Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunspots fewer, weaker than usual; other solar anomalies this cycle, not clear if good or not

Sunspots are fewer in number and weaker than would be expected for a solar sunspot activity maximum, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal by Robert Lee Holtz on Monday, November 11, 2013, link here
Furthermore, the two poles of the Sun’s rotation have the same charge, which is unusual, although the south pole is expected to reverse soon.  Scientists do not expect this reversal to affect Earth, at least not now.
Nevertheless, there have been a few coronal mass ejections recently, but all have missed Earth.
The strongest solar storm in recent years was still the one in October 2003, which damaged some satellites, striking ironically on the same day that WB’s “Smallville” program aired an episode about solar flares.

Solar output may be slightly weaker than usual, which could help ease global warming.  On the other hand, we wouldn't want a scenario like in the 2001 TV movie "Ice".  

The WSJ story says that solar storms can damage electronics.  They could severely damage major transformers, knocking out some areas of the national grid for weeks or months.  Local power generation or microgrids could be an effective preventive countermeasure.  Generally, other sources have reported that home electronics and newer cars would be at risk from EMP but never from solar storms.  Maybe that is incorrect.  

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