Skip to main content

Sunspots and Weather: Climate Change and Other Interesting Solar Events

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Very Low Point In Sunspot Activity: 2015 - 2020

Cycle 24 is the least strong progression of sun spots in recent history. The low numbers of the spots even suggests some "global cooling" after 2015.

Cycle 24 is the least strong progression of sun spots in recent history. The low numbers of the spots even suggests some "global cooling" after 2015.

NASA Predictions of Sunspot Activity Were Exceeded

Compare the image above with the predictions in the images in the set presented below. We can see that the activity as measured on the left-hand, vertical scale in each image was greater than the predictions of NASA professionals. This is true of Sunspot Cycles 22, 23, and 24.

The Sun's Activity Can Affect Earth Weather

Solar Prominence photographed by NASA in August 2012.

Solar Prominence photographed by NASA in August 2012.

Solar Cycles

You can see a definite pattern of sun spot cycles in the above graphic representation.

A Solar Maximum (high) in the sun's weather events centers around the year 2000, actually occurred in 2001, and the Solar Minimum covered the end of 2007 with almost zero activity. This cycle's activity is shown to be the highest in over 200 years, especially in the peak years from 1970 - 1996.

Sun Spot Patterns on the Surface of Sol

Sunspots do not emerge over the entire surface of the Sun, but only a limited area around the Solar Equator.

They remain largely concentrated in two bandwidths, about 20 degrees wide in latitude and reaching around the entire sun on both sides of the Solar Equator. This would be like two belts around the center of the sun.

The equator is also the warmest part of the earth, only Sol's is several magnitudes greater in heat and becomes hotter during the emergence of the sun spots. Sunspots don't cause the higher heat, they are an indicator of it (a sign), like your face turning red when you have a high fever.

The average latitude of the two belts changes inside the 11-year spot cycle. Just after the Solar Minimum, sunspots are visible at around 25 to 30 degrees North and South Solar Lattitude. Fresher, newer spots come out increasingly close to the Solar Equator and the last spots before Solar Minimum show up at 5 to 10 degrees North and South Solar Lattitude and then all acticity nearly stops dead.

Thus, strong weather occurs over a cycle of 11 years and is manifested by two belts of sun spots that occur closer and closer to the Solar Equater until they stop altogether. The sun is a ball of hot gases and this increasing weather activity is part of the natural life cycle of a star.

A newer Outer Limits episode from the 1990s told the story of the earth just before Sol went nova. A people from another star system that had experienced this type of event sent prescribed music to the youth of earth that resulted at first in pain; however, a metallic skin covering formed over their skins that protected them from the increased heat and light.

In actuality, if the sun goes nova at this time, building energy and "exploding", then the earth will likely burn to a cinder or evaporate into particles that will spread out into the Universe as far as the flashlight beam mentioned earlier.

Solar Activity During 2015

— Gathered from NASA sources

Solar Flares in 2015, Midpoint of Solar Cycle 24

From New Year's Day through the end of February of 2015, only one solar flare ejected from the sun and it was moderately strong.

We are at the midpoint in early 2015 of a solar flare cycle that operates from 2010 to 2020, over the period of 11 years.

The flare erupted on January 12/13 and was a class M5.6. The flare caused a release of extreme ultraviolet radiation over Australia and the Indian Ocean. It was in the middle range of strength among possible solar flares and did little or no damage to Earth or its communications and power grids.

In 2015, solar activity stepped up to more powerful flares in March.

Scroll to Continue

March 2015 Solar Events

A major solar event occurred on March 11, 2015 when we experienced an X-Class solar flare of X2.2, sensationally large and the first X-magnitude flare of the year.

The X classification represents the strongest ejected radiation events of the Sun.

The radiation of March 11 knocked out some electrical power in parts of the USA. Some radio signals also failed during the flare. From March 7 though March 9, three additional, smaller flares had been sighted (Reference:

March 17, St. Patrick's Day 2015

A solar eruption event on Sunday March 11 resulted later in the week in the Northern and Southern Lights becoming more brilliant and widespread.

In the North, the aurora borealis in North America spread as far south as New Mexico and many tints of green were seen in the curtains in the sky.

In New Zealand, the lights took on a shade of dramatic Popsicle Pink (please see the video below).

