Sunspot Cycle Minima and Pandemics: The Case for Vigilance?
- *Corresponding Author:
- Wickramasinghe NC
Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology
University of Buckingham
Buckingham MK18 1EG, UK
Tel: +44 2920752146
E-mail: [email protected]
Received Date: June 7, 2017; Accepted Date: June 20, 2017; Published Date: June 23, 2017
Citation: Wickramasinghe NC, Steele E, Wainwright M, Tokoro G, Fernando M, et al. (2017) Sunspot Cycle Minima and Pandemics: The Case for Vigilance? Astrobiol Outreach 5:159. doi: 10.4172/2332-2519.1000159
Copyright: © 2017 Wickramasinghe NC, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Direct records of sunspots and the solar cycle have been maintained in astronomical observatories for about 1610 AD, while indirect records derived from 14C analysis of ice cores go back to about 900 AD. Minima in the sunspot cycle present conditions conducive to the entry or activation of new pathogens and also for mutations of already circulating bacteria and viruses. Three grand minima of solar activity on record–the Sporer minimum (1450-1550 AD), Maunder minimum (1650-1700 AD) and the Dalton minimum (1800-1830) have all been marked by a preponderance of pandemics–Small Pox, English Sweats, Plague and Cholera. The sunspot numbers recorded for the present period 2002-2017 include the deepest sunspot minimum (Cycle 23-24) since records began, and a trend to declining numbers throughout the cycle. The same period has seen the resurgence of several pandemics– SARS, MERS, Zika, Ebola, Influenza A. We consider it prudent to take note of these facts whilst planning future strategies for pandemic surveillance and control.