Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is the Sun Dead?

The Daily Galaxy blog sports an article concerning a disquieting lack of activity on the surface of the sun. Sunspots are a well documented phenomena in the upper atmosphere of Sol. Periods of inactivity are common. What isn't common is the amount of time that has passed since a spot was last seen. As Daily Galaxy puts it: ...they are all gone. Not even solar physicists know why it’s happening and what this odd solar silence might be indicating for our future. Although periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, this current period has gone on much longer than usual and scientists are starting to worry—at least a little bit. Today's sun is as inactive as it was two years ago, and solar physicists don’t have a clue as to why.

Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, said the sun usually operates on an 11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle. The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending now, Longcope said. The next cycle is just beginning and is expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012. But so far nothing is happening. In the past, scientists observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots. That period coincided with a little ice age on Earth that lasted from 1650 to 1700. Evidence for abrupt climate change is readily found in ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica. One of the best known examples of such an event is the Younger Dryas cooling, which occurred about 12,000 years ago, named after the arctic wildflower found in northern European sediments. This event began and ended rather abruptly, and for its entire 1000 year duration the North Atlantic region was about 5°C colder.

As some have pointed out the Younger Dryas cooling happened when the Earth should have been WARMING up instead of experiencing a mini iceage.

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