05.18.2020

We May Be Entering a Deep Solar Minimum as the Sun Goes Unusually Quiet

Mathew Owens, Professor of Space Physics at the University of Reading, U.K., told Newsweek that entering a solar minimum is not unusual, but the level of activity currently taking place is out of the ordinary. “The Sun has been ‘spotless’ for a large fraction of the last year, which is indeed quieter than is typical,” he said in an email. “It’s still a little early to say where it fits relative to other minima we’ve seen. If it does continue in this fashion, it may well rank up there with the longer minima on record. But at present it is not unprecedented; in fact, the very previous solar minimum [2009-2010] was longer.”
Solar minimums in the sun’s normal cycle have little to no effect on Earth’s temperature, with energy output from the Sun only dropping by around 0.1 percent.
“The Earth’s surface temperature during the Maunder Minimum was probably about 1 degree Celsius colder than the 19th century (before human-induced global warming kicked off) and that period is sometimes called The Little Ice Age. However it is difficult to ascribe all that cooling to the Sun because it just so happened that there were quite a few big volcanic eruptions during that period and they also have a cooling effect.” Haigh said in terms of global temperatures, the solar minimum is little to worry about. If anything, it could help slightly mitigate current anthropogenic warming. This effect will dissipate when activity on the sun picks up again, however. Owens said he expects the sun’s quiet period to come to an end in the near future: “Based on past solar cycles, I’d expect activity to pick up very soon, in the coming few months. But the Sun can always surprise us.”   This article appeared on the Newsweek website at https://www.newsweek.com/sun-deep-solar-minimum-unusually-quiet-1504795]]>

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