Glory Mission to Monitor Sun and Climate
Scientific American - News Download time: Feb 22 2011 8:11 AM ET
The solar forecast calls for sluggish times ahead, according to scientists in Boulder, Colo.—which could have a cooling effect on Earth. A better understanding of solar processes and their climatic impacts will be key to understanding how far such quiescence could go to counteract global warming caused by pollution from fossil fuels.
There's little doubt the sun's been in a funk ever since solar cycle 23 wound down in 2007. (Astronomers began to number the solar activity cycles in 1755.) The ramp-up to the peak of the next cycle is taking longer than expected and has been feeble, with precious few sunspots.
Normally, at the apex of each 11-year solar cycle—for cycle 24 it should occur around 2013—the sun's surface becomes especially frenetic, erupting into a climax of sunspots and flares.…
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