The sun is losing its spots, and it’s certainly something that we shouldn’t take lightly. According to news.com.au, our fireball has gone blank for the second time this month, leading Meteorologist Paul Dorian to believe that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years. This matters because the amount of sun spots reportedly affects our climate.
So, let’s start with solar minimum. What is it exactly? Well, NASA explains it to be when the sun’s natural solar cycle shows the lowest amount of sunspots. You see, when at its best, the sun’s surface is covered in visible dark blemishes, or sunspots. The sun goes through a natural solar cycle approximately every 11 years, and each cycle is marked by the increase and decrease of sunspots – with the highest number of sunspots in any given solar cycle being the “solar maximum” and the lowest number being “solar minimum.”
“During Solar Max, huge sunspots and intense solar flares are a daily occurrence. Auroras appear in Florida. Radiation storms knock out satellites. Radio blackouts frustrate CB radio as well. The last such episode took place in the years around 2000-2001,” says NASA.
NASA goes on to explain that “during solar minimum, the opposite occurs. Solar flares are almost non-existent while whole weeks go by without a single, tiny sunspot to break the monotony of the blank sun. This is what we are experiencing now.”
So… why we should care? Well, Dorian breaks down all of the sun-related deets to us in his report, published just a few days ago. “The blankness will stretch for just a few days at a time, then it’ll continue for weeks at a time, and finally it should last for months at a time when the sunspot cycle reaches its nadir,” says Dorian, leading a lot of us to believe that the next mini ice age is on its way.