Living with a Star


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Solar Flare

Connection to Climate

Low Sunspot activity might mean lower temperatures on Earth. During one seventy-five year period, now called the Maunder Minimum that lasted from 1645 to 1715, Sunspot activity virtually ceased, and temperatures on Earth fell enough to cause a “Little Ice Age” of severely cold weather across Earth’s northern hemisphere. The winters were so cold that the canals of Holland froze over and Dutch skaters could compete in races. Did the changing Sun cause this climate change? Scientists don’t really know but many think that there was a connection.

GreenlandDuring the 11th and 12th centuries, there was a large warming coincident with enhanced solar activity. The Vikings inhabited Greenland during this period, and they abandoned their settlements when the climate there grew colder. It is interesting to note that the Sun’s changing magnetic activity may have had a direct effect on their culture.