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Our sun is in a marked quiet phase - no sunspots. From Watts Up With That:

Solar Slump: The Sun has been blank for two weeks straight
Over the weekend, we reviewed the state of the solar data for March 2017. Now, there’s a two week straight lack of sunspots, the longest stretch since 2010.

Overview
The sun is currently blank with no visible sunspots and this is the 14th straight day with a blank look which is the longest such stretch since April 2010 according to spaceweather.com. Historically weak solar cycle 24 continues to transition away from its solar maximum phase and towards the next solar minimum. In April 2010 – the last time there was a two week stretch with no visible sunspots – the sun was emerging from the last solar minimum which was historically long and deep. There have already been 26 spotless days in 2017 (34% of the entire year) and this follows 32 spotless days last year which occurred primarily during the latter part of the year. The blank look to the sun will increase in frequency over the next couple of years leading up to the next solar minimum – probably to be reached in late 2019 or 2020. By one measure, the current solar cycle is the third weakest since record keeping began in 1755 and it continues a weakening trend since solar cycle 21 peaked in 1980. One of the impacts of low solar activity is the increase of cosmic rays that can penetrate into the Earth’s upper atmosphere and this has some important consequences.

The sun is a key driver in our climate and sunspots are an excellent proxy for solar output. Fewer sunspots = less warmth. This also means more clouds with a higher albedo (reflectivity) of the Earths atmosphere and correspondingly more cooling. The solar wind is comprised of charged particles streaming against the Earth's magnetic field. This creates a barrier which deflects incoming cosmic rays. When this barrier is weaker, more cosmic rays reach the atmosphere, collide with atoms of oxygen and water releasing charged particles. These particles form nucleation sites for water vapor - hence, more clouds.

Time to lay in a stock of firewood and bundle up.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on March 20, 2017 10:33 AM.

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