Solar Maximum Starts in 2011

solar_flareThe fearmongers wishing for something, anything, to happen in 2012 have seized on the next peak in the cyclical activity experienced by our sun. AFP reports that an upswing starts next year, but the climax will probably not be until 2013, rather than December 21, 2012:

The coming year will be an important one for space weather as the Sun pulls out of a trough of low activity and heads into a long-awaited and possibly destructive period of turbulence.

Many people may be surprised to learn that the Sun, rather than burn with faultless consistency, goes through moments of calm and tempest.

But two centuries of observing sunspots — dark, relatively cool marks on the solar face linked to mighty magnetic forces — have revealed that our star follows a roughly 11-year cycle of behaviour.

The latest cycle began in 1996 and for reasons which are unclear has taken longer than expected to end.

Now, though, there are more and more signs that the Sun is shaking off its torpor and building towards “Solar Max,” or the cycle’s climax, say experts.

“The latest prediction looks at around midway 2013 as being the maximum phase of the solar cycle,” said Joe Kunches of the Space Weather Prediction Center at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

But there is a prolonged period of high activity, “more like a season, lasting about two and a half years,” either side of the peak, he cautioned.

At its angriest, the Sun can vomit forth tides of electromagnetic radiation and charged matter known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

This shock wave may take several days to reach Earth. When it arrives, it compresses the planet’s protective magnetic field, releasing energy visible in high latitudes as shimmering auroras — the famous Northern Lights and Southern Lights.

But CMEs are not just pretty events.

They can unleash static discharges and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt or even knock out the electronics on which our urbanised, Internet-obsessed, data-saturated society depends…

[continues at AFP]

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  • Kali23Yuga

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Mayans themselves and their prophecy of the “ending of an epoch”. Mayan religion is solar all the way around and this event comes at the right time, doesn’t it. If their civilization was still around to witness they would interpret it as something of cosmological proportions, as the validation of the prophecy. It would be on the first page of every newspaper, instead of the bs we get now.
    Plus, they didn’t have a linear perception of time, they were, like most ancients, cyclical thinkers. Linear thinking is something rather anamolous in history. So for them 2012 was nothing more than the closing of the circle and the beginning of a new one.
    But indeed, fear is not welcome in this, but celebration. Like the solar fest we had last week.

  • Kali23Yuga

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Mayans themselves and their prophecy of the “ending of an epoch”. Mayan religion is solar all the way around and this event comes at the right time, doesn’t it. If their civilization was still around to witness they would interpret it as something of cosmological proportions, as the validation of the prophecy. It would be on the first page of every newspaper, instead of the bs we get now.
    Plus, they didn’t have a linear perception of time, they were, like most ancients, cyclical thinkers. Linear thinking is something rather anamolous in history. So for them 2012 was nothing more than the closing of the circle and the beginning of a new one.
    But indeed, fear is not welcome in this, but celebration. Like the solar fest we had last week.

  • Yoyoyo

    Solar activity is beyond our ken. Anyone who claims to predict anything about it is lying or deluded.

    The Sun may very well go into an active state one day. It may last 1 hour, 1 day, 1 year. W’re talking about a self sustaining fusion reaction that is 1000 times the size of Earth. It does because it does. He’ll it might do it right now.

    There is no simpler explanation. It happens because it happens.

  • Yoyoyo

    Solar activity is beyond our ken. Anyone who claims to predict anything about it is lying or deluded.

    The Sun may very well go into an active state one day. It may last 1 hour, 1 day, 1 year. W’re talking about a self sustaining fusion reaction that is 1000 times the size of Earth. It does because it does. He’ll it might do it right now.

    There is no simpler explanation. It happens because it happens.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4K3KM67XITZTXUE45K42KS4OEE brian

    I remember a couple of years ago the scientists said the peak WOULD be 2012, and it would be extraordinarily severe due to this cycle having taken such a long time. Then they back tracked about a year later saying that ‘no…no…actually it will be in 2013, and mild’… Since then I’ve seen them flip flop a couple of times on the mild vs severe. All of that confusion has made me wonder if either they really know what they are talking about….Are they truly discovering new variables that is causing them to change their ideas OR if they are just trying to ease people’s worries, seeing as how their original prediction was being interpreted by some of the public as some sort of Apocalyptic causing event. Assuming its the former rather than the later….what sort of variables COULD be changing to make them keep changing their mind?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4K3KM67XITZTXUE45K42KS4OEE brian

    I remember a couple of years ago the scientists said the peak WOULD be 2012, and it would be extraordinarily severe due to this cycle having taken such a long time. Then they back tracked about a year later saying that ‘no…no…actually it will be in 2013, and mild’… Since then I’ve seen them flip flop a couple of times on the mild vs severe. All of that confusion has made me wonder if either they really know what they are talking about….Are they truly discovering new variables that is causing them to change their ideas OR if they are just trying to ease people’s worries, seeing as how their original prediction was being interpreted by some of the public as some sort of Apocalyptic causing event. Assuming its the former rather than the later….what sort of variables COULD be changing to make them keep changing their mind?

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