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A new solar cycle has begun

It is expected to be even more massive than before and endanger the electrical systems on Earth and satellites


A new cycle of solar activity that is expected to be increased, carries with it a risk to power grids, and to the civil, military and airline communication systems, and even to the reception of it by GPS and cell phones and even ATMs. Last Thursday, scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA announced the first sunspot of this cycle formed in the sun's northern hemisphere.

"This spot is like the first scarlet of spring," said solar physicist Douglas Biesecker of the Space Weather Prediction Center. "In this case, it is an early message of solar storms that will get stronger over the coming years."

A sunspot is an area in the sun where magnetic activity is increased on the surface. The new 11-year cycle, known as cycle 24 (counting began since the phenomenon began to be studied over 250 years ago), is expected to gradually build up as the number of sunspots and solar storms reach a maximum in 2011-2012, although severe storms can occur at any time.

During solar storms, material with a higher electric charge than the Sun may be ejected towards the Earth, and it may damage and even knock out power grids, disrupt vital communications and endanger astronauts with harmful radiation. The storms can also disable communication satellites and disrupt positioning systems (GPS and its competitors). Routine activities such as talking on a cell phone or withdrawing money from an ATM can come to a halt in large parts of the planet.

"Our increasing dependence on space-based communication systems means that we are now much more sensitive to space weather phenomena than in the past," said Vice Admiral Konard Lautenbacher, NOAA Administrator. "NOAA's space weather monitoring and forecasting systems are essential to the proper functioning of the US during solar disturbances," he said.

Last April, in coordination with an international panel of solar experts, NOAA published a forecast that Cycle 24 may begin in March 2008, plus or minus six months. The panel was divided between those predicting a weak or strong cycle. Both camps agreed that the earlier the new cycle, the more likely it is to assume that it will be a precursor to a strong storm season that will have many spots and strong storms, Beisker said, but added that one must wait for more spots with the characteristics that characterize cycle 24 before the frequency of the storms can be predicted.

The new sunspot, numbered 10,981 (registration began on January 5, 1972 by NOAA), is located at a latitude of 27 degrees north, and is tilted to the right in the northern hemisphere - a sign that it belongs to the new cycle, NOAA experts say. The first active area and sunspots of a new cycle can appear at high latitudes while those belonging to the previous cycle continue to form closer to the equator.

For information on the NOAA website

Previous news on the subject on the knowledge site

11 תגובות

  1. thanks, David.
    One really unimportant note is that you should write "inhibiting" 🙂

  2. In this context (the sun's activity) it is interesting to look at the work of Shabib, a professor of Hebrew who links the creation of clouds on the earth with the rise and fall of solar activity.

    In general, according to Shabib:
    A change in the ion balance in the atmosphere suppresses/increases the ability of water molecules to crystallize into droplets and clouds.
    The Earth is exposed to cosmic radiation, or in fact galactic radiation (to be separated from the unrelated cosmic background radiation) originating from supernovae that occurred tens of millions of years ago in the center of the galaxy.
    These explosions caused a flux of cosmic radiation that washes over the entire Milky Way galaxy. On their way to Earth, these charged particles encounter the solar wind (which is of course a result of solar activity). The sun inhibits these ion carriers more/less depending on its activity.
    And so, increased solar activity means a stronger solar wind, and more containment of cosmic radiation. As a result, fewer ions reach the atmosphere as air and there is less crystallization of water into droplets and clouds.

  3. Wait, but if the electrical networks collapse, there is a possibility to restore them, right?
    And the material with the high electric charge, harms a person?

  4. More on the sunspot cycle.
    To this day, it is not known what the mechanism is that leads to cycles of 11 years. I hypothesized that this is related to the movements of the sun under the influence of changes in the position of the center of gravity of the solar system which is mainly influenced by the planet Jupiter whose year length is about 11 our years and is the bulk of the planetary mass (more than all the other planets combined).
    The cycle of sunspots is reflected in the growth rings of trees.
    Beyond the destructive effects described in the article, the peaks of sunspots have an advantage in communicating short waves, due to the effects of the charges on the ionosphere which contributes to the reflections of these waves, so that they reach longer ranges. During peak cycle times, shortwave stations are well received all over the world and a good connection is achieved with radios operating on these waves - all this without the use of infrastructure.

  5. The original article did say 'the two camps'. According to David's advice (and the rules of writing in Hebrew), I changed it to 'the two camps'.

    Thanks for the attention,


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