Sun’s bizarre activity may trigger another ice age

By on July 12, 2013
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The sun is acting bizarrely and scientists have no idea why. Solar activity is in gradual decline, a change from the norm which in the past triggered a 300-year-long mini ice age.

Three leading solar scientists presented the very latest data about the weakening solar activity at a teleconference yesterday in Boulder, Colorado, organised by the American Astronomical Society. It featured experts from Nasa, the High Altitude Observatory and the National Solar Observatory who described how solar activity, as measured by the formation of sunspots and by massive explosions on the sun’s surface, has been falling steadily since the mid-1940s.

The sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle with a maximum, when sunspot activity is at its peak, followed by a minimum when sunspot numbers are reduced and are smaller and less energetic. We are supposed to be at a peak of activity, at solar maximum.

Outside the norm
The current situation, however, is outside the norm and the number of sunspots seems in steady decline. The sun was undergoing “bizarre behaviour” said Dr Craig DeForest of the society.

“The sun’s current maximum activity period is very late and very weak, leading to speculation that the sunspot cycle itself could be shutting down or entering a dormant phase,” he said before the teleconference.

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