How Solar Cycles Impact Our Weather Here On Earth
Solar cycles: what are they and why should we care about them?
Solar cycles are made up of what are known as solar minimums (min) and solar maximums (max). We refer to a solar min at the time when the sun is not active with many sunspots, while a solar max is just the opposite when we see a large increase in sunspot activity.
So how long do solar cycles last? Typically they run on what is known as an 11 year cycle from the max to the min and then start over again anew.
As of 2012 we are currently in cycle 24 but heading towards the peak of the cycle, meaning we are about to head towards a solar min. This year we can easily say that the United States had a very warm winter throughout the area.
Is this just the luck of the draw or was it meant to be?
Well if you have been paying attention to the news this year there has been a lot about sun activity and the sun emitting strong solar storms and rays towards the earth. This is because we are in a solar max which is indicated by the increase in all of this solar activity.
So why does this matter to us?
Well here is a prime example: this past winter our snowfall amounts were very low and the temps were very warm. With the increase in solar activity we have this additional heat moving towards the earth’s atmosphere.
But interestingly enough, Europe saw one of its coldest winters in history at the same time. So this leads to my next finding that these solar cycles are interacting with another huge event known as LA-Nina and EL-Nino. This year we were under a La-Nina type of winter which here in the US typically translates to milder winters. So a thought that we need to think about is that when there is a La-Nina in place and also a solar max occurring we may just want to be ready for more warm conditions like this.
But if we look at another impact that occurred here in the United States during the winter of 2009 when we had record cold, there are more questions that need answering.
This means we were also just exiting a solar min which means all the extra energy released from the sun was at a low. So now we have La-Nina here at the surface and also less energy being released from the sun. So what happened is that we had extended periods of cold air and freezes down into Florida. This is how La-Nina and solar maxes and solar mins can impact our daily lives.
So it leads me to wonder: can solar maxes and mins also play a role in hurricanes? I did some looking back and found these three events lining up pretty uniquely.
First in 2005 we had Hurricane Katrina. And at that time the sun was just starting to come out of a solar max, with extra heat being released from the sun. Then if we go further back in 1992, we seen Hurricane Andrew hit Florida as a large storm; again we were just coming out of a solar max. The third one is from 1900 and Galveston Texas. The storm that hit there occurred when we were just coming out of another solar maximum.
These three examples lead me to believe that solar maxes and hurricanes possibly could be mixed together. This could lead to a huge potential in forecasting for hurricanes and how strong they may be.
I also examined EL-Nino to see if this had any impacts with the solar maxes and mins. The answer was pretty interesting. I looked back at two events for this pattern. The first was in 2011 when we had just started entering into a solar max and coming out of a solar min. During this time we had huge flooding occurring in the United States along major rivers. During this time we were also dealing with EL-Nino which is a wetter than normal pattern for many places in the United States.
The second event was back in 1998 when we saw the same massive flooding taking place. Again we were in an El-Nino time period along with the fact that we were also just entering into another solar maximum.
Based on my findings I have made this chart:
So as we continue to move forward in our world we may seriously need to examine just what is going on in the sun as it not just makes the light of the day but it is also making a huge impact on our weather patterns and impacts to our lives.
With this information that I found through my research I would say that our weather patterns travel in cycles. Also with the influence of the Sun being a major role player–more than we may give it credit for.
redOrbit.com Meteorologist Joshua Kelly