First, seeing the impact of one of the coldest winters since 1938 and how it's affecting Russia. For one thing they've been getting snow...lots of snow.
While the snowstorms have caused inconvenience for large population centers in western Russia, they have been life-threatening further east in the country. The polar circle city of Norilsk has been buried under 10 feet of snow – entire apartment blocks, markets, stores and offices were buried under snow overnight.It looks like Russia is getting a taste of what Alaska experienced last winter.
Banks of snow were as high as two people put together, reaching the second-story windows of some apartment buildings. Cars, stores, garages were blocked. Norilsk metropolitan workers were forced to dig passageways through the snow banks to create access between the outside world and the barricaded city.
But if what a bunch of scientists at the US Solar Observatory and the US Air Force Research Laboratory have said is true, we may be entering a “mini-Maunder” event with decades of below normal solar activity and resultant cooler temperatures on Earth and what we've seen in Europe, northern Asia, and northern North America will become the norm rather than the exception.
The sun could be on the threshold of a mini-Maunder event right now. Ongoing Solar Cycle 24 is the weakest in more than 50 years. Moreover, there is (controversial) evidence of a long-term weakening trend in the magnetic field strength of sunspots. Matt Penn and William Livingston of the National Solar Observatory predict that by the time Solar Cycle 25 arrives, magnetic fields on the sun will be so weak that few if any sunspots will be formed. Independent lines of research involving helioseismology and surface polar fields tend to support their conclusion.Danish scientist Dr. Henrik Svensmark's work has led him to postulate that sunspot activity can have a greater effect on Earth's climate than CO2, showing that during periods of high solar activity Earth's climate is warmer and during low solar activity Earth's climate cools.
NASA explains that interactions between the sun, sources of cosmic radiation and the Earth are very complicated, and it takes an interdisciplinary team of heliophysicists, chemists and others to quantify what is really going on. And the Earth’s climate is also affected by cosmic radiation.
It's going to be interesting around here over the next few decades.