% on a 10-day timescale when large groups of sunspots rotate across the Earth's view and increase by as much as 0.05% for up to 6 months due to faculae associated with large sunspot groups.[20]

The best information today comes from SOHO (a cooperative project of the European Space Agency and NASA), such as the MDI magnetogram, where the solar "surface" magnetic field can be seen.

As each cycle begins, sunspots appear at mid-latitudes, and then closer and closer to the equator until solar minimum is reached. This pattern is best visualized in the form of the so-called butterfly diagram. Images of the Sun are divided into latitudinal strips, and the monthly-averaged fractional surface of sunspots calculated. This is plotted vertically as a color-coded bar, and the process is repeated month after month to produce this time-series diagram. As there are peaks in sunspot number around 1955–58, James T. Struck argued for a Struck Maximum, given his discovery of the peak at this point, like Maunder and Dalton's work.[citation needed]


The sunspot butterfly diagram. This modern version is constructed (and regularly updated) by the solar group at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

While magnetic field changes are concentrated at sunspots, the entire sun undergoes analogous changes, albeit of smaller magnitude.

Time vs. solar latitude diagram of the radial component of the solar magnetic field, averaged over successive solar rotation. The "butterfly" signature of sunspots is clearly visible at low latitudes. Diagram constructed (and regularly updated) by the solar group at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

Coronal mass ejection

The solar magnetic field structures the corona, giving it its characteristic shape visible at times of solar eclipses. Complex coronal magnetic field structures evolve in response to fluid motions at the solar surface, and emergence of magnetic flux produced by dynamo action in the solar interior. For reasons not yet understood in detail, sometimes these structures lose stability, leading to coronal mass ejections into interplanetary space, or flares, caused by sudden localized release of magnetic energy driving emission of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation as well as energetic particles. These eruptive phenomena can have a significant impact on Earth's upper atmosphere and space environment, and are the primary drivers of what is now called space weather.
The occurrence frequency of coronal mass ejections and flares is strongly modulated by the cycle. Flares of any given size are some 50 times more frequent at solar maximum than at minimum. Large coronal mass ejections occur on average a few times a day at solar maximum, down to one every few days at solar minimum. The size of these events themselves does not depend sensitively on the phase of the solar cycle. A case in point are the three large X-class flares that occurred in December 2006, very near solar minimum; an X9.0 flare on Dec 5 stands as one of the brightest on record.[21]

Patterns


An overview of three solar cycles shows the relationship between the sunspot cycle, galactic cosmic rays, and the state of our near-space environment.[22]

The Waldmeier effect names the observation that cycles with larger maximum amplitudes tend to take less time to reach their maxima than cycles with smaller amplitudes;[23] maximum amplitudes are negatively correlated to the lengths of earlier cycles, aiding prediction.[24]

Solar maxima and minima also exhibit fluctuations at time scales greater than solar cycles. Increasing and decreasing trends can continue for periods of a century or more.

The 87 year (70–100 year Gleissberg cycle, named after Wolfgang Gleißberg, is thought to be an amplitude modulation of the Schwabe Cycle,[5][25][26] The Gleisberg cycle implied that the next solar cycle have a maximum smoothed sunspot number of about 145±30 in 2010 (instead 2010 was just after the cycle's solar minimum) and that the following cycle have a maximum of about 70±30 in 2023.[27]

Associated centennial variations in magnetic fields in the Corona and Heliosphere have been detected using Carbon-14 and beryllium-10 cosmogenic isotopes stored in terrestrial reservoirs such as ice sheets and tree rings[28] and by using historic observations of Geomagnetic storm activity, which bridge the time gap between the end of the usable cosmogenic isotope data and the start of modern satellite data.[29]

These variations have been successfully reproduced using models that employ magnetic flux continuity equations and observed sunspot numbers to quantify the emergence of magnetic flux from the top of the solar atmosphere and into the Heliosphere,[30] showing that sunspot observations, geomagnetic activity and cosmogenic isotopes offer a convergent understanding of solar activity variations.


2,300 year Hallstatt solar variation cycles.

Hypothesized cycles

Periodicity of solar activity with periods longer than the sunspot cycle has been proposed,[5] including:

The 210 year Suess cycle (a.k.a. "de Vries cycle").[26] This cycle is recorded from radiocarbon studies, although "little evidence of the Suess Cycle" appears in the 400-year sunspot record.[5])

The Hallstatt cycle is hypothesized to extend for approximately 2,300 years.[31][32]

An as yet unnamed cycle may extend over 6,000 years.[33]

In carbon-14 cycles of 105, 131, 232, 385, 504, 805 and 2,241 years have been observed, possibly matching cycles derived from other sources.[34] Damon and Sonett[35] proposed carbon 14-based medium- and short-term variations of periods 208 and 88 years; as well as suggesting a 2300-year radiocarbon period that modulates the 208-year period.[36]

During the Upper Permian 240 million years ago, mineral layers created in the Castile Formation show cycles of 2,500 years.[citation needed]

Solar magnetic field

The Sun's magnetic field structures its atmosphere and outer layers all the way through the corona and into the solar wind. Its spatiotemporal variations lead to various measurable solar phenomena. Other solar phenomena are closely related to the cycle, which serves as the energy source and dynamical engine for the former.

