[AMRadio] Scientists Predict Big Solar Cycle

Ed Sieb esieb at sympatico.ca
Sat Dec 23 19:54:23 EST 2006


Published: 11:45, December 22, 2006

Scientists Predict Big Solar Cycle

PHOTO:An erupting solar prominence photographed by the Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

Evidence is mounting: the next solar cycle is going to be a big one. Solar
cycle 24, due to peak in 2010 or 2011 "looks like its going to be one of the
most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago," says
solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center. He and
colleague Robert Wilson presented this conclusion last week at the American
Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Their forecast is based on historical records of geomagnetic storms.

Hathaway explains: "When a gust of solar wind hits Earth's magnetic field,
the impact causes the magnetic field to shake. If it shakes hard enough, we
call it a geomagnetic storm." In the extreme, these storms cause power
outages and make compass needles swing in the wrong direction. Auroras are a
beautiful side-effect.

Hathaway and Wilson looked at records of geomagnetic activity stretching
back almost 150 years and noticed something useful:. "The amount of
geomagnetic activity now tells us what the solar cycle is going to be like 6
to 8 years in the future," says Hathaway. A picture is worth a thousand

More, with diagrams and charts:

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