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When the sun goes down
August 15, 2010 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Solar physicists may have discovered why the Sun recently experienced a prolonged period of weak activity. Apparently it was just a faulty conveyor belt. The solar minimum of 2008 is gone but not forgotten.
posted by twoleftfeet (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years. Sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely. The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth's northern hemisphere. Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling.

This period of quiet has coincided with some of the warmest temperatures on record. I wonder what is in store for the Earth when things get moving again.
posted by three blind mice at 4:48 AM on August 15, 2010


This period of quiet has coincided with some of the warmest temperatures on record. I wonder what is in store for the Earth when things get moving again.

The Maunder Minimum lasted 70 years.
posted by run"monty at 5:34 AM on August 15, 2010


This is 2010, not 2008, and this is the warmest year on record. We're not at a minimum anymore, tbm.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:39 AM on August 15, 2010


I always find reports about what the Sun is doing and how it will affect us amusing.

As though we could do anything about the effects, whether positive or negative.

I'm just grateful the Earth is the right distance, and that I will be long dead and atomically disassembled when the Sun dies.
posted by bwg at 7:21 AM on August 15, 2010


We're not at a minimum anymore, tbm.

It would seem ambitious to expect a tight correlation between sunspot activity and the weather on the Earth - if there is any correlation at all. (Coincidence may just be coincidence you know.)

My point is that if reduced sunspot activity has a cooling effect on the Earth's atmosphere, then this may well have counteracted the effects of greenhouse gases. And if the sun is returning to a more "normal" period of activity, and this counterbalance is removed, we might be looking back on the record temperatures of 2010 with some sense of nostalgia.
posted by three blind mice at 7:52 AM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I always find reports about what the Sun is doing and how it will affect us amusing.

"As though we could do anything about the effects, whether positive or negative. "


Not much we can do about tornados, earthquakes and hurricanes but knowing how they behave allows us to prepare for their effects.
posted by Mitheral at 8:54 AM on August 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


all i know is that this made shortwave reception really lousy.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:56 PM on August 15, 2010


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