Humans have been able to observe and record the goings and comings of sun spots since the early 1600’s. It has been discovered that over an 11 year sun cycle the number of these spots waxes and wanes. Generally more sunspots has been associated with more solar activity and eruptions on the sun, while less spots have meant less solar activity.
The amount of sun spots in solar minimums or sun cycles can change. The solar minimum in 2008 was observed to be the weakest and the longest solar minimum since scientists have begun to use space based instruments to monitor the sun. Bruce Tsurutani who is a space weather scientist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, California says that historically 2008 has been identified as the period of the solar minimum.
Scientist like Tsurutani believe the speed of solar wind along with the direction and strength of magnetic fields that follow it causes geomagnetic effects on Earth. Geomagnetic effects are considered any magnetic changes on the planet caused by the sun. These magnetic changes are constantly measured by magnetometer readings taken on the surface of the Earth.
Geomagnetic storms are caused by solar wind from eruptions on the sun’s surface and can effect communications and weather here on Earth. The frequencies of these storms are tied to the increase and decrease of sunspot cycles. Scientists say that by understanding the cause of sunspots and geomagnetic activity is necessary towards better predicting events that might happen on Earth.
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