What I Learned This Week

Natural gas prices could spike this winter on record-low sunspot activity and a “Modoki” El Niño.  A “Super Grand Solar Minimum” could take hold by 2020.  What are the implications?

In a 2011 WILTW series, we explored the impact of variations in sunspot activity and the potential for the sun to enter an extended slumber. Historical data correlates low sunspot activity with cold winter weather, rising natural gas prices, and potential agriculture disruption. Sunspots, which have been associated with long-term weather patterns on Earth, have been vanishing more quickly than expected. Presently, we are approaching the end of cycle 24, which has been the smallest 11-year sunspot cycle in over one hundred years. As of late November, there had been roughly 190 days this year with no sunspots on the visible disk of the sun. The newly-forming El Niño is also setting up to be…

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