There was quite an active period on the sun during January 2012 in terms of sunspot activity that culminated in a one of the strongest solar storms in years near the end of the month. In recent days, however, it has been rather quiet on the sun and now there are predictions by some solar scientists that this current solar cycle (24), which may peak in mid-2013, will be rather weak and also rather extended in length and that it will be followed by an even weaker solar cycle (25) in the 2020’s. In fact, the current predicted size for the current solar cycle 24 makes this the smallest sunspot cycle in about 100 years. Weak solar cycles do not necessarily mean that there cannot be strong solar storms (e.g., January 2012); however, it does suggest that there will likely be fewer of them. According to some solar scientists, weak solar cycles with extended lengths may actually have an effect (negative) on global temperatures in the longer range. There have been historical periods with minimal solar sunspot activity that lasted for several decades such as from the mid 1600’s to the early 1700’s when the so-called “Maunder Minimum” occurred and this period was quite cold globally. Another interesting aspect to these solar predictions is that this potential period of weak and extended solar cycles looks like it will coincide with a cold phase of the Pacific Ocean (negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation). The Pacific Ocean seemingly slipped into a cold phase a few years ago and these long-term oceanic phases tend to last for two or three decades. We’ll continue to periodically report on the latest sunspot activity and Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature anomalies here at “thesiweather.com” to monitor any changes that may unfold.