Sunspot activity, which follows an 11-year cycle, is due to peak in 2013 after which it will start to wane slightly. But astronomers think the next upswing will be less intensive than normal, or could fail to happen at all. That could affect weather on Earth because low solar activity has been linked to low global temperatures in the past.
Three studies, presented at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s solar physics division, all point towards declining sunspot activity into the next decade.
Between 1645 and 1715 almost no sunspots were observed, a solar period which came to be called the Maunder Minimum. During those decades Europe suffered frequent unusually harsh winters, and the time was later termed the Little Ice Age.