The Sun has been spotless indicating a generally very low solar activity for 4 consecutive days already. It is currently transitioning towards the solar minimum, the period in the roughly 11-year solar cycle when less solar activity is expected. This was anticipated to be reached between 2019 and 2020. Basically, the relatively cool and dark areas on the Sun’s photosphere, known as sunspots, appear and vanish due to violent twisted magnetic field interactions with its surface plasma.
If the minimal solar activity persists for long, here are some implications. One postulation is that this could lead to gradual cooling of the Earth due to increased cosmic ray flux which could increase cloud cover formations (somehow like the “Ice Age” coincidence during the 17th century Maunder Minimum event), though it still needs further verification (because of the current Global Warming issue). Another is that there will be less intense aurora occurrences in the near-polar regions.
However, even though it’s presently calm, the Sun could still show off its aggressive nature anytime soon through the presence of coronal holes capable of releasing highly-ionized streams of energy and gas which could disrupt satellite communications upon reaching the Earth’s ionosphere.
If terrestrial weather is quite tricky to predict, it’s much more complicated when it comes to space weather. That’s why we’ll keep monitoring for any significant development.
Animated simulation of solar images from May 4-13, 2017
SpaceWeather.com — News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids: http://spaceweather.com
Nowakowski, T. (2015, August 17). Solar activity is declining-what to expect? Retrieved from Phys.org: https://phys.org/news/2015-08-solar-decliningwhat.html
Richard, K. (2017, March 23). Russian Scientists Dismiss CO2 Forcing, Predict Decades of Cooling, Connect Cosmic Ray Flux To Climate. Retrieved from NotTricksZone: http://notrickszone.com/2017/03/23/russian-scientists-dismiss-co2-forcing-predict-decades-of-cooling-connect-cosmic-ray-flux-to-climate/#sthash.DXmLvqmW.QjYD6BWv.dpbs