[AMRadio] NOAA Confirms Start of New Sunspot Cycle (Hooray!)

Ed Sieb esieb at sympatico.ca
Sat Jan 5 14:13:24 EST 2008

NOAA Confirms Start of New Sunspot Cycle

WASHINGTON (AP) ­ A new solar cycle is under way.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration said Friday that the first sunspot
of a new 11-year cycle has appeared in the sun's northern hemisphere.

The frequency of sunspots rises and falls during
these cycles, and the start of a new cycle
indicates they are likely to begin increasing.

Sunspots, areas of intense magnetic activity on
the sun, can affect Earth by disrupting
electrical grids, airline and military
communications, GPS signals and even cell phones,
the agency said. During periods of intense
sunspot activity, known as solar storms, highly
charged radiation from the sun may head toward Earth.

"Our growing dependence on highly sophisticated,
space-based technologies means we are far more
vulnerable to space weather today than in the
past," said NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr.

Last April an international panel of solar
experts forecast that Solar Cycle 24 would start
in March 2008, plus or minus six months. The
panel was split between those predicting a strong or weak cycle.

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