Aurora Australis, St. Patrick's Day 2015

March 20 - Supertide 2015 On the Vernal Equinox

After larger and more widespread Northern and Southern Lights appeared on St. Patrick's Day resulting from recent solar flares, a total solar eclipse occurred a few days later on the Spring Equinox, leading to a huge Supertide event that flooded the Thames River in London and cut off an island from a peninsula of France.

The French causeway to the UNESCO-rated historic abbey at Mont Saint-Michel (Please see map below) was flooded over, attracting thousands of visitors to see the flood. Although the causeway floods once every 18 years, viewers said that the 2015 flood was much larger than ever before seen or recorded. (Reference: Concord Monitor; 3/21/2015).

In London, folks watched the waters of the Thames slide over the banks and splash walls.

Mont Saint-Michel Flooding on the Normandy Coast

Additional Solar Activity In 2015

  • May 5, 2015 -- An X2.7 magnitude solar flare was visible.
  • August 24, 2015 - NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory reported an M5.6 solar flare in the lower-center region of the sun.

Solar Activity During 2014

— Gathered from NASA sources

Trio of Class X Solar Flares in June 2014

June 11, 2014 saw on of the largest solar flares we have detected from the sun. On June 10, two additional massive flares had already shot shot into space. All three were Class X flares, the strongest category of this type of solar radiation.

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, the STEREO probes, and the US - European SOHO spacecraft continually monitor the sun for activity.

Some reporters and scientists feel that the years 2013 - 2014 may represent the worst solar storms in recorded history.

Massive Solar Flare In Early 2014

On Monday, February 24, 2014, the sun erupted with a huge X4.9-class solar flare from out of an active sunspot named AR1990. The CME or Coronal Mass Emission pointed away from the Earth, so little affect should be seen in our planet's weather in response to the event.

The year 2014 is in a usual 11-year Sunspot Cycle, this one called Solar Cycle 24. X-type flares are the strongest type of solar flare. Additional flares are expected soon.

Solar Activity During 2013, the Year of Solar Maximum

-- Gathered from NASA sources

Auroreal Borealis Reaches Farther South in September 2013

From September 22, 2013 and extending for several days after the Sutumnal Equinox, solar activity reached a peak that brought travelers to three additional spots that usualy in the Uniteds States to see the Aurora Borealis. These three places were:

  • Cherry Springs State Park in North Central Pennsylvania, listed as the second Dark Skies Park designated in the world. This is a hub of atronomical events and activities.
  • Oregon's Steen Mountain Wilderness, and
  • The Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado, the southernmost point of the three "mmore southern" viewing sites for 2013.

May 12, 2013 - Solar Flare Causes Mother's Day Blackouts

This is the most powerful solar flare of the year, although the sun has repeatedly sent out strong flares all year. Seen at peak on 5/12/13 at 10:17 PM in EDT (0217 GMT) at NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, these class X 1.7 and class X 2.8 solar flares are as nearly as strong as a flare can possibly become. The maximum is X 3.0.

Reports of communications blackouts (high frequency radio) on Earth were unconfirmed but wwere said to be related to GPS.

Solar Maximum is not due until later in 2013 in Sunspot Cycle 24 (2008 - 2019), so Earth may be affected radically before ven that high point event. we were lucky that the other's day flare occurred on the far side of the sun in a sunspot.

Hole In the Sun Discovered May 28 - 31, 2013

The Sun Was Very Active In 2013

  • NASA - Earth-Directed Coronal Mass Ejection From the Sun
    Early on March 15, 2013, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), traveling at speeds of around 900 miles per second. CMEs at this speed have caused mild to moderate effects at Earth. SOL is very active in 2013.
  • April 11 - 13, 2013: Sun Emits Largest Solar Storm of 2013

    "This is the strongest flare seen so far in 2013," NASA spokeswoman Karen Fox explained in a statement. "Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun's normal 11-year cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is exp

  • A second peak at Solar Maximum, 2 peaks being the norm in the last decade, will likely occur later than May 2013 and might even last into 2014. Here's hoping the MidWest does not have another July like 2012's with two weeks of 100º F weather, power outages, and lots of sick people.

