It was reported recently by the BBC that the sun, which usually goes through a cycle of activity and relative calm every 11 years, has not returned to the period of activity as expected. When in periods of activity, as it was predicted to return to last year, the sun “has a tumultuous boiling atmosphere that spits out flares and planet-sized chunks of super-hot gas.” Our local star of choice is currently at “a 50-year year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity.”
Some scientists have theorized that this period of calm could help with global warming. A 17th century period of calm that lasted 70 years led to what was called a “mini ice-age.” Other scientists, including Southampton University’s Mike Lockwood, believe this will not happen this time. Lockwood points out that the sun’s activity has steadily decreased since 1985, while climate change has increased. Lockwood believes that what we are experiencing is a “middle-ground” following a period of intense activity in the mid-80s.
The sun’s cycles are not currently understood by the scientific community, but new technology is allowing a closer study of the sun than was previously available.