Effects

Solar


Activity cycles 21, 22 and 23 seen in sunspot number index, TSI, 10.7cm radio flux, and flare index. The vertical scales for each quantity have been adjusted to permit overplotting on the same vertical axis as TSI. Temporal variations of all quantities are tightly locked in phase, but the degree of correlation in amplitudes is variable to some degree.

Surface magnetism

Sunspots eventually decay, releasing magnetic flux in the photosphere. This flux is dispersed and churned by turbulent convection and solar large-scale flows. These transport mechanisms lead to the accumulation of magnetized decay products at high solar latitudes, eventually reversing the polarity of the polar fields (notice how the blue and yellow fields reverse in the Hathaway/NASA/MSFC graph above).

The dipolar component of the solar magnetic field reverses polarity around the time of solar maximum and reaches peak strength at the solar minimum.

Space

Spacecraft

CMEs (coronal mass ejections) produce a radiation flux of high-energy protons, sometimes known as solar cosmic rays. These can cause radiation damage to electronics and solar cells in satellites. Solar proton events also can cause single-event upset (SEU) events on electronics; at the same, the reduced flux of galactic cosmic radiation during solar maximum decreases the high-energy component of particle flux.

CME radiation is dangerous to astronauts on a space mission who are outside the shielding produced by the Earth's magnetic field. Future mission designs (e.g., for a Mars Mission) therefore incorporate a radiation-shielded "storm shelter" for astronauts to retreat to during such an event.

Gleißberg developed a CME forecasting method that relies on consecutive cycles.[37]

On the positive side, the increased irradiance during solar maximum expands the envelope of the Earth's atmosphere, causing low-orbiting space debris to re-enter more quickly.

Galactic cosmic ray flux

The outward expansion of solar ejecta into interplanetary space provides overdensities of plasma that are efficient at scattering high-energy cosmic rays entering the solar system from elsewhere in the galaxy. The frequency of solar eruptive events is modulated by the cycle, changing the degree of cosmic ray scattering in the outer solar system accordingly. As a consequence, the cosmic ray flux in the inner solar system is anticorrelated with the overall level of solar activity. This anticorrelation is clearly detected in cosmic ray flux measurements at the Earth's surface. The effect amounts to several percent variation over the solar cycle, greater than the typically 0.1% variation in total solar irradiance.[38][39]

Some high-energy cosmic rays entering Earth's atmosphere collide hard enough with molecular atmospheric constituents to cause occasionally nuclear spallation reactions. Fission products include radionuclides such as 14C and 10Be that settle on the Earth's surface. Their concentration can be measured in ice cores, allowing a reconstruction of solar activity levels into the distant past.[40] Such reconstructions indicate that the overall level of solar activity since the middle of the twentieth century stands amongst the highest of the past 10,000 years, and that epochs of suppressed activity, of varying durations have occurred repeatedly over that time span.

Atmospheric

Solar irradiance

The total solar irradiance (TSI) is the amount of solar radiative energy incident on the Earth's upper atmosphere. TSI variations were undetectable until satellite observations began in late 1978. A series of radiometers were launched on satellites from the 1970s to the 2000s.[41] TSI measurements varied from 1360 to 1370 W/m2 across ten satellites. One of the satellites, the ACRIMSAT was launched by the ACRIM group. The controversial 1989-1991 "ACRIM gap" between non-overlapping satellites was interpolated by an ACRIM composite showing +0.037%/decade rise. Another series based on ACRIM data is produced by the PMOD group. Its series shows a -0.008%/decade downward trend.[42] This 0.045%/decade difference impacts climate models.
Solar irradiance varies systematically over the cycle,[43] both in total irradiance and in its relative components (UV vs visible and other frequencies). The solar luminosity is an estimated 0.07 percent brighter during the mid-cycle solar maximum than the terminal solar minimum. Photospheric magnetism appears to be the primary cause (96%) of 1996-2013 TSI variation.[44] The ratio of ultraviolet to visible light varies.[45]

TSI varies in phase with the solar magnetic activity cycle[46] with an amplitude of about 0.1% around an average value of about 1361.5 W/m2[47] (the "solar constant"). Variations about the average of up to −0.3% are caused by large sunspot groups and of +0.05% by large faculae and the bright network on a 7-10-day timescale[48] (see TSI variation graphics).[49] Satellite-era TSI variations show small but detectable trends.[50][51]

