Solar Cycle 25 may have shown signs of life of late, but all is once again quite on the earth-facing solar disc.
During the past month, Solar Cycle 25 has produced the strongest solar flare in three years (M1-class), as well as a sunspot that lasted for two whole weeks (AR2765) that then erupted on June 9th:
However, the Sun is once again blank (without sunspots) and has been this way for almost a week, points out Dr Tony Phillips at spaceweather.com. With this quiet comes a resumption of Solar Minimum conditions — solar wind is blowing slowly, the sun’s X-ray output is flatlining, and the chance of polar auroras is near zero.
While Solar Minimum may be loosening its grip, it ain’t over yet.
Solar Minimums vs GSMs
The difference between Solar Minimums and GRAND Solar Minimums is causing some confusion — here’s a brief explainer:
The former refers to the weakest part of a standard 11-or-so year solar cycle, or the ‘trough’. Using the Radio Flux chart below, we can see the minimum of Solar Cycle 24 began in 2018 and is still running today. Also visible is the minimum from the previous Solar Cycle 23 which began in 2008 and ended in 2010:
Whereas the latter, a GRAND Solar Minimum, refers to a run of MULTIPLE 11-or-so year solar cycles where the Sun’s output is consistently weak, where our star is often devoid of sunspots for decades at a time:
Grand Solar Minimums can last for 100+ years in some cases, as was true with the Spörer Minimum (1450-1560):
The most recent and probably most infamous GSM was the Maunder Minimum which ran from 1645-1715. Our Modern “Eddy” Grand Solar Minimum that we’re entering now will most-likely run for a similar duration — around 70 years (though theories are numerous, and it’s really anyone’s guess).
During the Maunder, “temperatures across much of the Northern Hemisphere plunged,” say NASA. “Europe and North America went into a deep freeze: alpine glaciers extended over valley farmland; sea ice crept south from the Arctic; and the famous canals in the Netherlands froze regularly—an event that is rare today.”
Along with GRAND Solar Minimums, there are also multidecadal periods of low solar activity that don’t quite cut it as their grander counterparts.
The most recent examples of these include the Centennial (or Glassberg/Gleissberg) Minimum (1880-1914), and the Dalton Minimum (1796-1820).
Like the deeper Maunder and Spörer Minimums preceding it, the Dalton brought on a period of lower-than-average global temperatures. The Oberlach Station in Germany, for example, experienced a 2C decline over 20 years, which devastated the country’s food production.
‘The Year Without a Summer’ also occurred during the Dalton Minimum, in 1816. It was caused by a combination of already low temperatures plus the aftereffects of the second largest volcanic eruption of the past 2000 years — Mount Tambora’s VEI 7 on April 10, 1815.
These periods of solar-driven cooling are cyclic.
Unfortunately for us, the Modern Grand Solar MAXIMUM has run its course, and the COLD TIMES are returning in line with historically low solar activity, cloud-nucleating Cosmic Rays, and a meridional jet stream flow.
Even NASA agrees, if you read between the lines, with their forecast for this upcoming solar cycle (25) seeing it as “the weakest of the past 200 years,” with the agency correlating previous solar shutdowns to prolonged periods of global cooling here.
Prepare accordingly — learn the facts, relocate if need be, and grow your own.
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Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift