by Doug L. Hoffman
The lingering cool temperatures being experience by much of North America has weather forecasters wondering it we are entering a new Little Ice Age—a reference to the prolonged period of cold weather that afflicted the world for centuries and didn't end until just prior to the American Civil War. From historical records, scientists have found a strong correlation between low sunspot activity and a cooling climate. At the end of May, an international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA released a new prediction for the next solar cycle: Solar Cycle 24 will be one of the weakest in recent memory. Are we about to start a new Little Ice Age?
According to the report, Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with a sunspot count well below average. “If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78,” says panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center. This does not mean that we won't feel the results of renewed solar storm activity here on Earth.
“Even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather,” points out Biesecker. “The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013.” A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a storm similar to the 1859 disturbance—known as the “Carrington Event” after astronomer Richard Carrington who observed the associated solar flare—occurred today, it could cause $1 to 2 trillion in damages to society's high-tech infrastructure and require four to ten years for complete recovery. Reportedly, the 1859 storm electrified transmission cables, set fires in telegraph offices, and produced Northern Lights so bright that people could read newspapers by their glow. READ MORE HERE