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In 2018, the Sun has been without sunspots for 190 – or 60 percent – of days (Image: GETTY)
In 2018, the Sun has been without sunspots for 190 – or 60 percent – of days, indicating the solar maximum could be over. And NASA scientists warn that the switch from maximum to minimum has been so extreme that Earth’s atmosphere could experience “record cold”. The Sun follows cycles of roughly 11 years where it reaches a solar maximum and then a solar minimum.
During a solar maximum, the Sun gives off more heat and is littered with sunspots. Less heat in a solar minimum is due to a decrease in magnetic waves.
Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center told CBN: “We see a cooling trend.
“High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy.
“If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.
“The thermosphere always cools off during Solar Minimum. It’s one of the most important ways the solar cycle affects our planet.”
NASA’s states on its website: “All weather on Earth, from the surface of the planet out into space, begins with the Sun.
“Space weather and terrestrial weather (the weather we feel at the surface) are influenced by the small changes the Sun undergoes during its solar cycle.”
The space agency adds on its Thermosphere Climate Index (TCI) “a weather metric that tells us how the top of Earth’s atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) is responding to solar activity” that “the top of Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 10 times cooler than it was during the record-setting Solar Max of 1957-58.”
The Sun was not expected to head into a solar minimum until around 2020, and if it is heading in early, it will mean a prolonged cold snap.
The last time there was a prolonged solar minimum, it led to a ‘mini ice-age’, scientifically known as the Maunder minimum – which lasted for 70 years.
The Maunder minimum, which saw seven decades of freezing weather, began in 1645 and lasted through to 1715, and happened when sunspots were exceedingly rare.
During this period, temperatures dropped globally by 1.3 degrees celsius leading to shorter seasons and ultimately food shortages.
Long-term weather forecast: ‘RECORD COLD’ temperatures on way as SOLAR MINIMUM begins (Image: GETTY)
Courtesy of express.co.uk