Solar maximum

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A prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 (2008-2020) gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 66 in the Summer of 2013. Current observations make this the smallest sunspot cycle since records began in the 1750s.[1]

Solar maximum or solar max is a regular period of greatest Sun activity during the 11-year solar cycle. During solar maximum, large numbers of sunspots appear, and the solar irradiance output grows by about 0.07%.[2] The increased energy output of solar maxima can impact Earth's global climate, and recent studies have shown some correlation with regional weather patterns.[citation needed]

At solar maximum, the Sun's magnetic field lines are the most distorted due to the magnetic field on the solar equator rotating at a slightly faster pace than at the solar poles.[citation needed] On average, the solar cycle takes about 11 years to go from one solar maximum to the next, with duration observed varying from 9 to 14 years.

Three recent solar cycles

Large solar flares often occur during a maximum. For example, the solar storm of 1859 struck the Earth with such intensity that the northern lights were visible as far from the poles as Cuba and Hawaii.[3]

Predictions[edit]

Predictions of a future maximum's timing and strength are very difficult; predictions vary widely. There was a solar maximum in 2000. In 2006 NASA initially expected a solar maximum in 2010 or 2011, and thought that it could be the strongest since 1958.[4] However, the solar maximum was not declared to have occurred until 2014, and even then was ranked among the weakest on record.[5]

Italian engineer Carlo Santagata suggested a parallelism between the masses (planets) orbiting the Sun and electric charges of equivalent magnitude. Then the magnetic induction of each orbiting mass (electric charge) on the Sun would add up during certain periods thus creating Solar maximums or would cancel out during other periods thus causing Solar minimums.

Film[edit]

IMAX documentary about solar maximum called Solarmax.[6][7]

Grand solar minima and maxima[edit]

Grand solar maxima occur when several solar cycles exhibit greater than average activity for decades or centuries. Solar cycles still occur during these grand solar maximum periods but the intensity of those cycles is greater. Grand solar maxima have shown some correlation with global and regional climate changes.

400 year history of sunspot numbers.
Solar minimum events and approximate dates
Event Start End
Homeric minimum [8] 950BC 800BC
Oort minimum (see Medieval Warm Period) 1040 1080
Medieval maximum (see Medieval Warm Period) 1100 1250
Wolf minimum 1280 1350
Spörer Minimum 1450 1550
Maunder Minimum 1645 1715
Dalton Minimum 1790 1820
Modern Maximum 1900 present

The idea of a Modern Maximum has now been thrown into question with the release of a paper at the International Astronomical Union General Assembly in August 2015.[9]

A list of historical Grand minima of solar activity[10] includes also Grand minima ca. 690 AD, 360 BC, 770 BC, 1390 BC, 2860 BC, 3340 BC, 3500 BC, 3630 BC, 3940 BC, 4230 BC, 4330 BC, 5260 BC, 5460 BC, 5620 BC, 5710 BC, 5990 BC, 6220 BC, 6400 BC, 7040 BC, 7310 BC, 7520 BC, 8220 BC, 9170 BC.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ NASA
  2. ^ C. D. Camp & K. K. Tung (2007). "Surface warming by the solar cycle as revealed by the composite mean difference projection" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 34 (14): L14703. Bibcode:2007GeoRL..3414703C. doi:10.1029/2007GL030207. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Monster radiation burst from Sun". BBC News. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
  4. ^ "Solar Storm Warning", Science@NASA, 10 March 2006, Accessed 26 Mar. 2010
  5. ^ "Solar Mini-Max". NASA. Retrieved 2014-12-24.
  6. ^ "Solarmax (2000)". IMDb. Seattle, WA, USA. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  7. ^ NASA CME documentary X class Corona Mass Ejection 2012-07-14 documentary
  8. ^ Celia Martin-Puertas; Katja Matthes; Achim Brauer; Raimund Muscheler; et al. (April 2, 2012). "Regional atmospheric circulation shifts induced by a grand solar minimum". Nature Geoscience. 5 (6): 397–401. Bibcode:2012NatGe...5..397M. doi:10.1038/ngeo1460.
  9. ^ "Corrected Sunspot History Suggests Climate Change since the Industrial Revolution not due to Natural Solar Trends". Press release. IAU. 7 Aug 2015. 1508.
  10. ^ Usoskin, Ilya G.; Solanki, Sami K.; Kovaltsov, Gennady A. (2007). "Grand minima and maxima of solar activity: new observational constraints" (PDF). Astron. Astrophys. 471 (1): 301–9. arXiv:0706.0385. Bibcode:2007A&A...471..301U. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20077704.