sun lockdown trending on search engines and social media
It’s May 16, 2020, which means that there is nothing out of the ordinary about the phrase ‘sun lockdown’ trending on search engines and social media. Most of us are in lockdown, after all, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and so if the sun wants to join us, so be it, right?Wrong, some exaggerated headlines suggest, as they promise famine, freezing temps, and droughts on Earth because the sun has entered a completely predictable and entirely normal solar minimum, according to Astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips in an interview with The Sun.“Sunspot counts suggest it is one of the deepest of the past century,” Phillips told the outlet. “The sun’s magnetic field has become weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system.”“Excess cosmic rays pose a health hazard to astronauts and polar air travelers, affect the electro-chemistry of Earth’s upper atmosphere and may help trigger lightning.”What exactly, is going on?Let’s go to the experts at NASA, who wrote in 2017 that this particular solar minimum was coming in 2020, global health crisis or not. Oddly enough, the government agency has not declared that the solar minimum is here — only Phillips has done that — but their prediction was for it to begin within six months of April 2020, and so it’s reasonable to believe that it has. What is a solar minimum?Essentially, it’s the end of an 11-year cycle for the sun. The NASA Science website has a good breakdown, writing in part:”Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm.“”This is called solar minimum,” says Dean Pesnell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. “And it’s a regular part of the sunspot cycle.””The sun is heading toward solar minimum now. Sunspot counts were relatively high in 2014, and now they are sliding toward a low point expected in 2019-2020.“While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull. Solar activity simply changes form.”Why is it happening now?Simply put, because it’s time to.The Space Weather Prediction Center, which is a NOAA/NASA collaboration, wrote in a recent post that the minimum between Solar Cycle 24 and Solar Cycle 25 would happen sometime this year.“The NOAA/NASA co-chaired, international panel to forecast Solar Cycle 25 released their latest forecast for Solar Cycle 25. The forecast consensus: a peak in July, 2025 (+/- 8 months), with a smoothed sunspot number (SSN) of 115. The panel agreed that Cycle 25 will be average in intensity and similar to Cycle 24,” the panel wrote on Dec. 9, 2019.“Additionally, the panel concurred that solar minimum between Cycles 24 and 25 will occur in April, 2020 (+/- 6 months). If the solar minimum prediction is correct, this would make Solar Cycle 24 the 7th longest on record (11.4 years).”Is there anything to worry about? Probably not.A Feb. 2020 post from NASA Global Climate Change declared ‘There Is No Impending ‘Mini Ice Age’’ after some suggested that this solar minimum could lead to temperature drops and all kinds of other problems on Earth like the grand solar minimum of the 1600s did. Why? Read below, and click here for the full report.”Some scientists have suggested that the relatively small magnitude of the last solar cycle (SC 24) presages a new Grand Solar Minimum in the next few decades.”But how big of an effect might a Grand Solar Minimum have? In terms of climate forcing – a factor that could push the climate in a particular direction – solar scientists estimate it would be about -0.1 W/m2, the same impact of about three years of current carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration growth.”Thus, a new Grand Solar Minimum would only serve to offset a few years of warming caused by human activities.”What does this mean? The warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from the human burning of fossil fuels is six times greater than the possible decades-long cooling from a prolonged Grand Solar Minimum.“Even if a Grand Solar Minimum were to last a century, global temperatures would continue to warm. Because more factors than just variations in the Sun’s output change global temperatures on Earth, the most dominant of those today being the warming coming from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.”So why is this trending?In all seriousness, many of us are bored, and the idea of the sun entering a lockdown, or recession, or whatever other scary phrases some are using makes it eye-catching when scrolling a computer, tablet, or mobile device.That said, until NASA or NOAA panics, you shouldn’t either, even if the sun is is winding down its latest solar cycle. Read more:Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.