Thursday, September 30, 2010

Our snoozing sun


These photos show sunspots near solar maximum on July 19, 2000, and near solar minimum on March 18, 2009. Some global warming skeptics speculate that the Sun may be on the verge of an extended slumber.

This article, published in the New York Times in July of 2009, throws some light on the chilly summer of 2010. The sun has not increased its activity since last year, as the farmers in the northern hemisphere are acutely aware of. This quote from the article could furnish some of the explanation for what is happening:

"The Sun, the Danish scientists say, influences how many cosmic rays impinge on the atmosphere and thus the number of clouds. When the Sun is frenetic, the solar wind of charged particles it spews out increases. That expands the cocoon of magnetic fields around the solar system, deflecting some of the cosmic rays.
But, according to the hypothesis, when the sunspots and solar winds die down, the magnetic cocoon contracts, more cosmic rays reach Earth, more clouds form, less sunlight reaches the ground, and temperatures cool."

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