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New solar research raises climate questions

To most of us the Sun seems unchanging, but if you observe its surface, it is seething with vast explosions and injections. This activity has its origin in intense magnetic fields generated by swirling currents in the sun's outer layer.

Scientists call it the solar dynamo. It produces the well-known 11 years solar cycle, which can be seen as sunspots come and go on the Sun surface but models of the solar dynamo have only been partially successful in predicting the solar cycle and that might be because of vital component is missing.

After studying full disk images of the sun's magnetic field professor Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria university and colleagues discovered that the sun's dynamo is actually made of two components coming from different depths inside the Sun.

The interaction between these two magnetic waves either amplifies solar activity or dumps it down.

Professor Zharkova`s observation suggests we are due for a prolonged period of low solar activity.

"We will see it from 2022 to 2053, when next cycle will be very reduced the magnetic field of the Sun. This two waves will not be interacting with each other, which means that resultant magnetic field will drop very dramatically (to 0), and this will be a similar conditions like a Maunder minimum. What will happen to the Earth remains to be seen and predicted because nobody who develop any programs or any models or terrestrial response they based on this period, when the Sun has maximum activity."

She suggests it could be a repeat of the circle Maunder minimum, a period of the 17th century with little solar activity.

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