A stunning new scientific report predicts that the next sunspot cycle will be massively more powerful than the one just past, which was among the most powerful on record. This is going to cause intense climate disruptions on earth, including surface heating from coronal mass ejections, which is believed to have caused numerous forest fires during the last solar max.
The next solar max is expected to reach its peak in 2012. Because global warming is causing widespread drought, such effects could be massive. In addition, challenges to earth's magnetic field, which is in flux at this time, could mean that there will be periods when the surface is exposed to high-intensity particles from the sun.
The next sunspot cycle will be 30-50% stronger than the last one and begin as much as a year late. Scientists believe they have learned how to forecast sunspot cycles with 98% accuracy.
The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years, from peak storm activity to quiet and back again. Solar scientists have tracked them for some time without being able to predict their relative intensity or timing.
Forecasting these cycles may help society anticipate solar storms, which can disrupt communications and power systems and affect the orbits of satellites. The storms are linked to twisted magnetic fields in the Sun that suddenly snap and release tremendous amounts of energy. They tend to occur near dark regions of concentrated magnetic fields, known as sunspots.
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The next sunspot cycle will reach its peak in 1012, an ominous time that's coming soon. The Mayans predicted it would be the end of the world, because it's the last date on their calendar. We don't know if their predictions are true, but we do know we need to work hard to reverse the effects of global warming.
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