The sun has entered the solar minimum early, meaning we face a prolonged cold snap and extra cosmic rays, scientists have warned.
With the sun going without sunspots for the past seven days, experts believe the conditions of the solar minimum will soon begin to take effect. 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. Website Space Weather states: “The sun has been without spots for seven consecutive days – a sign that Solar Minimum is underway.”
Our host star was not expected to head into a solar minimum until around 2020 and, the phenomenon has arrived early, this will mean a prolonged cold snap.
The last time there was a prolonged solar minimum, the event 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.