Astronomers from the Wilcox Solar Observatory are confirming to the BBC that the Sun is about to switch its polarity, swapping its magnetic north and south poles - this event happens roughly once every 11 years... This is linked to the giant SUN SPOTS which are the size of planet Earth - they are magnetic 'portals' which suck-in and spew-out magnetic 'hoops' of energy - these cycles are known as SOLAR MINIMUM and also SOLAR MAXIMUM...
It could lead to bad weather and radio disruption... During this peak in activity, the outbursts of solar-magnetic energy can increase the amount of cosmic and UV rays coming towards Earth and this can interfere with radio communications, and can affect our planet's temperature.
The last peak, or Solar Maximum, was in 2000 and Nasa initially predicted the next flip would take place between 2011 and 2012... That coincides with the Aztec/Mayan calendar - but as we all know - the world did not end... However, we may yet see more environmental effects as the solar pole shift takes place.
Physicists at the Wilcox Solar Observatory have been studying the sun’s magnetic field since 1976, during which time they have witnessed three poleshift reversals. In 1859 a solar storm known as the Solar Superstorm, or Carrington Event after Richard C Carrington who recorded the event, saw numerous solar flares appear all over Earth.
It was so strong that the Northern Lights - a natural light display that appears predominantly in that Arctic and Antarctic regions and is caused by the collision of energetic charged particles in the magnetosphere and solar wind - were said to be have been visible as far south as Rome, Italy.
The Sun's magnetic influence extends billions of miles past Pluto.
Changes in the magnetic field affect what's called the 'current sheet' - this is like a giant pancake of electromagnetic energy which revolves around the equator of the Sun. There is a large amount of electro-magnetic energy flowing through this sheet which is around 10,000km thick. The "heliosphere" is a region of space and our solar system that is directly influenced by the Sun and its solar activity - its like the Sun's AURA - and is controlled by this pancake 'current sheet'. At times of SOLAR MINIMUM, the current sheet is nice and flat - however, when a magnetic solar poleshift happens, it causes the current sheet to become wavy, like the seams on a baseball.
As Earth orbits the Sun, our planet dips in and out of the sheet and these transitions can cause, er, well - could cause all kinds of phenomena - such as freak weather - frankly we have only had Solar Probe data for the last 9 years - and so we're all watching this solar poleshift carefully and then we'll be mapping any changes in our atmosphere... Cosmic rays, which are particles that travel almost at light speed, and can be dangerous to astronauts and space stations are likely to be released at a higher rate. Watch this space for more news.