Solar Minimum

  • Atmospheric Radiation Increased 12% in Last 3 Years


    In January 2020, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus and Spaceweather.com traveled to Abisko, Sweden, to launch a pair of cosmic ray balloons.

    Putting all the data together, 2017+2020, they find that radiation has increased +12% in the past 3 years…

    Solar minimum boosts atmospheric radiation by 12% in 3 years. Picture via SpaceWeather

    The diagram from radiation dose rate (uGy/hr) vs. altitude (feet) shows that atmospheric radiation increases at nearly all altitudes – even in the range where airplanes fly between 25,000 ft and 40,000 ft.

    In other words, passengers and flight crews are absorbing ~12% more cosmic radiation than they did only a few years ago.

    What’s causing the increase?

    It’s solar Solar Minimum, during which the sun’s magnetic field weakens, allowing extra cosmic rays from deep space to penetrate the solar system.

    At the moment, the sun is near the bottom of the 11-year solar cycle.

    After hitting Earth’s atmosphere, the cosmic rays create a spray of secondary cosmic rays (X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV) which are measured by the radiation sensors onboard the helium balloons.

    Atmospheric radiation increases by 12% in 3 years. And that’s because of the Solar Minimum. Picture by CERN

    Scientists from SpaceWeather.com have been launching radiation sensors almost weekly for 5 years.

    Data show cosmic rays in the stratosphere have been increasing the entire time.

    The new data even show that this increase is not limited to the stratosphere but is also happening at aviation altitudes with a 3-year increase of ~12% even below 40,000 ft.

    And all that’s a sign of a deepening Solar Minimum

  • Sun entering into 'deep solar lockdown'

    OUR sun has gone into lockdown, with reduced solar activity as part of an 11-year cycle.

    The sun is currently in a period of “solar minimum”, meaning activity on its surface has fallen.

    Experts believe we are about to enter a deep sunshine “recession”, with very low sunspots recorded.

    Astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips said: “Solar Minimum is underway, and it’s a deep one.

    “Sunspot counts suggest it is one of the deepest of the past century. 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.”

    Despite false fears that this could play havoc with our weather systems, scientists say we won’t say brutal cold, crop loss, famine or volcanic eruptions linked to the solar minimum.

    “There are no convincing links between solar activity/cosmic rays and climate variations,” said Rasmus Benestad, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

    “The global warming trend in the last decades cannot be explained in terms of solar activity because there has not been any trend in solar activity.”

    Disclaimer: A previous version of this article included misleading claims that the current solar minimum may be linked to extreme cold weather, crop loss, famine, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The scientific consensus disagrees with these claims, and the article has been amended.

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