Sunspots Still Missing – What Impact?

| March 5, 2008

Image from the SOHO spacecraft of the Sun – March 04, 2008

Our sun is a gigantic nuclear furnace that most people on Earth take for granted. It’s easy to assume that the sun is a constant, as we know it has been around longer than the planet Earth has, and has warmed the planet for billions of years.

The sun, like all stars, is variable. The amount of energy it releases into space (that eventually warms the earth) can vary significantly. Scientific study has shown that there are multiple cycles, some lasting days and others lasting decades and some suspected of lasting still longer.

Our sun is currently in the minimum stage of the typical 11 year sunspot cycle. As cited before in Where Have The Sunspots Gone?, the current minimum has been especially quiet.

For the past week there has been close to zero sunspot activity, including today’s report:

A small sunspot did emerge yesterday (see this image from the Hinode spacecraft), but too briefly to gain an official number. It has faded away again leaving the sun blank. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Scientists have not done a sufficient amount of research yet to understand what impact the Sun’s output has on our weather and climate. It begs the question if maybe part or all of the funding for hyping man made global warming might have been better spent establishing the earth-sun climate relationship.

One stark example of the coincidence between sunspots and global warming might looks something like this: Sunspot Activity at 8,000-Year High (published in 2004)

Sunspots have been more common in the past seven decades than at any time in the last 8,000 years, according to a new historic reconstruction of solar activity.

Sunspots have been studied directly for about four centuries, and these direct observations provide the most reliable historic record of solar activity. Previous studies have suggested cooler periods on Earth were related to long stretches with low sunspot counts. From the 1400s to the 1700s, for example, Europe and North America experienced a “Little Ice Age.” For a period of about 50 years during that time, there were almost no sunspots.

Several prominent academics suggest that lower sunspot activity might lead to cooler temperatures globally, and may have played some role in the severity of the Northern Hemisphere’s 2007-2008 winter.

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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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