Science/Tech

New Solar Cycle About To Begin, Scientists Claim

According to scientists, the Sun’s latest 11- year cycle is about to come to an end, and just in time for it are predictions for the new one.

While the latest solar cycle (No. 24) has been designated as “weak,” newly gathered data point to solar cycle 25 as a much stronger cycle this time around. Of course, these are still predictions at this point, and there are a number of views.

These predictions, along with the latest forecast on the solar cycle, were made public last week at the yearly Space Weather workshop, which was held at the Space Weather Prediction Center and hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Start of the new cycle

We can expect solar cycle 25 to begin come mid-2019 and late 2020, per Lisa Upton, a solar physicist working with the Space Systems Research Corporation and co-chair for the panel making the predictions. Furthermore, the cycle would reach its maximum between the years 2023 and 2026, at the time when 95 and 130 sunspots should be projected, according to her. At the moment, the average sunspot number is between 140 and 220.

Coming in at around 116 sunspots, the previous cycle peaked back in April 2014. And if this cycle would reach the values predicted for it, then it’s safe to say that a decline is apparent, with this cycle only marking a continuation of the trend.

Despite this, the latest gathered information suggests that the new cycle will be much stronger than cycle 24, according to Scott McIntosh, a physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. In a tweet, the physicist said, “The present geomagnetic data indicate a higher SC25 [Solar Cycle 25.]”

Cause for worry

To some scientists, cycle 24’s decline in sunspot activity was a point of worry. According to them, this could suggest another “solar drought,” similar to that of the Maunder Minimum period of 1645-1715. According to available records, the Sun was spotless during this period and coincidentally, it happened alongside Europe’s “little ice age.” This pushed scientists to study whether the two events were related, or if it was the result of a cause-and-effect relationship.

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