Despite the fact that the sun is headed towards a solar maximum, it has become eerily quiet once again during this sunspot cycle (#24) with virtually no sunspots currently visible on the near side. This is further evidence that this particular cycle, which is expected to peak in about a year or so, will be one of the weakest in decades and while this does not rule out the threat for future strong solar storms, it does suggest that they will likely occur less often compared to previous stronger, more active cycles. It has been about six weeks since the humongous sunspot called AR1429 appeared on the sun and generated numerous coronal mass ejections (CMEs) aimed at the Earth as it gradually took a trek around the sun. In fact, that particular sunspot ultimately disappeared as it rotated onto the back side of the sun only to reappear weeks later, but in a substantially weakened state.
Solar cycle 24 is seemingly continuing a downward trend in sunspot cycle strength that began with solar cycle 22 which peaked around 1990. In fact, there are now predictions that the next cycle (#25), expected to begin late this decade or early next decade, may turn out to be even weaker than this current cycle. At the same time the sun appears to be in a period of weaker and weaker sunspot cycles, the Pacific Ocean has appeared to have entered a long-term cold phase which can last up to a few decades. The combination of these two cyclic processes may eventually have an impact on global temperatures.