Sun Headed Into Hibernation, Solar Studies Predict
Sunspots may disappear altogether in next cycle.
National Geographic News
Published June 14, 2011
Enjoy our stormy sun while it lasts. When our star drops out of its
latest sunspot activity cycle, the sun is most likely going into
hibernation, scientists announced today.
Three independent studies of the sun's insides, surface, and upper
atmosphere all predict that the next solar cycle will be significantly
delayed—if it happens at all. Normally, the next cycle would be
expected to start roughly around 2020.
The combined data indicate that we may soon be headed into what's
known as a grand minimum, a period of unusually low solar activity.
The predicted solar "sleep" is being compared to the last grand
minimum on record, which occurred between 1645 and 1715.
Known as the Maunder Minimum, the roughly 70-year period coincided
with the coldest spell of the Little Ice Age, when European canals
regularly froze solid and Alpine glaciers encroached on mountain