When I read this headline, I thought about the small, but Earth-facing solar flare that bubbled off the Sun a day or so ago. The Earth-facing solar mass ejections pose the most threat.
According to this Space.com article, even “tiny” solar flares can cause climate disruption on Earth. Author Charles Q Choi writes:
“Even small changes in solar activity can impact Earth’s climate in significant and surprisingly complex ways, researchers say.”
The Sun has an observed 11-year cycle and 2013 is the year of this cycle’s solar maximum. Choi describes our G-2 sun as a “constant” star:
The sun is a constant star when compared with many others in the galaxy. Some stars pulsate dramatically, varying wildly in size and brightness and even exploding. In comparison, the sun varies in the amount of light it emits by only 0.1 percent over the course of a relatively stable 11-year-long pattern known as the solar cycle.
A little bit of sunlight goes a long way. Choi interviews solar physicist Gregg Kopp at the University of Colorado, who explains:
“The light reaching the top of earth’s atmosphere provides about 2,500 times as much energy as the total of all other sources combined… As such, even 0.1 percent of the amount of light the sun emits exceeds all other energy sources the Earth’s atmosphere sees combined, such as the radioactivity naturally emitted from Earth’s core.”