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Sunspots Are Fewest Since 1954, but Significance Is Unclear

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  • Sunspots Are Fewest Since 1954, but Significance Is Unclear

    Interesting piece on sunspots.

    "The Sun has been strangely unblemished this year. On more than 200 days so far this year, no sunspots were spotted. That makes the Sun blanker this year than in any year since 1954, when it was spotless for 241 days.

    The Sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle, and it is now emerging from the quietest part of the cycle, or solar minimum. But even for this phase it has been unusually quiet, with little roiling of the magnetic fields that induce sunspots."
    ...
    "Some wonder if this could be the start of an extended period of solar indolence that would more than offset the warming effect of human-made carbon dioxide emissions. From the middle of the 17th century to the early 18th, a period known as the Maunder Minimum, sunspots were extremely rare, and the reduced activity coincided with lower temperatures in what is known as the Little Ice Age.

    Compared to the Maunder Minimum, the current pace of sunspots “makes it look like we’re having a feast, not a famine,” Dr. Hathaway said. "

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/sc...ml?ref=science

  • #2
    So, what are the implications for the business cycle?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by skyin' brian
      So, what are the implications for the business cycle?
      The implications for the business cycle depend on several things. The reduction in sunspots reduces noise and interference and means that satellites are not going to get incapacitated as often. Thus, there are modest financial advantages.

      There were correlations back in the 1800s that people made with the economy and prices. These might be based on the great reduction in activity that accompanied the prolonged cooling (see article). This would have affected agricultural output in temperature-constrained Europe and likely did have an impact. Now, the big issue would be on temperatures and weather and such. Somewhat cooler temps would not be so adverse for agriculture with some places helped and others hurt. However, agriculture is a much smaller component of economic activity. Thus, a much diminished variation (vis a vis the 1700s) and the diminished relative impact would imply less impact. Of course, the interaction with climate change would likely be beneficial, keeping temps from rising. Note, however, that a period of cooling will not diminish the 'forcing' from greenhouse gases. Thus, when the cooling effect ends, the climate change will 'jump'.

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