In 2019, the Sun has been without sunspots for 59 percent of days – a sign that the solar minimum has arrived. 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.
Fewer magnetic waves equates to the Sun being slightly cooler, and experts are expecting the solar minimum to deepen even further before it gets warmer.
This could mean a slight temperature drop around the planet.
Cosmic forecasting site Space Weather said: “An international panel of researchers led by NASA and NOAA has released a new prediction for the solar cycle: The current solar minimum is going to deepen, potentially reaching a century-class low in the next year or so.
“This will be followed by a new Solar Max in the years 2023-2026.”
The last time a deep solar minimum was in effect was 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.
Vencore Weather, a meteorological website, said: “Low solar activity is known to have consequences on Earth’s weather and climate and it also is well correlated with an increase in cosmic rays that reach the upper part of the atmosphere.
“The blank Sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years.”
NASA explains 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”.