Solar Cycles and Weather

The feature image is a snapshot of the sun yesterday showing only one sunspot….

The sun has more effects on the earth than heat and light.  Solar winds, flares and sunspots have been studied for years to find the correlation between our weather and solar activity.  In one study it was thought that low solar activity can contribute to cold winters in the UK, northern Europe and parts of America. But high activity from the sun has the opposite effect.

Sunspots are temporary phenomena on the photosphere of the Sun that appear visibly as dark spots compared to surrounding regions. Solar wind, according to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, consists of magnetized plasma flares and in some cases is linked to sunspots. It emanates from the sun and influences galactic rays that may in turn affect atmospheric phenomena on Earth, such as cloud cover. But scientists are the first to admit that they have a lot to learn about phenomena like sunspots and solar wind, some of which is visible to humans on Earth in the form of Aurora Borealis and other far flung interplanetary light shows.

The chart to the left is the total sunspots each year since 2006.  2011 through 2016 the sun was more active.  Last year there were 221 days when there were no sunspots.  We have to look at the big picture on how this may affect our weather on not just in SW Michigan.  Solar activity is thought to have just a .10 percent effect on our weather globally, (that is 1/10th of 1%) which, looking at the big picture isn’t a whole lot.  It is just another thing to put into the brew of long term weather forecasting.

Total solar irradiance changes, though of small magnitude, do appear to affect sea surface temperatures (SSTs), most obviously at latitudes where cloud cover is small and irradiance is abundant, such as the Northern Hemisphere subtropics during summer. The increased SSTs then help intensify circulations spiraling away from the subtropics, again favoring reduced rainfall near the equator and to the south, as well as northern mid-latitudes.

Every 11 years or so, the Sun’s magnetic field completely flips. This means that the Sun’s north and south poles switch places. Then it takes about another 11 years for the Sun’s north and south poles to flip back again.  The next flip is said to begin this year to start the new cycle and last through 2030.  Maybe Slim can dig through his records to see if the past 11 years have seen significant changes compared the previous cycle.  (no pressure) 😈

Of course there is a more sinister aspect as to what can happen when the sun becomes more active which I will get into on next Sundays post….


We have a Winter Weather Advisories for Muskegon, Montcalm, Gratiot, Ottawa, Kent, Ionia and Clinton counties for 4am to 10am tomorrow morning.  These counties and on northward will see some freezing rain and snow mixed making for a slippery morning commute before it changes to all rain.  Monday will bring rainy and windy conditions for most of the area with high temps in the mid 40s.  Tuesday we will see another warm day by January standards with highs in the low 40s with rain continuing and wind gust around 30mph.  Rain should change to snow by Tuesday night as we drop closer to seasonable norms temp wise with chances of snow through most of the rest of the week.


 

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Andy WRocky (Rockford)Jeff(Portland)MookieMark (East Lansing) Recent comment authors
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Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Great news from the nws. They are talking near to below normal temps from Wednesday through the rest of the week and multiple chances of light accumulating snows! Bring it on and bring on some real winter weather!

Andy W
Andy W

That will be short lived if it even materializes, see below!
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Mookie
Mookie

Warm for another 2 weeks!

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Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

Amazing .. Loving it !!!!!!!

Andy W
Andy W

Keep on ROCKIN!!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

My daughter asked when we were going sledding, a tradition we’ve always had when the kids are on the break from school this time of year. Made me realize that I don’t ever remember an entire chrismas break when we had no snow and couldn’t go. This has turned into one incredible snowless stretch!

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

Nice cliff hanger, Michael. I look forward to next Sunday 😄

I appreciate the info. You provided some terms that I had never of, so it will allow me to do further reading on those topics.

We’re just outside of the WWA. I hope the roads are in good shape for the morning commute.

INDY
INDY

Kids coming off a long Christmas break tomorrow and school close due to slippery roads just like after the Thanksgiving break that would be funny …We will have to track it in over night … What another great Sunday ahead Colt’s look great yesterday now it’s #2 Michigan basketball’s turn hoop up a win… Loving This day God is good…INDY!

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

I hope Blue remains undefeated until they play the Spartans.

Jeff(Portland)
Jeff(Portland)

It’s always a tough game when we play sparty.. Being basketball or football.

Andy W
Andy W

GO BLUE!!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Good read Michael! 1/10th of 1% sounds pretty low, but I think there is much we have to learn yet. I’ve followed the solar cycle for years, and this past one has been one of the weakest on record, but as for the effects on our weather, one can only really guess. Decent read here:

https://www.perspectaweather.com/blog/2018/10/22/800-am-the-fast-approaching-solar-minimum-and-its-potential-impact-on-the-upcoming-winter-season