Thursday, March 06, 2008
No Sunspots. Hello Next Ice Age ?
I'm leaving the snow for a week to soak up some sunshine. I've been hearing some interesting things about our sun and the lack of sunspots. Apparently,some solar scientists are beginning to think we may be entering a phase of lower solar luminosity. SUNSPOTS seem to play an intrinsic roll in this. The Earth may be headed for a cooler period; possibly a much colder weather cycle over the next decades.
Sunspots are very interesting phenomena that peak in numbers and diminish again in 11 year cycles on average.
Scientists at NCAR think that cycle 24 is delayed and actually think that may herald a stronger than average solar cycle. It's getting late. They said the sunspots would materialize by 2007 or early 2008. The sunspots still haven't materialized. Watch this image updated daily by SOHO.
Kenneth Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, is among those looking at the sun for evidence of an increase in sunspot activity.
Solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle. But so far in this cycle, the sun has been disturbingly quiet. The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century.
If sunspots don't materialize in the next few months - we may be headed into weather that will make this last winter seem wimpy. The upside of a long-duration minimal sunspot period is that it will put the brakes (big time) on global warming.
The downside is the prospect of another mini-ice age. If sunspots don't show up pretty soon - I'm going to start shopping for swampland in Florida.
Pray for sunspots.
LATEST BREAKING NEWS! This teeny spot on the far side of the sun could be the first sunspot of cycle 24!