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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

12:20 PM | An update on "Solar Cycle 24"

Paul Dorian


We are now a few years into the current solar cycle (#24) which began during 2008 and it is becoming increasingly clear as to where it stands in term of relative strength compared to other cycles. Despite the fact that there was solar flare activity late last week from the group of sunspots known as AR1504, this particular solar cycle, which is expected to reach a solar maximum next year, has been one of the weakest in recent times in terms of total number of sunspots. This outcome continues the recent downward trend in sunspot cycle strength that began with solar cycle 22 which peaked around 1990. In fact, at the current pace, solar cycle 24 could turn out to be the smallest in about 100 years and there are some who already predict that the next cycle, 25, will be even weaker than this one during the next decade. While a weaker cycle does not rule out the threat for strong solar storms, it does suggest that they will occur less often than during stronger, more active cycles. At the same time the sun appears to be in a period of weaker and weaker sunspot cycles, the northern Pacific Ocean has appeared to have entered a long-term colder phase which can last up to a few decades. The combination of these two cyclic processes may impact global temperatures over the next several years and we'll continue to track it.