There will be an unexpected sight high in the skies over the British county of Norfolk next month: a huge balloon attached to the ground by a giant hosepipe.
They plan to create a fake volcano, piping “sulphates and aerosol particles” into the “upper atmosphere, bouncing some of the sun’s energy back into space and thereby cooling the earth.”
There’s one problem: Many scientists have forecast an impending solar minimum lasting decades. Popular Science noted
Activity in the sun is building toward an expected peak sometime in 2013. Yet, despite a few notable solar flares, things are strangely calm. There are fewer sunspots in this cycle than expected, and they’re fainter than usual, for instance…
Based on these sets of findings, which were presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division in Las Cruces, N.M., heliophysicists believe the current solar cycle, Cycle 24, could be the last one for a while. The sun might be entering a period of hibernation.
This was previously observed from 1645 to 1715, a period known as the Maunder Minimum in which there were practically no sunspots. The period coincided with part of the “Little Ice Age,” in which average temperatures in the northern hemisphere dropped by 2 to 4 degrees F.