TSI is higher at solar maximum, even though sunspots are darker (cooler) than the average photosphere. This is caused by magnetized structures other than sunspots during solar maxima, such as faculae and active elements of the "bright" network, that are brighter (hotter) than the average photosphere. They collectively overcompensate for the irradiance deficit associated with the cooler, but less numerous sunspots. The primary driver of TSI changes on solar rotational and sunspot cycle timescales is the varying photospheric coverage of these radiatively active solar magnetic structures.[citation needed]

Energy changes in UV irradiance involved in production and loss of ozone have atmospheric effects. The 30 HPa Atmospheric pressure level changed height in phase with solar activity during solar cycles 20-23. UV irradiance increase caused higher ozone production, leading to stratospheric heating and to poleward displacements in the stratospheric and tropospheric wind systems.[52]

Short-wavelength radiation


A solar cycle: a montage of ten years' worth of Yohkoh SXT images, demonstrating the variation in solar activity during a sunspot cycle, from after August 30, 1991, to September 6, 2001. Credit: the Yohkoh mission of ISAS (Japan) and NASA (US).

With a temperature of 5870 K, the photosphere emits a proportion of radiation in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and above. However, hotter upper layers of the Sun's atmosphere (chromosphere and corona) emit more short-wavelength radiation. Since the upper atmosphere is not homogeneous and contains significant magnetic structure, the solar ultraviolet (UV), EUV and X-ray flux varies markedly over the cycle.

The photo montage to the left illustrates this variation for soft X-ray, as observed by the Japanese satellite Yohkoh from after August 30, 1991, at the peak of cycle 22, to September 6, 2001, at the peak of cycle 23. Similar cycle-related variations are observed in the flux of solar UV or EUV radiation, as observed, for example, by the SOHO or TRACE satellites.

Even though it only accounts for a minuscule fraction of total solar radiation, the impact of solar UV, EUV and X-ray radiation on the Earth's upper atmosphere is profound. Solar UV flux is a major driver of stratospheric chemistry, and increases in ionizing radiation significantly affect ionosphere-influenced temperature and electrical conductivity.

Solar radio flux

Emission from the Sun at centimetric (radio) wavelength is due primarily to coronal plasma trapped in the magnetic fields overlying active regions.[53] 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 radio emission. F10.7 is often expressed in SFU or solar flux units (1 SFU = 10−22 W m−2 Hz−1). It represents a measure of diffuse, nonradiative coronal plasma heating. It is an excellent indicator of overall solar activity levels and correlates well with solar UV emissions.

Sunspot activity has a major effect on long distance radio communications, particularly on the shortwave bands although medium wave and low VHF frequencies are also affected. High levels of sunspot activity lead to improved signal propagation on higher frequency bands, although they also increase the levels of solar noise and ionospheric disturbances. These effects are caused by impact of the increased level of solar radiation on the ionosphere.

10.7 cm solar flux could interfere with point-to-point terrestrial communications.[54]

Clouds

The cosmic ray changes over the cycle potentially have significant atmospheric effects. Speculations about cosmic rays include:
  • Changes in ionization affect the aerosol abundance that serves as the condensation nucleus for cloud formation.[55] During solar minima more cosmic rays reach Earth, potentially creating ultra-small aerosol particles as precursors to Cloud condensation nuclei.[56] Clouds formed from greater amounts of condensation nuclei are brighter, longer lived and likely to produce less precipitation.
  • A change in cosmic rays could cause an increase in certain types of clouds, affecting Earth's albedo.[citation needed]
  • Particularly at high latitudes, with less shielding from Earth's magnetic field, cosmic ray variation may impact terrestrial low altitude cloud cover (unlike a lack of correlation with high altitude clouds), partially influenced by the solar-driven interplanetary magnetic field (as well as passage through the galactic arms over longer timeframes).[38][39][57][58] A 2002 paper rejected this hypothesis.[59]
Later papers claimed that production of clouds via cosmic rays could not be explained by nucleation particles. Accelerator results failed to produce sufficient, and sufficiently large, particles to result in cloud formation;[60][61] this includes observations after a major solar storm.[62] Observations after Chernobyl do not show any induced clouds.[63]

Terrestrial

Organisms

The impact of the solar cycle on living organisms has been investigated (see chronobiology). Some researchers claim to have found connections with human health.[64][65]

The amount of ultraviolet UVB light at 300 nm reaching the Earth varies by as much as 400% over the solar cycle due to variations in the protective ozone layer. In the stratosphere, ozone is continuously regenerated by the splitting of O2 molecules by ultraviolet light. During a solar minimum, the decrease in ultraviolet light received from the Sun leads to a decrease in the concentration of ozone, allowing increased UVB to reach the Earth's surface.[66]

Radio communication

Skywave modes of radio communication operate by bending (refracting) radio waves (electromagnetic radiation) through the Ionosphere. During the "peaks" of the solar cycle, the ionosphere becomes increasingly ionized by solar photons and cosmic rays. This affects the propagation of the radio wave in complex ways that can either facilitate or hinder communications. Forecasting of skywave modes is of considerable interest to commercial marine and aircraft communications, amateur radio operators and shortwave broadcasters. These users occupy frequencies within the High Frequency or 'HF' radio spectrum that are most affected by these solar and ionospheric variances. Changes in solar output affect the maximum usable frequency, a limit on the highest frequency usable for communications.