February 2013's Giant Solar Flare

New Year's 2013 Giant Solar Explosion

Solar Activity During 2012

— Gathred from NASA sources

A New Look At Solar Plasma

Followed by X-1 class solar flares in July 2012. Heat wave killed several Americans.

Followed by X-1 class solar flares in July 2012. Heat wave killed several Americans.

REX Took the Photo Above

Radio Science Experiment (REX) measures atmospheric composition and temperature.

Radio Science Experiment (REX) measures atmospheric composition and temperature.

Space Photography and the Sun

Superheated plasma on the Sun reaches a temperature as high as 600,000° C or 1.08 million° F. At the Sun's core, the temperature is much hotter than at the surface, at 15 million° C or 27 million° F. Photos taken in space by NASA's REX equipment using Ultraviolet Light causes solar plasma to become gold and blue in a new form of art, as in the photo displayed above.

A giant solar eruption occurred during New Year's Week of 2013 - on New Year's Eve - and some scientists are anxious to photograph the aftermath and await weather changes possibly associated with the eruption. The Mayan Doomsday prediction proved untrue, but some negative aspects of these examples of solar activities may be damaging to weather and communications on Earth. While the eruption is termed "minor" by NASA, it certainly seems large at 160,000 miles total length into space towards Earth.

NASA 2012 - Superheated plasma in Gold and Blue in UV light

New Year's Eve 2012 - 160,000 Miles of Solar Flare

This giant solar eruption occurred on December 31, 2012. At least 160,000 miles out into space, this eruption is actually called "minor" by NASA.

This giant solar eruption occurred on December 31, 2012. At least 160,000 miles out into space, this eruption is actually called "minor" by NASA.

2012 Killer Heat Wave

  • Strongest Solar Flare of Summer 2012 Erupted Friday 7/6/2012

    The Sun's very Active Region 1515 has now spit out the strongest solar flare (X-1 Class) of the 2012 Summer on Friday July 6, 2012.

  • "Heat wave a killer in Ohio" - Local headline: An Ohio coroner is blaming excessive heat for the deaths during Independence Week. 600,000 in Central Ohio without power on July 4th.
  • Spots on the Sun Firing Off Strong Solar Storms in 2012 -- A region of the sun known as sunspot 1402 triggered the solar flare that sparked the strongest solar radiation storm since 2005. But it is not the only sunspot blemish on the sun.

Number of Sunspots Observed in 2011 and 2012

Reference: Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

  • January - December, 2011: 19.0, 29.4, 56.2, 54.4, 41.6, 37.0, 43.9, 50.6, 78.0, 88.0, 96.7, 73.0
  • January - June, 2012: 58.3, 33.1, 64.2, 55.2, 69.0, 64.5

Blackouts at the 2012 London Olympics?

Sunspot activity and solar storms were predicted to cause power outages in a full blackout at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The Olympiad was not affected by these phenomena, but the American Midwest was affected by them instead - to the extreme. It was the hottest and longest period of summer power outages we'd had in decades.

The data below will help to explain how sunspots, solar storms, and solar weather affect our energy and communications systems on Earth. Sunspots may also affect global warming and cooling.

The Olympiad was not affected by these phenomena, but the American Midwest was affected by them instead - to the extreme. It was the hottest and longest period of summer power outages we'd had in decades.

Music From the Sun, Recorded 2007

Clapping Sounds Recorded In Finland

NASA: Song Of the Sun

In the summer of 2010, scientists discovered music on the sun, or rediscovered it, since recordings exist from 2007.

This, at first, was as unexpected a finding as Atlantic whales in the 1990s discovered to have picked up the African/slave melody of Amazing Grace and to have passed it on through the generations to today's Atlantic whales (Columbus Dispatch, April 1995). Music is everywhere. Any electromagnetic frequency may be translated to

The solar corona is still the most obscure and least understood layer of the sun's atmosphere. The NASA Space Dynamics Observatory is attempting in-depth studies of it in 2010. This observatory satellite recorded high-resolution images of the "music" in a banana-shaped magnetic structure or coronal loop in the corona.

These loops vibrate like strings on a musical instrument and their music sounds a bit like elephant communication or whale song.

