According to predicted values, there should have been 10 to 20 sunspots last month.
They didn’t happen.
“So what?” you ask. “Why should we be concerned about sunspots?”
Many scientists believe that variations in the Sun’s activity has a much larger impact on the Earth’s climate than greenhouse gas concentrations. The number of sunspots is one indicator of that activity.
Currently, the Sun is at the minimum point of its nominal 11 year sunspot cycle. This period is also the transition point from one numbered solar cycle to the next.
The present cycle 23 is one of the longest since cycles started being assigned numbers. The only one longer was cycle 4 at the beginning of the Dalton Minimum, a period with minimum sunspot activity and reduced global temperatures. Frigid winters and cold summers during the Dalton Minimum resulted in massive crop failures, famine and death.
Some solar cycle prediction models predict that cycles 24 and 25 will be weak, similar to the Dalton Minimum, with global temperatures dropping as much as 1.5 °C, more than erasing the the rise in global temperatures of the last century. Some models even suggest a more prolonged period of weak activity.
This cold winter may only be the beginning.
(Read more at popsci.com, an online publication of Popular Science, which I found after I started writing this post.)