12:25pm Friday 17th June 2011
By Peter Warrender
The Sun has an ever changing cyclical life. It has periods of multiple sunspots this is called a Solar Maximum and other periods of no sunspots called Solar Minimum. This happened quite recently and we witnessed about a year without any sunspot activity. The sun seems to have an 11 year cycle and every 22 years the magnetic solar pole reverses. Scientists have predicted that by the year 2012 the Sun will be at a solar Maximum a period when the sun throws out large amounts of matter, called Mass Coronal Ejections and produces a large amount of sun spots. The scientists are now rethinking this projection as the Sun seems to be yet again failing to produce sunspots, the opposite to their prediction. They are likening the suns activity to the same period around 1645-1715, a period known as the "Little Ice Age”. Almost 70 years without sunspots. Until recently scientists have been predicting the Sun would by around 2012 move into solar maximum, a period of intense flares and sunspot activity, but lately a curious calm has suggested quite the opposite. If the amount of sunspots effects the earths climate, that is more sunspots = warmer, fewer = colder, we could be in for a very chilly experience.
Dig out your thermal underwear people, or is it suntan lotion? : )
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