WEATHER WARNING: Earth approaching prolonged SOLAR MINIMUM sparking fears of cold shock | Science | News

Just a fraction of sunspots have littered our host star this year, as Earth heads into the solar minimum much earlier than experts had anticipated.

The sun follows cycles of roughly 11 years where it reaches a solar maximum and then a solar minimum.

The last time there was a prolonged solar minimum, it led to a ‘mini ice-age’, scientifically known as the Maunder minimum – which lasted for 70 years.

During a solar maximum, the sun gives off more heat and is littered with sunspots. Less heat in a solar minimum due to a decrease in magnetic waves.

According to Space Weather: “As of today, the sun has been without sunspots for 100 days in 2018.

“If current trends continue, 2018 will end with a 10-year low in sunspot counts. This is a sign that Solar Minimum is approaching – even more rapidly than forecasters expected.”

The Maunder minimum, which saw seven decades of freezing weather, began in 1645 and lasted through to 1715, and happened when sunspots were exceedingly rare.

During this period, temperatures dropped globally by 1.3 degrees celsius leading to shorter seasons and ultimately food shortages.

Vencore Weather, a meteorological website, said: “Low solar activity is known to have consequences on Earth’s weather and climate and it also is well correlated with an increase in cosmic rays that reach the upper part of the atmosphere.

“The blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years.”

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