I have heard a little about recent research that does seem to show a link between solar activity and weather trends. Its an area of research that swings between showing it does and showing it doesnt have a link but this one on the face of it does look pretty interesting and comes from a Department that is pretty good at what it does.
The sun is supposed to be waking up from its solar minimum and doesnt appear to be and historically previous maunder minimum do seem to be associated with severe winters but as this article shows not all scientists are convinced there is a direct link.
Several forums have been talking about the 2011/2012 winter and that it looks like it could be another cold one ~ I can't believe they've been talking about this coming winter for a month or two already! It'll be interesting to see whether some of the predictions/forecasts are right. There's a winter weather forecast here (this one was talked about on met-monkey.) Definitely time to send the children out to work if we get another cold one!