PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — This week temps in the Portland metro area are a bit below normal. But that has nothing to do with the fact there are currently no sunspots on the sun.

“Today we are free of sunspots on this side of the sun,” PSU physics professor Jack Straton told KOIN 6 News, “but, of course, you can never know what’s on the other side.”

Sunspots are magnetic regions on the sun with magnetic field strengths thousands of times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field — NASA Earth Observatory

The sun goes through solar cycles. Its surface changes between periods of increased and decreased sunspot production.

“A sunspot is a place when the magnetic field pokes out of the sun and comes back in and so you’ll always find them in pairs,” Straton said. “(In an) 11-year period it goes up to really intense to a very few,” Straton said.

Solar measurements reveal that the average surface temperature of the sun is 6000° Celsius and that sunspots are about 1500° Celsius cooler than the area surrounding them 

But will a blank sun — as the lack of sunspots is called — mean a change in our weather? Will the decrease in sun activity from 92 million miles away send us into another Cold Age?

In 1843, the German chemist and amateur astronomer Heinrich Schwabe discovered that there was a fairly regular cycle of change in the number of sunspots and that this cycle lasts about 11 years. — NASA Earth Observatory


“No Ice Ages coming up,” Straton said. “There was a period of 70 years called the minimum and nothing horrific happened then.”

The only thing that might be impacted are those beautiful views in Alaska of the Aurora Borealis.

“Now is not a good time to go up to Alaska to hunt the Aurora Borealis,” he said. “Wait a few years when we get more active field time from the sun.”