Astronomers say this isn’t unusual, and solar activity waxes and wanes in 11-year cycles, and we’re currently in Cycle 24, which began in 2008.
However, if the current trend continues, then the Earth could be headed for a ‘mini ice age’ researchers have warned.
We’ve had the smallest number of sunspots in this cycle since Cycle 14, which reached its maximum in February of 1906.
‘With no sunspots actively flaring, the sun’s X-ray output has flatlined,’ wrote Vencore Weather.
‘The number of nearly or completely spotless days should increase over the next few years as we continue to move away from the solar maximum phase of cycle 24 and approach the next solar minimum phase and the beginning of solar cycle 25.’
‘The current level of activity of solar cycle 24 seems close to that of solar cycle number 5, which occurred beginning in May 1798 and ending in December 1810,’ added an analysis by Watts Up With That.
The previous solar cycle, Solar Cycle 23, peaked in 2000-2002 with many furious solar storms.
During Solar Max, huge sunspots and intense solar flares are a daily occurrence. Auroras appear in Florida. Radiation storms knock out satellites.
The last such episode took place in the years around 2000-2001. [...]
The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years.
During this period, sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely.
This, they say, will lead to another ‘Maunder minimum’ – which has previously been known as a mini ice age when it hit between 1646 and 1715.
A study last year claimed to have cracked predicting solar cycles – and says that between 2020 and 2030 solar cycles will cancel each other out.
Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling.
The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth’s northern hemisphere.
Maunder Minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time