Climate

Both long-term and short-term variations in solar activity are hypothesized to affect global climate, but it has proven extremely challenging to quantify the link between solar variation and climate.[67]
Early research attempted to correlate weather with limited success,[68] followed by attempts to correlate solar activity with global temperature. The cycle also impacts regional climate. Measurements from the SORCE's Spectral Irradiance Monitor show that solar UV variability produces, for example, colder winters in the U.S. and southern Europe and warmer winters in Canada and northern Europe during solar minima.[69]

Three hypothetical mechanisms mediate solar variations' climate impacts:
  • Total solar irradiance ("Radiative forcing").
  • Ultraviolet irradiance. The UV component varies by more than the total, so if UV were for some (as yet unknown) reason having a disproportionate effect, this might affect climate.
  • Solar wind-mediated galactic cosmic ray changes, which may affect cloud cover.
The sunspot cycle variation of 0.1% has small but detectable effects on the Earth’s climate.[70][71][72] Camp and Tung suggest that solar irradiance correlates with a variation of 0.18 K ±0.08 K (0.32 °F ±0.14 °F) in measured average global temperature between solar maximum and minimum.[73]

The current scientific consensus is that solar variations do not play a major role in driving global warming,[67] since the measured magnitude of recent solar variation is much smaller than the forcing due to greenhouse gases.[74] Also, solar activity in the 2010s was not higher than in the 1950s (see above), whereas global warming had risen markedly. Otherwise, the level of understanding of solar impacts on weather is low.[75]

Causes

The basic causes of solar cycles are debated. While the proximate cause is a solar dynamo, the forces driving its behavior are less clear. Possibilities include a link with the tidal forces due to the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn,[76][77] or due to solar inertial motion.[78][79] Another cause of sunspots may be solar jet stream "torsional oscillation".

Models

Single dynamo

The 11-year sunspot cycle is half of a 22-year Babcock–Leighton solar dynamo cycle, which corresponds to an oscillatory exchange of energy between toroidal and poloidal solar magnetic fields. At solar-cycle maximum, the external poloidal dipolar magnetic field is near its dynamo-cycle minimum strength, but an internal toroidal quadrupolar field, generated through differential rotation within the tachocline, is near its maximum strength. At this point in the dynamo cycle, buoyant upwelling within the Convection zone forces emergence of the toroidal magnetic field through the photosphere, giving rise to pairs of sunspots, roughly aligned east–west with opposite magnetic polarities. The magnetic polarity of sunspot pairs alternates every solar cycle, a phenomenon known as the Hale cycle.[80][81]
During the solar cycle’s declining phase, energy shifts from the internal toroidal magnetic field to the external poloidal field, and sunspots diminish in number. At solar minimum, the toroidal field is, correspondingly, at minimum strength, sunspots are relatively rare and the poloidal field is at maximum strength. During the next cycle, differential rotation converts magnetic energy back from the poloidal to the toroidal field, with a polarity that is opposite to the previous cycle. The process carries on continuously, and in an idealized, simplified scenario, each 11-year sunspot cycle corresponds to a change in the polarity of the Sun's large-scale magnetic field.[82][83]

Double dynamo

In 2015, a new model of the solar cycle was published. The model draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its Convection zone. Model predictions suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'Little ice age' that began in 1645. Prior models included only the deeper dynamo.[84]

The model features paired magnetic wave components. Both components have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although their frequencies are slightly different and temporally offset. Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the Sun's northern and southern hemispheres.[84]

The model used principal component analysis of the Magnetic field observations from the Wilcox Solar Observatory. They examined magnetic field activity from solar cycles 21-23, covering 1976-2008. They also compared their predictions to average Sunspot numbers. The model was 97% accurate in predicting solar activity fluctuations.[84]

Exponential model

Perry and Hsu (2000) proposed a model based on emulating harmonics by multiplying the basic 11-year cycle by powers of 2, which produced results similar to Holocene behavior. Extrapolation suggested a gradual cooling during the next few centuries with intermittent minor warmups and a return to near-Little Ice Age conditions within the coming 500 years. This cool period then may be followed approximately 1,000 years later by a return to altithermal conditions similar to the previous Holocene Maximum.[85]