A few days ago, the folks at SpaceWeather posted a story on our, "Quiet Sun," then three days later edited it to, "Intensifying Solar Activity." The sun's up, it's down, it's up, it's down, it's... bipolar, and needs to go back on its meds. What Da-da's not seen anyone talking about is the sun's increasingly frequent Bz oscillation between north- and south-facing polarity (not to mention the puzzlingly low 10.7 cm flux). Regardless, from the earth's perspective, it's like switching a light on and off again, with more -- then less -- high energy particles streaming into the poles as the magnetic fields either attract or repel, like flipfloppy happy/sad faces.
What this does to the earth is unknown, though Da-da suspects that the sun's core is... well, flipfloppy happy/sad, which should cause the earth to follow its flipfloppy happy/sad magnetic lead; the earth's north pole has been wandering quite a bit these days, so it's only a matter of time before south is the new north. From magnetic striping on the sea floor, we know that the earth and sun have changed polarity many times in the past, causing what's called 'zebra striping' as iron particles in cooling magma align themselves with the dominant magnetic field present, like little bar magnets floating in setting Jell-O (the last event was 780,000 years ago, which is a long time between snack cups); the Cenozoic has seen tons of reversals compared to the Mesozoic.
What's most interesting is that during these south-facing episodes, both the sun's and earth's magnetic field is typically a whole order of magnitude weaker than when it faces north. Again, we have no idea why, except that the sad face usually has less energy, which is to be expected with sad faces. Interestingly enough, the south-facing periods line up nicely (though it's not very nice) against the record of extinction intensity (southern polarity potentially bringing more extinction events).
What this means is that more high energy particles reach the earth's surface and the core during times of southern polarity, theoretically causing more volcanism and tectonic eventage (the earth has to do something with that extra energy), and potentially lower temperatures due to volcanoes spewing sulphur and carbon dioxide and all-purpose dust into the upper atmosphere. It also means increased instances of genetic mutation, along with huge radioactive reptiles attacking major cities and waves of Sgt. Pepper hippie zombie attacks, but that's a whole other post. Get your tie-dye bullets at Walmart now.
|And you thought Davey Jones was dead. He is... and he WANTS TO EAT YOUR BRAIN.|