The sun today is cue-ball blank, a perfect unmarred sphere:
The sun has just passed an entire calendar month with no sunspots. The last time this happened, in August 2008, the sun was in the nadir of a century-class Solar Minimum. The current stretch of blank suns shows that Solar Minimum has returned, and it could be as deep as the last one.
The last time a full calendar month passed without a sunspot was August 2008. At the time, the sun was in the deepest Solar Minimum of the Space Age. Now a new Solar Minimum is in progress and it is shaping up to be similarly deep. So far this year, the sun has been blank 73% of the time–the same as 2008.
Solar Minimum is a normal part of the solar cycle. Every ~11 years, sunspot counts drop toward zero. Dark cores that produce solar flares and CMEs vanish from the solar disk, leaving the sun blank for long stretches of time. These minima have been coming and going with regularity since the sunspot cycle was discovered in 1859.
Meanwhile, the sun is putting out less solar energy towards the Earth, as this graph of PMOD composite monthly total solar irradiance (TSI) data shows:
What is most interesting is in the PMOD ( Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos (PMOD) composite ) TSI data, measured by satellites, and endorsed by NOAA, shows a drop of 2 watts per square meter since it’s peak around 2003, to the present in 2019, where in the last month, it has literally dropped like a rock, creating the lowest value in the dataset so far.
The estimate of increased solar forcing from increased carbon dioxide and other GHG’s in Earth’s atmosphere could be up to 3 watts/square meter if model estimates are to be believed:
It seems the sun has dimmed more than the usual amount at the end of solar cycle 24, and it could be a factor in the severe winter we are experiencing in many parts of the northern hemisphere.