Sunspot Update – Our Quiet Sun

| July 10, 2008

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Our sun, the largest single input of energy to our world, continues its quiet period. For the past 16 days there has not been any sunspots on the face of our local star. If you discount the small spots visible only because of our modern powerful tools, the blank period is much longer than that.

As we noted earlier, the original estimates for solar cycle 24, which should have started months ago, was for it to be a nasty high-output affair. An active sunspot cycle that would boost the output of the sun, bathing the earth in excess light and heat, keeping the temperatures on the incline.

What this implies is anyone’s guess. But there are several theories about the last time the sun took a rest that coincided with significant cooling events, including a period known as the “Little Ice Age“.

The last period of minimum sunspot activity was in 1997. As you can see from the chart below (based on data from the excellent site solarcycle24.com), the current minimum started out in June 2007 in the normal range, but over the past few months have dropped off to a very quiet state.

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If this continues, we will have a fantastic opportunity to study what happens when the sun goes quiet, and it will greatly enhance our understanding of how stars work. On the other hand, if it’s connected to periods like the little ice age, we may soon be looking for ways to emit as much CO2 as we can.

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Category: Climate Change, History, Main, Science, Space

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

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