A new study reveals correlations between plentiful sunspots and periods of heavy rain in East Africa. Intense rainfall in the region often leads to flooding and disease outbreaks.Fascinating!
The analysis by a team of U.S. and British researchers shows that unusually heavy rainfalls in East Africa over the past century preceded peak sunspot activity by about one year. Because periods of peak sunspot activity, known as solar maxima, are predictable, so too are the associated heavy rains that precede them, the researchers propose.
"With the help of these findings, we can now say when especially rainy seasons are likely to occur, several years in advance," says paleoclimatologist and study leader Curt Stager of Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, New York. Forewarned by such predictions, public health officials could ramp up prevention measures against insect-borne diseases long before epidemics begin, he adds.
The sunspot-rainfall analysis is scheduled to appear on 7 August in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
Increasing sunspot numbers indicate a rise in the sun's energy output. Sunspot abundance peaks on an 11-year cycle. The next solar maximum is expected in 2011-2012. If the newfound pattern holds, rainfall would also peak the year before.
It'd be interesting to see if anything like this has been done or is planned to be done for other parts of the world. If you could predict the weather patterns for the Mississippi? Or Amazon?