Ice Age - Or Worldwide HF DX?
Back in 2012-2014 most people did not know that we were in a solar maximum. If they did it was something they read about without impacting daily life. The solar maximum typically does not impact weather the way you would think when discussing the sun. It does however, ionize the atmosphere such that radio waves will bounce across the world.
We are currently in a solar minimum, and HF communication is reduced. Conditions are good for 14MHz in the day and 7MHz in the evening, but there is not much DX (distance) above 14MHz (20 meters). It also tends to require more power these days to get a radio wave across the globe. I am looking forward to the next solar peak, as there are several years on each side of the peak where the maximum usable frequency allows me to make contact to Thailand from the eastern US. Typically during the solar peaks I can talk around the world with very little power using 28MHz (10- meters).
Well there has been a lot of talk about this past cycle not being as strong as the previous, and that cycle not as strong as the one before it. In other words it seems the solar cycles are getting weaker. It is thought that the 11 year solar peak also follows a longer pattern such that the minimal peak is not far away. Some are saying it could happen in 2030, and others 2040. This is not good news for the HF DX (distance) hobby, but I am optimistic these studies are wrong.
It is interesting as the solar models get better, some scientist are predicting a mini ice age. The energy from the sun could happen in such a way that the solar radiation cancels, creating conditions similar to the 17th century. This is known as the Maunder minimum, and it lasted roughly from 1645 to 1700. During this period, there were only about 50 sunspots recorded instead of the usual 40-50 thousand.
While science is debating this, I am just hoping I do not have to get a new hobby. Maybe rather than ham radio, it will be ice skating. What will you be doing when the next mini ice age happens?
Source: Astronomy Now