Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Sun Oddly Quiet -- Hints at Next "Little Ice Age"?
In July 2000 the sun was at a peak in activity, as seen by the speckling of sunspots spied by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. But the sun was a blank disk in March 2009, when it was the quietest it has been since the 1950s.
The current sunspot deficit has caused some scientists to recall the Little Ice Age of the early 1600s and late 1700s, a prolonged, localized cold spell linked to a decline in solar activity.
A prolonged lull in solar activity has astrophysicists glued to their telescopes waiting to see what the sun will do next—and how Earth's climate might respond.
The sun is the least active it's been in decades and the dimmest in a hundred years. The lull is causing some scientists to recall the Little Ice Age, an unusual cold spell in Europe and North America, which lasted from about 1300 to 1850