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NASA Space Science

Mystery of the Missing Sunspots, Solved? 99

PRB_Ohio writes "The sun is in the middle of a century long solar minimum, and sunspots have been puzzlingly scarce for more than two years. Now, for the first time, solar physicists might understand why. The gist is that there is a 'jet stream' like phenomenon about 7,000km below the surface of the sun. The streams migrate slowly from the poles to the equator and when a jet stream reaches the critical latitude of 22 degrees, new-cycle sunspots begin to appear. Scientists at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona, used a technique called helioseismology to track and analyze the streams."
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Mystery of the Missing Sunspots, Solved?

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  • by ockegheim ( 808089 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:28PM (#28367731)

    ... that at least some climate activity isn't and can't be affected by humans.

    I'm hoping the missing sunspots has contributed to the extended drought in Australia. "The driest *insert month or time period* on record" is getting tiresome.

  • Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cdn-programmer ( 468978 ) <terr@terralogic.nTIGERet minus cat> on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:33PM (#28367767)

    This is old news. Its been known for a few years now that the solar conveyor belt has slowed. The question is how long solar activity will remain weak.

    During the Maunder minimum it remained weak from about 1645 to 1710. Other minimums also occurred over a fairly long duration. During these minimums the earth tends to be quite cold. Read the wikipedia article on the maunder minimum and related minimums.

    Thing is we may face many decades of reduced agricultural output at a time when we have many mouths to feed.

    Its too early to tell yet, but cycle #24 is over 2 years late and cycle #25 is expected to be weak as well. So we could be looking at 22+ years of cold cold weather.

  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @10:52PM (#28369075)

    No true.

    We can take the sulphor filters out of the coal fired power stations and cause more reflection of sunlight in the upper atmosphere.

  • Re:HF Radio (Score:2, Interesting)

    by elkto ( 558121 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @10:59PM (#28369119)
    Depends on what you call incredibly good. I have been hearing allot of strong E layer contacts which happens in the northern latitudes this time of year. Not allot of F layer contacts. F layer is considerably higher in altitude allowing for long distance HF communication.

    During the middle of cycle 23, I worked Tokyo, Germany, the Red Sea, and Brazil, all from my car in Ohio. I heard Australia, but just could not work them.

    --... ...--
  • The 11 year cycle is superimposed on another signal, with a lower frequency, whose amplitude is currently increasing. That's the one that smart people are worried about.

    The people who look at the 11 year cycle are simply examining the wrong component of a compound waveform and declaring victory. They are wrong.

  • by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:27AM (#28370551) Homepage Journal

    What everybody fails to mention about Climate, is that 99% of it is caused by the Sun

    That's an interesting way of looking at it.

    Of course, you should also consider that Earth's biosphere is essentially a planet sized solar collector. Plants trap the sunlight and store it as high energy compounds. Then animals come along ad turn the plants' trapped energy into more concentrated forms, like fats. Even when the organism dies, the stored energy remains. Eventually, if given long enough it turns into fossil fuels. Six hundred million years of dinosaur blubber gave us our oil reserves. Lord knows how many years of dead trees went to make our coal.

    We actually have a miniscule affect on climate

    Well, that all depends on what we do, doesn't it? I mean, if we built a giant magnifying glass in space so Earth got five times more solar radiation, that would have an effect. If we launched solar reflectors into orbit so 50% of the sunlight falling on the planet was reflected away, that would have an effect too. Granted, it would be the Sun causing the effect. But it would also be us, yeah?

    And to my way of thinking, if we take 600 million years of trapped solar radiation and release most of it over a paltry couple of centuries ... well, I reckon that would have an effect too.

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @05:17AM (#28371261) Homepage

    You're right. We should be worried !

    Look at the signal 100-150 years back. Oh no ! Massive (well ... almost 1.2 degrees) warming.

    Lower that amplitude another few thousand years ? Oh no ! The earth is cooling.

    Lower that amplitude a few tens of thousands of years ! Oh no ! We're close to the start of a new ice age, temperature is about to drop some 5-15 degrees.

    Lower that amplitude a few hundreds of thousands of years ! Hmmm, mildly warming earth ... about 0.1 degree per ten millenia

    Lower that amplitude a few million years ! Oh no ! The earth is cooling and has already lost several dozen degrees of heat. It does look like it will warm up a bit in the next, oh, 600000 years or so.

    So please tell me, which of these should I be worried about ? To be honest I find the 3rd (about the new ice age that's obviously getting ready to start) the most convincing. But don't let me tell you what to think. Look at the data yourself []. No matter which interpretation of the data you accept, on thing is absolutely certain : the IPCC is either beyond stupid, or lying.

    The simple truth is the IPCC models predict a monotonically increasing temperature, which tends toward infinite. It not only tends toward infinite, it has quite a steep slope. If their models are correct, life on earth would become impossible before the year 3000 (avg. temperature above 52 degrees celcius would mean the end of life on earth). Worse, if their models are started, not at 1900 but at -10000 they predict life on earth to be impossible today (avg. temperature over 200 degrees celcius).

    (note that the fluctuations in the graph are not a phenomena, but merely a result of increasing margins of error as we go further back. Data tends to get smoothed the further back in time you go)

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur