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Sunspots And Weather: Climate Change And Other Interesting Solar Events

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.

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.

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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.