Sunspots

Low solar activity linked to cool UK winter

Last year’s cold winter sparked a huge resurgence into the global warming debate.  If the earth is warming, why did we have a cold winter?

We’ve been in a “Solar Minimum” since about 2006, a long period with virtually no solar activity.  I’ve been writing about this for quite some time in these pages as you’ll see from these links.  Much of the hysteria over 2012 stems from the fact that we were due for a Solar Maximum period in 2012 which could create chaos in communication systems and electrical grids, but the extended minimum period, which ended just this year, suggests that we won’t hit the Solar Maximum period now until at least 2014.

Researchers in the UK have now identified a link between low sunspot activity and atmospheric conditions on Earth.  This year’s winter, according to Professor Mike Lockwood, was the coldest in 160 years.  He attributes the connection to a phenomenon called “blocking” which involvles the movement of the jet stream of the northern hemisphere.

“If you haven’t got blocking, then the jet stream brings the mild, wet westerly winds to give us the weather we are famous for.”

But, he added, if the jet stream is “blocked”, and pushed further northwards, then cold, dry winds from the east flow over Europe, resulting in a sharp fall in temperatures.

“This… ‘blocking’ does seem to be one of the things that can be modulated by solar activity,” he said.

Recent studies suggest that when solar activity is low, “blocking” events move eastwards from above north-eastern North America towards Europe, and become more stable.

A prolonged “blocking” during the most recent winter was responsible for the long spell of freezing conditions that gripped Europe.

Written observations from […]

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By |2010-04-15T08:04:52-04:00April 15th, 2010|Astronomy|Comments Off on Low solar activity linked to cool UK winter

Solar news

Spaceweather is reporting that a new sunspot created a C-class solar flare.  Normally this would not be much to write home about, but since we’re in the middle of the deepest solar minimum in 100 years, a solar flare is a big event!

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By |2009-09-25T08:00:21-04:00September 25th, 2009|Astronomy|Comments Off on Solar news

A new sunspot cycle?

The current Solar Minimum cycle has had 619 days of a spot-free Sun (as compared with the typical solar minimum of 485 days).  But Spaceweather reports today that a new active region on the Sun produced a Coronal Mass Ejection and a burst of radio emissions on the far side of the Sun that probably points to a new sunspot.

Increased solar activity affects satellite transmissions on Earth, and it seems to me that it likely affects the human electrical fields as well.  The next sunspot cycle is expected to peak in 2012, leading some scientists to issue dire warnings about the collapse of the electrical grid.

Spaceweather suggests that the CME will be visible from earth over the next couple of days and more information will be available then.

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By |2009-05-06T07:37:49-04:00May 6th, 2009|Astronomy|Comments Off on A new sunspot cycle?

We are in Deep Solar Minimum

Thanks to Astrococktail for this link to a NASA article on the Solar Minimum, the expected period of low sunspot activity.  The Solar Minimum came right on schedule back in 2006, as I reported in this earlier article.  But this Solar Minimum is setting all kinds of records.

In 2008 the Sun was completely blank of sunspots 73% of the time, the lowest activity since 1913.  As of March 31, according to the NASA article, the Sun has been free of sunspots 87% of the time in 2009.  This is a particularly deep solar minimum that follows a 50-year period of heightened sunspot activity.

The Solar Minimum could create cooler than usual weather conditions, just as the Maunder Minimum did between 1645-1715, coinciding what was called the “Little Ice Age.”  There is also a speculated connection between the Solar Minimum periods and increased earthquake activity.  USGS statistics that indicate that earthquake activity seems to have peaked in 2003-2006, so there appears to be some correlation since the Solar Minimum appears to have begun in 2004.

Spaceweather has a new calculator for the Solar Minimum and reports that while the typical Solar Minimum lasts 485 days, we have had 592 days of a blank Sun with no sunspots.

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By |2018-07-15T10:12:35-04:00April 6th, 2009|Astronomy|Comments Off on We are in Deep Solar Minimum
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