First sunspot for the next solar cycle spotted
January 3, 2017 at 11:42 am Robert Zimmerman
Solar scientists have spotted the first sunspot on the Sun with a reversed polarity, meaning that it really belongs to the next sunspot cycle.
This is not unusual. The sunspots from different cycles routinely overlap by several years, with the sunspots from the old cycle moving close to the equator with time and the new cycle sunspots appearing at high latitudes. What this does suggest is that there will be sunspots after the upcoming solar minimum, rather than the beginning of a new Grand Minimum with no sunspots for decades.
The recent changes in Earth’s magnetic field
December 23, 2016 at 11:44 am Robert Zimmerman
New data from Europe’s Swarm constellation of satellites detail the recent bigger-than-expected changes that have been occurring in the Earth’s magnetic field.
Data from Swarm, combined with observations from the CHAMP and Ørsted satellites, show clearly that the field has weakened by about 3.5% at high latitudes over North America, while it has strengthened about 2% over Asia. The region where the field is at its weakest – the South Atlantic Anomaly – has moved steadily westward and weakened further by about 2%. These changes have occured over the relatively brief period between 1999 and mid-2016.
It was already known that the field has weakened globally by about 10% since the 19th century. These changes appear to be part of that generally weakening. Some scientists have proposed that this is the beginning of an overall flip of the magnetic field’s polarity, something that happens on average about every 300,000 years and last occurred 780,000 years ago. At the moment, however, we have no idea if this theory is correct.
NASA- Solar Cycle
NASA- Magnetic Field
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