Hot House of the North, 2011

During Summer 2011, it seemed evident that the melting polar and subpolar ice of Earth partially evaporated to land on the Midwest US as heavy, cold rain that stormed from March through May, followed immediately by hot house temperatures oi the upper 80s and 90s an a heat index in the 100s.

In Michigan, where June has a bit of snow during its first week every few years, temperatures were in the 90s with heat indexes over 100°, with heavy hot, winds even in June.

Ohio had it all - hot winds, heavy night rains, and high daylight temperatures. Rather than Michigan, it was tropical Hawaii that received snow.

During all this, Arizona was the victim of vast amounts of green space burned out by a single untended campfire.

The weather was so hot and windy in the Midwest last week that I had to believe it was coming from Arizona. Then I heard that the astronauts of the ISS saw a solar flare that covered 50% of the sun's surface. Flares of such magnitude can alter our weather even more.

A Short Historic Overview Of Sunspots & Sunspot Cycles

Sunspots occur in pairs in magnetic fields ~2,500 times the power of any on earth. From 1645 - 1715 AD, little spot activity occurred and the Little Ice Age then happened in 1749.

— NOAA National Weather Service

From the Little Ice Age To the New Millennium

The highest peak of sunspot activity in this range of years occurred in 1960.

The highest peak of sunspot activity in this range of years occurred in 1960.

What are Sunspots? - Facts and Legends

Sunspots are all a part of solar weather activity.

These sunspots (or sun spots) can affect earth's weather and have some effect upon hurricane seasons and perhaps even global warming cycles. I know from experience that they can interfere with radio signals.

In addition, I think there may be an impact possible from what they signify (Solar Weather increases) on our ocean tides and other elements, much like the anecdotal effects of the moon on the earth and its people, especially their minds and odder activities.

Yes, Sol has weather and it affects Earth's weather as well. The solar wind blows down (or over depending on your spatial orientation) to earth and sun spots may even have a dramatic effect on the earth's weather and radio- and telecommunications.

The earth has in the late 20th - early 21st centuries experienced the highest level and intensity of sun spot activity that has occurred within the last few hundred years, since before America became a nation. Some researchers claim 200 years, other say it is 400 years, but we have a chart below which you can read and and decide.

The last 11-year sub spot cycle ended in 2007, followed by a Solar Minimum, meaning that there was little sun spot activity and at times, none at all. The sun is resting, some would say. Others say it is the "calm before the storm" or the "eye of the hurricane" and that we can expect bad things to come in the near future .

When Auroras near the North and South poles become more visible, this will be a signal of heavier Solar Weather approaching. Per an old proverb sailors still use about weather, with benefit of an additional line:

Red Sky at night,

Sailor's delight,

Red Sky at morning,

Sailors take warning

Big Auroras to North or South, dive the submarine!.

When sun spots begin to emerge on the sun's surface again, Sol is entering its next cycle or season of extreme solar activity. The Solar Maximum is like our hurricane season on earth, but with fire and particles instead of wind and water.

At the solar cycle's peak, this Solar Maximum, the sun's surface is continually dashed with spots, solar flares erupt far out into this solar system, and Sol emits billion-ton clouds of electrified gas into outer space. All life seems to start in electricity, even the life of a star such as Sol. Put over-simply, electricity is made possible by negative and positive particles, and the negative flow because of the phenomena of the positive and negative in close proximity.

This positive and negative are part of the inspiration of Yin and Yang, the Opposites. It is also part of the underlying thread of description of Heaven and Hell in our cultures that accept them. Without negative and positive charges - We would all be in Heaven, actually, some say, because our Universe would have drained down a black hole.

To me, the Yang Blue Dragon holding earth from soaring away into the dimensions and the Yin White Tiger holding her up are the positive and negative particles that are in balance to maintain earth - or they are the hands of God. Sun Spots indicate electricity flowing, increased weather on Sol and weather changes ahead for earth - a disruption in the peaceful balance.

Space weather is a complicated interrelated series of happenings that begin inside Sol's core. These events build up like a volcano and then radiate out to reach the rim of our solar system and they keep traveling until they are dissipated. Think of an electric current or a flashlight beam flashing out until it is so thin as to be invisible and will not shock you when you put your hand into it.

Anatomy Of a Sunspot