Story in the Breitbart News this morning:
The sun is known to be the main driver of all weather and climate. With 99.86% of the mass in our solar system, the great ball of violent fire in the sky, has recently gone quiet in what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. Weak solar cycles have been associated with very benign “space weather” that can cause a “Little Ice Age.”
Strong solar activity has been studied by scientists since 1759 because it has a direct impact on change in temperatures in the “thermosphere,” which extends from about 56 miles to between 311 to 621 miles above the Earth. The thermosphere sits between the mesosphere below and exosphere above. As the biggest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, temperatures rise and fall in the thermosphere, depending on the amount of highly energetic solar radiation that is release from flares and sunspot.
There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first period is known as the “Maunder Minimum”, named after the solar astronomer Edward Maunder and lasting from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the “Dalton Minimum”, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton and lasting from about 1790 to 1830. Both historical periods coincided with colder-than-normal global temperatures and are often referred to by scientists as the “Little Ice Age.”
Physicists have found a direct relationship between solar activity, cosmic rays, and clouds on Earth. In times of low solar activity that result in weak solar winds, more cosmic rays reach the Earth’s atmosphere. That, in turn, has been shown to generate an increase in certain types of cloud cover that can act to cool the Earth.
The current historically weak solar cycle is a continuation of the twenty-year downward trend in sunspot cycle strength that began in “Solar Cycle 22.” If this trend continues for the next couple of cycles, then the Earth could suffer another “grand minimum” event, similar to the “Maunder” and “Dalton” that caused the last “Little Ice Age.”
A quiet sun is beginning to attract more media attention.