The single biggest influence on the earth’s climate is the sun. It’s a burning ball of gas that is bigger than a million earths, and counts for 99.8% of all matter in our solar system. It’s kind of a big deal.
Researchers at the US National Solar Observatory are warning us that the sun might be taking a few years off. The sun has its moods, that tend to last about 11 years. These solar cycles are marked by the flow of plasma which determine the amount of solar flares and sunspot activity generating blasts of radiation. The more sunspots, the hotter it gets here.
From 1645 to 1715 the earth was at its coldest since the last great ice age. It’s known as the Maunder Minimum, referring to the lowest numbers in observed susnpots since they had started watching. The Maunder Minimum also corresponded with “The Little Ice Age” that brought a record cold winters to the northern hemisphere. The Baltic Sea froze over. Londeners held frost festivals on the Thames river. People in New York could walk across the harbour from Manhattan to Staten Island.
Back to current news, the NSO research trends seem to indicate that we could be heading into a solar cold-snap with the next cycle. They are expecting unusually low sunspot activity, which could lead to 30 years of cooler-than-average temperatures. The plasma flow that signals the beginning of new cycles doesn’t seem to be present, so it could mean a missing cycle, or perhaps just a delayed start. I’ve heard nothing about the possibility of a sun baby.
- Source: Next solar cycle could be a no-show – Science News