How do sunspots affect Earth’s weather?
Sunspots appear as spots on the face of the Sun. (But you can’t look at the Sun with the naked eye, so don’t even think of trying to find them!) These spots are cooler than the surrounding surface. They are actually magnetic storms that occur naturally on the Sun. The effect of these storms on Earth has been studied by scientists for hundreds of years. The Chinese were trying to figure it out 2,800 years ago! The sunspot itself doesn’t affect Earth, but the magnetic storms — with their energetic particles, X rays and magnetic fields, and “solar flares” — can hit Earth, although Earth’s own magnetic field protects it from most of the Sun’s emissions. If there is intense sunspot activity, as there is occasionally, it can produce things such as great displays of the northern lights. It is thought that low sunspot activity coincides with colder temperatures in some places on Earth and that sunspot activity does affect the intensity of the Sun’s energy. But just how much this affects Earth’s climate is in scientific debate. For the moment, human activities have a much more demonstrable effect.